bonch writes "According to the FCC report, Google's collection of Street View data was not the unauthorized act of a rogue engineer, as Google had portrayed it, but an authorized program known to supervisors and at least seven other engineers. The original proposal contradicts Google's claim that there was no intent to gather payload data: 'We are logging user traffic along with sufficient data to precisely triangulate their position at a given time, along with information about what they were doing.'"
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reifman writes "Apple's not the only company to save billions in taxes through Nevada as The New York Times reported yesterday. Here's how Microsoft's saved $4.37 billion in tax payments to Washington State and how it's led indirectly to $4 billion in K-12 and Higher Education cuts since 2008. 18% of University of Washington freshman are now foreigners (because they pay more) up from 2% six years ago. Washington State ranks 47th nationally in 18-24 yo college enrollment and 48th in K-12 class size. This hasn't stopped the architect of the company's Nevada tax dodge from writing in The Seattle Times: 'it's [Washington] state's paramount duty to provide for the public education of all children. Unfortunately, steady declines in public resources now threaten our ability to live up to that commitment.' Yes, indeed."
redletterdave writes "While downloading and storing digital media with online service providers has become commonplace — more so than purchasing DVDs and CDs at physical retail stores — it's not very easy to transfer digital files from one individual to another, usually because of copyright laws. Some digital distributors have systems for limiting usage and distribution of their products from the original purchaser to others, but often times, transferring a copyright-protected file from one device to another can result in the file being unplayable or totally inaccessible. Apple believes it has a solution to this issue: A gift-giving platform where users have a standardized way for buying, sending and receiving media files from a provider (iTunes) between multiple electronic devices (iPhones, iPads). The process is simply called, 'Gifting.'"
bs0d3 writes "The FCC has voted to require broadcast TV stations to post online advertising rates they charge political candidates and advocacy groups. The vote came despite strong opposition from many broadcasters. 'By law, television stations offer political candidates advertising rates that are much lower than those offered to other advertisers.' Advocates argue the public should have easy access to information about how much candidates and other groups are spending on television to suck in voters. 'Network-affiliated stations in the top 50 markets will have six months to comply. For all others, the deadline is 2014.'"
suraj.sun writes "According to The Hill, 'The Social Networking Online Protection Act, introduced by Democratic Reps. Eliot Engel (N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), would prohibit current or potential employers from demanding a username or password to a social networking account. "We must draw the line somewhere and define what is private," Engel said in a statement. "No one would feel comfortable going to a public place and giving out their username and passwords to total strangers. They should not be required to do so at work, at school, or while trying to obtain work or an education. This is a matter of personal privacy and makes sense in our digital world."' Ars adds, 'The bill would apply the same prohibitions to colleges, universities, and K-12 schools. ... Facebook has already threatened legal action against organizations who require employees to reveal their Facebook passwords as policy.'" Maryland beat them to the punch, and other states are working on similar laws too. We'll have to hope the U.S. House doesn't kill this one like they did the last attempt. The difference this time is that the concept has its own bill, while its previous incarnation was an amendment to an existing bill about reforming FCC procedures.
An anonymous reader writes "An article at the NY Times explains the how the most profitable tech company in the world becomes even more profitable by finding ways to avoid or minimize taxes. Quoting: 'Apple's headquarters are in Cupertino, Calif. By putting an office in Reno, just 200 miles away, to collect and invest the company's profits, Apple sidesteps state income taxes on some of those gains. California's corporate tax rate is 8.84 percent. Nevada's? Zero. ... As it has in Nevada, Apple has created subsidiaries in low-tax places like Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands — some little more than a letterbox or an anonymous office — that help cut the taxes it pays around the world. ... Without such tactics, Apple's federal tax bill in the United States most likely would have been $2.4 billion higher last year, according to a recent study (PDF) by a former Treasury Department economist, Martin A. Sullivan. As it stands, the company paid cash taxes of $3.3 billion around the world on its reported profits of $34.2 billion last year, a tax rate of 9.8 percent."
An anonymous reader writes "In what may win awards for the silliest-sounding lawsuit of the year, a case about whether Facebook 'likes' qualify for free speech protection under the First Amendment has ended in a decisive 'no.' In the run-up to an election for Sheriff, some of the incumbent's employees made their support for the challenger known by 'liking' his page on Facebook. After the incumbent won re-election, the employees were terminated, supposedly because of budget concerns. The employees had taken a few other actions as well — bumper stickers and cookouts — but they couldn't prove the Sheriff was aware of them. The judge thus ruled that 'merely "liking" a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection. In cases where courts have found that constitutional speech protections extended to Facebook posts, actual statements existed within the record.'"
An anonymous reader writes with news that Google has released the full report of the FCC investigation into the incident in which its Street View cars collected personal data while mapping Wi-Fi networks. They are putting responsibility for the data gathering on a 'rogue engineer' who wrote the code for it without direction from management. "Those working on Street View told the FCC they had no knowledge that the payload data was being collected. Managers of the Street View program said they did not read the October 2006 document [written by the engineer that detailed his work]. A different engineer remembered receiving the document but did not recall any reference to the collection of payload data. An engineer who worked closely with the engineer in question on the project in 2007, reviewing all of the codes line by line for bugs, says he did not notice that the software was designed to capture payload data. A senior manager said he preapproved the document before it was written."
beaverdownunder writes "After winning an initial legal battle to continue its mobile 'TV Now' terrestrial-television re-broadcasting service, Optus has lost a second battle in Australian Federal court. The Optus system 'time-shifted' broadcast signals by two minutes, and then streamed them to customers' mobile phones. In the previous ruling, the judge sided with Optus' argument that since the customer requested the service, they were the ones recording the signal, and thus it was fair-use under Australian copyright law. However, the new ruling declared Optus to be the true entity recording and re-distributing the broadcasts, and thus in violation of the law. There has been no word yet on whether Optus will appeal the decision, but as they could be retroactively liable for a great deal of damages, it is almost certain that they will."
suraj.sun writes "CISPA, the hotly-contested cybersecurity bill making its way through Congress, has been supported by Microsoft since it was introduced. However, the company now tells CNET that any such legislation must 'honor the privacy and security promises we make to our customers,' while also 'protecting consumer privacy.' As you may recall, the U.S. House passed CISPA on Thursday. The Obama administration has threatened to veto the bill. Quoting CNET: 'That's a noticeable change — albeit not a complete reversal — from Microsoft's position when CISPA was introduced in November 2011. To be sure, Microsoft's initial reaction to CISPA came before many of the privacy concerns had been raised. An anti-CISPA coalition letter (PDF) wasn't sent out until April 16, and a petition that garnered nearly 800,000 signatures wasn't set up until April 5. What makes CISPA so controversial is a section saying that, "notwithstanding any other provision of law," companies may share information with Homeland Security, the IRS, the NSA, or other agencies. By including the word "notwithstanding," CISPA's drafters intended to make their legislation trump all existing federal and state laws, including ones dealing with wiretaps, educational records, medical privacy, and more.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The Houston Chronicle is reporting that Amazon.com will soon start collecting sales tax from buyers in state of Texas. 'Seattle-based Amazon, which had $34 billion in sales in 2010, has long opposed collecting taxes. That has drawn fire from state governments facing budget shortfalls and from traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, who say online sellers essentially give customers an automatic discount when they don’t collect taxes. Combs has estimated the state loses $600 million a year from untaxed online sales. However, Amazon has recently begun making deals with a number of states to collect sales tax. Those deals have usually included a one- to three-year window exempting Amazon from sales tax collection.'"
nonprofiteer writes "What has been left out of the CISPA debate thus far is the FBI's long time workaround for information sharing with private industry: 'In 1997, long-time FBI agent Dan Larkin helped set up a non-profit based in Pittsburgh that "functions as a conduit between private industry and law enforcement." Its industry members, which include banks, ISPs, telcos, credit card companies, pharmaceutical companies, and others can hand over cyberthreat information to the non-profit, called the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA), which has a legal agreement with the government that allows it to then hand over info to the FBI. Conveniently, the FBI has a unit, the Cyber Initiative and Resource Fusion Unit, stationed in the NCFTA's office. Companies can share information with the 501(c)6 non-profit that they would be wary of (or prohibited from) sharing directly with the FBI.'"
nbauman writes "WW2 veteran 'Big Hy' Strachman, 92, pirated 300,000 DVD movies and sent them to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, where they were widely distributed and deeply appreciated. Soldiers would gather around personal computers for movie nights, with mortars blasting in the background. 'It's reconnecting to everything you miss,' said one. Strachman received American flags, appreciative letters, and snapshots of soldiers holding up their DVDs. He spent about $30,000 of his own money. Strachman retired from his family's window and shade business in Manhattan in the 1990s. After his wife Harriet died in 2003, he spent sleepless nights on the Internet, and saw that soldiers were consistently asking for movie DVDs. He bought bootlegged disks for $5 in Penn Station, and then found a dealer at his local barbershop. He bought a $400 duplicater that made 7 copies at once, and mailed them 84 at a time, to Army Chaplains. The MPAA said they weren't aware of his operation. The studios send reel-to-reel films to the troops."
MrSeb writes "According to reports from various industry sources, the Chinese government has begun the process of picking a national computer chip instruction set architecture (ISA). This ISA would have to be used for any projects backed with government money — which, in a communist country such as China, is a fairly long list of public and private enterprises and institutions, including China Mobile, the largest wireless carrier in the world. The primary reason for this move is to lessen China's reliance on western intellectual property. There are at least five existing ISAs on the table for consideration — MIPS, Alpha, ARM, Power, and the homegrown UPU — but the Chinese leadership has also mooted the idea of defining an entirely new architecture. What if China goes the DIY route and makes its own ISA or microarchitecture with silicon-level censorship and monitoring, or an always-open backdoor for the Chinese intelligence agencies?"
suraj.sun writes "Microsoft quietly fixed a flaw in Hotmail's password reset system that allowed anyone to reset the password of any Hotmail account last Friday. The company was notified of the flaw by researchers at Vulnerability Lab on April 20th and responded with a fix within hours — but not until after widespread attacks, with the bug apparently spreading 'like wild fire' in the hacking community. Hotmail's password reset system uses a token system to ensure that only the account holder can reset their password — a link with the token is sent to an account linked to the Hotmail account — and clicking the link lets the account owner reset their password. However, the validation of these tokens isn't handled properly by Hotmail, allowing attackers to reset passwords of any account. Initially hackers were offering to crack accounts for $20 a throw. However, the technique became publicly known and started to spread rapidly with Web and YouTube tutorials showing the technique popping up across the Arabic-speaking Internet."