Last summer we followed the odd case of lawyer Charles Carreon, as he went after Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal webcomic, with legal threats. Carreon had been hired by FunnyJunk, a website Inman accused of stealing his comics. Carreon demanded $20,000 in compensation for Inman's "false accusations." Inman declined, and then used the publicity to solicit over $200,000 in donations, which he gave to charity after sending Carreon photographs. Carreon dropped the suit against Inman, but the saga continued. A satirical website was set up about Carreon, which caused him to invoke the legal system again. The article documents the absurdities, which included further legal action and a song. Now, however, Carreon is reaping what he has sown; a judge has ordered him to pay over $46,000 for his role in the legal circus.
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! ×
Nerval's Lobster writes "Death is Nature's way of telling you it's time to get off the Internet. But when you finally shuffle off this mortal coil, you leave something behind: all your email and other digital assets. That's a huge problem not only for the deceased — once you're on the wrong side of the Great Beyond, there's no way to delete those incriminating messages — but also any relatives who might want to access your (former) life. And it's a problem Google's seeking to solve with the new Inactive Account Manager. (In an April 11 blog posting, Google product manager Andreas Tuerk suggested that Inactive Account Manager wasn't a 'great name' for the product, but maybe the company shouldn't be so hard on itself: it's a way better name than, say, Google Death Dashboard.) Inactive Account Manager will delete your Google-related data (Gmail, etc.) after a set amount of time, or else send that data to 'trusted contacts' you set up before your untimely demise. Which raises an interesting, semi-Google-related question: What do you want to have happen to your data after you die? Give it to loved ones, or have an automated system nuke it all? Should more companies that host email and data offer plans like Inactive Account Manager?"
redletterdave writes "TechNet, the trade association representing and led by dozens of prominent technology companies including Google, Apple and Facebook, has formally come out in support of CISPA, sending a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives. The letter said: 'We commend the committee for providing liability protections to companies participating in voluntary information-sharing and applaud the committee's efforts to work with a wide range of stakeholders to address issues such as strengthening privacy protections. As the legislative process unfolds, we look forward to continuing the dialogue with you and your colleagues on further privacy protections, including discussions on the role of a civilian interface for information sharing.'" The White House won't support the bill in its current form, but they plan to work with legislators on a compromise. The current text of the bill is available online.
anderzole writes "The FDA recently gave clearance to Vital Art and Science Inc. (VAS) to market software which enables people with degenerative eye conditions such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy to monitor their vision at home with their iPhone. The software, which is called myVisionTrack, isn't a replacement for regular visits to the doctor, but rather allows patients to keep tabs on their vision in between visits with eye care professionals. VAS notes that retinal diseases affect approximately 40 million individuals worldwide and 13 million in the United States. While treatments have been developed to deal with degenerative eye conditions, early diagnosis is of paramount importance — which is why the software is so important."
Peter Eckersley writes "At the EFF we were recently contacted by the organisers of the Melbourne Free University (MFU), an Australian community education group, whose website had been unreachable from a number of Australian ISPs since the 4th of April. It turns out that the IP address of MFU's virtual host has been black-holed by several Australian networks; there is suggestive but not conclusive evidence that this is a result of some sort of government request or order. It is possible that MFU and 1200 other sites that use that IP address are the victims of a block that was put in place for some other reason. Further technical analysis and commentary is in our blog post."
jfruh writes "Faced with an Apple vs. Motorola lawsuit that involves 180 claims and counterclaims across 12 patents, a judge in Florida has thrown up his hands and accused both companies of acting in bad faith. Claiming the parties' were engaged in 'obstreperous and cantankerous conduct', he said that the lawsuit was part of 'a business strategy that appears to have no end.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Mark Zuckerberg, along with other notables such as Google's Eric Schmidt, Yahoo's Marissa Mayer and Reid Hoffman, co-founder of Linkedin, has launched a new immigration reform lobbying group called FWD.us. In an editorial in the Washington Post, Zuckerberg claims that immigrants are the key to a future knowledge-based economy in a United States which currently has 'a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants.' As expected, they are calling for more of the controversial H-1B visas which reached their maximum limit in less than a week this year, but those aren't the only things they're looking to change."
itwbennett writes "Privacy blogger Dan Tynan opted out of data aggregator RapLeaf back in 2010 — and wrote about it. At the time, opting out seemed to work well enough. But fast forward a couple of years and ... they're baaaack. While testing a privacy service called Safe Shepherd, Tynan discovered that 'not only [is he] not opted out of RapLeaf's database, they've also gathered far more information about [him] than they had before.' And it's a pretty good bet some of the data came from Facebook apps, which is a practice that the company was slapped for in 2010 and claimed to no longer do."
Nerval's Lobster writes "T-Platforms, which manufactured the fastest supercomputer in Russia (and twenty-sixth fastest in the world), has been placed on the IT equivalent of the no-fly list. In March, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security added T-Platforms' businesses in Germany, Russia and Taiwan to the 'Entity List,' which includes those believed to be acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. U.S. IT companies are essentially banned from doing business with T-Platforms, especially with regards to HPC hardware such as microprocessors, which could be used for what the government views as illegal purposes. The rule, discovered by HPCWire, was published in March. According to the rule, Commerce's End-User Review Committee (ERC) believes that T-Platforms may be assisting the Russian government and military conduct nuclear research — which, given historical tensions between the two countries, apparently falls outside the bounds of permitted use. An email address that T-Platforms listed for its German office bounced, and Slashdot was unable to reach executives at its Russian headquarters for comment."
retroworks writes "I ignored the warning posted here on Slashdot on March 23. Surely someone was setting up some April Fools day hoax. But the Governor has now signed the bill. Whose cold dead hands will they pry the computer mice out of?" Note: while this might not change your opinion of the Florida law or other things it might lead to, it is aimed specifically at the kind of "Internet cafe" where the "Internet" part is essentially just a portal to online gambling, rather than at conventional Internet cafes.
the simurgh writes in with the latest in the court-martial of Bradley Manning. "A military judge cleared the way Wednesday for a member of the team that raided Osama bin Laden's compound to testify at the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning charged in the WikiLeaks massive classified document leak. Col. Denise Lind ruled for the prosecution during a court-martial pretrial hearing. Prosecutors say the witness, presumably a Navy SEAL, collected digital evidence showing that the al-Qaida leader requested and received from an associate some of the documents Manning has acknowledged leaking. Defense attorneys had argued that proof of receipt wasn't relevant to whether Manning aided the enemy, the most serious charge he faces, punishable by life imprisonment. 'The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the intelligence is given to and received by the enemy,' Lind said. The judge disagreed."
The Pirate Bay switched to two Greenland-based domains Tuesday morning but it looks like the party is already over. The company responsible for .GL TLD registrations said they would not allow the domains to be put to illegal use. “Tele-Post has today decided to block access to two domains operated by file-sharing network The Pirate Bay,” the company said. According to TorrentFreak: "Queries to the .GL domain registry now confirm that both the domains in question have been officially suspended."
kodiaktau writes "The ACLU has issued a FOIA request to determine whether the IRS gets warrants before reading taxpayers' email. The request is based on the antiquated Electronic Communication Protection Act — federal agencies can and do request and read email that is over 180 days old. The IRS response can be found at the ACLU's website. The IRS asserts that it can and will continue to make warrantless requests to ISPs to track down tax evasion. Quoting: 'The documents the ACLU obtained make clear that, before Warshak, it was the policy of the IRS to read people’s email without getting a warrant. Not only that, but the IRS believed that the Fourth Amendment did not apply to email at all. A 2009 "Search Warrant Handbook" from the IRS Criminal Tax Division’s Office of Chief Counsel baldly asserts that "the Fourth Amendment does not protect communications held in electronic storage, such as email messages stored on a server, because internet users do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications." Again in 2010, a presentation by the IRS Office of Chief Counsel asserts that the "4th Amendment Does Not Protect Emails Stored on Server" and there is "No Privacy Expectation" in those emails.'"
An anonymous reader writes "In response to a Freedom of Information Act request about Google's 2007 complaint against Windows Vista search interference, the Department of Justice has after six years released 114 partially redacted pages and 60 full pages of material. Yet these 'responsive documents' consist of public news articles and email boilerplate. All the substantive information has been blacked out."
New submitter Chewbacon writes "If you can't hack it, smash and grab it. Video streaming service Vudu has emailed customers informing them of the theft of hard drives containing customer information. CNET reports the information on the stolen drives included: names, e-mail addresses, postal addresses, phone numbers, account activity, dates of birth, and the last four digits of some credit card numbers. Vudu's Chief Technology Officer Prasanna Ganesan said while no complete credit card numbers were stored on the hard drives and expressed confidence in password encryption, he felt the need to be proactive with the password reset and encouraged users to be proactive as well should the encrypted passwords become compromised. Vudu fails to mention, perhaps in a downplaying move, the last 4 digits of a credit card and much of the other information stolen is often enough to access an account through virtually any company's phone support."
netbuzz writes "The police in Washington state arrested a suspected drug dealer, rummaged through the text messages on his phone, responded to one message while pretending to be the suspect, arranged a meeting, and then arrested the recipient of the text — all without a warrant. The state argues – and an appeals court majority agreed – that both suspects had neither a legal expectation of privacy nor Fourth Amendment protection because both considerations evaporate the moment that any text message arrives on any phone. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is urging the state's Supreme Court to overturn that decision and recognize that 'text messages are the 21st Century phone call.'"
hypnosec writes with news that a group of Russian hackers has compromised the security of Ubisoft's digital distribution platform, uPlay, finding a way for users of the service to download any of its games for free. What makes this particularly notable is that the hackers found a copy of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, an unreleased spin-off of Far Cry 3 that hasn't even been officially announced (except as part of an April Fool's joke). The hackers posted a half-hour of gameplay footage to YouTube, and Ubisoft took uPlay down to fix the security vulnerability. They say no user information was compromised.
conspirator23 writes "A 64-year-old retired English teacher is being sued by a copyright troll for illegal BitTorrent downloading of a motion picture. Perhaps it's not all that shocking in the current era. That is, until we learn that rather than protecting something like Game of Thrones, the plaintiff is accusing Emily Orlando of Estacada, Oregon of downloading Maximum Conviction, a direct-to-video action flick released earlier this year starring Steven Segal and ex-WWE wrestler Steve Austin. Voltage Pictures is demanding $7500 from Emily and 370 other defendants. If all the defendants were to pay the demands, Voltage would gross over $2.75 million, minus legal fees. Who needs Kickstarter?" As you might expect, Mrs. Orlando had never heard of BitTorrent before receiving the legal threat, and she lives in an area with dynamic IP assignments. This is the same company who has been going after file-sharers by the thousands since 2010.
tsamsoniw writes "Mozilla today unveiled Persona Beta 2, the newest edition of the organization's open authentication system. The release includes Identity Bridging, which lets user sign in to Persona-supported sites using their existing webmail accounts, starting with Yahoo. Mozilla used the release as an opportunity to bash social sign-in offerings from Facebook and Twitter, which 'conflate the act of signing into a website with sharing access to your social network, and often granting the site permission to publish on your behalf,' said Lloyd Hilaiel, technical lead for Mozilla Persona. He added that they are built in such a way that social providers have full visibility into a user's browsing behavior."
An anonymous reader writes "As the age of autonomous cars and drone surveillance draws nearer, it's reasonable to expect government to increasingly automate enforcement of traffic laws. We already deal with red light cameras, speed limit cameras, and special lane cameras. But they aren't widespread, and there are a host of problems with them. Now, Ars reports on a group of academics who are attempting to solve the problem of converting simple laws to machine-readable code. They found that when the human filter was removed from the system, results became unreasonable very quickly. For example, if you aren't shy about going 5 mph over the limit, you'll likely break the law dozens of times during an hour of city driving. On the freeway, you might break it continuously for an hour. But it's highly unlikely you'd get more than one ticket for either transgression. Not so with computers (PDF): 'An automated system, however, could maintain a continuous flow of samples based on driving behavior and thus issue tickets accordingly. This level of resolution is not possible in manual law enforcement. In our experiment, the programmers were faced with the choice of how to treat many continuous samples all showing speeding behavior. Should each instance of speeding (e.g. a single sample) be treated as a separate offense, or should all consecutive speeding samples be treated as a single offense? Should the duration of time exceeding the speed limit be considered in the severity of the offense?' One of the academics said, 'When you're talking about automated enforcement, all of the enforcement has to be put in before implementation of the law—you have to be able to predict different circumstances.'"
concealment writes with news that a court battle has brought to light details on how the FBI's "stingray" surveillance tool works, and how they used it with Verizon's help to collect evidence about an alleged identity thief. Quoting: "Air cards are devices that plug into a computer and use the wireless cellular networks of phone providers to connect the computer to the internet. The devices are not phones and therefore don’t have the ability to receive incoming calls, but in this case Rigmaiden asserts that Verizon reconfigured his air card to respond to surreptitious voice calls from a landline controlled by the FBI. The FBI calls, which contacted the air card silently in the background, operated as pings to force the air card into revealing its location. In order to do this, Verizon reprogrammed the device so that when an incoming voice call arrived, the card would disconnect from any legitimate cell tower to which it was already connected, and send real-time cell-site location data to Verizon, which forwarded the data to the FBI. This allowed the FBI to position its stingray in the neighborhood where Rigmaiden resided. The stingray then "broadcast a very strong signal" to force the air card into connecting to it, instead of reconnecting to a legitimate cell tower, so that agents could then triangulate signals coming from the air card and zoom-in on Rigmaiden’s location. To make sure the air card connected to the FBI’s simulator, Rigmaiden says that Verizon altered his air card’s Preferred Roaming List so that it would accept the FBI’s stingray as a legitimate cell site and not a rogue site, and also changed a data table on the air card designating the priority of cell sites so that the FBI’s fake site was at the top of the list."
GTRacer writes "In response to Aereo's recent win allowing per-user over-the-air antenna feeds to remote devices, Fox COO Chase Carey said, 'We need to be able to be fairly compensated for our content. This is not an ideal path we look to pursue [...],' that path being a switch to a subscription model. Spanish-language stalwart Univison may join Fox, per CEO Haim Saban. Aereo replied, in part, 'When broadcasters asked Congress for a free license to digitally broadcast on the public's airwaves, they did so with the promise that they would broadcast in the public interest and convenience, and that they would remain free-to-air. Having a television antenna is every American's right.' A switch to a pay-TV subscription model would stymie Aereo but could hurt affiliate stations."
RougeFemme writes with this story in the New York Times about one disconcerting aspect of the ongoing move to electronic textbooks: "Teachers at 9 colleges are testing technology from a Silicon Valley start-up that lets them know if you're skipping pages, highlighting text, taking notes — or, of course, not opening the book at all. '"It's Big Brother, sort of, but with a good intent," said Tracy Hurley, the dean of the school of business at Texas A&M.' 'Major publishers in higher education have already been collecting data from millions of students who use their digital materials. But CourseSmart goes further by individually packaging for each professor information on all the students in a class — a bold effort that is already beginning to affect how teachers present material and how students respond to it, even as critics question how well it measures learning.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "According to an appellate court in California, checking your smartphone while driving your Volkswagen (or any other vehicle) is officially verboten. In January 2012, one Steven R. Spriggs was pulled over and cited for checking a map on his smartphone while driving. In a trial held four months later, Spriggs disputed that his action violated California's Section 23123 subdivision (a), which states that a person can't use a phone while driving unless 'that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free driving and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.' In short, he argued that the statute was limited to those functions of listening and talking—things he insisted could have been followed to the letter of the law. But the judge ruled that operating a phone for GPS, calling, texting, or whatever else was still a distraction and allowed the conviction to stand. That leads to a big question: with everything from Google Glass to cars' own dashboard screens offering visual 'distractions' like dynamic maps, can (and should) courts take a more active role in defining what people are allowed to do with technology behind the wheel? Or are statutes like California's hopelessly outdated?"
waderoush writes "At a time of sequesters and shrinking R&D spending, critics are attacking President Obama's proposed Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, which would have a $100 million budget starting in 2014. But in fact, the project 'runs the risk of becoming a casualty of small-bore thinking in science business, and politics,' argues Xconomy national life sciences editor Luke Timmerman. The goal of the BRAIN initiative is to develop technologies for exploring the trillions of synapses between neurons in the human brain. If the $3 billion Human Genome Project and its even more productive sequel, the $300-million-per-year Advanced Sequencing Technologies program, are any guide, the initiative could lead to huge advances in our understanding of Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, and consciousness itself. Only government can afford to think this big, argues Timmerman. 'Even though $100 million a year is small change by federal government standards,' Timmerman writes, 'it is enough to create a small market that gives for-profit companies assurance that if they build such tools, someone will buy them. We ought to be talking about how we can free up more money to achieve our neuroscience goals faster, rather than talking about whether we can afford this puny appropriation at all.'"
An anonymous reader points out a story at Ars about how the "significant reduction" in the backlog of pending patent applications may not be all that it seems. "...a new study suggests another explanation for the declining backlog: the patent office may have lowered its standards, approving many patents that would have been (and in some cases, had been) rejected under the administration of George W. Bush. The authors—Chris Cotropia and Cecil Quillen of the University of Richmond and independent researcher Ogden Webster—used Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain detailed data about the fate of patent applications considered by the USPTO since 1996. They found that the "allowance rate," the fraction of applications approved by the patent office, declined steadily from 2001 and 2009. But in the last four years there's been a sharp reversal, with a 2012 allowance rate about 20 percent higher than it was in 2009."
An anonymous reader writes to note the latest large-scale document release from WikiLeaks: "The cables are all from the time period of 1973 to 1976. Without droning about too many numbers that can be found in the press release, about 200,000 of the cables relate directly to former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. These cables include significant revelations about U.S. involvements with fascist dictatorships, particularly in Latin America, under Franco's Spain (including about the Spanish royal family) and in Greece under the regime of the Colonels. The documents also contain hourly diplomatic reporting on the 1973 war between Israel, Egypt and Syria (the 'Yom Kippur war'). While several of these documents have been used by U.S. academic researchers in the past, the Kissinger Cables provides unparalleled access to journalists and the general public. 'The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.' — Henry A. Kissinger, U.S. Secretary of State, March 10, 1975."
In the end, the Streisand Effect prevailed, as you might expect, when a French domestic intelligence agency apparently browbeat a French citizen into removing content from Wikipedia. The attention caused the Wikipedia entry on a formerly obscure military radio site (English version) to leap in popularity not only in French, but in languages where it was formerly far less likely to have been noticed at all. Lauren Weinstein makes the case, though, that this sort of move isn't just something to shrug at or assume will always end so nicely. "Even though attempts at Internet censorship will almost all fail in the end, governments and authorities have the capability to make groups' and individuals' lives extremely uncomfortable, painful, or even terminated — in the process of attempts at censorship, and equally important, by instilling fear to encourage self-censorship in the first place."
First time accepted submitter snobody writes "Recently, an article was posted on Slashdot about the claim that law enforcement made about being frustrated by their inability to decrypt messages using Apple's iMessage. However, this article on Techdirt suggests that the DEA may be spewing out disinformation. As the Techdirt article says, if you switch to a new iDevice, you still are able to access your old iMessages, suggesting that Apple has the key somewhere in the cloud. Thus, if law enforcement goes directly to Apple, they should be able to get the key."
MarkWhittington writes "A clash over the future course of American space exploration flared up at a recent joint meeting of the Space Studies Board and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. In one corner was Al Carnesale of UCLA, who headed the recent study issued by the National Research Council that found fault with the Obama administration's plan to send American astronauts to an asteroid. In the other corner was NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who has been charged with carrying out the policy condemned by the NRC report."
girlmad writes "Rackspace has come out fighting against one of the U.S.'s most notorious patent trolls, Parallel Iron. The cloud services firm said it's totally fed up with trolls of all kinds, which have caused a 500 percent rise in its legal bills. Rackspace was last week named among 12 firms accused of infringing Parallel Iron's Hadoop Distributed File System patents. Rackspace is now counter-suing the troll, as the firm said it has a deal in place with Parallel Iron after signing a previous patent settlement with them."
Lasrick writes "Derrin Culp of the National Center for Disease Preparedness explores the different levels of scrutiny that scientists in microbiology undergo, when compared to those who work in the nuclear weapons field. His complaint is that, even though America's most notorious biosecurity breach — the 2001 anthrax mailings — was the work of an insider, expert panels have concluded that there is no need for intrusive monitoring of microbiologists engaged in unclassified research."
New submitter anderzole writes "Germany's Federal Patent Court on Thursday invalidated all of Apple's claims for its slide-to-unlock patent. They death blow for Apple's slide to unlock patent was likely a Swedish phone called the Neonode N1m that launched well before the iPhone and featured its own slide to unlock implementation. The N1m was released in 2005 while Apple's own patent for slide to unlock wasn't filed until December of 2005."
We've mentioned a few times the "gentleman's agreements" which some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley used to reduce the risk of employee poaching. walterbyrd writes "This comes from the same judge who awarded Apple $1 billion from Samsung. 'A federal judge on Friday struck down an effort to form a class action lawsuit to go after Apple, Google and five other technology companies for allegedly forming an illegal cartel to tamp down workers' wages and prevent the loss of their best engineers during a multiyear conspiracy broken up by government regulators.'" The lawsuit itself is ongoing (thanks to a ruling last year by the same judge); it's just that the plaintiff's claims cannot be combined.
After being saddled with a half-billion dollars in loans from the U.S. Department of Energy, electric car manufacturer Fisker just can't catch a break. It's not just the cars; it's the company itself. From a Reuters report: "In a statement, Fisker confirmed that it let go about 75 percent of its workforce. The automaker said it was 'a necessary strategic step in our efforts to maximize the value of Fisker's core assets.' A Fisker representative could not immediately answer questions on the company's financial position. In the past, the automaker has declined to comment on the possibility of bankruptcy. ... About 160 employees were terminated at a Friday morning meeting at Fisker's Anaheim, California, headquarters, according to a second source who attended the meeting. They were told that the company could not afford to give them severance payments."
saibot834 writes "The French domestic intelligence agency DCRI has forced a Wikipedia administrator to delete an article about a local military base. The administrator, who is also the president of Wikimédia France, has been threatened by the agency with immediate reprisals after his initial refusal to comply. Following a discussion on the administrator's noticeboard, the article (which is said to violate a law on the secrecy of the national defense) has been reinstated by a foreign user. Prior to pressuring the admin, DCRI contacted the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), which refused to remove the article. WMF claimed the article only contained publicly available information, in accordance with Wikipedia's verifiability policy. While the consequences for Wikimedia's community remain unclear, one thing is certain: The military base article – now available in English – will get more public awareness than ever before."
i_want_you_to_throw_ writes "You have a Friend Request from: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms... 'Confirm'? 'Not Now'? Seriously, the ATF won't try to friend you on Facebook. The ATF doesn't just want a huge database to reveal everything about you with a few keywords. It wants one that can find out who you know. According to a recent solicitation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the bureau is looking to buy a 'massive online data repository system' for its Office of Strategic Intelligence and Information (OSII)."
First time accepted submitter Dawn Kawamoto writes "Employers stampeding into the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to get their H-1B petitions filed before the cap is reached are getting the door slammed in their face today. The cap was hit in near record time of 5 days, compared to the 10 weeks it took last year to have more than enough petitions to fulfill the combined cap of 85,000 statutory and advanced degree H-1B petitions. While U.S. tech workers scream that they're losing out on jobs as H-1B workers are hired, employers are countering that the talent pool is lacking and they need to increase the cap. Of course, Congress is wrangling in on this one as to whether it's time to raise the bar."
mk1004 writes "From Bloomberg and the Washington Post come reports that Google is petitioning a federal court to resist compliance with a national security letter from the FBI. This comes two weeks after the U.S. District Judge in San Francisco ruled that NSLs are unconstitutional because they 'violate the First Amendment and separation of powers principles.' Google filed a petition to 'set aside the legal process,' citing a provision that allows judges to modify or deny NSLs that are 'unreasonable, oppressive, or otherwise unlawful.' EFF attorney Matt Zimmerman was quoted as saying, 'the people who are in the best position to challenge the practice are people like Google. So far no one has really stood up for their users.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "For quite some time, there's been a theory drifting around that government can be made more open and efficient via the same crowdsourcing and social-networking tools that created such successes out of Facebook, Twitter and Kickstarter. In that spirit, numerous pundits and analysts have advocated the development of 'e-government' or 'government 2.0.' But what if the idea isn't as great as it seems? That's the angle embraced by Evgeny Morozov in a recent essay for The Baffler. Structured as a lengthy takedown of open-source advocate and O'Reilly Media founder Tim O'Reilly, the piece veers off to fire a few torpedoes at the idea of making government more responsive and transparent through technology (the latter being something O'Reilly readily advocates). 'One of the main reasons why governments choose not to offload certain services to the private sector is not because they think they can do a better job at innovation or efficiency,' Morozov writes, 'but because other considerations — like fairness and equity of access — come into play.' If O'Reilly himself argues that a government should be 'stripped down to its core' into a form more transparent and collaboration-friendly, Morozov counters with the idea that the 'participation' envisioned by most government 2.0 scenarios is limited, little better in practice than the comments section at the bottom of a corporate blog posting."
ducomputergeek writes "Since the assault weapons ban seems to have died in Congress, it looks like Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) now turning her attention to video games...again. '"If Sandy Hook doesn't [make game publishers change] then maybe we have to proceed, but that is in the future," said Feinstein. She went on to claim that video games play "a very negative role for young people, and the industry ought to take note of that."' Yet, as the article points out, since the introduction of games like DOOM, the crime rate in the U.S. has gone down. Dramatically. Correlation != causation, and all that jazz, but there are a lot of violent video games these days and yet crime has continued to go down."
kierny writes "Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) should know better. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee claimed to told NBC News that the Operation Ababil U.S. bank disruption DDoS campaign could be stopped, if only private businesses had unfettered access to top-flight U.S. government threat intelligence. Not coincidentally, Rogers is the author of CISPA (now v2.0), a bill that would provide legal immunity for businesses that share threat data with the government, while allowing intelligence agencies to use it for 'national security' purposes, thus raising the ire of privacy rights groups. Just one problem: Numerous security experts have rubbished Rogers' assertion that threat intelligence would have any effect on banks' ability to defend themselves. The bank disruptions aren't cutting-edge or stealthy. They're just about packets overwhelming targeted sites, despite what Congressionally delivered intelligence might suggest."
another random user sends this excerpt from the BBC: "Two film studios have asked Google to take down links to messages sent by them requesting the removal of links connected to film piracy. Google receives 20 million 'takedown' requests, officially known as DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notices, every month. They are all published online. Recent submissions by Fox and Universal Studios include requests for the removal of previous takedown notices. ... By making the notices available, Google is unintentionally highlighting the location of allegedly pirated material, say some experts. 'It would only take one skilled coder to index the URLs from the DMCA notices in order to create one of the largest pirate search engines available,' wrote Torrent Freak editor Ernesto Van Der Sar on the site."
New submitter SoVi3t points out comments from Microsoft Studios Creative Director Adam Orth about the debate over always-online DRM, brought to the fore recently by the disastrous launch of SimCity and rumors that the next-gen Xbox console will require it. "Don't want a gaming console that requires a persistent internet connection? 'Deal with it,' says Microsoft Studio's creative director. In what he later termed a 'fun lunch break,' Orth took to Twitter to express his shock at people who take umbrage with the idea of an always-on console. When quizzed by other Twitter users about people with no internet connection, he suggested that they should get one, as it is 'awesome.' He then likened people who worry about intermittent internet connectivity being an issue as the same as someone not buying a vacuum cleaner because the electricity sometimes goes out. While Orth later apologized, saying it had being a bit of banter with friends, it did raise awareness that there are more than a few people who are very unhappy with the possibility of an always-on future version of the Xbox. Orth has also now switched his Twitter account settings to private."
According to an report at CNET, "Encryption used in Apple's iMessage chat service has stymied attempts by federal drug enforcement agents to eavesdrop on suspects' conversations, an internal government document reveals. An internal Drug Enforcement Administration document seen by CNET discusses a February 2013 criminal investigation and warns that because of the use of encryption, 'it is impossible to intercept iMessages between two Apple devices' even with a court order approved by a federal judge." The article goes on to talk about ways in which the U.S. government is pressuring companies to leave peepholes for law enforcement in just such apps, and provides some insight into why the proprietary iMessage is (but might not always be) a problem for eavesdroppers, even ones with badges. Adds reader adeelarshad82, "It turns out that encryption is only half of the problem while the real issue lies in the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act which was passed in 1994.
coondoggie writes "There is no humor in an airport. It's a fact. And while most travelers business or otherwise know that, there are a few out there who haven't gotten the message or perhaps the choose to ignore it. Either way the 'People Say the Darndest Things' or 'What Not to Say at an Airport' section has become one of the more popular destinations on the TSA Blog site." The collected wit and wisdom of airline passengers linked unfortunately does not distinguish between stupidity (claiming that you have a bomb to get through security faster) and seemingly sensible questions that get at the heart of the problems with the current and long-running engagement of Homeland Security Theater. (It's also hard to know whether some passengers might have innocently thought their tone, facial expression, body language or context would have served as notice that they weren't actually threatening murder.)
Bruce66423 writes "The BBC reports that Mt.Gox, the main exchange dealing with Bitcoins, has been attacked, and other resources are off line. A scary reminder of how insecure ALL money is in the computer age..." Also at TechWeekEurope. A message at bitcoin storage service Instawallet's site begins "The Instawallet service is suspended indefinitely until we are able to develop an alternative architecture. Our database was fraudulently accessed, due to the very nature of Instawallet it is impossible to reopen the service as-is."
Presto Vivace writes with this snippet from the New York Times: "'In the six months since the Domain Awareness System was unveiled, officials of Microsoft, which designed the system with the New York Police Department, said they have been surprised by the response and are actively negotiating with a number of prospective buyers, whom Microsoft declined to identify.' Don't want this in your city? You might want to let your local leadership know how you feel."
twoheadedboy writes "Members of the legal team responsible for prosecution of Aaron Swartz have claimed they received threatening letters and emails, and some had their social network accounts hacked, following the suicide of the Internet freedom activist. Following Swartz's death, his family and friends widely lambasted the prosecution team, who were accused of being heavy-handed in their pursuit of the 26-year-old. He was facing trial for alleged copyright infringement, accused of downloading excessive amounts of material from the academic article resource JSTOR. U.S. attorney for Massachusetts Carmen Ortiz, who headed up the prosecution, and another lead prosecutor, Stephen Heymann, have reportedly become the target of 'harassing and threatening messages,' and their personal information, including home address, personal telephone number, and the names of family members and friends, was posted online. Heymann also received a postcard with a picture of his father's head in a guillotine."