SternisheFan writes with news that Google has updated is Transparency Report for the sixth time, and the big takeaway this time around is a significant increase in government surveillance. From the article: "In a blog post, Google senior policy analyst Dorothy Chou says, ' [G]overnment demands for user data have increased steadily since we first launched the Transparency Report.' In the first half of 2012, the period covered in the report, Chou says there were 20,938 inquiries from government organizations for information about 34,614 Google-related accounts. Google has a long history of pushing back against governmental demands for data, going back at least to its refusal to turn over search data to the Department of Justice in 2005. Many other companies have chosen to cooperate with government requests rather than question or oppose them, but Chou notes that in the past year, companies like Dropbox, LinkedIn, Sonic.net and Twitter have begun making government information requests public, to inform the discussion about Internet freedom and its limits. According to the report, the U.S. continues to make the most requests for user data, 7,969 in the first six months of the year. Google complied with 90% of these requests. Google's average compliance rate for the 31 countries listed in the report is about 47%."
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New submitter patella.whack writes "A guilty plea for six counts of selling counterfeit media gets a defendant 15 years in Mississippi. An undercover reporter from the Attorney General's Intellectual Property Theft Task Force managed to buy a total of five copied movies and one music CD from the defendant, who had 10,500 pirated discs at home and two prior convictions: one for assaulting a police officer 17 years ago and one for CD piracy that got him a year under house arrest. Says the RIAA: '[This] highlights the fact that the individuals engaging in these activities are frequently serial criminals for whom IP theft is simply the most convenient and profitable way they could steal from others.' Frequently serial criminals? 15 years? I wonder how much of his sentence can be attributed to his priors rather than to other factors."
An anonymous reader writes "Back in April, we discussed how the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act says email that has resided on a server for more than six months can be considered abandoned. The recent investigation of General Petraeus brings this issue to light again, and perhaps to a broader audience. Under current U.S. law, federal authorities need only a subpoena approved by a federal prosecutor — not a judge — to obtain electronic messages that are six months old or older. Do you know anyone these days who doesn't have IMAP accounts with 6+-month-old mail on them?"
According to a story at Northwest Public Radio, the state of Virginia's board of education has decided to institute different passing scores for standardized tests, based on the racial and cultural background of the students taking the test. Apparently the state has chosen to divide its student population into broad categories of black, white, Hispanic, and Asian — which takes painting with a rather broad brush, to put it mildly. From the article (there's an audio version linked as well): "As part of Virginia's waiver to opt out of mandates set out in the No Child Left Behind law, the state has created a controversial new set of education goals that are higher for white and Asian kids than for blacks, Latinos and students with disabilities. ... Here's what the Virginia state board of education actually did. It looked at students' test scores in reading and math and then proposed new passing rates. In math it set an acceptable passing rate at 82 percent for Asian students, 68 percent for whites, 52 percent for Latinos, 45 percent for blacks and 33 percent for kids with disabilities." (If officially determined group membership determines passing scores, why stop there?) Florida passed a similar measure last month.
theodp writes "GeekWire's Taylor Soper reports that the University of Washington has capped live sports coverage at 20 Tweets per basketball game (45 for football) and threatens to revoke the credentials of journalists who dare exceed the Twitter limits. Tacoma News Tribune reporter Todd Dybas was reportedly 'reprimanded' after drawing the ire of the UW Athletic Dept. for apparently Tweeting too much during UW's 85-63 Sunday win over Loyola."
New submitter thn writes "John McAfee, who started the antivirus software giant named after him, has been accused of murder in Belize and is wanted. McAfee had taken to 'posting on a drug-focused Russian message board...about his attempts to purify the psychoactive compounds colloquially known as "bath salts,"' Gizmodo wrote. The scariest aspect of this story may be the fact that an entire lab was constructed for John McAfee's research purposes. Because of his efforts to extract chemicals from natural chemical plans McAfee was able to justify his experiments in a country that is largely unregulated."
hypnosec writes "Kim Dotcom has revealed that Megaupload's successor, Mega, which is reportedly launching on January 20, 2013, will be operating through a new domain name: Mega.co.nz. Through a tweet Dotcom announced that Mega has found a new home and that the new domain name is protected by the law. Dotcom also revealed that lobbyists won't be able to do anything about this, as 'judges are not influenced by politics in New Zealand.' Recent announcements about Mega's domain — Me.ga — didn't go as planned following a decision by the Government of Gabon to suspend the domain name. Dotcom had announced at the time that despite the blockage, Mega would launch as planned."
Hugh Pickens writes "The WSJ reports that widespread disruptions to Google in China over the weekend, halting use of everything from Google's search engine to its Gmail email service to its Google Play mobile-applications store, underscore the uncertainty surrounding Beijing's effort to control the flow of information into the country, as well as the risks that effort poses to the government's efforts to draw global businesses. The source of the disruptions couldn't be determined, but Internet experts pointed to China's Internet censorship efforts, which have been ratcheted up ahead of the 18th Party Congress. 'There appears to be a throttling under way of Web access,' says David Wolf, citing recent articles in foreign media about corruption and wealth in China spurred by the party congress and the fall of former party star Bo Xilai, 'that's their primary concern, people getting news either through Google or through its services.' Beijing risks a backlash if it were to block Google outright on a long-term basis, says Wolf and such a move could put Beijing in violation of its free-trade commitment under the World Trade Organization and make China a less-attractive place to do business. 'If China insists in the medium and long term of creating another Great Firewall between the China cloud and the rest of the world, China will be an increasingly untenable place to do business.'"
Barence writes "A British man has been arrested for posting a picture of a burning poppy on Facebook. The poppy is a symbol of remembrance for those who died in war, and the arrest was made on Remembrance Sunday. 'A man from Aylesham has tonight been arrested on suspicion of malicious telecommunications,' Kent police said in a statement after the arrest. 'This follows a posting on a social network site of a burning poppy. He is currently in police custody awaiting interview.' The arrest has been criticized by legal experts. 'What was the point of winning either World War if, in 2012, someone can be casually arrested by @Kent_police for burning a poppy?' tweeted David Allen Green, who helped clear the British man who was prosecuted for a joke tweet threatening to blow up an airport."
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Since 2008, Dallas, Texas attorney Erich Spangenberg and his company TQP have been launching suits against hundreds of firms, claiming that merely by using SSL, they've violated a patent TQP acquired in 2006. Nevermind that the patent was actually filed in 1989, long before the World Wide Web was even invented. So far Spangenberg's targets have included Apple, Google, Intel, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, every major bank and credit card company, and scores of web startups and online retailers, practically anyone who encrypts pages of a web sites to protect users' privacy. And while most of those lawsuits are ongoing, many companies have already settled with TQP rather than take the case to trial, including Apple, Amazon, Dell, and Exxon Mobil. The patent has expired now, but Spangenberg can continue to sue users of SSL for six more years and seems determined to do so as much as possible. 'When the government grants you the right to a patent, they grant you the right to exclude others from using it,' says Spangenberg. 'I don't understand why just because [SSL is] prevalent, it should be free.'"
jjp9999 writes "Nextgov reports, 'The Homeland Security Department has commissioned Accenture to test technology that mines open social networks for indications of pandemics, according to the vendor.' This will kick off a year-long biosurveillance program, costing $3 million, that will log trends in public health by looking through public posts. This ties back to White House guidelines released in July that ask federal agencies to 'Consider social media as a force multiplier that can empower individuals and communities to provide early warning and global situational awareness.'"
chicksdaddy writes "We hear a lot about vulnerabilities in industrial control system (ICS) software. But what about real evidence of compromised SCADA and industrial control systems? According to security researcher Michael Toecker, a consultant at the firm Digital Bond, the evidence for infected systems with links to industrial automation and control systems is right under our eyes: buried in public support forums. Toecker audited support sites like bleepingcomputer.com, picking through data dumps from free malware scanning tools like HijackThis and DDS. He found scans of infected systems that were running specialized ICS software like Schweitzer Engineering Labs (SEL) AcSELerator Software and GE Power's EnerVista Software (used to configure GE electric power protection products). The infected end user systems could be the pathway to compromising critical infrastructure, including electrical infrastructure. 'With access to a protection relay through a laptop, a malicious program could alter settings in the configuration file, inject bad data designed to halt the relay, or even send commands directly to the relay when a connection was made,' Toecker wrote."
An anonymous reader writes "HTC and Apple have reached a global settlement that includes the dismissal of all current lawsuits and a ten-year license agreement. The license extends to current and future patents held by both parties. The terms of the settlement are confidential. From the article: '"HTC is pleased to have resolved its dispute with Apple, so HTC can focus on innovation instead of litigation," Peter Chou, HTC's chief executive, said in a statement. Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, also expressed relief in a statement. "We will continue to stay laser focused on product innovation," he said.'"
MojoKid writes "Nike+ FuelBand is a $149 wristband with LED display that tracks your daily activity, tells you how many calories you've burned, lets you know how much fuel you have left in the tank, and basically keeps track of 'every move you make.' If you think that sounds like a privacy nightmare waiting to happen, it pretty much is. A source directly connected to Nike reported an amusing, albeit startling anecdote about a guy who got caught cheating on his girlfriend because of the Nike+ FuelBand. 'They shared their activity between each other and she noticed he was active at 1-2AM, when he was supposed to be home.' That's just one scenario. What if the wristband gets lost or stolen? How much data is actually stored on these sorts of devices? And remember, you're syncing it to the cloud with an iOS or Android app."
An anonymous reader writes "A man has initiated a class-action suit against Blizzard over a product used to shore up Battle.net security. Benjamin Bell alleges that Blizzard's sale of Authenticators — devices that enable basic two-tier authentication — represents deceptive and unfair additional costs to their basic games. (Blizzard sells the key fob versions for $6.50, and provides a free mobile app as an alternative. Neither are mandatory.) The complaint accuses Blizzard of making $26 million in Authenticator sales. In response, Blizzard made a statement refuting some of the complaint's claims and voicing their intention to 'vigorously defend' themselves."
WOOFYGOOFY writes "The NY Times and Voice Of America are reporting on a study by the U.S. National Research Council (PDF) which was released Friday linking global climate change to national security. The report, which was developed at the request of the C.I.A., characterizes the threats posed by climate change as 'similar to and in many cases greater than those posed by terrorist attacks. 'Climate-driven crises could lead to internal instability or international conflict and might force the United States to provide humanitarian assistance or, in some cases, military force to protect vital energy, economic or other interests, the study said.' If the effect of unaddressed climate change is the functional equivalent of terrorist attacks on the nation, does the Executive Branch, as a matter of national security, have a duty and a right to begin to act unilaterally against climate change irrespective of what Congress currently believes?"
An anonymous reader writes "Car dealers in New York and Massachusetts have filed a lawsuit that seeks to block Tesla from selling its pricey electric vehicles in those states. The dealers say they are defending state franchise laws, which require manufacturers to sell cars through dealers they do not own. Robert O'Koniewski of the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association says, 'Those dealers are investing millions of dollars in their franchises to make sure they comply with their franchise agreements with the manufacturers. Tesla is choosing to ignore the law and then is choosing to play outside that system.'"
drinkypoo writes "We've been following the story that Apple was ordered by a UK court to post an apology to Samsung both in newspapers and on Apple's UK website. After originally posting a non-apology and then hiding a real one, Apple finally complied. Now, PJ over at Groklaw reports on the ruling from the UK court itself, which condemns Apple's conduct in this matter. 'Since Apple did not comply with the order in its estimation, adding materials that were not ordered and in addition were "false," the judges ordered Apple to pay Samsung's lawyers' fees on an indemnity basis, and they add some public humiliation.' The judge wrote, 'Finally I should mention the time for compliance. Mr Beloff, on instructions (presumably given with the authority of Apple) told us that "for technical reasons" Apple needed fourteen days to comply. I found that very disturbing: that it was beyond the technical abilities of Apple to make the minor changes required to own website in less time beggared belief. ... I hope that the lack of integrity involved in this incident is entirely atypical of Apple.'"
An anonymous reader writes "I'm sure most Slashdot readers have had occasion to suffer through a hardware manufacturer's terrible website in search of product documentation. It's often hidden away in submenus of submenus, and if your product is more than a couple years old, you probably have to wade through broken links. One guy has been helping to change that; he runs a site called Tim's Laptop Service Manuals, where he collects by hand materials from many different companies and hosts them together in one spot. Now Toshiba has become aware of his project, and helpfully forced him to remove all of their manuals under a copyright claim."
jfruh writes "In the mid-00s, more and more people started learning about Android, a Linux-based smartphone OS. Open source advocates in particular thought they could be seeing the mobile equivalent of Linux — something you could download, tinker with, and sell. Today, though, the Android market is dominated by Google and the usual suspects in the handset business. The reason nobody's been able to launch an Android empire from the garage is fairly straightforward: the average smartphone is covered by over 250,000 patents."