l2718 writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation announced today a large donation by Mark Cuban and Markus 'Notch' Persson to the EFF Patent Project. Notably, part of Cuban's donation is for the creation of the 'Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents' (the first holder is current staff attorney Julie Samuels). Time will tell if the new title will help her advocacy work. Cuban said, 'The current state of patents and patent litigation in this country is shameful," said Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. "Silly patent lawsuits force prices to go up while competition and innovation suffer. That's bad for consumers and bad for business. It's time to fix our broken system, and EFF can help.' Notch added, 'New games and other technological tools come from improving on old things and making them better – an iterative process that the current patent environment could shut down entirely. '"
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An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today updated the privacy standards that protect children's privacy online. The new rules say companies must gain parental consent before collecting a kid's geolocation data, photos, and videos. It also broadened existing language to include third parties and companies that collect data on users across multiple websites. 'While the new rule strengthens such safeguards, it could also disrupt online advertising. Web sites and online advertising networks often use persistent identification systems — like a customer code number in a cookie in a person's browser — to collect information about a user's online activities and tailor ads for that person. But the new rule expands the definition of personal information to include persistent IDs — such as a customer code number, the unique serial number on a mobile phone, or the I.P. address of a browser — if they are used to show a child behavior-based ads.'"
New submitter seepho writes "Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has introduced a bill directing the National Academy of Sciences to lead an investigation to determine what impact violent video games have on children. Senator Rockefeller commented, 'Recent court decisions demonstrate that some people still do not get it. They believe that violent video games are no more dangerous to young minds than classic literature or Saturday morning cartoons. Parents, pediatricians, and psychologists know better. These court decisions show we need to do more and explore ways Congress can lay additional groundwork on this issue. This report will be a critical resource in this process.'" This legislation was prompted by reports that Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza was a gamer. A draft of the bill is available online.
An anonymous reader writes "Intellectual Ventures and RPX Rational Patent, two companies frequently referred to as patent trolls, have snapped up the troubled Kodak company's imaging patents. Bloomberg reports that Kodak has agreed to sell the patent portfolio for $525 million, despite previous valuations of over $2 billion." New submitter speedplane adds "How many stories have we read hating on the biggest patent troll of them all? Finally we see Intellectual Ventures making their case in a Wired op-ed, filled with everything you would would expect from a company suing the tech world on thousands of dubious patents: '...the system needs intermediaries within the market — companies like Intellectual Ventures — to help sift through and navigate the published landscape. By developing focused expertise, these patent licensing entities and intermediaries can function as patent aggregators, assembling portfolios of relevant inventions and providing access through licensing.' And my favorite gem: 'Ultimately, the users of those products — you — are the ones who benefit.'"
Grumbleduke writes "The UK Pirate Party has been forced to shut down its proxy of The Pirate Bay. The Party had been running the proxy since April, initially to support the Dutch Party's efforts, then as a means of combating censorship after the BPI obtained uncontested court orders against the UK's main ISPs to block the site across the UK. In a statement released through their lawyers, the Party cited the impossibly-high costs of legal action for their decision, but vowed to keep fighting for digital rights however they can."
From El Reg comes word that interim guidelines have been issued for prosecutions under the UK Communications Act that have landed a few folks in jail for offensive speech: "Keir Starmer QC published this morning his interim guidelines for crown prosecutors that demanded a more measured approach to tackling trolling on the Internet. ... 'A prosecution is unlikely to be in the public interest if the communication is swiftly removed, blocked, not intended for a wide audience or not obviously beyond what could conceivably be tolerable or acceptable in a diverse society which upholds and respects freedom of expression. The interim guidelines thus protect the individual from threats or targeted harassment while protecting the expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, or banter or humour, even if distasteful to some and painful to those subjected to it.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier this year, the Supreme Court put an end to warrantless GPS tracking. Now, federal prosecutors are trying to get similar data from a different source. A U.S. District Judge has ruled that getting locational data from cell towers in order to track suspects is just fine. '[Judge Huvelle] sidestepped the Fourth Amendment argument and declined to analyze whether the Supreme Court's ruling in Jones' case has any bearing on whether cell-site data can be used without a warrant. Instead, she focused on a doctrine called the "good-faith exemption," in which evidence is not suppressed if the authorities were following the law at the time. The data in Jones' case was coughed up in 2005, well before the Supreme Court's ruling on GPS. "The court, however, need not resolve this vexing question of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, since it concludes that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies," (.PDF) she wrote. ... With that, prosecutors are legally in the clear to use Jones’ phone location records without a warrant.'"
jfruh writes "You may remember the tale of the blogger who found that an infographic he'd put on his site was the front end of an SEO spam job. Well, he's since followed the money to figure out just who's behind this maneuver: the for-profit college industry. He discovered that the contact info of someone who expresses interest in online degree programs can be worth up to $250 to an industry with a particularly sleazy reputation."
judgecorp writes "ICANN has held a raffle to determine in what order it will examine new domain name applications. This doesn't guarantee applicants will win the generic top-level domain (gTLD) they have set their hearts on, as the applications still have to be considered. There may be competition, or objections such as the South American governments' objection to Amazon's .amazon bid. None of the first batch is an English language domain, and the first one likely to make it through all the hurdles is an application by the Vatican, for a domain spelling 'catholic' in Chinese."
An anonymous reader writes with this IDG News report: "Samsung dropped all claims pending in European courts in which it asserted patents that are essential for mobile communication devices to prevent the sales of Apple products in Europe. The injunction requests against Apple, which aimed to get courts to impose sales bans on infringing products, were withdrawn in the U.K., France, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. Samsung only withdrew the injunctions requests — other litigation against Apple in Europe continues, Anne ter Braak, a spokeswoman for Samsung in the Netherlands, said in an email on Tuesday. While Samsung said it withdrew its claims in the interest of protecting consumer choice, it could have to do with a European antitrust investigation."
wiredmikey writes "A U.S. judge sentenced a computer hacker to 10 years in prison on Monday for breaking into the email accounts of celebrities and stealing private photos. The hacker accessed the personal email accounts and devices of stars including Scarlett Johansson, Christina Aguilera and Renee Olstead, among dozens of other people he hacked. The hackers arrest in October 2011 stemmed from an 11-month investigation into the hacking of over 50 entertainment industry names, many of them young female stars. Hacked pictures of Johansson showed her in a state of undress in a domestic setting. Aguilera's computer was hacked in December 2010, when racy photos of her also hit the Internet. Mila Kunis' cell phone was hacked in September that year with photos of her, including one in a bathtub, spread online. According to the FBI, the hacker used open-source, public information to try to guess a celebrity's email password, and then would breach the account."
An anonymous reader writes "A 2011 ProPublica series found that the TSA had glossed over the small cancer risk posed by its X-ray body scanners at airports across the country. While countries in Europe have long prohibited the scanners, the TSA is just now getting around to studying the health effects." I'm not worried; the posters and recorded announcements at the airport say these scanners raise no health concerns.
SternisheFan writes with this news from the Register: "Apple has failed in its attempt to obtain a permanent ban on several Samsung products in the U.S., but Samsung's accusations of jury misconduct have also been rejected. As she has so many times before, Judge Lucy Koh kept things even between Apple and Samsung by rejecting most of their requests. After Apple won $1bn in its patent infringement case against the Korean firm, it set about pursuing another win in the form of permanent injunctions on the products in the case. The fruity firm wanted a California court to stop sales of the Sammy mobile phones and tablets in the U.S., but the judge said the company hadn't done enough to legally support such a ban." More details at Groklaw.
GovTechGuy writes "Rep. Zoe Lofgren sat down with Roll Call to discuss her proposal to slow down the seizure of domain names accused of piracy by the federal government. Lofgren turned to Reddit for help formulating the bill, and also discussed whether her colleagues in Congress know enough about technology to make informed decisions on tech policy."
DavidGilbert99 writes "Many Instagram users have reacted angrily to a proposed change to the apps terms of service by owner Facebook, which would give the social network 'perpetual' rights to all photos on Instagram, allowing it to sell the photos to advertisers without notice — or payment to the user. The new policy will come into effect on 16 January, just four months after Facebook completed its $1bn acquisition of Instagram. It states that Facebook has a right to distribute any content posted on Instagram without paying the user royalties:" Also worth reading Declan McCullagh's take on it.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Torrent Freak: "A leading Australian Internet service provider has pulled out of negotiations to create a warning notice scheme aimed at reducing online piracy. iiNet, the ISP that was sued by Hollywood after refusing to help chase down alleged infringers, said that it can't make any progress with rightsholders if they don't make their content freely available at a reasonable price. The ISP adds that holding extra data on customers' habits is inappropriate and not their responsibility."
An anonymous reader writes with a blow to Facebook's policy banning accounts under pseudonyms. From the article: "A German privacy regulator ordered Facebook to stop enforcing its real name policy because it violates a German law that gives users the right to use nicknames online. 'We believe the orders are without merit, a waste of German taxpayers' money and we will fight it vigorously,' a Facebook spokeswoman said in an emailed statement."
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Here's some breaking news I saw MSNBC this morning that I haven't seen reported anywhere in the print media yet. NBC reporter Pete Williams reported on Chuck Todd's The Daily Rundown that (police) 'had been hopeful that they could extract some information from the computer at (Lanza's) home. He was very into computers. Before he left his mother's house on the morning that he shot his mother while she was sleeping, he damaged extensively his computer. He took the hard drive out, pulled the disk out, and did a lot of damage to it,' said Williams. 'It's not clear that (police) are going to be able to extract any information or not.' It has previously been reported that Lanza left no online footprint. Police had been eager to examine Lanza's computer in hopes of determining a motive in his killings or finding records of purchases of firearms and ammunition. 'If he visited certain websites, they are going to glean whatever information they can from that and see what it means,' said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly. 'Does he have friends he communicates with online? Was there a fight with somebody?'"
mikejuk writes "As 2012, Alan Turing Year, draws to close a group of highly regarded UK scientists, including Professor Stephen Hawking, have repeated the call for a posthumous pardon for Turing's criminal conviction in a letter to the Telegraph. The letter has re-opened the debate, which is controversial even for those who support the idea that Turing was treated in an unfair and appalling way, was formally acknowledged by the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 when he apologized for the treatment Turing had received. In February Justice Minister Lord McNally rebuffed a 23,000 signature petition for a pardon saying: 'A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offense.'"