An anonymous reader writes "The University of Pittsburgh has been plagued with 78 bomb threats (and counting) since February 14. It started low-tech, with handwritten notes, but has progressed to anonymous emails. Nearly every campus building has been a target. The program suspected is anonymous mailer Mixmaster. The university has been evacuating each building when threats come in (day or night), and police departments from around Allegheny County have offered assistance with clearing each building floor by floor with bomb sniffing dogs. There is a popular tracking blog set up by a student as well as a growing Reddit community. Is there any foreseeable defense (forensic or socially engineered) to a situation like this?"
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scibri writes "Three months ago, China started to crack down on unlicensed stem cell treatments in the country. But it doesn't seem to have had much effect. Not one clinic has registered as required, and they continue to operate openly, offering unproven treatments for diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's."
An anonymous reader writes "Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals candidly discusses the future of privacy law in an essay published today in the Stanford Law Review Online. Referencing an Isaac Asimov short story, Kozinski acknowledges a serious threat to our privacy — but not from corporations, courts, or Congress: 'Judges, legislators and law enforcement officials live in the real world. The opinions they write, the legislation they pass, the intrusions they dare engage in—all of these reflect an explicit or implicit judgment about the degree of privacy we can reasonably expect by living in our society. In a world where employers monitor the computer communications of their employees, law enforcement officers find it easy to demand that internet service providers give up information on the web-browsing habits of their subscribers.'" (Excerpt continues below.)
UnknowingFool writes "Over a year ago, Nest Labs launched the Learning Thermostat. The brainchild of Tony Fadell, former head of Apple's iPod and iPhone division, the Learning Thermostat promised a self-programming and wifi-enabled thermostat that would save energy costs. After some glowing reviews, Nest found itself in a patent infringement lawsuit against Honeywell. Nest responded with multiple claims calling Honeywell 'worse than a patent troll.' Among Nest's claims: Honeywell hid prior art (some on some previous patents that they owned) and inapplicable patents (patent on mechanical potentiometer when Nest's product does not include one). Nest's stance is that Honeywell filed the lawsuits not to extract money but to set back progress so that they can control the industry."
grumpyman writes "A coalition of 49 ex-NASA employees, including seven Apollo astronauts, have accused the U.S. space agency of sullying its reputation by taking the 'extreme position' of concluding that carbon dioxide is a major cause of climate change. Is the claim in this letter opinion or fact?"
redletterdave writes "In March, a 51-year-old Reddit user named 'Black Visions' wrote his last post on Reddit. He had been writing frequently about depression and suicide, but in his last post where he also threatened his own suicide, others decided to egg him on even further. That turned out to the be the last straw: Seattle news soon reported Jerry had jumped eight stories from a hotel room in the Double Tree in Tukwila, Washington. Reddit announced on Wednesday that the user's sister Sandy has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against nine Reddit users who egged him on, and Reddit has also been subpoenaed in identifying the information of another three individuals."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Wired: "Former Goldman Sachs programmer Sergey Aleynikov, who downloaded source code for the investment firm's high-speed trading system from the company's computers, was wrongly charged with theft of property because the code did not qualify as a physical object under a federal theft statute, according to a court opinion published Wednesday." Adds the submitter: "The RIAA's definitely got to give Goldman Sachs their secret recipe ..."
angry tapir writes "In an unusual case, a U.S. judge has ruled that Motorola cannot enforce an injunction that would prevent Microsoft from selling Windows products in Germany, should a German court issue such an injunction next week. Microsoft asked the judge for the ruling in anticipation of an injunction that a German court is expected to issue related to a patent infringement suit that Motorola filed against Microsoft in Germany. The suit centers primarily on Motorola licenses that have been declared essential to the H.264 video standard. The German injunction is expected on April 17."
Oldcynic writes "The Canadian mint has allowed 500 developers to enter a contest to create a new digital currency. The currency would allow micro payments using electronic devices. From the article: 'Less than a week after the government announced the penny’s impending death, the Mint quietly unveiled its digital currency called MintChip. Still in the research and development phase, MintChip will ultimately let people pay each other directly using smartphones, USB sticks, computers, tablets and clouds. The digital currency will be anonymous and good for small transactions — just like cash, the Mint says. To make sure its technology meets the gold standard in a world where digital transactions are gaining steam, the Mint is holding a contest for software developers to create applications using the MintChip.'" It looks like the Canadian Mint might have a bit of Sweden envy.
h00manist writes "Nicholas Merrill ran a New York based ISP and got tired of federal 'information requests.' He is now planning an ISP which would be built from the ground up for privacy. Everything encrypted, maximum technical and legal resistance to information requests. Merrill has formed an advisory board with members including Sascha Meinrath from the New America Foundation; former NSA technical director Brian Snow; and Jacob Appelbaum from the Tor Project. Kickstarter-like IndieGoGo has a project page."
coondoggie writes "When it comes to stirring the brains of genius, a good competition can bring forward some really great ideas. That's the driving notion behind myriad public competitions, or challenges, as they are often labeled, that will take place in the near future sponsored by the U.S. government. The competitions are increasing by design as part of the $45 billion America Competes Act renewed by Congress last year that gave every federal department and agency the authority to conduct prize competitions, according to the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy."
Freddybear writes with news that yesterday Maryland passed a bill through both houses of the state legislature that would forbid employers from requiring job applicants or employees to provide access to social media accounts. The bill now awaits only the signature of governor Martin O'Malley. "The bill is the first of its kind in the country, and has shined a spotlight on the practice of employers demanding personal social media passwords from potential hires, [said Melissa Goemann of the ACLU]." Similar legislation is being developed in California, Illinois and Michigan, according to the Washington Post.
We've heard recently of CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, a bill currently making its way through Congress that many are calling the latest incarnation of SOPA. Reader SolKeshNaranek points out an article at Techdirt explaining exactly why this bill is bad, and how its backers are trying to deflect criticism by using language that's different and rather vague. Quoting: "The bill defines 'cybersecurity systems' and 'cyber threat information' as anything to do with protecting a network from: '(A) efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy such system or network; or (B) theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.' It's easy to see how that definition could be interpreted to include things that go way beyond network security — specifically, copyright policing systems at virtually any point along a network could easily qualify."
Trepidity writes "In a decision today (PDF), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act 'does not extend to violations of use restrictions,' and therefore violating terms of service and corporate use policies is not a federal crime. Law profesor Orin Kerr cheered the decision, but since three other Courts of Appeals have reached opposite decisions, it might be heading to the Supreme Court."