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."
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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."
Master Moose writes "Kim Dotcom's Mega file sharing site has been stung with 150 copyright warnings, according to an international report. Dotcom launched the new fire-sharing website on January 20 in a blaze of fireworks and publicity.Less than two weeks later and Computerworld.com is reporting the company removed content after receiving 150 copyright infringement notices." Raise your hand if you're shocked, simply shocked.
Rick Zeman writes "According to a headline article in the New York Times, they admit to being hacked by the Chinese, and covers the efforts of Mandiant to investigate, and then to eradicate their custom Advanced Persistent Threats (APT). This was alleged to be in reaction to an article which details the sleazy business dealings of the family of Wen Jiabao, China's newest Prime Minister. China's Ministry of National Defense said in denial, 'Chinese laws prohibit any action including hacking that damages Internet security.'" Update: 01/31 15:00 GMT by T : The Times used Symanetic's suite of malware protection software; Symantec has issued a statement that could be taken as slightly snippy about its role in (not) preventing the spyware from taking hold.
First time accepted submitter DiscountBorg(TM) writes "An employee of the Canada Revenue Agency lost his job after releasing a humorous game in which the player answers customer service calls for the Agency, usually leading to his termination. In an email National Revenue Minister Gail Shea said: 'The Minister considers this type of conduct offensive and completely unacceptable. The Minister has asked the Commissioner (of Revenue, Andrew Treusch) to investigate and take any and all necessary corrective action. The Minister has asked the CRA to investigate urgently to ensure no confidential taxpayer information was compromised.'"
itwbennett writes "Now that the ridiculous phone unlocking law is a done deal, and we all understand exactly what that means (i.e., 'fines of up to $500,000 and imprisonment of up to five years'), you might be left wondering what can you do about it. Well, you could start by lending your John Hancock to this petition at the White House's 'We The People' platform. It's already over halfway to the number of signatures required to get a response from the executive branch."
First time accepted submitter 3seas writes in about DMVs across the country learning textspeak in order to keep vulgar acronyms off the road. "You can have txtspeak on your plate in Arizona, but only if you keep it clean. 'ROFLMAO' is a no-go. Arkansas, however, seems to be a little slower on the uptake. 'ROFLMAO' doesn't appear on the state's prohibited list. That doesn't necessarily mean the plate would pass DMV scrutiny should someone request it."
redletterdave writes "According to the 30-count indictment released by the Central District of California, 27-year-old hacker Karen 'Gary' Kazaryan allegedly hacked his way into hundreds of online accounts, using personal information and nude or semi-nude photos of his victims to coerce more than 350 female victims to show him their naked bodies, usually over Skype. By posing as a friend, Kazaryan allegedly tricked these women into stripping for him on camera, capturing more than 3,000 images of these women to blackmail them. Kazaryan was arrested by federal agents on Tuesday; if convicted on all 30 counts, including 15 counts of computer intrusion and 15 counts of aggravated identity theft, Kazaryan could face up to 105 years in federal prison."
An anonymous reader writes with news that the first successful case was brought before the copyright tribunal under NZ's three strikes law. From the article: "The first music pirate stung under new file-sharing laws has been fined $616 but 'didn't realise' the actions were illegal. The Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) — which represents music studios — took an unnamed offender to the Copyright Tribunal last year for sharing songs on the Internet — a track by Barbadian pop-star Rihanna on two occasions and the other by Nashville band Hot Chelle Rae. In a decision released today, the tribunal found in RIANZ's favor and ordered the offender ... to pay a penalty $616.57." Torrent Freak has a slightly different perspective: a lack of evidence and pushback from the tribunal resulted in much smaller fines than the RIANZ wanted.
Lasrick writes "This article starts with an interesting anecdote: 'In 1998, President Bill Clinton read a novel about biological warfare that deeply disturbed him. In fact, the story reportedly kept him up all night. It’s one of the reasons that Clinton became personally invested in protecting the United States from bioterrorism threats. The book was The Cobra Event (Preston, 1998), a sci-fi thriller by journalist and novelist Richard Preston that told of a mad scientist who brewed a lethal, genetically engineered virus in his New York City apartment. Preston’s tale highlighted the potential ease with which individuals or small groups with access to advanced bioweapons capabilities could launch attacks on major US cities.1 After reading The Cobra Event, Clinton called several advisory meetings and ordered classified assessments and simulation exercises to examine the threat depicted in the story. As a result of these deliberations, by the end of his administration Clinton had increased funding for biodefense preparedness efforts fourfold, to more than $400 million per year.' The article goes on to describe the two trajectories of bioweapons threats, and puts them both in perspective. It may or may not calm everyone who's ever spent a sleepless night after reading one of the many bioterrorism novels"
redletterdave writes "Mozilla announced on Tuesday that it has been named the 'Most Trusted Internet Company For Privacy' in 2012, according to a new independent study released by the Ponemon Institute early this morning (PDF). Ponemon Institute surveyed more than 100,000 adult-aged consumers over a 15-week period ending in December 2012; of the 6,704 respondents, representing 25 different industries, Mozilla was ranked the top Internet and social media company. While this is a great achievement for Mozilla, especially considering this was their first year making the list, Mozilla's team took note of the fact that 'Internet and social media' was still the least trustworthy sector out of the 25 total industries listed. 'It means we as an industry all have a lot more work to do,' Mozilla wrote on its blog."
Okian Warrior writes with word that, as of Monday evening, multiple police agencies and the military were "conducting training exercises over Miami and elsewhere in the county. The exercise includes military helicopters firing machine-gun blanks while flying over highways and buildings. This YouTube video shows helicopters strafing highways with blank rounds near the Adrian Arts center. There are reports of similar actions in Houston From the Houston article: 'if you see the helicopters or hear gunfire, it's only a drill.'" Note: this time, it's not in The Onion.
hydrofix writes "On Thursday TorrentFreak broke the story (verified by BBC) that the government of Antigua and Barbuda, a tiny island nation on the Caribbean, was planning to launch a legal 'pirate' website selling movies, music and software without paying a penny to U.S. copyright holders. Now, the World Trade Organization has given its final approval for the Antigua government to launch the website. The decision follows from long-running trade dispute between the countries, related to online gambling, which was ruled in Antigua's favor in 2005. After the United States refused to compensate, the WTO granted Antigua the right to 'suspend' U.S. copyrights for up to $21 million annually." From the article: "The Antiguan government further reiterated today that the term 'piracy' doesn’t apply in this situation, as they are fully authorized to suspend U.S. copyrights. It is a legal remedy that was approved by all WTO members, including the United States."
tukang writes "According to a report in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, State prosecutors had planned to let Swartz off with a warning and Swartz would not have faced any criminal proceedings or prison time had it not been for the decision of Carmen Ortiz's office to intervene and take over the case." Although the CNET article focuses on Aaron Swartz's particular case, the original article calls attention to general abuse of power within the DOJ: "It seems never to have occurred to Ortiz, nor to the career prosecutors in her office in charge of the prosecution, Stephen Heymann and Scott Garland, that there is something wrong with overcharging, and then raising the ante, merely to wring a guilty plea to a dubious statute. Nor does it occur generally to federal prosecutors that there’s something wrong with bringing prosecutions so complex that they are guaranteed to bankrupt all but the wealthiest. These tactics have become so normal within the Department of Justice that few who operate within the bowels of this increasingly corrupt system can even see why it is corrupt. Even most journalists, who are supposedly there to tell truth to power, no longer see what’s wrong and even play cheerleader."
Sparrowvsrevolution writes with news of some particularly insecure security cameras. From the article: "Eighteen brands of security camera digital video recorders are vulnerable to an attack that would allow a hacker to remotely gain control of the devices to watch, copy, delete or alter video streams at will, as well as to use the machines as jumping-off points to access other computers behind a company's firewall, according to tests by two security researchers. And 58,000 of the hackable video boxes, all of which use firmware provided by the Guangdong, China-based firm Ray Sharp, are accessible via the Internet. Early last week a hacker who uses the handle someLuser found that commands sent to a Swann DVR via port 9000 were accepted without any authentication. That trick would allow anyone to retrieve the login credentials for the DVR's web-based control panel. To compound the problem, the DVRs automatically make themselves visible to external connections using a protocol known as Universal Plug And Play, (UPnP) which maps the devices' location to any local router that has UPnP enabled — a common default setting. ...Neither Ray Sharp nor any of the eighteen firms have yet released a firmware fix."
Nerval's Lobster writes "All your Tweets are belong to us... with a court order. Twitter's second transparency report reinforces what many already know: governments want online user data, and to yank select content from the Internet. Twitter's first two transparency reports cover the entirety of 2012, so there's not a deep historical record to mine for insight. Nonetheless, that year's worth of data shows all types of government inquiry—information requests, removal requests, and copyright notices—either on the increase or holding relatively steady. Governments requested user information from Twitter some 1,009 times in the second half of 2012, up slightly from 849 requests in the first half of that year. Content-removal requests spiked from 6 in the first half of 2012 to 42 in the second. Meanwhile, copyright notices declined a bit, from 3378 in the first half of 2012 to 3268 in the second."
snydeq writes "Security pros and government officials warn of a possible cyber 9/11 involving banks, utilities, other companies, or the Internet, InfoWorld reports. 'A cyber war has been brewing for at least the past year, and although you might view this battle as governments going head to head in a shadow fight, security experts say the battleground is shifting from government entities to the private sector, to civilian targets that provide many essential services to U.S. citizens. The cyber war has seen various attacks around the world, with incidents such as Stuxnet, Flame, and Red October garnering attention. Some attacks have been against government systems, but increasingly likely to attack civilian entities. U.S. banks and utilities have already been hit.'"
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes "With the announcement of Verizon's "six strikes plan" for movie pirates (which includes reporting users to the RIAA and MPAA), and content companies continuing to sue users en masse for peer-to-peer downloads, I think it's inevitable that we'll see the rise of p2p software that proxifies your downloads through other users. In this model, you would not only download content from other users, but you also use other users' machines as anonymizing proxies for the downloads, which would make it impossible for third parties to identify the source or destination of the file transfer. This would hopefully put an end to the era of movie studios subpoenaing ISPs for the identities of end users and taking those users to court." Read below for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Dupple writes "After settling with the FTC, Google is under pressure again regarding user privacy. From the BBC: 'A group of Apple's Safari web browser users has launched a campaign against Google over privacy concerns. They claim that Google bypassed Safari's security settings to install cookies which tracked their movements on the internet. Between summer 2011 and spring 2012 they were assured by Google this was not the case, and believed Safari's settings to be secure. Judith Vidal-Hall, former editor of Index On Censorship magazine, is the first person in the UK to begin legal action. 'Google claims it does not collect personal data but doesn't say who decides what information is "personal,"' she said. 'Whether something is private or not should be up to the internet surfer, not Google. We are best placed to decide, not them.'"
jfruh writes "Last week the CEO ServiceNow made a minor splash by claiming that it was awfully easy for a cloud provider to spy on the data they stored for you or discriminate based on pricing. But while that's possible, in many cases it turns out to be simply not practical enough to be beneficial. Even moves like restoring outages for higher-paying customers first turn out to be more trouble than they're worth."
theodp writes "On Saturday, questions for MIT's Aaron Swartz investigation were posted on Slashdot with the hope that MIT'ers might repost some to the MIT Swartz Review site. So it's good to see that MIT's Hal Abelson, who is leading the analysis of MIT's involvement in the matter, is apparently open to this workaround to the ban on questions from outsiders. In fact, on Sunday Abelson himself reposted an interesting question posed by Boston College Law School Prof. Sharon Beckman: 'What, if anything, did MIT learn from its involvement in the federal prosecution of its student David LaMacchia back in 1994?' Not much, it would appear. LaMacchia, an apparent student of Abelson's whose defense team included Beckman, was indicted in 1994 and charged with the 'piracy of an estimated million dollars' in business and entertainment computer software after MIT gave LaMacchia up to the FBI. LaMacchia eventually walked from the charges, thanks to what became known as the LaMacchia Loophole, which lawmakers took pains to close. 'MIT collaborated with the FBI to wreck LaMacchia's life,' defense attorney Harvey Silverglate charged in 1995 after a judge dismissed the case. 'I hope that this case causes a lot of introspection on the part of MIT's administration. Unfortunately, I doubt it will.'"
According to the Daily Yomiuri, "Japan launched two satellites on Jan. 27 to strengthen its surveillance capabilities, including keeping a closer eye on North Korea which has vowed to stage another nuclear test. One of them was a radar-equipped unit to complete a system of surveillance satellites that will allow Tokyo to monitor any place in the world at least once a day. The other was a demonstration satellite to collect data for research and development." The Defense News version of the story says "Japan developed a plan to use several satellites as one group to gather intelligence in the late 1990s as a response to a long-range missile launch by Pyongyang in 1998. The space agency has said the radar satellite would be used for information-gathering, including data following Japan’s 2011 quake and tsunami, but did not mention North Korea by name."
bargainsale writes with an account at Ars Technica of "the inspiring story of Newegg vs the patent troll. Perhaps the system does work after all." Newegg's lawyer Lee Cheng has some choice words for the business model employed by Soverain Software, the patent troll which tried, with some success, to exact money from online retailers for using online shopping carts. Newegg has prevailed, though, and Soverain's claims are toast. From Ars: "The ruling effectively shuts down dozens of the lawsuits Soverain filed last year against Nordstrom's, Macy's, Home Depot, Radioshack, Kohl's, and many others (see our chart on page 2). All of them did nothing more than provide shoppers with basic online checkout technology. Soverain used two patents, numbers 5,715,314 and 5,909,492, to claim ownership of the "shopping carts" commonly used in online stores. In some cases, it wielded a third patent, No. 7,272,639."
The TV show Glee may have borrowed Jonathan Coulton's arrangement of "Baby Got Back" without asking him first, but he's got a response of the kind that it'd be hard for the show's makers to criticize without looking churlish. Borrowing it back, and using it to raise money for charity. As CNET puts it, "Coulton has foxily tossed up on iTunes his own version of the song and titled it 'Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee).' He terms it 'my cover of Glee's cover of my cover.'"
Now that unlocking a new phone is under many circumstances illegal in the U.S. (!), Digital Trends has collected a useful set of answers outlining just what that means. As they put it, a "quick guide to answer all your why, how, and WTF questions." Among them, some explanation of the rule-making process, the reasoning that led to the end to the unlocking exception to the DMCA (including the Ninth Circuit's 2010 Vernor v. Autodesk decision), and illustrations of situations in which it is not illegal to unlock your phone.
CowboyRobot writes "Once the 'Second City' of the British Empire, scrappy Glasgow — whose now-demolished Gorbals was once known for urban grimness on a par with Chicago's South Side or New York's Hell's Kitchen — has the chance for a whole new lease on life as the UK's first 'smart city.' The UK's government has just announced a $38 million (£24 million) grant to fund pilot projects in the city that show how mass deployment of sensors and real-time information can help local government run more efficiently while also boosting the quality of life for its 600,000 citizens. Glasgow won the prize in a competition among 30 British towns and cities for state help in looking at the possible contribution of smart technology."
theodp writes "Late Friday, Violet Blue reports, the U.S. Sentencing Commission website was hacked and government files distributed by Anonymous in 'Operation Last Resort.' The U.S. Sentencing Commission sets guidelines for sentencing in United States Federal courts, and on the defaced ussc.gov website Anonymous cited the recent suicide of Aaron Swartz as 'a line that has been crossed.' Calling the launch of its new campaign a "warhead," Anonymous vowed, 'This time there will be change, or there will be chaos.'" Adds reader emil: "Anonymous has not specified exactly what files they have obtained. The various files were named after Supreme Court judges. At a regular interval commencing today, Anonymous will choose one media outlet and supply them with heavily redacted partial contents."
An anonymous reader writes "The H.265 codec standard, the successor of H.264, has been approved, promising support for 8k UHD and lower bandwidth, but the patent issues plaguing H.264 remain." Here's the announcement from the ITU. From the article: "Patents remain an important issue as it was with H.264, Google proposing WebM, a new codec standard based on VP8, back in 2010, one that would be royalties free. They also included it in Chrome, with the intent to replace H.264, but this attempt never materialized. Mozilla and Opera also included WebM in their browsers with the same purpose, but they never discarded H.264 because most of the video out there is coded with it. MPEG LA, the owner of a patent pool covering H.264, promised that H.264 internet videos delivered for free will be forever royalty free, but who knows what will happen with H.265? Will they request royalties for free content or not? It remains to be seen. In the meantime, H.264 remains the only codec with wide adoption, and H.265 will probably follow on its steps."
Damien1972 writes "The Brazilian government has begun fixing trees in the Amazon rainforest with a wireless device, known as Invisible Tracck, which will allow trees to contact authorities once they are felled and moved. Here's how it works: Brazilian authorities fix the Invisible Tracck onto a tree. An illegal logger cuts down the tree and puts it onto a truck for removal, unaware that they are carrying a tracking device. Once Invisible Tracck comes within 20 miles (32 kilometers) of a cellular network it will 'wake up' and alert authorities."
chicksdaddy writes "The U.S. Department of Defense has stopped updating its main reference list of vital defense technologies that are banned from export, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), The Security Ledger reports. The Militarily Critical Technologies List (MCTL) is used to identify technologies that are critical to national defense and that require extra protection — including bans on exports and the application of anti-tamper technology. GAO warned six years ago that the Departments of State and Commerce, which are supposed to use the list, found it too broad and outdated to be of much use. The latest report (GAO 13-157) finds that the situation has worsened: budget cuts forced the DOD to largely stop updating and grooming the list in 2011. Sections on emerging technologies are outdated, while other sections haven't been updated since 1999. Without the list to rely on, the DOD has turned to a hodgepodge of other lists, while officials in the Departments of State and Commerce who are responsible for making decisions about whether to allow a particular technology to be exported have turned to ad-hoc networks of subject experts. Other agencies are looking into developing their own MCTL equivalents, potentially wasting government resources duplicating work that has already been done, GAO found."
FunPika writes "Jonathan Coulton, who is known for songs such as "Code Monkey", is claiming that his cover of "Baby Got Back" was used without permission on Glee, a television show aired by Fox Broadcasting Company. When the Glee version appeared on YouTube last week, Coulton suspected that it sounded similar to his cover, and several of his fans confirmed this by analyzing the two tracks. Despite Coulton contacting Fox, they continued with airing the episode and have placed the song on sale in iTunes."
dcblogs writes "A bipartisan group of Senators is planning to introduce a bill that allows the H-1B visa cap to rise automatically with demand to a maximum of 300,000 visas annually. This 20-page bill, called the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 or the 'I-Squared Act of 2013,' is being developed by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.). It may be introduced next week. Presently, the U.S. has an H-1B visa cap of 65,000. There are another 20,000 H-1B visas set aside for advanced degree gradates of U.S. universities, for 85,000 in total. Under the new bill, the base H-1B cap would increase from 65,000 to 115,000. But the cap would be allowed to rise automatically with demand, according to a draft of the legislation."
theodp writes "Explaining that it believes 'the most important questions are the ones that will come from the MIT community,' MIT announced that it won't be accepting questions from outsiders for its President-ordered 'review' of the events that preceded the suicide of Aaron Swartz. But if you feel the 25 questions asked thus far don't cover all the bases, how about posting additional ones in the comments where MIT'ers can see them and perhaps repost to the MIT site some that they feel deserve answers? Do it soon — MIT President Rafael Reif will be returning any day now from Davos, where he sat on a panel with Bill Gates, who coincidentally once found himself in hot water over unauthorized computer access. 'They weren't sure how mad they should be about it,' Gates explained in a 2010 interview, 'because we hadn't really caused any damage, but it wasn't a good thing. Computer hacking was literally just being invented at the time, and so fortunately we got off with a bit of a warning.'" Related: text has been published of public domain advocate Carl Malamud's remarks at Swartz's memorial. Quoting: "Aaron wasn't a lone wolf, he was part of an army, and I had the honor of serving with him for a decade. Aaron was part of an army of citizens that believes democracy only works when the citizenry are informed, when we know about our rights—and our obligations."
Tyketto writes "Referencing a decision outlined in the Federal Register, Tech News Daily has published an article noting that the window to unlock your new mobile phone in the U.S. is closing. 'In October 2012, the Librarian of Congress, who determines exemptions to a strict anti-hacking law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), decided that unlocking mobile phones would no longer be allowed. But the library provided a 90-day window during which people could still buy a phone and unlock it. That window closes on January 26.' While this doesn't apply to phones purchased before the window closes, this means that after 1/26/13, for any new mobile phone you purchase, you'll have to fulfill your contract, or break the law to unlock it." It will still be perfectly legal to purchase an unlocked phone, which many carriers offer. This change removes the exemption for buying a new phone under contract (and thus, at a discount) and then unlocking it.
tsamsoniw writes "Dozens of privacy advocates, Internet activists, and journalists have issued an open letter to Skype and Microsoft, calling on the companies to finally get around to being clear and transparent as to who has access to Skype user data and how that data is secured. 'Since Skype was acquired by Microsoft, both entities have refused to answer questions about exactly what kinds of user data can be intercepted, what user data is retained, or whether eavesdropping on Skype conversations may take place,' reads the letter, signed by such groups as the Digital Rights Foundation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation."
waderoush writes "Engineers and hackers don't think much about tax policy, but there's a bizarre development in California that they should know about, since it could reduce the pool of angel-investment money available for tech startups. Under a tax break available since the 1990s, startup founders and other investors in California were allowed to exclude or defer their gains when they sold stock in California-based small businesses. Last year, a California appeals court ruled that the tax break was unconstitutional, since it discriminated against investors in out-of-state companies. Now the Franchise Tax Board, California's version of the IRS, has issued a notice saying how it intends to implement the ruling — and it's a doozie. Not only is the tax break gone, but anyone who claimed an exclusion or deferral on the sale of small-business stock since 2008 is about to get a big retroactive tax bill. Investors, entrepreneurs, and even the plaintiffs in the original lawsuit are up in arms about the FTB's notice, saying that it goes beyond the court's intent and that it will drive investors out of the state. This Xconomy article takes an in-depth look at the history of the court case, the FTB's ruling, and the reaction in the technology and investing communities."
An anonymous reader writes "The Government of Antigua is planning to launch a website selling movies, music and software, without paying U.S. copyright holders. The Caribbean island is taking the unprecedented step because the United States refuses to lift a trade 'blockade' preventing the island from offering Internet gambling services, despite several WTO decisions in Antigua's favor. The country now hopes to recoup some of the lost income through a WTO approved 'warez' site."
twoheadedboy writes "Two members of the Anonymous hacking collective have been handed a total of 25 months in prison. Christopher Weatherhead, a 22-year-old who went under the pseudonym Nerdo, received the most severe punishment — 18 months in prison. Another member, Ashley Rhodes, was handed seven months, whilst Peter Gibson was given a six-month suspended sentence. They were convicted for hitting a variety of websites, including those belonging to PayPal and MasterCard."
Sockatume writes "The UK's information protection authority, the ICO, has fined Sony for failing to adequately secure the information of PlayStation Network users. The investigation was triggered by a 2011 security breach, during which personally identifying information (including password hashes) was recovered from a Sony database where it had been stored without encryption. In the ICO's view Sony's security measures were inadequate, and the attack could have been prevented. The £250,000 (ca. $400,000) fine, the largest the ICO has ever imposed, is equivalent to a few pennies per affected user. Sony disagrees with the ICO's decision and intends to appeal."
Virtucon writes "Ars technica has an interesting article on how Google is handling requests from law enforcement for access to Gmail accounts. With the recent Petraeus scandal where no criminal conduct was found, it seems that they're re-enforcing their policies and standing up for their users. 'In order to compel us to produce content in Gmail we require an ECPA search warrant,' said Chris Gaither, Google spokesperson. 'If they come for registration information, that's one thing, but if they ask for content of email that's another thing.'"
netbuzz writes "Spurred by the mark holder's cease and desist letter to Reddit's subreddit r/gaymer, the Electronic Frontier Foundation today officially petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to rescind its grant of a trademark registration on the word "gaymer". 'This registration should never have been granted,' said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. 'Gaymer is a common term that refers to members of this vibrant gaming community, and we are happy to help them fight back and make sure the term goes back to the public domain where it belongs.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Internet activists in Finland, upset with the country's strict copyright laws, are ready to take advantage of the country's promise to vote on any citizen-proposed bill that reaches 50,000 signatures. Digital rights group Common Sense in Copyright has proposed sweeping changes to Finland's Lex Karpela, a 2006 amendment to the Finnish copyright law that more firmly criminalized digital piracy. Under it, 'countless youngsters have been found guilty of copyright crimes and sentenced to pay thousands, in some cases hundreds of thousands, of euros in punitive damages to the copyright organizations.' The proposal to fix copyright is the best-rated and most-commented petition on the Open Ministry site."
Titus Andronicus writes "fuse-exfat, a GPLv3 implementation of the exFAT file system for Linux, FreeBSD, and OS X, has reached 1.0 status, according to an announcement from Andrew Nayenko, the primary developer. exFAT is a file system designed for sneaker-netting terabyte-scale files and groups of files on flash drives and memory cards between and among Windows, OS X, and consumer electronics devices. It was introduced by Microsoft in late 2006. Will fuse-exfat cut into Microsoft's juicy exFAT licensing revenue? Will Microsoft litigate fuse-exfat's developers and users into patent oblivion? Will there be a DKMS dynamic kernel module version of the software, similar to the ZFS on Linux project? All that remains to be seen. ReadWrite, The H, and Phoronix cover the story."
An anonymous reader writes "Yesterday in a post at the White House website, the U.S. government announced that June 1-2 would be the National Day of Civic Hacking. 'Civic Hacking Day is an opportunity for software developers, technologists, and entrepreneurs to unleash their can-do American spirit by collaboratively harnessing publicly-released data and code to create innovative solutions for problems that affect Americans.' It will be a joint project with Random Hacks of Kindness, Code for America. Activities are being planned in many cities across the country, and you can also sign up to host your own event. It's nice to see the government use the word 'hacking' in a positive way, since most uses of the term these days involve malicious activity."
judgecorp writes "The latest Google Transparency Report, which tallies the number of times personal data is requested from Google, shows that governments are becoming more inquisitive than ever. Requests for user data have gone up by 70 percent since Google started these reports in 2009 — but the report shows Google is getting better at saying no: in 2009 it complied — fully or partially — with 76 percent of requests, and that figure is now down to 66 percent." This report is the first to feature requests broken down by the legal process used.
Curseyoukhan writes with a skeptical perspective on the U.S. Cyberwar posturing. From the article: "The first shot was probably the release of Stuxnet sometime during or before 2009. Even though no one has officially claimed responsibility everyone knows who was behind it. Stuxnet hit with a bang and did a whole lot of damage to Iran's uranium-enrichment capabilities. We followed up Stuxnet with Flame — the Ebola virus of spyware. What did the Iranians fire back with? A series of massive, on-going and ineffective DDoS attacks on American banks. This is a disproportionate response but not in the way military experts usually mean that phrase. It's the equivalent of someone stealing your car and you throwing an ever-increasing number of eggs at his house in response. It's fascinating that Iran continues to do nothing more despite the fact that U.S. critical infrastructure currently has the defensive posture of a dog waiting for a belly rub. Keep that in mind the next time you hear that a 'cyber Pearl Harbor' is imminent."