An anonymous reader writes "In a move that might dampen the popularity of Airbnb's site for Amsterdam, the city government is now using the accommodation listing service as a source of tips about illegal rental property. 'Airbnb is never a smoking gun,' said Jan-Jaap Eikelboom, spokesman for the city of Amsterdam, regarding use of the service. But the government does use Airbnb and its competitors to compare its own nuisance data with street listings on sites like Airbnb, and has been doing so for a while, he said. This combined information can come in handy when investigating suspicious buildings and can help with spotting illegal activity, he said."
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ahziem writes "As author of the BleachBit system cleaner, I received a polite but firm request from Piriform, makers of the similar application CCleaner, to remove a two-year-old feature from BleachBit that allows individual BleachBit users to import winapp2.ini data files created by the community that define which files to delete for applications. Does Piriform's request have merit? Do I need a lawyer? What is a good response to avoid any ugly situation?"
Nate the greatest writes "The developer of the popular Android app Moon+ Reader was surprised to discover this weekend that he is a filthy stinking pirate. Google informed him via an automated email that Moon+ Reader had been removed from Google Play because the app had switched to using pirate sites as the main sources of ebooks. Or at least, that's what LitRes claims, but when they complained to Google LitRes didn't tell the whole truth. What was really happening is that users of the app are enabling piracy, not the app itself. Thanks to the way Moon+ Reader is designed to let users share links to ebook sources some of the sources are indeed pirate sites (less than your average Google Search). In reality the app was no more a source of pirated content than your average web browser. What do you say when an ebook distributor's anti-piracy plan involves going after app developers rather than pirate sites? Something printable, IMO."
lcam writes "A Richard Stallman opinion piece appears at Reuters addressing the 'Too big to fail' view that has recently caused large corporations to be bailed out by taxpayer dollars. His solution is elegant: 'We tax a company’s gross income, with a tax rate that increases as the company gets bigger. Companies would be able to reduce their tax rates by splitting themselves up.' However, it could use some refining. For example, his measure would create a required minimum 'Return on Investment' scale that corporations need to follow to be viable, and these types of metrics are very industry specific. Another issue is that many large corporations stay in business because they don't take unnecessary risk. Companies like Intel, Lockheed, Walmart are very large and have a very low chance of failure, yet Stallman would have them split up as a result of the excessive risks that banks and insurance companies were seen to have taken. It also has the potential to cause problems with the global market; some multinationals may find it better to simply 'move out' to a country that doesn't compromise their business models. How can this idea be made better?"
mask.of.sanity writes "Security researchers have shown how to raid Africa micro-finance bank accounts en masse using fake audio one time passwords. The banks use audio one-time passwords to authenticate users logging into their accounts, but failed to implement properly security controls across numerous systems. Crucially, the researchers did not reveal how they cracked the encryption in order to protect users."
An anonymous reader writes "SCO, now calling itself TSG, has just filed a motion (Pdf) with the bankruptcy court in Delaware asking it to authorize 'the abandonment, disposal, and/or destruction of certain surplus, obsolete, non-core or burdensome, property, including, without limitation, shelving, convention materials, telecommunications and computer equipment, accounting and sales documents, and business records.'"
schwit1 writes "A proposal by the Prince George's County Board of Education to copyright work created by staff and students for school could mean that a picture drawn by a first-grader, a lesson plan developed by a teacher or an app created by a teen would belong to the school system, not the individual. It's not unusual for a company to hold the rights to an employee's work, copyright policy experts said. But the Prince George's policy goes a step further by saying that work created for the school by employees during their own time and using their own materials is the school system's property."
An anonymous reader writes "My company has been contacted by certified letter by Delaware law firm. They are seeking license fees for a Wi-fi patent. I believe this is a patent troll (not that this matters in relation to dealing with this issue). This is a newly formed law firm less than 4 months old. This patent is U.S. Patent No. 5,506,866. This patent covers equipment and method related to the transmission of information involving the multiplexing information into a stream of signal points (and demultiplexing the same), and related technology. They have 'offered' to license this patent with no amounts specified. Unfortunately we are a small free software company. The company is setup as a sole proprietorship. I'm not asking for legal advise from the Slashdot community. The question is where might one look for 'legal counsel' with the expertise to answer these types of legal questions as it relates to this inquiry. I would prefer to avoid legal fees, court cases, or license fees running the company into the ground. The company is registered in New Jersey."
coondoggie writes "When it comes to relatively new technologies, few have been developing at the relentless pace of mobile. But with that development has come a serious threat to the security of personal information and privacy. The Federal Trade Commission has issued a report (PDF) on mobility issues and said less than one-third of Americans feel they are in control of their personal information on their mobile devices. 'The report makes recommendations for critical players in the mobile marketplace: mobile platforms (operating system providers, such as Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry, Google, and Microsoft), application (app) developers, advertising networks and analytics companies, and app developer trade associations. ... The report recommends that mobile platforms should: Provide just-in-time disclosures to consumers and obtain their affirmative express consent before allowing apps to access sensitive content like geolocation; Consider developing a one-stop “dashboard” approach to allow consumers to review the types of content accessed by the apps they have downloaded; Consider offering a Do Not Track (DNT) mechanism for smartphone users.'"
concealment sends this excerpt from the NY Times: "Late last year, Zoe Keating, an independent musician from Northern California, provided an unusually detailed case in point. In voluminous spreadsheets posted to her Tumblr blog, she revealed the royalties she gets from various services, down to the ten-thousandth of a cent. Even for an under-the-radar artist like Ms. Keating, who describes her style as “avant cello,” the numbers painted a stark picture of what it is like to be a working musician these days. After her songs had been played more than 1.5 million times on Pandora over six months, she earned $1,652.74. On Spotify, 131,000 plays last year netted just $547.71, or an average of 0.42 cent a play. 'In certain types of music, like classical or jazz, we are condemning them to poverty if this is going to be the only way people consume music,' Ms. Keating said. ... The question dogging the music industry is whether these micropayments can add up to anything substantial. 'No artist will be able to survive to be professionals except those who have a significant live business, and that’s very few,' said Hartwig Masuch, chief executive of BMG Rights Management."
An anonymous reader writes "Today Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy, released a letter indicating he won't continue to hold the job for President Obama's second term. He'll continue until the ARPA-E Summit at the end of February, and then perhaps a bit longer until a replacement is found. MIT's Technology Review sums up his contributions thus: 'Under his leadership, the U.S. Department of Energy has changed the way it does energy research and development. He leaves behind new research organizations that are intently focused on solving specific energy problems, particularly the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy as well as several Innovation Hubs. The latter were modeled closely on Chu's experience working at the legendary Bell labs, where researchers solving basic problems rubbed shoulders with engineers who knew how to build things. At one Innovation Hub, for example, researchers who are inventing new materials that can absorb sunlight or split water are working together with engineers who are building prototypes that could use those materials to generate fuel from sunlight. Chu also brought an intense focus on addressing climate change through technical innovation, speaking clearly and optimistically about the potential for breakthroughs to change what's possible.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Facebook has brought back its photo Tag Suggestions feature to the U.S. after temporarily suspending it last year to make some technical improvements. Facebook says it has re-enabled it so that its users can use facial recognition 'to help them easily identify a friend in a photo and share that content with them.' Facebook first rolled out the face recognition feature across the U.S. in late 2010. The company eventually pushed photo Tag Suggestions to other countries in June 2011, but in the US there was quite a backlash. Yet Facebook doesn't appear to have made any privacy changes to the feature: it's still on by default."
pigrabbitbear writes "It always sounded like a hoax, didn't it? Silk Road: an Internet website where you can buy any drug in the world? Yeah, right. But it's real. It was almost two years ago that we first heard about the site, which hosts everything from Adderall to Ketamine, LSD to MDMA and tons and tons of weed. After it started to pick up a ton of press and exposure, we all thought that certainly the Silk Road would get shut down. It's super illegal to sell drugs or even to help people sell drugs. But it didn't. Silk Road survives to this day. However, with the arrival this week of the first conviction of a Silk Road-related crime, you have to wonder if Silk Road's days might be numbered after all. The trouble is brewing in Australia, where a guy named Paul Leslie Howard is facing as many as five years in prison for selling drugs on Silk Road. We're not talking millions of dollars worth of drugs, but we are talking about thousands of dollars worth. And just as Silk Road natives had feared, Howard was one of those Silk Road n00bs who read a newspaper article about the site and decided to try it out for himself."
New submitter Matt Slaybaugh writes "John Foley at InformationWeek has an editorial saying that the missing piece in the new gun control legislation is adequate data management. 'President Obama introduced 23 executive orders on Jan. 16 aimed at reducing gun violence through a combination of tougher regulation and enforcement, research, training, education and attention to mental healthcare. Several of the proposed actions involve better information sharing, including requiring federal agencies to make relevant data available to the FBI's background check system and easing legal barriers that prevent states from contributing data to that system.' But concrete plans are needed now to improve the current poor system of data collection and sharing. Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel's Digital Government Strategy, introduced in May, 'defines an IT architecture and processes for sharing digitized content securely, using Web APIs and with attention to protecting privacy. ... Unfortunately, on top of the data quality issues identified by the White House, and the FBI's and ATF's outdated IT systems, there's a lack of transparency about the systems used to enforce federal gun-control laws.'"
Dangerous_Minds writes "On Wednesday, we discussed news that RIANZ convicted its first file-sharer under the New Zealand three strikes law. While the fine totaled $616.57, a New Zealand Herald report points out that in order to get that fine, RIANZ had to spend $250,000. Freezenet makes an interesting point that HADOPI (France's version of the three strikes law) faced similar problems when the Socialist party commented that 12 million euros was a lot of money to pay 60 agents to send out 1 million e-mails. The question raised is whether or not this money pit trend will continue when the Copyright Alert System starts processing strike notices in the United States."
An anonymous reader writes "The Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZVB) has sued computer game distributor Valve because it prohibits Steam-gamers from reselling their games. Steam users own the games they purchase and should be able to resell them when they want to, just like owners of traditional card or board games can, said Carola Elbrecht, project manager for consumer rights in the digital world at the VZVB, on Thursday. But while those traditional game owners can resell their games whenever they like, Steam users often cannot, she said."
sfcrazy writes "In a nutshell there won't be a new trial in the Apple V. Samsung case, as Samsung wanted, because the judge thinks that the trial was fair despite allegations that the jury foreman could have been biased. She also ruled that there won't be any more money for Apple as the iPhone maker failed to prove they were 'undercompensated' by the jury. The most important ruling was that she found that 'Samsung did not willfully infringe.'"
Diamonddavej writes "Leading privacy expert Caspar Bowden warned European citizens not to use cloud services hosted in the U.S. over spying fears. Bowden, former privacy adviser to Microsoft Europe, explained at a panel discussion hosted at the recent Computers, Privacy and Data Protection conference in Brussels, that a section in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act 2008 (FISAAA) permits U.S. intelligence agencies to access data owned by non-U.S. citizens on cloud storage hosed by U.S. companies, if their activity is deemed to affect U.S. foreign policy. Bowden claimed the Act allows for purely political spying of activists, protesters and political groups. Bowden also pointed out that amendments to the EU's data protection regulation proposal introduce specific loopholes that permit FISAAA surveillance. The president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves (at a separate panel discussion) commented, 'If it is a U.S. company it's the FBI's jurisdiction and if you are not a U.S. citizen then they come and look at whatever you have if it is stored on a U.S. company server.' The European Data Protection Supervisor declined to comment but an insider indicated that the authority is looking into the matter."
coondoggie writes "The Federal Trade Commission today said the submission period for its Robocall Challenge had ended and it got 744 new ideas for ways to shut down the annoying automated callers. The FTC noted that the vast majority of telephone calls that deliver a prerecorded message trying to sell something to the recipient are illegal. The FTC regulates these calls under the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Challenge was issued to developing technical or functional solutions and proofs of concepts that can block illegal robocalls which, despite the agency's best efforts, seem to be increasing."
Zordak writes "Micron has recently landed U.S. Patent 8,352,745, which claims priority back to a February 2000 application---well before Apple's 2004 slide-to-unlock application. While claim construction is a highly technical art, the claims here are (for once) almost as broad as they sound, and may cover the bulk of touch screen smart phones on the market today. Dennis Crouch's Patently-O has a discussion."