An anonymous reader writes: While computer analysis by other programs was inconclusive in matching DNA evidence to a suspect, one program, TrueAllele, gave a match. As reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, an expert witness for the defense wants access to the 170,000 lines of source code to determine whether the match is scientifically valid. Not surprisingly, the software creator is resisting. From the article: "TrueAllele, created by Dr. Perlin and in its current version since 2009, is the only computer software system of its kind that interprets DNA evidence using a statistical model. It can single out individuals in a complex DNA mixture by determining how much more probable a match is versus mere coincidence. Complex mixtures can involve multiple people, as well as degraded or small DNA samples. ... Although the technology is patented, the source code itself is not disclosed by any patent and cannot be derived from any publicly disclosed source. The source code has never been revealed, he said, and it would cause irreparable harm to the company if it were. In his declaration, Dr. Perlin said that reading the source code is unnecessary to validate the program, and that a review could be done in his office or online."
The EFF reports a spot of bright news from California: Governor Jerry Brown today signed into law the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act. CalECPA, says the organization, "protects Californians by requiring a warrant for digital records, including emails and texts, as well as a user's geographical location. These protections apply not only to your devices, but to online services that store your data. Only two other states have so far offered these protections: Maine and Utah." The ACLU provides a fact sheet (PDF) about what the bill entails, which says: SB 178 will ensure that, in most cases, the police must obtain a warrant from a judge before accessing a person's private information, including data from personal electronic devices, email, digital documents, text messages, and location information. The bill also includes thoughtful exceptions to ensure that law enforcement can continue to effectively and efficiently protect public safety in emergency situations. Notice and enforcement provisions in the bill provide proper transparency and judicial oversight to ensure that the law is followed.
An anonymous reader writes: Prolific tweeter and former Reuters social media editor Matthew Keys, charged with computer hacking under the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act, was found guilty today on all counts and faces up to 25 years in prison when sentenced in January. Wired reports: "According to authorities, during a recorded FBI interview with Keys in October 2012 at his home, prior to his indictment, he admitted to his involvement in the hacking of the L.A. Times, and to sending a series of disparaging, sometimes threatening e-mails to a former employer. Keys waived his Miranda rights at the time of the interview and was concerned that the case not be publicized, apparently believing he might get off as a cooperating witness."
An anonymous reader writes: Volvo has announced it will accept "full liability" for accidents when one of its cars is driving autonomously. It joins Mercedes and Google in this claim, hoping to convince regulators that it's worthwhile to allow testing of such vehicles on public roads. Volvo's CTO said, "Everybody is aware of the fact that driverless technology will never be perfect — one day there will be an accident. So the question becomes who is responsible and we think it's unrealistic to put that responsibility on our customers." Of course, this is limited to flaws in the self-driving system. If the driver does something inappropriate, or if another vehicle causes the accident, then they're still liable. It's also questionable how the courts would treat a promise for liability, but presumably this can be cleared up with agreements when customers start actually using the technology.
NewYorkCountryLawyer sends an update on the progress of Malibu Media, the company that filed subpoenas and copyright lawsuits over alleged BitTorrent piracy of pornography films: A federal Magistrate Judge in Central Islip, New York, has just placed all Malibu Media subpoenas in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, and Staten Island on hold indefinitely, due to "serious questions" raised by a motion to quash (PDF) filed in one of them. Judge Steven Locke's 4-page Order and Decision (PDF) cited the defendant's arguments that "(i) the common approach for identifying allegedly infringing BitTorrent users, and thus the Doe Defendant, is inconclusive; (ii) copyright actions, especially those involving the adult film industry, are susceptible to abusive litigation practices; and (iii) Malibu Media in particular has engaged in abusive litigation practices" as being among the reasons for his issuance of the stay.
Sique writes: Europe's highest court ruled on Tuesday that a widely used international agreement for moving people's digital data between the European Union and the United States was invalid. The decision, by the European Court of Justice, throws into doubt how global technology giants like Facebook and Google can collect, manage and analyze online information from their millions of users in the 28-member bloc. The court decreed that the data-transfer agreement was invalid as of Tuesday's ruling. New submitter nava68 adds links to coverage at the Telegraph; also at TechWeek Europe. From TechWeek Europe's article: The ruling was the court’s final decision in a data-protection case brought by 27-year-old Austrian law student Max Schrems against the Irish data protection commissioner. That case, in turn, was spurred by Schrems’ concerns over the collection of his personal data by Facebook, whose European headquarters is in Ireland, and the possibility that the data was being handed over to US intelligence services.
An anonymous reader writes: I've recently discovered that my hosting company is sending all login credentials unencrypted, prompting me to change providers. Additionally, I'm finally being forced to put some of my personal media library (songs, photos, etc.) on-line for ready access (though for my personal consumption only) from multiple devices and locations... But I simply can't bring myself to trust any cloud-service provider. So while it's been partially asked before, it hasn't yet been answered: Which country has the best on-line personal privacy laws that would made it patently illegal for any actor, state, or otherwise, to access my information? And does anyone have a recommendation on which provider(s) are the best hosts for (legal) on-line storage there?
schwit1 writes: Anthony Silva, the mayor of Stockton, California, recently went to China for a mayor's conference. On his return to San Francisco airport he was detained by Homeland Security, and then had his two laptops and his mobile phone confiscated. They refused to show him any sort of warrant (of course) and then refused to let him leave until he agreed to hand over his password.
Jason Koebler writes: A fan has been ordered by a Washington judge to pay the Pokémon Company International $5,400 for copyright infringement after attempting to throw a Pokemon-themed party earlier this summer. Even though he canceled the free event, the Pokemon Company successfully sued Ramar Larkin Jones, for using an image of Pikachu to promote the Unofficial PAX Pokemon Kickoff Party.
An anonymous reader writes: Some U.S. IT workers who have been replaced with H-1B contractors are alleging discrimination and are going to court. They are doing so in increasing numbers. There are at least seven IT workers at Disney who are pursuing, or plan to pursue, federal and state discrimination administrative complaints over their layoffs. Separately, there are ongoing court cases alleging discrimination against two of the largest India-based IT services firms, Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services. There may also be federal interest in examining the issue.
Earthquake Retrofit writes: Ars Technica is reporting that an East Texas judge has thrown out 168 patent cases in one fell swoop. The judge's order puts the most litigious patent troll of 2014, eDekka LLC, out of business. The ruling comes from a surprising source: U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, the East Texas judge who has been criticized for making life extra-difficult for patent defendants. Gilstrap, who hears more patent cases than any other U.S. judge, will eliminate about 10 percent of his entire patent docket by wiping out the eDekka cases.
An anonymous reader writes: Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is under investigation for using superlative messaging on its website, according to a leaked document from the Beijing Ministry of Industry and Commerce. A new Chinese law states that adjectives used to promote products must not mislead consumers. The Xiaomi investigation [Chinese] follows claims made by rival Cong that the company used phrases such as 'the best' and 'the most advanced', in its online campaigns and therefore violated the country's advertising law. (The law against suprelatives doesn't seem to apply to communications by the government, about the government.)
_0x783czar writes: Today Google and Microsoft have announced an end to litigious hostilities between themselves; signaling another step on the road to peace as the "global smartphone wars" wind down. This moves settles 18 lawsuits in the U.S. and Germany, including those involving Motorola Mobility's patents, which Google retained after selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo. Both companies hope this move will help settle the smartphone wars and refocus their efforts on consumers. Reuters reports: "Google and Microsoft have agreed to collaborate on certain patent matters and anticipate working together in other areas in the future to benefit our customers."
An anonymous reader writes: According to the Wall Street Journal (paywalled) a loophole in the 1970 Clean Air Act could make it impossible for U.S. prosecutors to subject Volkswagen to criminal charges over its use of standards-dodging 'defeat devices' in its emissions-testing software. Prosecutors are now reported to be considering alternative methods, including (considerably lesser) charges that Volkswagen lied to regulation authorities.
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that Dimitry Belorossov, a.k.a. Rainerfox, an operator of the "Citadel" malware, has been sentenced to 4.5 years in prison following a guilty plea. Citadel was a banking trojan capable of stealing financial information. Belorossov and others distributed it through spam emails and malvertising schemes. He operated a 7,000-strong botnet with the malware, and also collaborated to improve it. The U.S. government estimates Citadel was responsible for $500 million in losses worldwide. Belorossov will have to pay over $320,000 in restitution.
An anonymous reader writes: Uber offices in Amsterdam have been raided by Dutch authorities, as reported by several local media sources (Google translation of original in Dutch). This follows intimidatory deterrence practices earlier in The Netherlands, with Uber drivers being fined in the past months, and fresh allegations that the company would act as a "criminal organization" by offering a platform for taxi rides without license (read: without the authorities earning money from the practice). Time for tech companies to consider moving their European offices elsewhere? Uber's lawyers must be incredibly busy. Proposed regulations in London would effectively end the company's service there, while the mayor of Rio de Janeiro said he would ban Uber's operations outright. They're receiving mixed messages from Australia — just a day after running afoul of regulations in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory is moving to legalize it.
Patrick O'Neill writes: The FBI and DEA were among the agencies fed information from an NSA surveillance program described as "staggering" by one judge who helped strike the program down. Now the two agencies are under review by the Justice Department for the use of parallel construction as well as looking into the specifics and results of cases originating from NSA tips. (Here's some more on the practice of parallel construction in this context.)
schwit1 writes: The Batmobile's bat-like appearance and other distinct attributes, including its high-tech weaponry, make it a character that can't be replicated without permission from DC Comics, the copyright holder, the 9th U.S. Circus Court of Appeals said. "As Batman so sagely told Robin, 'In our well-ordered society, protection of private property is essential,' " states the opinion. "Here, we conclude that the Batmobile character is the property of DC, and Towle infringed upon DC’s property rights when he produced unauthorized derivative works of the Batmobile as it appeared in the 1966 television show and the 1989 motion picture."
An anonymous reader writes: As the Snowden revelations have shown, personal data stored in the United States of America is not protected from the US government, be it through warrantless eavesdropping or national security letters. In light of this, the general attorney for the Court of Justice of the European Union has just issued an opinion requiring the US to be removed from the list of "safe harbors", where the transfer of personal data of European citizens is permitted. If the court follows his opinion, the change will have deep impact in the operations of large transnational Internet companies, between a US government that wants to keep on spying, and European authorities that will punish them if they let it happen.
Ars Technica reports that a Federal court in Pennsylvania ruled Wednesday that the Fifth Amendment protects from compelled disclosure the passwords that two insider-trading suspects used on their mobile phones. In this case, the SEC is investigating two former Capital One data analysts who allegedly used insider information associated with their jobs to trade stocks—in this case, a $150,000 investment allegedly turned into $2.8 million. Regulators suspect the mobile devices are holding evidence of insider trading and demanded that the two turn over their passcodes. However, the court ruled, "Since the passcodes to Defendants' work-issued smartphones are not corporate records, the act of producing their personal passcodes is testimonial in nature and Defendants properly invoke their fifth Amendment privilege."