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United Kingdom

In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail 255

Posted by timothy
from the don't-worry-he's-trolling dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news from The Guardian about a proposed change in UK law that would greatly increase the penalties for online incivility: Internet trolls who spread "venom" on social media could be jailed for up to two years, the justice secretary Chris Grayling has said as he announced plans to quadruple the maximum prison sentence. Grayling, who spoke of a "baying cybermob", said the changes will allow magistrates to pass on the most serious cases to crown courts. The changes, which will be introduced as amendments to the criminal justice and courts bill, will mean the maximum custodial sentence of six months will be increased to 24 months. Grayling told the Mail on Sunday: "These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life. No one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the six-month sentence.
Cellphones

Florida Supreme Court: Police Can't Grab Cell Tower Data Without a Warrant 109

Posted by timothy
from the let's-hope-it's-catchy dept.
SternisheFan writes with an excerpt from Wired with some (state-specific, but encouraging) news about how much latitude police are given to track you based on signals like wireless transmissions. The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that obtaining cell phone location data to track a person's location or movement in real time constitutes a Fourth Amendment search and therefore requires a court-ordered warrant.

The case specifically involves cell tower data for a convicted drug dealer that police obtained from a telecom without a warrant. But the way the ruling is written (.pdf), it would also cover the use of so-called "stingrays" — sophisticated technology law enforcement agencies use to locate and track people in the field without assistance from telecoms. Agencies around the country, including in Florida, have been using the technology to track suspects — sometimes without obtaining a court order, other times deliberately deceiving judges and defendants about their use of the devices to track suspects, telling judges the information came from "confidential" sources rather than disclose their use of stingrays. The new ruling would require them to obtain a warrant or stop using the devices. The American Civil Liberties Union calls the Florida ruling "a resounding defense" of the public's right to privacy.
Facebook

Court Rules Parents May Be Liable For What Their Kids Post On Facebook 319

Posted by samzenpus
from the sticks-and-stones-may-break-my-bones-and-fake-profiles-will-always-hurt-me dept.
schwit1 writes Parents can be held liable for what their kids post on Facebook, a Georgia appellate court ruled in a decision that lawyers said marked a legal precedent on the issue of parental responsibility over their children's online activity. The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that the parents of a seventh-grade student may be negligent for failing to get their son to delete a fake Facebook profile that allegedly defamed a female classmate.
Transportation

Michigan About To Ban Tesla Sales 290

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-in-my-neighborhood dept.
cartechboy writes It's a story we've come to see quite often: a state trying to ban Tesla's direct sales model. It seems something sneaky just happened in Michigan where Tesla sales are about to be banned. Bill HB 5606 originally intended to offer added protection to franchised dealers and consumers from price gouging by carmakers, and was passed by the Michigan House in September without any anti-Tesla language. However, once it hit the Senate wording was changed that might imply the legality of a manufacturer-owned dealership was removed. The modified bill was passed unanimously by the Senate on October 2, and then sent back to the House that day where it passed with only a single dissenting vote. The bill was modified without any opportunity for public comment. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has less than a week to sign the bill into law. Of course, Tesla's already fighting this legislation.
Businesses

Tech Workers Oppose Settlement They Reached In Silicon Valley Hiring Case 54

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-second-thought dept.
itwbennett writes Tech workers have asked an appeals court not to approve a $324.5 million settlement in Silicon Valley's controversial employee hiring case, according to a document filed Tuesday. This move by the plaintiffs puts them in alignment with an earlier decision by Judge Lucy Koh of the federal district court in San Jose to throw out the settlement on the grounds that it wouldn't pay the workers enough. Attorneys for the defendants — Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel — subsequently appealed Koh's decision.
Privacy

Technology Heats Up the Adultery Arms Race 304

Posted by Soulskill
from the trust-is-so-20th-century dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Michelle Cottle reports in The Atlantic that today, spouses have easy access to an array of sophisticated spy software that record every keystroke; compile detailed logs of calls, texts, and video chats; that track a phone's location in real time; recover deleted messages from all manner of devices (without having to touch said devices); and that turn phones into wiretapping equipment. One might assume that the proliferation of such spyware would have a chilling effect on extramarital activities. But according to Cottle, aspiring cheaters need not despair: software developers are also rolling out ever stealthier technology to help people conceal their affairs. Right or wrong, cheating apps tap into a potentially lucrative market and researchers regard the Internet as fertile ground for female infidelity in particular. "Men tend to cheat for physical reasons and women for emotional reasons," says Katherine Hertlein. "The Internet facilitates a lot of emotional disclosure and connections with someone else."

But virtual surveillance has its risks. Stumbling across an incriminating email your partner left open is one thing; premeditated spying can land you in court. A Minnesota man named Danny Lee Hormann, suspecting his wife of infidelity, installed a GPS tracker on her car and allegedly downloaded spyware onto her phone and the family computer. In March 2010, Hormann's wife had a mechanic search her car and found the tracker. She called the police, and Hormann spent a month in jail on stalking charges. "I always tell people two things: (1) do it legally, and (2) do it right," says John Paul Lucich, a computer-forensics expert and the author of Cyber Lies, a do-it-yourself guide for spouses looking to become virtual sleuths. Lucich has worked his share of ugly divorces, and he stresses that even the most damning digital evidence of infidelity will prove worthless in court — and potentially land you in trouble — if improperly gathered. His blanket advice: Get a really good lawyer.
The Almighty Buck

"Double Irish" Tax Loophole Used By US Companies To Be Closed 257

Posted by Soulskill
from the luck-of-the-not-irish dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Irish Finance Minister announced on Tuesday that Ireland will no longer allow companies to register in Ireland unless the companies are also tax resident. This will effectively close off the corporate tax avoidance scheme known as the "Double Irish" used by the likes of Google, Apple, and Facebook to route their earnings through their Irish holdings in order to garner an effective tax rate of, as in Google FY2013, 0.16%. Ireland's new policy will take effect in 2015 for new companies. "For existing companies, there will be provision for a transition period until the end of 2020."
Communications

How English Beat German As the Language of Science 323

Posted by timothy
from the allgegenwart-und-einfachkeit dept.
HughPickens.com writes German was the dominant scientific language in 1900. Today if a scientist is going to coin a new term, it's most likely in English. And if they are going to publish a new discovery, it is most definitely in English. Look no further than the Nobel Prize awarded for physiology and medicine to Norwegian couple May-Britt and Edvard Moser. Their research was written and published in English. How did English come to dominate German in the realm of science? BBC reports that the major shock to the system was World War One, which had two major impacts. According to Gordin, after World War One, Belgian, French and British scientists organized a boycott of scientists from Germany and Austria. They were blocked from conferences and weren't able to publish in Western European journals. "Increasingly, you have two scientific communities, one German, which functions in the defeated [Central Powers] of Germany and Austria, and another that functions in Western Europe, which is mostly English and French," says Gordin.

The second effect of World War One took place in the US. Starting in 1917 when the US entered the war, there was a wave of anti-German hysteria that swept the country. In Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota there were many, many German speakers. World War One changed all that. "German is criminalized in 23 states. You're not allowed to speak it in public, you're not allowed to use it in the radio, you're not allowed to teach it to a child under the age of 10," says Gordin. The Supreme Court overturned those anti-German laws in 1923, but for years they were the law of the land. What that effectively did, according to Gordin, was decimate foreign language learning in the US resulting in a generation of future scientists who came of age with limited exposure to foreign languages. That was also the moment, according to Gordin, when the American scientific establishment started to take over dominance in the world. "The story of the 20th Century is not so much the rise of English as the serial collapse of German as the up-and-coming language of scientific communication," concludes Gordin.
United States

Federal Government Removes 7 Americans From No-Fly List 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the other-319-million-out-of-luck dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In response to a district judge ruling that declared the Department of Homeland Security's Traveler Redress Inquiry Program unconstitutional, the federal government has annouced its removal of seven Americans from its no-fly list (PDF). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is representing a total of 13 people suing to get off that list, and the government has until January of this year to deal with remaining six in that group. "Federal agencies have nominated more than 1.5 million names to terrorist watch lists over the past five years alone. Yet being a terrorist isn't a condition of getting on a roster that, until now, has been virtually impossible to be removed from..." One of the seven removed from the list is Marine Corps veteran and dog trainer Ibraheim Mashal of Illinois. The others had similarly Middle-Eastern-sounding names.
Patents

Interviews: Ask Florian Mueller About Software Patents and Copyrights 177

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
Florian Mueller is a blogger, software developer and former consultant who writes about software patents and copyright issues on his FOSSPatents blog. In 2004 he founded the NoSoftwarePatents campaign, and has written about Microsoft's multi-billion-dollar Android patent licensing business and Google's appeal of Oracle's Android-Java copyright case to the Supreme Court. Florian has agreed to give us some of his time in order to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
China

China Bans "Human Flesh Searching" 109

Posted by timothy
from the but-human-flesh-is-delicious dept.
hackingbear writes The Supreme People's Court, China's top court, has outlined the liabilities of network service providers in a document on the handling of online personal rights violation cases. "Rights violators usually hide in the dark online. They post harmful information out of the blue, and victims just can't be certain whom they should accuse when they want to bring the case to court," said Yao Hui, a senior SPC judge specializing in civil cases. Those re-posting content that violates others' rights and interests will also answer for their actions, and their liability will be determined based on the consequences of their posts, the online influence of re-posters, and whether they make untruthful changes to content that mislead. This essentially tries to ban the so-called human flesh searching. Though this does not stop others from using the chance to highlight the country's censorship problems even though the rulings seem to focus on personal privacy protection.
The Internet

Why the Trolls Will Always Win 715

Posted by Soulskill
from the emboldened-and-protected-by-anonymity dept.
maynard writes: Kathy Sierra spent a tech career developing videogames and teaching Java programming in Sun Microsystems masterclasses. Up until 2007, she'd been a well regarded tech specialist who happened to be female. Until the day she opined on her private blog that given the crap-flood of bad comments, maybe forum moderation wasn't a bad idea. This opinion made her a target. A sustained trolling and harassment campaign followed, comprised of death and rape threats, threats against her family, fabricated claims of prostitution, and a false claim that she had issued a DMCA takedown to stifle criticism. All of this culminated in the public release of her private address and Social Security Number, a technique known as Doxxing. And so she fled from the public, her career, and even her home.

It turned out that a man named Andrew Auernheimer was responsible for having harassed Sierra. Known as 'Weev', he admitted it in a 2008 New York Times story on Internet Trolls. There, he spoke to the lengths which he and his cohorts went to discredit and destroy the woman. "Over a candlelit dinner of tuna sashimi, Weev asked if I would attribute his comments to Memphis Two, the handle he used to troll Kathy Sierra, a blogger. Inspired by her touchy response to online commenters, Weev said he "dropped docs" on Sierra, posting a fabricated narrative of her career alongside her real Social Security number and address. This was part of a larger trolling campaign against Sierra, one that culminated in death threats."

Now, seven years later, Kathy Sierra has returned to explain why she left and what recent spates of online harassment against women portend for the future if decent people don't organize. The situation has grown much more serious since she went into hiding all those years ago. It's more than just the threat of Doxxing to incite physical violence by random crazies with a screw loose.
Read on for the rest of maynard's thoughts.
Privacy

National Security Letter Issuance Likely Headed To Supreme Court 112

Posted by samzenpus
from the give-us-an-answer dept.
Gunkerty Jeb writes The Ninth Circuit appeals court in San Francisco took oral arguments from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Department of Justice yesterday over the constitutionality of National Security Letters and the gag orders associated with them. The EFF defended a lower court's ruling that NSLs are unconstitutional, while the DoJ defended a separate ruling that NSLs can be enforced. Whatever the court rules, the issue of NSLs is all but certainly headed for the Supreme Court in the not too distant future.
Google

Google Takes the Fight With Oracle To the Supreme Court 146

Posted by timothy
from the by-the-power-your-black-robe-we-beseech-thee dept.
whoever57 writes Google has asked the Supreme Court to review the issue of whether APIs can be copyrighted. Google beat Oracle in the trial court, where a judge with a software background ruled that APIs could not be copyrighted. but the Appeals court sided with Oracle, ruling that APIs can be copyrighted. Now Google is asking the Supreme Court to overturn that decision. (Also of interest.)
Patents

Open Invention Network Grows Despite Patent Troll Death Knell 16

Posted by samzenpus
from the protection-of-the-herd dept.
snydeq writes Membership in the Open Invention Network, a software community set up to protect Linux against patent aggressors, has grown dramatically in the past year just as the tide seems to be turning on patent trolls. "Why all this interest in OIN? It offers little protection against nonpracticing entities — patent trolls who are organizationally small companies, even if the threat they pose is expensive and large. But it does offer protection against an equally insidious threat: big trolls," writes Simon Phipps. "The big corporations show up with their giant patent portfolios, threatening legal doom if royalties aren't paid. Attaching royalties to product or service delivery is a serious issue for companies, reducing margins long-term — especially in business models where the monetization is separated from the product. But OIN neutralizes that strategy for those building with open source, as the big corporations in the network both license their patent portfolios in and commit not to litigate against the open source software in the Linux System Definition. The bigger it gets, the better it protects."
The Courts

Chimpanzee "Personhood" Is Back In Court 385

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-wanna-be-like-you-hoo-hoo dept.
sciencehabit writes Chimpanzees are back in court. Judges in New York State heard the first in a series of appeals attempting to grant "legal personhood" to the animals. The case is part of a larger effort by an animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) to free a variety of creatures—from research chimps to aquarium dolphins—from captivity. If the case is successful, it could grant personhood to chimps throughout the state.
United States

US Says It Can Hack Foreign Servers Without Warrants 335

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-to-win-friends dept.
Advocatus Diaboli tips news that the U.S. government is now arguing it doesn't need warrants to hack servers hosted on foreign soil. At issue is the current court case against Silk Road operator Ross Ulbricht. We recently discussed how the FBI's account of how they obtained evidence from Silk Road servers didn't seem to mesh with reality. Now, government lawyers have responded in a new court filing (PDF). They say that even if the FBI had to hack those servers without a warrant, it doesn't matter, because the Fourth Amendment does not confer protection to servers hosted outside the U.S. They said, "Given that the SR Server was hosting a blatantly criminal website, it would have been reasonable for the FBI to 'hack' into it in order to search it, as any such 'hack' would simply have constituted a search of foreign property known to contain criminal evidence, for which a warrant was not necessary."
Twitter

Twitter Sues US Government Over National Security Data Requests 57

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-hashtags-could-prevent-the-next-9/11 dept.
mpicpp sends news that Twitter is suing the U.S. government to fight their rules on what information can be shared about national security-related requests for user data. Service providers like Twitter are prohibited from telling us the exact number of National Security Letters and FISA court orders they've received. Google has filed a challenge based on First Amendment rights, and Twitter's lawsuit (PDF) is taking a similar approach. Twitter VP Ben Lee says, "We've tried to achieve the level of transparency our users deserve without litigation, but to no avail. In April, we provided a draft Transparency Report addendum to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a report which we hoped would provide meaningful transparency for our users. After many months of discussions, we were unable to convince them to allow us to publish even a redacted version of the report."
Facebook

DoJ: Law Enforcement Can Impersonate People On Facebook 191

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-because-you-can-doesn't-mean-you-should dept.
An anonymous reader sends news that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency impersonated a young woman on Facebook to communicate with suspected criminals, and the Department of Justice argued that they had the right to do so. The woman was charged with being part of a drug ring and sentenced to probation, after which a DEA agent set up a Facebook page in her name, uploaded images to it (including pictures of her son and niece), and used it without her consent. She recently sued the agent in federal district court, and the government argued that she "implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cell phone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in an ongoing criminal investigations [sic]." Facebook has now removed the account, and the DoJ is "reviewing" the case.
Cellphones

Studies Conclude Hands-Free-calling and Apple Siri Distract Drivers 208

Posted by timothy
from the popular-delusions dept.
New submitter operator_error writes with a story at the L.A. Times that echoes some previous research on the relative risks of hand-held vs. hands-free phones by drivers, and comes to an even grimmer conclusion: In many cars, making a hands-free phone call can be more distracting than picking up your phone, according to a new study from AAA and the University of Utah. In-dash phone systems are overly complicated and prone to errors, the study found, and the same is true for voice-activated functions for music and navigation. A companion study also found that trying to use Siri — the voice control system on Apple phones — while driving was dangerously distracting. Two participants in the study had virtual crashes in an automotive simulator while attempting to use Siri, the study's authors reported. In response, Toyota said the study did not show a link between cognitive distraction and car crashes. "The results actually tell us very little about the relative benefits of in-vehicle versus hand-held systems; or about the relationship between cognitive load and crash risks," said Mike Michels, a Toyota spokesman. Meanwhile, many states treat hand-held devices very differently from hands-free ones; in New York, for instance, both texting and talking on a hand-held mobile phone are put in the same category, while talking on a hands-free device is covered only by more general distracted driving laws. If the Utah study is correct, maybe that's backwards. (And some evidence suggests that phone use in cars is not quite the straightforward danger that it's sometimes presented as, despite the correlation of phone use with accidents.)

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