An anonymous reader sent in a link to an article in Wired about the latest DMCA loophole hearing. Bad news: the federal government rejected requests that would make console modding and breaking DRM on DVDs to watch them legal. So, you dirty GNU/Linux hippies using libdvdcss better watch out: "Librarian of Congress James Billington and Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante rejected the two most-sought-after items on the docket, game-console modding and DVD cracking for personal use and 'space shifting.' Congress plays no role in the outcome. The regulators said that the controls were necessary to prevent software piracy and differentiated gaming consoles from smart phones, which legally can be jailbroken. ... On the plus side, the regulators re-authorized jailbreaking of mobile phones. On the downside, they denied it for tablets, saying an 'ebook reading device might be considered a tablet, as might a handheld video game device.'" So you can jailbreak a phone, but if it's 1" larger and considered a "tablet" you are breaking the law.
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hessian writes "It's not certain that Google will face a federal antitrust lawsuit by year's end. But if that happens, it seems likely to follow an outline sketched by Thomas Barnett, a Washington, D.C., lawyer on the payroll of Google's competitors. Barnett laid out his arguments during a presentation here last night: Google is unfairly prioritizing its own services such as flight search over those offered by rivals such as Expedia, and it's unfairly incorporating reviews from Yelp without asking for permission. 'They systematically reinforce their dominance in search and search advertising,' Barnett said during a debate on search engines and antitrust organized by the Federalist Society. 'Google's case ought to have been brought a year or two ago.'"
hypnosec writes "A hacker who claims to be a member of the hacking collective Anonymous has revealed that the hacktivist group is working on a Wikileaks-like service dubbed Tyler and that it will be launched on December 21. The Anonymous member revealed that the service will be decentralized and will be based on peer-to-peer service, unlike Wikileaks, thus making Tyler rather immune to closure and raids. The site will serve as a haven for whistleblowers, where they can publish classified documents and information. The hacker said in an emailed interview that 'Tyler will be P2P encrypted software, in which every function of a disclosure platform will be handled and shared by everyone who downloads and deploys the software.'" That sounds like a lot to live up to. Decentralized, attack-resistant and encrypted all sound nice, but I'm curious both about the funding it would take, and whether it matches Wikileaks' own security.
another random user writes "A senior government official has sparked anger by advising internet users to give fake details to websites to protect their security. Andy Smith, an internet security chief at the Cabinet Office, said people should only give accurate details to trusted sites such as government ones. He said names and addresses posted on social networking sites 'can be used against you' by criminals. ... 'When you put information on the internet do not use your real name, your real date of birth,' he told a Parliament and the Internet Conference in Portcullis House, Westminster. 'When you are putting information on social networking sites don't put real combinations of information, because it can be used against you.' But he stressed that internet users should always give accurate information when they were filling in government forms on the internet, such a tax returns."
concealment writes in with a story about a newly found security issue with the bar codes on boarding passes. "Flight enthusiasts, however, recently discovered that the bar codes printed on all boarding passes — which travelers can obtain up to 24 hours before arriving at the airport — contain information on which security screening a passenger is set to receive. Details about the vulnerability spread after John Butler, an aviation blogger, drew attention to it in a post late last week. Butler said he had discovered that information stored within the bar codes of boarding passes is unencrypted, and so can be read in advance by technically minded travelers. Simply by using a smartphone or similar device to check the bar code, travelers could determine whether they would pass through full security screening, or the expedited process."
An anonymous reader writes "A web analytics company has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it violated federal law by using its web-tracking software that collected personal data without disclosing the extent of the information that it was collecting. The company, Compete Inc., also allegedly failed to honor promises it made to protect the personal data it collected. KISSmetrics, the developer and seller of the homonymous tool, has agreed to pay up to make the suit go away, but the the two plaintiffs will get only $5,000 each, while the rest of the money — more than half a million dollars — will go to their lawyers for legal fees."
theodp writes "The USPTO lowered the bar again on Tuesday, granting U.S. Patent No. 8,296,373 to four Facebook inventors for Automatically Managing Objectionable Behavior in a Web-based Social Network, essentially warning users or suspending their accounts when their poking, friend requesting, and wall posting is deemed annoying. From the patent: 'Actions by a user exceeding the threshold may trigger the violation module 240 to take an action. For example, the point 360, which may represent fifty occurrences of an action in a five hour period, does not violate any of the policies as illustrated. However, the point 350, which represents fifty occurrences in a two hour period, violates the poke threshold 330 and the wall post threshold 340. Thus, if point 350 represents a user's actions of either poking or wall posting, then the policy is violated.'"
sl4shd0rk writes "Good news for Apple, bad news for Samsung. Yesterday, Apple filed legal papers with the International Trade Commission citing a Department of Justice investigation into whether Samsung is misusing its 'Standards essential' patents in ways which violate antitrust law. Apple claims Samsung has violated commitments to license its essential patents to competitors on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. Or, more specifically, Samsung is 'using certain patents as a basis for improper legal actions that seek to block the sale of competitors' products.' The article says Google (because of its recent acquisition, Motorola Mobility) is under the same scrutiny."
eldavojohn writes "The global warming debate has left much to be desired in the realm of logic and rationale. One particular researcher, Michael E. Mann, has been repeatedly attacked for his now infamous (and peer reviewed/independently verified) hockey stick graph. It has come to the point where he is now suing for defamation over being compared to convicted serial child molester Jerry Sandusky. Articles hosted by defendants and written by defendant Rand Simberg and defendant Mark Steyn utilize questionable logic for implicating Michael E. Mann alongside Jerry Sandusky with the original piece, concluding, 'Michael Mann, like Joe Paterno, was a rock star in the context of Penn State University, bringing in millions in research funding. The same university president who resigned in the wake of the Sandusky scandal was also the president when Mann was being (whitewashed) investigated. We saw what the university administration was willing to do to cover up heinous crimes, and even let them continue, rather than expose them. Should we suppose, in light of what we now know, they would do any less to hide academic and scientific misconduct, with so much at stake?' Additionally, sentences were stylized to blend the two people together: 'He has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science that could have dire economic consequences for the nation and planet.' One of the defendants admits to removing 'a sentence or two' of questionable wording. Still, as a public figure, Michael E. Mann has an uphill battle to prove defamation in court."
As tablets and computer-phones flood the market, the headlines read: "The Personal Computer is Dying." But they are only half true: an artifact of the PC is dying, but the essence of the PC revolution is closer to realization than ever before, while also being closer to loss than ever before.
helix2301 writes with an excerpt from CNet "Hackers broke into keypads at more than 60 Barnes & Noble bookstores and made off with the credit card information for customers who shopped at the stores in the last month. At least one point-of-sale terminal in 63 different stores was compromised recording card details. Since discovering the breach, the company has uninstalled all 7,000 point-of-sale terminals from its hundreds of stores for examination."
another random user writes with this news from the BBC: "The UK's major internet service providers have been asked to block three more file-sharing websites. The BPI (British Phonographic Industry), which acts on behalf of rights holders, wants ISPs to prevent access to Fenopy, H33t and Kickass Torrents. The BPI alleges that the sites are illegally distributing music. The ISPs told the BBC they would comply with the new demand, but only if a court order is put in place. It follows a separate court order in April which saw popular file-sharing site The Pirate Bay blocked in the UK. ... The letter, which was not intended to go public, was sent to six ISPs last week, namely BT, Sky, Virgin Media, O2, EE and TalkTalk. It is understood that the BPI is hoping all three sites will be blocked before Christmas — far more quickly than the process has taken previously."
ananyo writes "In this age of social media, innovators eager to develop high-tech products are tapping into the wisdom of crowds to solve problems, with crowdsourcing sites such as Innocentive and Kaggle offering cash prizes for answers to science or data questions. The launch this week of a site called Marblar is turning this model on its head. Marblar gives scientists a space to tout solutions that have yet to find their problem (it's not in beta, despite the redirect). Members, who can come from any background, are invited to publicly discuss potential uses for patented discoveries made in research laboratories that as yet may not have led to real-world applications. Every suggestion at Marblar is posted on a public forum alongside video interviews with the scientists and explanations of their work. Website visitors suggest applications and vote them up and down, and the scientists behind the discovery are encouraged to take part in the discussion. Popular suggestions are recognized with a points system (denoted by marbles — hence the name) and, in some cases, small cash prizes. A trial run seems to have been pretty successful."
bhagwad writes "The patent that was the cause of so much grief to Samsung in the recently concluded trial with Apple has been tentatively invalidated by the USPTO. The challenge was filed anonymously, but it obviously could have been filed by any smartphone manufacturer. Will this have an effect on further proceedings in the case or perhaps more importantly on the inevitable appeal?"
pigrabbitbear writes "Things aren't looking awesome for Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm, who's currently under lock and key in a newly built jail about 15 minutes north of Stockholm. Svartholm's mother Kristina says that her 28-year-old son is being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day without any human contact other than his interactions with the guards. It's been nearly two months since Svartholm was arrested in Cambodia, where he'd been living for years, and extradited back to Sweden, where he's due to spend a year behind bars and pay a $1.1 million fine for copyright offenses related to his role at the Pirate Bay. But that's not why Sweden's being so tough on him in prison. Authorities believe he may have played a role in the hacking of Logica, a Swedish technology company with ties to the country's tax authorities. They haven't charged him with any crimes yet in that case, however."
An anonymous reader notes that the BBC reports "Six Italian scientists and an ex-government official have been sentenced to six years in prison over the 2009 deadly earthquake in L'Aquila. A regional court found them guilty of multiple manslaughter. Prosecutors said the defendants gave a falsely reassuring statement before the quake, while the defence maintained there was no way to predict major quakes. The 6.3 magnitude quake devastated the city and killed 309 people." The scientists were first charged more than two years ago.
00_NOP writes "Amazon is taking fire in the UK for insisting that publishers pay them for 20% VAT (sales tax) when in fact the online retailer is only paying 3% VAT. 'The firm is able to wield such power over publishers because it has a near monopoly of the UK digital book publishing market. According to reliable estimates, it sells nine out of 10 ebooks in the UK, while using its Luxembourg tax status to wring more profitable terms from publishers. ... In private, British authors and publishers express fears that Amazon's dominance will send the industry into further decline.' Given that the Kindle is rubbish at displaying maths and science and that Amazon is as dangerous a monopoly as Microsoft ever was, is it not time that regulators and consumers stood up to them?" Amazon is also facing criticism right now for allegedly shutting down a woman's account and remotely wiping her Kindle, then refusing to provide information about why it did so.
Sparrowvsrevolution writes with this story from Forbes: "Over the weekend at the ToorCon hacker conference in San Diego, Michael Ossmann of Great Scott Gadgets revealed a beta version of the HackRF Jawbreaker, the latest model of the wireless Swiss-army knife tools known as 'software-defined radios.' Like any software-defined radio, the HackRF can shift between different frequencies as easily as a computer switches between applications–It can both read and transmit signals from 100 megahertz to 6 gigahertz, intercepting or reproducing frequencies used by everything from FM radios to police communications to garage door openers to WiFi and GSM to next-generation air traffic control system messages. At Ossmann's target price of $300, the versatile, open-source devices would cost less than half as much as currently existing software-defined radios with the same capabilities. And to fund the beta testing phase of HackRF, the Department of Defense research arm known as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) pitched in $200,000 last February as part of its Cyber Fast Track program."
theodp writes "Mother Jones reports on Obama's Digital Gurus, the top-secret team of analytics engineers and scientists led by hipster CTO Harper Reed who work on text analytics, social network/media analysis, web personalization, computational advertising, and online experiments & testing from the campaign's Chicago HQ and satellite offices. For OFA (Obama for America), writes Tim Murphy, there is no such thing as Too Much Information. 'In terms of just the sheer amount of data that political candidates have on you,' says UNC Prof Daniel Kreiss, 'I think everyone finds it creepy.' Still playing catch-up to OFA in its data efforts is Team Romney, which reportedly hired former employees from places like Google Analytics, Apple, Ominture, and Overstock.com in an attempt to reverse engineer the Obama campaign's strategy."
An anonymous reader writes "Confronted with a growing meningitis scare, states are coming under enormous pressure to meet federal requests that they contact more than 1,000 hospitals and clinics that received any injectable drugs from the company at the center of the deadly outbreak."