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The Courts

FBI Overstated Forensic Hair Matches In Nearly All Trials Before 2000 45

Posted by timothy
from the why-the-house-wins-so-often dept.
schwit1 writes The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000. Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory's microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country's largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence. The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.
Businesses

Twitter Moves Non-US Accounts To Ireland, and Away From the NSA 123

Posted by timothy
from the be-right-over-here-guys dept.
Mark Wilson writes Twitter has updated its privacy policy, creating a two-lane service that treats U.S. and non-U.S. users differently. If you live in the U.S., your account is controlled by San Francisco-based Twitter Inc, but if you're elsewhere in the world (anywhere else) it's handled by Twitter International Company in Dublin, Ireland. The changes also affect Periscope. What's the significance of this? Twitter Inc is governed by U.S. law; it is obliged to comply with NSA-driven court requests for data. Data stored in Ireland is not subject to the same obligation. Twitter is not alone in using Dublin as a base for non-U.S. operations; Facebook is another company that has adopted the same tactic. The move could also have implications for how advertising is handled in the future.
Government

Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C. 263

Posted by timothy
from the but-what-if-air-&-space-gets-the-copter? dept.
mpicpp writes The Florida mail carrier accused of landing a gyrocopter outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was charged in federal court Thursday and has been barred from returning to the District of Columbia or flying any aircraft, officials said. Douglas Hughes, 61, was charged with violating aircraft registration requirements, a felony, and violating national defense airspace, a misdemeanor. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to three years in prison for the felony and one year in prison for the airspace violation. U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson also barred Hughes from the District of Columbia, except for court appearances, and said he must stay away from the Capitol, White House and nearby areas while he is there. He will also have to hand over his passport.
Microsoft

Microsoft's Role As Accuser In the Antitrust Suit Against Google 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-the-other-side dept.
HughPickens.com writes Danny Hakim reports at the NYT that as European antitrust regulators formally accuse Google of abusing its dominance, Microsoft is relishing playing a behind-the-scenes role of scold instead of victim. Microsoft has founded or funded a cottage industry of splinter groups to go after Google. The most prominent, the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, or Icomp, has waged a relentless public relations campaign promoting grievances against Google. It conducted a study that suggested changes made by Google to appease regulators were largely window dressing. "Microsoft is doing its best to create problems for Google," says Manfred Weber, the chairman of the European People's Party, the center-right party that is the largest voting bloc in the European Parliament. "It's interesting. Ten years ago Microsoft was a big and strong company. Now they are the underdog."

According to Hakim, Microsoft and Google are the Cain and Abel of American technology, locked in the kind of struggle that often takes place when a new giant threatens an older one. Microsoft was frustrated after American regulators at the Federal Trade Commission didn't act on a similar antitrust investigation against Google in 2013, calling it a "missed opportunity." It has taken the fight to the state level, along with a number of other opponents of Google. Microsoft alleges that Google's anti-competitive practices include stopping Bing from indexing content on Google-owned YouTube; blocking Microsoft Windows smartphones from "operating properly" with YouTube; blocking access to content owned by book publishers; and limiting the flow of ad campaign information back to advertisers, making it more expensive to run ads with rivals. "Over the past year, a growing number of advertisers, publishers, and consumers have expressed to us their concerns about the search market in Europe," says Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel. "They've urged us to share our knowledge of the search market with competition officials."
Education

LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan 320

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-luck-with-that dept.
SternisheFan sends news that Los Angeles Unified School District is asking Apple for a refund of the district's effort to equip students with iPads. The project was budgeted at around $1.3 billion to equip its 650,000 students, though only about 120,000 iPads have been purchased so far. After the program went bad, the FBI launched an investigation into their procurement practices. The iPads weren't standalone education devices — they were supposed to work in conjunction with another device carrying curriculum from a company named Pearson. But the district now says the combined tech didn't meet their needs, and they want their money back. Lawyers for the local Board of Education are looking into litigation options. They've also notified Apple and Pearson they won't pay for any new products or services.
Stats

IT Worker's Lawsuit Accuses Tata of Discrimination 292

Posted by timothy
from the not-all-discrimination-is-invidious dept.
dcblogs writes An IT worker is accusing Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) of discriminating against American workers and favoring "South Asians" in hiring and promotion. It's backing up its complaint, in part, with numbers. The lawsuit, filed this week in federal court in San Francisco, claims that 95% of the 14,000 people Tata employs in the U.S. are South Asian or mostly Indian. It says this practice has created a "grossly disproportionate workforce." India-based Tata achieves its "discriminatory goals" in at least three ways, the lawsuit alleges. First, the company hires large numbers of H-1B workers. Over from 2011 to 2013, Tata sponsored nearly 21,000 new H-1B visas, all primarily Indian workers, according to the lawsuit's count. Second, when Tata hires locally, "such persons are still disproportionately South Asian," and, third, for the "relatively few non-South Asians workers that Tata hires," it disfavors them in placement, promotion and termination decisions.
Television

In New Zealand, a Legal Battle Looms Over Streaming TV 104

Posted by timothy
from the why-consider-this-pen-your-honor dept.
SpacemanukBEJY.53u writes After a threat from a law firm, two New Zealand ISPs have withdrawn services that let their customers navigate to content sites outside the country that world normally be geo-blocked. Using VPNs or other services to access content restricted by region isn't specifically outlawed in either New Zealand or in neighboring Australia, but it appears the entertainment industry is prepared to go to court to try and argue that such services can violate copyright law. Intellectual property experts said the situation in New Zealand, if it goes to court, could result in the first test case over the legality of skirting regional restrictions.
Businesses

Kludgey Electronic Health Records Are Becoming Fodder For Malpractice Suits 183

Posted by timothy
from the so-it-says-here-you-were-born-in-1709 dept.
Lucas123 writes The inherent issues that come with highly complex and kludgey electronic medical records — and for the healthcare professionals required to use them — hasn't been lost on lawyers, who see the potential for millions of dollars in judgments for plaintiffs suing for medical negligence or malpractice. Work flows that require a dozen or more mouse clicks to input even basic patient information has prompted healthcare workers to seek short cuts, such as cutting and pasting from previous visits, a practice that can also include the duplication of old vital sign data, or other critical information, such as a patient's age. While the malpractice suits have to date focused on care providers, they'll soon target EMR vendors, according to Keith Klein, a medical doctor and professor of medicine at UCLA. Klein has been called as an expert witness for more than 350 state or federal medical malpractice cases and he's seen a marked rise in plaintiff attorney's using EMRs as evidence that healthcare workers fell short of their responsibility for proper care. In one such case, a judge awarded more than $7.5 million when a patient suffered permanent kidney damage, and even though physicians hadn't neglected the patient, the complexity of the EMR was responsible for them missing uric kidney stone. The EMR was ore than 3,000 pages in length and included massive amounts of duplicated information, something that's not uncommon.
Crime

Allegation: Lottery Official Hacked RNG To Score Winning Ticket 342

Posted by timothy
from the his-number-was-up dept.
SternisheFan writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica about what may be the most movie-worthy real-life crime story of the year so far: Eddie Raymond Tipton, 51, may have inserted a thumbdrive into a highly locked-down computer that's supposed to generate the random numbers used to determine lottery winners, The Des Moines Register reported, citing court documents filed by prosecutors. At the time, Tipton was the information security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, and he was later videotaped purchasing a Hot Lotto ticket that went on to fetch the winning $14.3 million payout.

In court documents filed last week, prosecutors said there is evidence to support the theory Tipton used his privileged position inside the lottery association to enter a locked room that housed the random number generating computers and
infect them with software that allowed him to control the winning numbers. The room was enclosed in glass, could only be entered by two people at a time, and was monitored by a video camera. To prevent outside attacks, the computers aren't connected to the Internet. Prosecutors said Tipton entered the so-called draw room on November 20, 2010, ostensibly to change the time on the computers. The cameras on that date recorded only one second per minute rather than running continuously like normal.

"Four of the five individuals who have access to control the camera's settings will testify they did not change the cameras' recording instructions," prosecutors wrote. "The fifth person is defendant. It is a reasonable deduction to infer that defendant tampered with the camera equipment to have an opportunity to insert a thumbdrive into the RNG tower without detection."
The Internet

Republicans Introduce a Bill To Overturn Net Neutrality 440

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-neutrality dept.
New submitter grimmjeeper writes: IDG News reports, "A group of Republican lawmakers has introduced a bill that would invalidate the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's recently passed net neutrality rules. The legislation (PDF), introduced by Representative Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican, is called a resolution of disapproval, a move that allows Congress to review new federal regulations from government agencies, using an expedited legislative process."

This move should come as little surprise to anyone. While the main battle in getting net neutrality has been won, the war is far from over.
The legislation was only proposed now because the FCC's net neutrality rules were just published in the Federal Register today. In addition to the legislation, a new lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by USTelecom, a trade group representing ISPs.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

After EFF Effort, Infamous "Podcasting Patent" Invalidated 58

Posted by timothy
from the there-should-an-absurdity-check dept.
Ars Technica reports some good news on the YRO front. An excerpt: A year-and-a-half after the Electronic Frontier Foundation created a crowd-funded challenge to a patent being used to threaten podcasters, the patent has been invalidated. In late 2013, after small podcasters started getting threat letters from Personal Audio LLC, the EFF filed what's called an "inter partes review," or IPR, which allows anyone to challenge a patent at the US Patent and Trademark Office. The order issued today by the USPTO lays to rest the idea that Personal Audio or its founder, Jim Logan, are owed any money by podcasters because of US Patent No. 8,112,504, which describes a "system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence." The article points out, though, that the EFF warns Personal Audio LLC is seeking more patents on podcasting. Mentioned within: Adam Carolla's fight against these patents and our Q&A with Jim Logan.
Communications

Microsoft: Feds Are 'Rewriting' the Law To Obtain Emails Overseas 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-out-of-my-inbox dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Communications Privacy Act was written in 1986. It's incredibly outdated, yet it still governs many internet-related rights for U.S. citizens. Microsoft has now challenged Congress to update the legislation for how online communications work in 2015. The company is currently embroiled in a legal battle with the government over a court order to release emails stored in a foreign country to U.S. authorities. In a new legal brief (PDF), Microsoft says, "For an argument that purports to rest on the 'explicit text of the statute,' the Government rewrites an awful lot of it. Congress never intended to reach, nor even anticipated, private communications stored in a foreign country when it enacted [the ECPA]." In an accompanying blog post, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith wrote, "Until U.S. law is rewritten, we believe that the court in our case should honor well-established precedents that limit the government's reach from extending beyond U.S. borders. ... To the contrary, it is clear Congress's intent was to ensure that your digital information is afforded the same legal protections as your physical documents and correspondence, a principle we at Microsoft believe should be preserved."
Japan

Japanese Court Orders Google To Remove Negative Reviews From Google Maps 106

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-there's-definitely-nothing-worse-on-the-internet dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As reported by TechCrunch, the Japenese Chiba District Court issued a preliminary injunction forcing Google to delete two anonymous reviews for a medical clinic. Although negative, neither review violates Google policies. "The decision is based on a defamation suit from the clinic, a key part of which included an affidavit from the doctor who interacted with the anonymous reviewers and denied their claims." And here is the key part: "The court ruled that Google not only removes the content in Japan, but across the entire globe too." Google is currently considering it's options including an appeal.
Crime

Florida Teen Charged With Felony Hacking For Changing Desktop Wallpaper 626

Posted by Soulskill
from the climate-of-fear dept.
colinneagle writes: A 14-year-old middle school student in Holiday, Florida, was arrested this week and charged with "an offense against a computer system and unauthorized access," which is a felony. The student reportedly used an administrator password to log into a teacher's computer and change the background image to a photo of two men kissing.

The student also revealed his secrets after he was caught – the password was the teacher's last name, and the teacher had typed it in in full view of the students. The student said many other students used these administrators' passwords (their teachers' last names) so they can screen-share and video chat with other students. The student was briefly held in a nearby detention center, and the county Sheriff warned that other teenagers caught doing the same thing will "face the same consequences."
Privacy

The DEA Disinformation Campaign To Hide Surveillance Techniques 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Ken White at Popehat explains how the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has been purposefully sowing disinformation to hide the extent of their surveillance powers. The agency appears to have used a vast database of telecommunications metadata, which they acquired via general (read: untargeted, dragnet-style) subpoenas. As they begin building cases against suspected criminals, they trawl the database for relevant information. Of course, this means the metadata of many innocent people is also being held and occasionally scanned. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a lawsuit to challenge this bulk data collection. The DEA database itself seems to have been shut down in 2013, but not before the government argued that it should be fine not only to engage in this collection, but to attempt to hide it during court cases. The courts agreed, which means this sort of surveillance could very well happen again — and the EFF is trying to prevent that.
Businesses

Amazon Sues To Block Fake Reviews 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the 4-out-of-5-stars-would-review-again dept.
An anonymous reader writes Amazon has filed suit against operators of sites that offer Amazon sellers the ability to purchase fake 4 and 5 star customer reviews. The suit is the first of its kind and was filed in King County Superior Court against a California man, Jay Gentile, identified in Amazon's filings as the operator of buyazonreviews.com. The site also targets unidentified "John Does" who operate similar sites: buyreviewsnow.com, bayreviews.net, and buyamazonreviews.com. From the article: "The site buyazonreviews.com, which the suit claims is run by Gentile, didn't respond to a request for comment. But Mark Collins, the owner of buyamazonreviews.com, denied Amazon's claims. In an email interview, Collins said the site simply offers to help Amazon's third-party sellers get reviews. 'We are not selling fake reviews. however we do provide Unbiased and Honest reviews on all the products,' Collins wrote. 'And this is not illegal at all.'"
Businesses

Patent Case Could Shift Power Balance In Tech Industry 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the makers-and-takers dept.
An anonymous reader writes A lawsuit between Apple and Google could drastically change the power balance between patent holders and device makers. "The dispute centers on so-called standard-essential patents, which cover technology that is included in industry-wide technology standards. Since others have to use the technology if they want their own products to meet an industry standard, the companies that submit their patents for approval by standards bodies are required to license them out on 'reasonable and non-discriminatory',(paywalled) or RAND, terms." If Apple wins, the understanding of what fees are RAND may decrease by at least an order of magnitude.
Crime

Verdict Reached In Boston Bombing Trial 250

Posted by samzenpus
from the verdict's-in dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A Boston jury has reached a verdict in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who admitted that he planted a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon that left three dead and wounded 264 others. After deliberating for 11½ hours the jury has found Dzhokhar guilty on all 30 charges brought against him."
The Almighty Buck

Google, Apple and Microsoft Squirm As Global Tax Schemes Scrutinized 312

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Google, Apple and Microsoft chiefs were hauled in front of an Australian Senate Committee on Wednesday and forced to answer questions about their tax dodging structures. "Under questioning from Greens Senator Christine Milne, [Google's Maile Carnegie] revealed none of the revenue derived from Google's lucrative advertising business is taxed in Australia, rather it is booked in Singapore where the corporate tax rate is set at 17 per cent, as opposed to Australia's 30 per cent. ... However in the strongest defense yet of the company's complex tax structure, Ms Carnegie attempted to highlight the hypocrisy of criticising global technology companies for using the same approach that Australian mining firms, like Rio Tinto, use when deriving profits from China. 'These are international tax arrangements and what Google is doing in Australia is very very similar to what Australian companies are doing outside of Australia. I am not sitting here today trying to defend whether those practices are right or wrong, they are simply the way the global tax system is currently working and we are trying to operate within that.' Ms. Carnegie said it was up to the government to create a different system, which the company would then abide by."
Piracy

Australian ISPs Must Hand Over Pirates' Info 136

Posted by Soulskill
from the making-more-lawyers-rich dept.
wabrandsma sends this report from the BBC: An Australian court has ordered internet service providers to hand over details of customers accused of illegally downloading a U.S. movie. In a landmark move, the Federal Court told six firms to divulge names and addresses of those who downloaded The Dallas Buyers Club. ... The court said the data could only be used to secure "compensation for the infringements" of copyright. In the case, which was heard in February, the applicants said they had identified 4,726 unique IP addresses from which their film was shared online using BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file sharing network. They said this had been done without their permission. Once they received the names of account holders, the company would then have to prove copyright infringement had taken place.