Google

Jeweler Forged Judge's Signature To Force Google To Kill Negative Reviews (thedailybeast.com) 50

A sapphire salesman is facing jail time for forging a judge's signature in a case involving Google. Kelly Weill from The Daily Beast reports: Michael Arnstein is the third-generation owner of the Natural Sapphire Company, a Manhattan-based jewelry business. After a falling-out with a former business partner, Arnstein's company amassed dozens of negative reviews, which featured prominently in the Natural Sapphire Company's Google search results. Arnstein sued the former business partner in 2011, accusing him of writing defamatory negative reviews, and a judge ordered the partner to delete 54 of the negative comments. But some negative reviews remained, even after the court order. So Arnstein copied the judge's signature and forged new court orders of his own, demanding that Google scrub negative reviews from his company's search results, Arnstein admitted in a guilty plea on Friday.
Music

Apple's 'Shoddy' Beats Headphones Get Slammed In Lawsuit (theregister.co.uk) 188

A lawsuit (PDF) filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Oakland, California, recounts the frustrations of five plaintiffs who found that Apple's Powerbeats 2 and Powerbeats 3 headphones did not perform as advertised. They are also claiming the company is refusing to honor warranty commitments to repair or replace the failed units. The Register reports: The complaint seeks $5,000,000 in damages and class action certification, in order to represent thousands of similarly afflicted Beats customers who are alleged to exist. "In widespread advertising and marketing campaigns, Apple touts that its costly Powerbeats (which retail for $199.95) are 'BUILT TO ENDURE' and are the 'BEST HEADPHONES FOR WORKING OUT,'" the complaint says. "But these costly headphones are neither 'built to endure' nor 'sweat & water resistant,' and certainly do not have a battery that lasts for six or twelve hours. Instead, these shoddy headphones contain a design defect that causes the battery life to diminish and eventually stop retaining a charge."

The complaint attributes the shoddiness of Apple's Powerbeats headphones to cheap components. Citing an estimate in a recent Motley Fool article, the complaint contends that Apple's Beats Solo headphones cost $16.89 to make and retail for $199.95: a markup of more than 1,000 per cent. That figure actually comes from a Medium post by Avery Louie, from hardware prototyping biz Bolt.

Privacy

Trump Administration Sued Over Phone Searches at US Borders (reuters.com) 138

The Trump administration has engaged in an unconstitutional practice of searching without a warrant the phones and laptops of Americans who are stopped at the border, a lawsuit filed on Wednesday alleged. From a report: Ten U.S. citizens and one lawful permanent resident sued the Department of Homeland Security in federal court, saying the searches and prolonged confiscation of their electronic devices violate privacy and free speech protections of the U.S. Constitution. DHS could not be immediately reached for comment. The lawsuit comes as the number of searches of electronic devices has surged in recent years, alarming civil rights advocates.
Businesses

The iPhone Is Guaranteed To Last Only One Year, Apple Argues In Court (vice.com) 433

Reader Jason Koebler writes: Last month, Greg Joswiak, Apple's VP of iOS, iPad, and iPhone Marketing, told Buzzfeed that iPhones are "the highest quality and most durable devices. We do this because it's better for the customer, for the iPhone, and for the planet."
But in a class-action court case over the widespread premature failure of tens of thousands of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices, Apple argues that the company cannot guarantee any iPhone for more than a year. In a motion to dismiss, Apple argued that "to hold Apple's Limited Warranty substantively unconscionable simply because Plaintiffs expect their iPhones to last the length of their cellular service contracts 'would place a burden on [Apple] for which it did not contract.'"

The Almighty Buck

Chatbot Lets You Sue Equifax For Up To $25,000 Without a Lawyer (theverge.com) 111

Shannon Liao reports via The Verge: If you're one of the millions affected by the Equifax breach, a chatbot can now help you sue Equifax in small claims court, potentially letting you avoid hiring a lawyer for advice. Even if you want to be part of the class action lawsuit against Equifax, you can still sue Equifax for negligence in small claims court using the DoNotPay bot and demand maximum damages. Maximum damages range between $2,500 in states like Rhode Island and Kentucky to $25,000 in Tennessee. The bot, which launched in all 50 states in July, is mainly known for helping with parking tickets. But with this new update, its creator, Joshua Browder, who was one of the 143 million affected by the breach, is tackling a much bigger target, with larger aspirations to match. He says, "I hope that my product will replace lawyers, and, with enough success, bankrupt Equifax."

Not that the bot helps you do anything you can't already do yourself, which is filling out a bunch of forms -- you still have to serve them yourself. Unfortunately, the chatbot can't show up in court a few weeks later to argue your case for you either. To add to the headache, small claims court rules differ from state to state. For instance, in California, a person needs to demand payment from Equifax or explain why they haven't demanded payment before filing the form.

Google

Google Challenges Record EU Antitrust Fine in Court (reuters.com) 52

Google appealed on Monday against a record 2.4-billion-euro ($2.9 billion) EU antitrust fine, with its chances of success boosted by Intel's partial victory last week against another EU sanction. From a report: The world's most popular Internet search engine, a unit of the U.S. firm Alphabet, launched its appeal two months after it was fined by the European Commission for abusing its dominance in Europe by giving prominent placement in searches to its comparison shopping service and demoting rival offerings.
The Courts

Should British Hacker Lauri Love Be Tried In America? (theguardian.com) 254

A 31-year-old autistic man in the U.K. is suspected of hacking U.S. government computer systems in 2013 -- and he has one final chance to appeal his extradition. An anonymous reader quotes the Guardian Even if Love is guilty, however, there are important legal and moral questions about whether he should be extradited to the US -- a nation that has prosecuted hackers with unrivalled severity, and one where Love could be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison... His remaining hope for mercy is a final appeal against extradition in the high court in November. Love's hope is for a full and fair trial in Britain.

Even if he is found guilty in a British court of the most serious crimes in the US government's indictment, his legal team estimate that he faces just a few months in prison. Failure means Love will be flown to a holding facility in New York, placed on suicide watch and probably forced to take antidepressants, prior to a trial. If he refuses to accept a plea deal and is convicted, he will face $9m (£6.8m) in fines and, experts estimate, a prison term of up to 99 years, a punishment illustrative of the US's aggressive sentencing against hackers under the controversial Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Naomi Colvin, from the human rights group the Courage Foundation, tells the Guardian that "Lauri's case is critically important in determining the reach of America's unusually harsh punitive sanctions for computer crimes."
The Courts

The Teen Malware Career Of Marcus Hutchins (itwire.com) 48

Slashdot reader troublemaker_23 writes, "A number of security researchers have dismissed an article by reporter Brian Krebs about Marcus Hutchins, the Briton who is awaiting trial in the US on charges of writing and distributing the Kronos banking malware, by pointing out that it has nothing to do with the case." An anonymous reader writes: Krebs investigated dozens of hacker forum pseudonyms, concluding "The clues suggest that Hutchins began developing and selling malware in his mid-teens -- only to later develop a change of heart and earnestly endeavor to leave that part of his life squarely in the rearview mirror." Krebs believes 15-year-old Hutchins registered a domain he'd later advertise as "mainly for blackhats wanting to phish," and in 2010 may have filmed YouTube videos about password-stealing malware. Krebs says the early activities are "fairly small-time -- and hardly rise to the level of coding from scratch a complex banking trojan and selling it to cybercriminals," though he believes Hutchins moved on to advertising exploit kits, password-stealers, and bot rentals.

Krebs also talked to 27-year-old Brendan Johnston, a friend of Hutchins who did time in prison in 2014 for selling Trojans, who "said his old friend sincerely tried to turn things around in late 2012... 'I feel like I know Marcus better than most people do online, and when I heard about the accusations I was completely shocked,. He tried for such a long time to steer me down a straight and narrow path that seeing this tied to him didn't make sense to me at all." Krebs stresses that Hutchins didn't try to hide the fact that he'd written malware, "which in the United States at least is a form of protected speech." And his essay concludes, "Let me be clear: I have no information to support the claim that Hutchins authored or sold the Kronos banking trojan."

Symantec's former cybersecurity czar Tarah Wheeler has now set up a new legal fund after it was discovered that most of the online donations to Hutchins' previous defense fund came from stolen or fake credit card numbers. Hutchins returns to court in October, and the new fund has already received more than $16,000 in donations from more than 200 contributors.
Earth

UN Aviation Agency To Call For Global Drone Registry (reuters.com) 47

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The United Nations' aviation agency is backing the creation of a single global drone registry, as part of broader efforts to come up with common rules for flying and tracking unmanned aircraft. While the International Civil Aviation Organization cannot impose regulations on countries, ICAO has proposed formation of the registry during a Montreal symposium this month to make data accessible in real time, said Stephen Creamer, director of ICAO's air navigation bureau. The single registry would eschew multiple databases in favor of a one-stop-shop that would allow law enforcement to remotely identify and track unmanned aircraft, along with their operator and owner. It's not yet clear who would operate such a database, although ICAO could possibly fill that role. The proposal, however, could face push back from users, after hobbyists successfully challenged the creation of a U.S. drone registry by the Federal Aviation Administration in court earlier this year.
EU

Intel's $1.3 Billion Fine In Europe Requires Review, Court Says (nytimes.com) 72

cdreimer writes: According to a report in The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source), the Court of Justice in the European Union has ordered the lower courts to revisit the $1.3 billion anti-trust fine levied against Intel in 2009, giving hope to Google and other American technology firms to avoid being fined for being dominant in the EU markets. From the report: "The highest court in the European Union ordered on Wednesday that a $1.3 billion antitrust fine doled out against Intel nearly a decade ago be revisited, a ruling that could give hope to Google and other American technology giants facing challenges to their dominance in the region. The decision to send the case back to a lower court for re-examination is a blow to regional competition regulators, whose oversight of digital services has been among the world's most aggressive. It could also embolden American technology companies, which have long complained that antitrust officials in Europe target them unfairly, to challenge rulings and investigations against them. The move by the Court of Justice of the European Union raises the prospect that the 1.06 billion euro fine on Intel in 2009, equivalent to $1.26 billion at current exchange rates, could be reduced or scrapped entirely. The penalty -- at the time the largest of its kind -- was upheld by European courts in 2014 and will most likely be the subject of legal battles for years to come. That record fine was overtaken by a 2.4 billion euro penalty against Google in June. The Silicon Valley giant was accused of using its dominant position in online search to give preferential treatment to its internet shopping service over those of its rivals."
Piracy

Sci-Hub Faces $4.8 Million Piracy Damages and ISP Blocking (torrentfreak.com) 142

The American Chemical Society (ACS), a leading source of academic publications in the field of chemistry, accused Sci-Hub of mass copyright infringement and is demanding $4.8 million in piracy damages. "Sci-Hub was made aware of the legal proceedings but did not appear in court," reports Torrent Freak. "As a result, a default was entered against the site, and a few days ago ACS specified its demands, which include $4.8 million in piracy damages." The complaint comes soon after the pirate site was ordered to pay $15 million in piracy damages to academic publisher Elsevier. From the report: "Here, ACS seeks a judgment against Sci-Hub in the amount of $4,800,000 -- which is based on infringement of a representative sample of publications containing the ACS Copyrighted Works multiplied by the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 for each publication," they write. "Sci-Hub's unabashed flouting of U.S. Copyright laws merits a strong deterrent. This Court has awarded a copyright holder maximum statutory damages where the defendant's actions were "clearly willful' and maximum damages were necessary to 'deter similar actors in the future.'" The publisher notes that the maximum statutory damages are only requested for 32 of its 9,000 registered works. This still adds up to a significant sum of money, of course, but that is needed as a deterrent, ACS claims.

Although the deterrent effect may sound plausible in most cases, another $4.8 million in debt is unlikely to worry Sci-Hub's owner, as she can't pay it off anyway. However, there's also a broad injunction on the table that may be more of a concern. The requested injunction prohibits Sci-Hub's owner to continue her work on the site. In addition, it also bars a wide range of other service providers from assisting others to access it. Specifically, it restrains "any Internet search engines, web hosting and Internet service providers, domain name registrars, and domain name registries, to cease facilitating access to any or all domain names and websites through which Defendant Sci-Hub engages in unlawful access to [ACS's works]."

China

Chinese Man Jailed For Helping Net Users Evade State Blocks (bbc.com) 47

An anonymous reader shares a report: A Chinese man has been given a nine-month jail sentence for helping people evade government controls on where they can go online. Deng Jiewei, from Guangdong, was charged with illegally selling programs known as virtual private networks (VPNs), according to court papers. VPNs are illegal in China because they let people avoid government monitoring of what they are doing. The sentence is part of a larger crackdown on the use of VPNs in China. Deng started selling VPNs in late 2015 and was arrested in August 2016 for selling software which lets users "visit foreign websites that could not be accessed by a mainland IP address," reported the South China Morning Post. The Chinese government operates a massive monitoring system, known as the "great firewall," that watches what people do and say online. It also blocks access to sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, that are popular outside the country.
Communications

European Court Rules Companies Must Tell Employees of Email Checks (reuters.com) 103

Companies must tell employees in advance if their work email accounts are being monitored and such checks must not unduly infringe workers' privacy, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday. From a report: In a judgment in the case of a man fired 10 years ago for using a work messaging account to communicate with his family, the judges found that Romanian courts failed to protect Bogdan Barbulescu's private correspondence because his employer had not given him prior notice it was monitoring his communications. Email privacy has become a hotly contested issue as more people use work addresses for personal correspondence even as employers demand the right to monitor email and computer usage to ensure staff use work email appropriately. Courts in general have sided with employers on this issue.
Privacy

US Cops Can't Keep License Plate Data Scans Secret Without Reason, Court Rules (theregister.co.uk) 60

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: Police departments cannot categorically deny access to data collected through automated license plate readers, California's Supreme Court said on Thursday -- a ruling that may help privacy advocates monitor government data practices. The ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation sought to obtain some of this data in 2012 from the Los Angeles Police Department and Sheriff's Department, but the agencies refused, on the basis that investigatory data is exempt from disclosure laws. So the following year, the two advocacy groups sued, hoping to understand more about how this data hoard is handled. The LAPD, according to court documents, collects data from 1.2 million vehicles per week and retains that data for five years. The LASD captures data from 1.7 to 1.8 million vehicles per week, which it retains for two years. The ACLU contends [PDF] that indiscriminate license plate data harvesting presents a risk to civil liberties and privacy. It argues that constant monitoring has the potential to chill rights of free speech and association and that databases of license plate numbers invite institutional abuse, not to mention security risks.
Network

Comcast Sues Vermont To Avoid Building 550 Miles of New Cable Lines (arstechnica.com) 201

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Comcast has sued the state of Vermont to try to avoid a requirement to build 550 miles of new cable lines. Comcast's lawsuit against the Vermont Public Utility Commission (VPUC) was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Vermont and challenges several provisions in the cable company's new 11-year permit to offer services in the state. One of the conditions in the permit says that "Comcast shall construct no less than 550 miles of line extensions into un-cabled areas during the [11-year] term." Comcast would rather not do that. The company's court complaint says that Vermont is exceeding its authority under the federal Cable Act while also violating state law and Comcast's constitutional rights: "The VPUC claimed that it could impose the blanket 550-mile line extension mandate on Comcast because it is the 'largest' cable operator in Vermont and can afford it. These discriminatory conditions contravene federal and state law, amount to undue speaker-based burdens on Comcast's protected speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution... and deprive Comcast and its subscribers of the benefits of Vermont law enjoyed by other cable operators and their subscribers without a just and rational basis, in violation of the Common Benefits Clause of the Vermont Constitution."
Government

One Day Left To Comment on the FCC's Plan To Kill Net Neutrality (theverge.com) 99

An anonymous reader quote The Verge: After four months of debate, the FCC is nearly ready to stop accepting feedback on its proposal to kill net neutrality. Final comments are due this Wednesday, August 30th, by end-of-day Eastern time. Once the comment period closes, the FCC will review the feedback it received and use it as guidance to revise its proposal, which if passed, would reverse the Title II classification that guaranteed net neutrality just two years ago. The commission is supposed to factor in all of the feedback it received when writing its final draft, so if you do have strong feelings on the matter, it's worth leaving a comment...

To leave a comment, you'll have to go to this site, click "+ Express," and then fill out the form it opens up to. Make sure you leave the proceeding number "17-108" in place, as that's what ties it to the net neutrality proposal. Also, be aware that everything filed is public, so others will be able to see your name and address.

"ISPs shouldn't be gatekeepers," wrote the EFF in a tweet sharing tips on the way to write effective comments. The number of comments matter because "the commission will very likely have to defend its changes in court," according to the article. And the commission has now received a record 22 million filings -- nearly six times the previous record of 3.7 million comments (when the net neutrality rules were first implemented).
Businesses

In Our Cynical Age, No One Fails Anymore -- Everybody 'Pivots' (nytimes.com) 131

An anonymous reader shares a report: The "pivot" has assumed a peculiar place in our common lexicon. A word once used to describe a guard angling for position on the basketball court is now in wide circulation in politics and business. That's especially the case in Silicon Valley, where pivoting has become the new failure, a concept to describe a haphazard, practically madcap form of iterative development. With its sheen of management-speak, pivoting is well suited to our moment. And like any act of public relations, pivoting is also a performance. A key part of the act is acknowledging that you are doing it while trying to recast the effort as something larger, more sophisticated, highly planned. The pivot, though it arises from desperation, is nevertheless supposed to appear methodical. The word seems to have first gained currency in Silicon Valley through the efforts of Eric Ries, author of "The Lean Startup." Ries defines pivoting as "a change in strategy without a change in vision." Many successful start-ups now claim a pivot as their origin story. Slack began its life as a video-game company before realizing that its actual value might lie in a chat app the company used to communicate internally. The company is now considered to be worth at least $5 billion, putting it among the most successful pivoters of all time. (Other web staples -- YouTube, Groupon, Instagram -- began life in vastly different iterations before pivoting into their current forms.) There's a promise of technocratic efficiency with pivoting, that all you require is a good business plan, and perhaps another injection of venture capital, and you can transform yourself overnight.
The Courts

As Prosecutors Submit Evidence, WannaCry Hero's Legal Fund Returns All Donations (buzzfeed.com) 172

An anonymous reader quote BuzzFeed: The vast majority of money raised to pay for the legal defense of beloved British cybersecurity researcher Marcus Hutchins was donated with stolen or fake credit card numbers, and all donations, including legitimate ones, will be returned, the manager of the defense fund says. Lawyer Tor Ekeland, who managed the fund, said at least $150,000 of the money collected came from fraudulent sources, and that the prevalence of fraudulent donations effectively voided the entire fundraiser. He said he'd been able to identify only about $4,900 in legitimate donations, but that he couldn't be certain even of those. "I don't want to take the risk, so I just refunded everything," he said.
Two days later, Hutchins posted the following on Twitter. "When sellouts are talking shit about the 'infosec community' remember that someone I'd never met flew to Vegas to pay $30K cash for my bail."

Hutchins is facing up to 40 years in prison, and at first was only allowed to leave his residence for four hours each week. Thursday a judge lifted some restrictions so that Hutchins is now allowed to travel to Milwaukee, where his employer is located. According to Bloomberg, government prosecutors complain Hutchins now "has too much freedom while awaiting trial and may skip the country."

Clickthrough for a list of the evidence government prosecutors submitted to the court this week.
Star Wars Prequels

Selling Alterable Versions of Star Wars Is Still Infringement, Says Court (arstechnica.com) 180

A federal court ruled that video-on-demand streaming service, VidAngel, which enables the filtering of objectionable content to make it family friendly, is breaking U.S. copyright law. Ars Technica reports: VidAngel buys movie discs and decrypts and rips them. It then streams versions that allow customers to filter out nudity, profanity, and violence. In doing so, it breached the performance rights of Disney, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Brothers, the court ruled. VidAngel purchased a disc for every stream it sold, some 2,500 titles in all. "Star Wars is still Star Wars, even without Princess Leia's bikini scene," the opinion said. Just because objectionable content is removed, that doesn't necessarily transform the content enough to allow this type of behavior under a fair use analysis, the court wrote Thursday. VidAngel also unsuccessfully argued that it was protected under the Family Movie Act (FMA) of 2005. That legislation allows the cracking of encryption to remove objectionable content so long as no fixed copy of the altered version is created. The court didn't agree, however, because VidAngel didn't have the permission in the first place to stream the content.
Businesses

Samsung Chief Jailed For Five Years For Bribery and Perjury (koreaherald.com) 32

A South Korean court on Friday sentenced Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee to five years in jail on charges connected to the corruption scandal that led to former President Park Geun-hye's ouster. The Korea Herald reports: The Seoul Central District Court convicted Samsung's de facto heir of bribing former President Park Geun-hye and her close friend Choi Soon-sil in return for the government's help in tightening his control over Samsung Group, saying he was in position to benefit most from the bribery scheme. Lee, who has been detained since February, was found guilty of all five charges -- bribery, embezzlement, concealment of criminal proceeds, illegal transfer of assets overseas and perjury. The court said Lee and Samsung executives offered large bribes to the president, who held "immense power and the ultimate authority," and embezzled company funds, hid assets overseas and concealed profits from criminal acts in the process, all expecting a favor in the form of Samsung Group's smooth leadership transition. Lee is the first member of Samsung Group's ownership family to be sentenced to jail. He is set to appeal the decision. "The essence of the case is collusive ties between political power and capital power," presiding Judge Kim Jin-dong said. "As Samsung executives, they had a great deal of negative impact on society and the economy."

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