Techmeology writes "Emails and texts sent from UK ministers' private accounts could be subject to the Freedom of Information Act, which means copies could be requested by members of the public. New guidelines to be released by the government say that the key factor is 'the nature of the information and not the format.' This development comes amid a two year dispute caused when a newspaper used the act to obtain and publish an email sent from the education minister's private email address."
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Hugh Pickens writes "Neal Ungerleider writes about PlaceRaider, a trojan that can run in the background of any phone running Android 2.3 or above, and is hidden in a photography app that gives PlaceRaider the necessary permissions to access the camera and upload images. Once installed, PlaceRaider quietly takes pictures at random that are tagged with the time, location, and orientation of the phone while muting the phone's shutter sound. Once pictures are taken, PlaceRaider uploads them to a central server where they are knitted together into a 3D model of the indoor location where the pics were taken. A malicious user can then browse this space looking for objects worth stealing and sensitive data such as credit card details, identity data or calender details that reveal when the user might be away. If a user's credit card, bank information, or personal information happen to be out in the open — all the better. — the software can identify financial data, bar codes, and QR codes. End users will also be able to get the full layout of a victim's office or room. The good news? PlaceRaider isn't out in the wild yet. The malware was built as an academic exercise by a team at Indiana University as a proof of concept to show the invasive potential of visual malware beyond simple photo or video uploads and demonstrate how to turn an individual's mobile device against himself (PDF), creating an advanced surveillance platform capable of reconstructing the user's physical environment for exploration and exploitation. 'The message is clear — this kind of malware is a clear and present danger. It's only a matter of time before this game of cat and mouse becomes more serious.'" As malware, it's spooky. But merely as software, this kind of intelligent 3-D imaging is something I'd like to be able to do with my phone.
New submitter WOOFYGOOFY writes "The most recent call for curtailing patents comes not just from an unexpected source, the St. Louis Fed, but also in its most basic form: total abolition of all patents. Via the Atlantic Monthly: a new working paper (PDF) from two members of the St. Louis Federal Reserve, Michele Boldrin and David Levine, in which they argue that while a weak patent system may mildly increase innovation with limited side-effects, such a system can never be contained and will inevitably lead to a stifling patent system such as that presently found in the U.S. They argue: '...strong patent systems retard innovation with many negative side-effects. ... the political demand for stronger patent protection comes from old and stagnant industries and firms, not from new and innovative ones. Hence the best solution is to abolish patents entirely through strong constitutional measures and to find other legislative instruments, less open to lobbying and rent-seeking.' They acknowledge that some industries could suffer under a such a system. They single out pharma, and suggest other legislative measures be found to foster innovation whenever there is clear evidence that laissez-faire under-supplies it."
TrueSatan writes "Reminiscent of buggy whip manufacturers taking legal action against auto makers, the former U.S. Register of Copyrights, Ralph Oman, has given an amicus brief in the Aereo case (PDF) stating that all new content-delivery technology should be presumed illegal unless and until it is approved by Congress. He adds that providers of new technology should be forced to apply to Congress to prove they don't upset existing business models."
First time accepted submitter Chris453 writes "A U.S. appeals court on Friday ruled that Google Inc's Motorola Mobility unit cannot enforce a patent injunction that it obtained against Microsoft Corp in Germany, diminishing Google's leverage in the ongoing smartphone patent wars. Motorola won an injunction against Microsoft in May using their H.264 patents. Apparently the U.S. federal justices in California have worldwide jurisdiction over all court cases — Who knew? Maybe that is why Apple keeps winning lawsuits..."
An anonymous reader writes "A new paper from Professor Jason Mazzone at the University of Illinois calls for federal laws to regulate what happens to digital accounts after the account holder's death. Mazzone argues that Facebook and other online services have policies for deceased users' accounts that do not adequately protect the individual property and privacy interests at stake. The full text of the paper (called "Facebook's Afterlife") is also available: "
darthcamaro writes "Agencies of the U.S. Federal Government are racing to comply with a September 30th deadline to offer web, email and DNS for all public facing websites over IPv6. While not all government websites will hit the deadline, according to Akamai at least 2,000 of them will. According to at least one expert, the IPv6 mandate is proof that top-down cheerleading for tech innovation works. 'The 2012 IPv6 mandate is not the first (or the last) IPv6 transition mandate from the U.S. government. Four years ago, in 2008, the U.S. government also had an IPv6 mandate in place. That particular mandate, required U.S. Government agencies to have IPv6-ready equipment enabled in their infrastructure.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) want the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to examine the new alliance between Facebook and Datalogix. According to the Financial Times, Facebook and Datalogix have teamed up to measure the effects of some 45 marketing campaigns so far, with the two companies matching consumer information from loyalty-card programs to the identifiers (such as email addresses) used to set up Facebook accounts. Combining those datasets could offer insight into whether consumers are actually heading out and buying certain products or services advertised on Facebook. While the two companies apparently strip personal information from the datasets, EPIC and CDD nonetheless have significant concerns over how that data is handled, and by whom. 'Facebook is matching the personal information of users with personal information held by Datalogix,' EPIC wrote in a Sept. 27 posting on its website, hinting that such a deal could violate the social network's previous agreement with the FTC prohibiting it 'from changing privacy settings without the affirmative consent of users or misrepresenting the privacy or security of users' personal information.'"
sycodon writes "Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man behind the film Innocence of Muslims, has been arrested and jailed in Los Angeles for probation violations. The situation is a win-win for the Obama administration, who can now appear to be punishing the man whose film sparked protests and riots around the world, but at the same time simply enforcing the law, as all evidence indeed suggests Nakoula violated the terms of his probation."
derekmead writes "Data from the enormous Green Bank Telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory has been used to test some of Einstein's theories, discover new molecules in space, and find evidence of the building blocks of life and of the origins of galaxies. With 6,600 hours of observation time a year, the GBT produces massive amounts of data on the makeup of space, and any researchers with reason to use the data are welcome to do so. The eleven-year-old GBT stands as one of the crowning achievements of American big science. But with the National Science Foundation strapped for cash like most other science-minded government agencies, the NRAO's funding is threatened. In August of this year, the Astronomy Portfolio Review, a committee appointed by the NSF, recommended that the GBT be defunded over the next five years. Researchers, along with locals and West Virginia congressmen, are fighting the decision, which puts the nearly $100 million telescope at risk. Unless they succeed, America's giant dish will go silent."
J053 sends word that California has passed legislation making it illegal for both colleges and employers to request social media account access from students, employees, and prospective hires. "Assemblymember Nora Campos, who authored the bill, called AB 1844 a 'preemptive measure' that will offer guidelines to the accessibility of private information behind what she calls the 'social media wall.' ... According to Campos' office, more than 100 cases currently before the National Labor Relations Board involve employer workplace policies around social media. Facebook has also said it has experienced an increase in reports of employers seeking to gain 'inappropriate access' to people's Facebook profiles or private information."
Barence writes "A British man was jailed for 18 months for accidentally sending an explicit text message to his entire address book. 24-year-old swimming coach Craig Evans intended to send a text message to his girlfriend asking her for sex. Instead, the message was accidentally sent to his entire BlackBerry address book, including two girls, aged 13 and 14, from his swimming class. He was subsequently arrested and charged with 'causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity,' and – incredibly – jailed for 18 months at Birmingham Crown Court in July. Yesterday, an appeal's court freed Evans, although he wasn't cleared — the sentence was merely reduced to a nine-month suspended jail term."
hypnosec writes "According to data obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), surveillance of emails and other forms of Internet communications without warrants has increased substantially over the last two years. Documents, obtained by the ACLU, reveal that there has been a 361% increase in 'pen register' and 'trap-and-trace' orders between 2009 and 2011. The ACLU has appealed to Congress to bring in more judicial oversight in these warrantless orders."
nemesisrocks writes "ASIC, Australia's version of the SEC, has called for phone call and internet data to be stored by Australian ISPs, in a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into mandatory data retention. Not only does the authority want the powers to intercept the times, dates and details of telecommunications information, it also wants access to the contents of emails, social media chats and text messages."
New submitter quippe writes in with some bad news for Microsoft. "Microsoft Corp will be charged for failing to comply with a 2009 ruling ordering it to offer a choice of web browsers, the European Union's antitrust chief said on Thursday, which could mean a hefty fine for the company. U.S.-based Microsoft's more than decade-long battle with the European Commission has already landed it with fines totaling more than a billion euros ($1.28 billion). The Commission, which opened an investigation into the issue in July, is now preparing formal charges against the company, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said."