Government

UK Wants Authority To Serve Warrants In U.S. (usatoday.com) 142

schwit1 writes with this news, as reported by USA Today: British and U.S. officials have been negotiating a plan that could allow British authorities to directly serve wiretap orders on U.S. communications companies in criminal and national security inquiries, U.S. officials confirmed Thursday. The talks are aimed at allowing British authorities access to a range of data, from interceptions of live communications to archived emails involving British suspects, according to the officials, who are not authorized to comment publicly. ... Under the proposed plan, British authorities would not have access to records of U.S. citizens if they emerged in the British investigations. Congressional approval would be required of any deal negotiated by the two countries.
Security

Anti-Malware Maker Files Lawsuit Over Bad Review (csoonline.com) 162

itwbennett writes: In a lawsuit filed January 8, 2016, Enigma Software, maker of anti-malware software SpyHunter, accuses self-help portal Bleeping Computer of making 'false, disparaging, and defamatory statements.' At issue: a bad review posted by a user in September, 2014. The lawsuit also accuses Bleeping Computer of profiting from driving traffic to competitor Malwarebytes via affiliate links: 'Bleeping has a direct financial interest in driving traffic and sales to Malwarebytes and driving traffic and sales away from ESG.' Perhaps not helping matters, one of the first donations to a fund set up by Bleeping Computer to help with legal costs came from Malwarebytes.
Patents

Patent Troll VirnetX Awarded $626M In Damages From Apple (arstechnica.com) 134

Tackhead writes: Having won a $200M judgement against Microsoft in 2010, lost a $258M appeal against Cisco in 2013, and having beaten Apple for $368M in 2012, only to see the verdict overturned in 2014, patent troll VirnetX is back in the news, having been awarded $626M in damages arising from the 2012 Facetime patent infringement case against Apple.
Censorship

Julian Assange May Surrender To British Police On Friday (twitter.com) 327

bestweasel writes: As reported by The Guardian and others, Julian Assange has announced via Wikileaks that: "Should the UN announce tomorrow that I have lost my case against the United Kingdom and Sweden, I shall exit the embassy at noon on Friday to accept arrest by British police as there is no meaningful prospect of further appeal. ... However, should I prevail and the state parties be found to have acted unlawfully, I expect the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me."
The Courts

Fine Brothers File For Trademark On Word "React" 204

DewDude writes: You've probably seen them on YouTube: Fine Brothers are the two behind the video series Teens React, Kids React, and Elders React. Well, the two seem to feel they somehow invented this whole thing and have now filed for a very broad trademark. The USPTO filing says the trademark will be published tomorrow and looking at the filing; it is literally for the word "react" and simply shows a screenshot of their YouTube page. They have also apparently gotten approval for "Parents React," "Celebrities React," and "Parents React"; as well as filed applications for things such as "Do They Know It," "Lyric Breakdown," "People v. Technology," and "Try Not To Smile Or Laugh."
The Courts

Former Yahoo Employee Challenges the Legality of Yahoo's Ranking System (nytimes.com) 250

whoever57 writes: A former employee of Yahoo is challenging Yahoo's performance review and termination process. The ranking system was introduced to Yahoo by Ms. Mayer on the recommendation of management consultants McKinsey & Co.. Gregory Anderson, an editor who oversaw Yahoo's autos, homes, shopping, small business and travel sites in Sunnyvale, Calif. is claiming that the ranking and termination process was flawed to the extent that the terminations were not based on performance and hence constitute mass layoffs, which require notice periods under both California and Federal law. He is also alleging gender discrimination, under which women were given preferential treatment over men in the hiring, promotions and layoff processes.
Government

Cable Lobby Steams Up Over FCC Set-Top Box Competition Plan (arstechnica.com) 167

An anonymous reader writes: Cable TV industry lobby groups expressed their displeasure with a Federal Communications Commission plan to bring competition to the set-top box market, which could help consumers watch TV on different devices and thus avoid paying cable box rental fees.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed new rules that would force pay-TV companies to give third parties access to TV content, letting hardware makers build better set-top boxes. Customers would be able to watch all the TV channels they're already paying cable companies for, but on a device that they don't have to rent from them. The rules could also bring TV to tablets and other devices without need for a rented set-top box. The system would essentially replace CableCard with a software-based equivalent.

The Internet

T-Mobile's Binge On Violates Net Neutrality, Says Stanford Report (tmonews.com) 217

An anonymous reader writes: The debate over whether or not Binge On violates Net Neutrality has been raging ever since the service was announced in November. The latest party to weigh in is Barbara van Schewick, law professor at Stanford University.

In a new report published today — and filed to the FCC, as well — van Schewick says that Binge on "violates key net neutrality principles" and "is likely to violate the FCC's general conduct rule." She goes on to make several arguments against Binge On, saying that services in Binge On distorts competition because they're zero-rated and because video creators are more likely to use those providers for their content, as the zero-rated content is more attractive to consumers.

Crime

12 Years Later, Warrantless Wiretaps Whistleblower Facing Misconduct Charges (usnews.com) 96

cold fjord writes: Former Justice Department attorney Thomas Tamm sparked an intense public debate about warrantless surveillance nearly a decade before Edward Snowden. Tamm tipped reporters in 2004 about the use of nonstandard warrantless procedures under the Bush administration for intercepting international phone calls and emails of Americans. New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau used Tamm's revelations to help them win a Pulitzer Prize. Barack Obama criticized the program and the Obama administration Justice Department announced in 2011 that it would not bring criminal charges against him. Unfortunately Tamm is now facing disciplinary hearings before the D.C. Office of Disciplinary Counsel which prosecutes the D.C. Bar's disciplinary cases. Tamm is facing ethics charges that could result is his disbarment, revoking his law license. Tamm is alleged to have "failed to refer information in his possession that persons within the Department of Justice were violating their legal obligations to higher authority within the Department" and "revealed to a newspaper reporter confidences or secrets of his client, the Department of Justice." Tamm currently resides in Maryland where he is a public defender. The effect of the D.C. case on him there is unclear. Tamm's attorney, Georgetown University law professor Michael Frisch, says the delays seen in this case are not unusual in D.C., it can take years for matters to play out. Another of Frisch's clients, who exposed the interrogation of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, believes the prosecution is political persecution.

Newegg Sues Patent Troll After Troll Dropped Its Own Lawsuit (arstechnica.com) 172

WheezyJoe writes: Not satisfied that a patent troll dropped its lawsuit against them, Newegg has sued the troll. So-called "patent holding company" Minero Digital sought to exact royalty payments on a wide range of USB hubs, suing, among others, Newegg's subsidiary Rosewill. But the "non-practicing entity" dropped its East Texas lawsuit against Rosewill within days of getting a call from the Newegg's lawyer. However, Minero dismissed its Texas lawsuit "without prejudice", meaning it can refile the case at a time of its choosing. So, Newegg filed its own lawsuit against Minero in Los Angeles federal court, asking a judge to lay down a ruling that Minero's case against Rosewill is baseless. Says Newegg's Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng, "Minero's case does not have merit, and its patent is not only expired but would suck even if it wasn't expired. Now that they have started the litigation, it would be irresponsible for Newegg to not finish it."

EFF: License Plate Scanner Deal Turns Texas Cops Into Debt Collectors (eff.org) 442

An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation is sounding the alarm about a deal between Texas law enforcement agencies and Vigilant Solutions — a company that provides vehicle surveillance tech. The deal will give Texas police access to a bunch of automated license plate readers (ALPRs), and access to the company's data and analytic tools. For free. How is Vigilant making money? "The government agency in turn gives Vigilant access to information about all its outstanding court fees, which the company then turns into a hot list to feed into the free ALPR systems. As police cars patrol the city, they ping on license plates associated with the fees. The officer then pulls the driver over and offers them a devil's bargain: get arrested, or pay the original fine with an extra 25% processing fee tacked on, all of which goes to Vigilant. In other words, the driver is paying Vigilant to provide the local police with the technology used to identify and then detain the driver. If the ALPR pings on a parked car, the officer can get out and leave a note to visit Vigilant's payment website." Vigilant also gets to keep the data collected on citizens while the ALPRs are in use.
Power

Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Energy Conservation Program (yahoo.com) 84

mdsolar sends news that the U.S. Supreme Court has issued a 6-2 ruling in favor of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's ability to create incentives for conserving energy and reducing demand on the power grid at peak times. The demand response program pays large electricity customers like retailers, schools and office buildings to reduce energy consumption on hot summer days and other times of peak demand. The reduction in power use means electric utilities don't need to turn on backup power plants, which cost more to run and boost electricity prices. ... The rule won wide praise from environmental groups because it curbed the need for utilities to build expensive and air-polluting power plants. The demand response program saved customers in the mid-Atlantic region nearly $12 billion in 2013, according to PJM Interconnection, which manages the wholesale power supply for all or part of 13 states. ... But the rule has meant millions in lost profits for utilities. Those companies argued that the program impermissibly targets retail customers.
Communications

Pakistan Orders ISPs To Block Over 400k Porn Websites (independent.co.uk) 105

Bruce66423 writes: The agency that regulates telecommunications in Pakistan has ordered ISPs to block a huge list of adult websites. "The action follows a recent order passed down by the Supreme Court in Pakistan requiring the telecom sector to 'take remedial steps to quantify the nefarious phenomenon of obscenity and pornography that has an imminent role to corrupt and vitiate the youth of Pakistan.' According to the Express Tribune, just days after the ruling by the Supreme Court, the telecom sector regulator, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, added it had provided internet service providers with a list of 429,343 domains to be blocked as it attempts to control the distribution of pornographic material.
Communications

The Telecommunications Ball Is Now In Cuba's Court 59

lpress writes: The FCC has dropped Cuba from its exclusion list (PDF), so there are now no restrictions on U.S. telecom company dealings with ETECSA, the Cuban government telecommunication monopoly, or any other Cuban organization. Last week the U.S. sent its second high-level telecommunication delegation to Cuba. The delegates were FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and other government officials plus representatives of Cisco, Comcast, and Ericsson. Some of the news: there are at least 6 proposals for an undersea cable between Havana and Florida; Cisco has proposed a Network Academy at Cuba's leading computer science university (Chinese infrastructure dominates today); 4G mobile connectivity was discussed and Google was conspicuously absent. The time for Cuba to act is now — while President Obama is still in office.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

NSA Wants To Dump the Phone Records It Gathered Over 14 Years (thenextweb.com) 56

According to The Next Web, the NSA would like to get rid of something that a lot of people wish they'd never had in the first place: phone records that the agency has collected over a decade and a half (more, really) of mass surveillance. However, the EFF wants to make sure that the evidence of snooping doesn't get buried along with the actual recorded data. From the article: [T]he government says that it can't be sued by bodies like the EFF. The organization is currently involved in two pending cases seeking a remedy for the past 14 years of illegal phone record collection. EFF wrote a letter (PDF) to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court last December which it has now made public, explaining that it is ready to discuss options that will allow destruction of the records in ways that still preserve its ability to prosecute the cases. It'll be interesting to see how this pans out: if the government doesn't agree to a discussion about how to handle these phone records, it's possible that they will remain on file for years to come. Plus, it could allow the NSA to avoid being held accountable for its illegal mass surveillance.
Businesses

Disney IT Workers Allege Conspiracy In Layoffs, File Lawsuits (computerworld.com) 243

dcblogs writes with the latest in the laid off Disney IT worker saga. According to ComputerWorld: "Disney IT workers laid off a year ago this month are now accusing the company and the outsourcing firms it hired of engaging in a 'conspiracy to displace U.S. workers.' The allegations are part of two lawsuits filed in federal court in Florida on Monday. Between 200 and 300 Disney IT workers were laid off in January 2015. Some of the workers had to train their foreign replacements — workers on H-1B visas — as a condition of severance. The lawsuits represent what may be a new approach in the attack on the use of H-1B workers to replace U.S. workers. They allege violations of the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), claiming that the nature of the employment of the H-1B workers was misrepresented, and that Disney and the contractors knew the ultimate intent was to replace U.S. workers with lower paid H-1B workers."
Advertising

German Court: "Sharing" Your Amazon Purchases Is Spamming (reuters.com) 195

An anonymous reader writes: A court in Germany has ruled that the 'Share' links which Amazon provides to customers directly after making a purchase at the site are unlawful. The "Share" functionality provides buttons which allow the consumer to signal a new purchase via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or email. The court, ratifying an earlier decision made at a lower court, declared that emails initiated via the Share function constitute "unsolicited advertising and unreasonable harassment."
Iphone

Apple Court Testimony Reveals Why It Refuses To Unlock iPhones For Police (dailydot.com) 231

blottsie writes: Newly unsealed court transcripts from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York show that Apple now refuses to unlock iPhones for law enforcement, saying "In most cases now and in the future, the government’s requested order would be substantially burdensome, as it would be impossible to perform." “Right now Apple is aware that customer data is under siege from a variety of different directions. Never has the privacy and security of customer data been as important as it is now,” Apple lawyer Marc Zwillinger said at the hearing. “A hypothetical consumer could think if Apple is not in the business of accessing my data and if Apple has built a system to prevent itself from accessing my data, why is it continuing to comply with orders that don’t have a clear lawful basis in doing so?”
Crime

Utah Bill Would Require IT Workers To Report Child Porn (ksl.com) 391

Mr.Intel writes: A Utah lawmaker wants computer technicians to face jail time if they don't immediately report child pornography they discover on someone's computer. The proposal would require computer technicians to report child pornography to law enforcement or a federal cyber tip line if they encounter the material, but they would not be required to go searching for it. If they find it and don't report it, they could be given up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. It would mirror laws already on the books in at least 12 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Businesses

Google Agrees To Pay 130M UK Pounds (~ $185M) In Back Taxes (telegraph.co.uk) 87

whoever57 writes: Google UK has come to an agreement with HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) under which it will recognize a larger share of its UK sales in the UK, instead of funnelling them through the Republic of Ireland. In addition, Google will pay 130M UK Pounds in back taxes representing tax on sales since 2005.

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