david_a_eaves writes "The Chinese government is mandating that all computers sold in China come with Internet blocking software. Rob Cottingham writes an excellent piece noting how the censorship application of this software should be the least of our concerns. This new software may create an opportunity for the Chinese Government to appropriate these computers and use them to create the worlds largest botnet army." Update: 06/11 21:26 GMT by T : J. Alex Halderman writes "My students and I have been examining the Green Dam censorware software. We've found serious vulnerabilities that can be exploited by any web site a user visits with the software installed. We also found that some of the blacklists seems to have been taken from the American-made filtering program CyberSitter. We've posted a report and demo."
An anonymous reader writes "The Chinese government has sponsored the development of a censorware package called 'Green Dam Youth Escort'; basically a PC-resident IP blocker that gets regular updates of banned sites from a central government site. There are now plans afoot to mandate that all new PCs sold in China be shipped with this software. The rationale behind this is to 'stop the poisoning of children's minds.'"
An anonymous reader writes "UK police are talking to private companies about using plug-in USB devices that can scour the hard drive of any device they are attached to, searching for evidence of illegal activity. The UK's Association of Chief Police Officers is considering using commercial devices that can perform targeted searches of text, pictures and computer code on hard drives, allowing untrained cops to detect anything from correspondence on stolen goods to child pornography. Police in the UK are desperate for a way of slashing the backlog of machines seized by the police in raids, with many forces having a backlog that will take a year to process." Maybe they shouldn't seize so many computers.
btempleton writes "It all started when I prepared yet another Downfall subtitle parody. In this one, Hitler is the studio head, upset at all the Downfall parodies, and he wants to do DMCA takedowns on them all. (If you're a DMCA/DRM fighting Slashdotter, you'll like it.) The EFF, which I chair, blogged it on Deeplinks, and hilarity ensued. That weekend, Exact Magic, an iPhone developer, had submitted a special RSS reader app to display EFF news on the iPhone. Apple's iPhone app store evaluators looked at the RSS reader, read the feed it pointed to, and then played the linked-to video. They saw the F-word flash in the subtitles of the video, and then rejected the RSS-reading tool from the App Store. We're up to several levels of meta here — Apple has banned an app over a parody about banning, and is now parodying itself. Bonus: TFA also has the story of just how hard it is to be fully legal in obtaining the famous clip for parody."
Many people have written to tell us about the patent infringement lawsuit that resulted in a $200 million judgement against Microsoft by a small Toronto firm called i4i. Techdirt has a line on the details of the suit where the patent in question is for "separating the manipulation of content from the architecture of the document." i4i argues that this covers basic XML editing to the tune of $98 per application. "It's quite troubling that doing something as simple as adding an XML editor should infringe on a patent, but what's even more troubling is that the court somehow ruled that such an editor was worth $98 in the copies of Microsoft Word where it was used. An XML editor. $98. And people say patent awards aren't out of sync with reality?"
Combat Wombat sends the news that the government in Australia has begun waffling on whether country-wide Internet censorship will be mandatory. "The Rudd Government has indicated that it may back away from its mandatory Internet filtering plan. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy today told a Senate estimates committee that the filtering scheme could be implemented by a voluntary industry code. ... [The shadow communications minister] said he had never heard of a voluntary mandatory system. ... Senator Conroy's statement is a departure from the internet filtering policy Labor took into the October 2007 election to make it mandatory for ISPs to block offensive and illegal content." The censorship plan, which has been called "worse than Iran," was bypassed even before trials started. A minister's defection may have effectively blocked any chance of implementation.
ThinSkin writes "Building a computer that can handle today's games doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, you can build one for less than $800, especially given that many hardware manufacturers have cut costs considerably. Loyd Case over at ExtremeTech shows gamers how to build an $800 gaming PC, one that features an overclockable Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400 and a graphics-crunching EVGA 260 GTX Core 216. The computer exceeded expectations in gaming and synthetic tests, and was even overclocked well over spec at 3.01GHz."
theodp writes "On Tuesday, Microsoft was granted US Patent No. 7,536,726 (it was filed in 2005) for intentionally crippling the functionality of an operating system by 'making selected portions and functionality of the operating system unavailable to the user or by limiting the user's ability to add software applications or device drivers to the computer' until an 'agreed upon sum of money' is paid to 'unlock or otherwise make available the restricted functionality.' According to Microsoft, this solves a 'problem inherent in open architecture systems,' i.e., 'they are generally licensed with complete use rights and/or functionality that may be beyond the need or desire of the system purchaser.' An additional problem with open architecture systems, Microsoft explains, is that 'virtually anyone can write an application that can be executed on the system.' Nice to see the USPTO rewarding Microsoft's eight problem-solving inventors, including Linux killer (and antelope killer) Joachim Kempin, who's been credited with getting Microsoft hauled into federal court on antitrust charges." Sounds like the mechanism by which Microsoft sells one version of Vista to all users, and lets users upgrade to higher-tier flavors of the OS after cash changes hands.
An anonymous reader writes "'A controversial database which holds the details of every child in England has now become available for childcare professionals to access. The government says it will enable more co-ordinated services for children and ensure none slips through the net. 390,000 people will have access to the database, but will have gone through stringent security training.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The Business Software Alliance released their annual global piracy report earlier this week. In addition to the usual claims of software piracy (PDF) and the grudging acknowledgment of open source software, Michael Geist noted that the report ultimately undermined one of the BSA's core arguments — that countries which enact DMCA-style legislation experience significantly reduced piracy rates. Questions have also been raised over the BSA's methodology, as has happened in the past."
neurone333 sends along the cause célèbre of the moment in France: a Web executive working for TF1, Europe's largest TV network, sends an email to his Member of Parliament opposing the government's "three strikes and you're out" proposal, known as Hadopi. His MP forwards the email to the minister backing Hadopi, who forwards it to TF1. The author of the email, Jérôme Bourreau-Guggenheim, is called into his boss's office and shown an exact copy of his email. Soon he receives a letter saying he is fired for "strong differences with the [company's] strategy" — in a private email sent from a private (gmail) address. French corporations and government are entangled in ways that Americans might find unfamiliar. Hit the link below for some background on the ties between TF1 and the Sarkozy government.
daemonburrito writes "Last week, we learned about Elsevier publishing a bogus journal for Merck. Now, several librarians say that they have uncovered an entire imprint of 'advertorial' publications. Excerpta Medica, a 'strategic medical communications agency,' is an Elsevier division. Along with the now infamous Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, it published a number of other 'journals.' Elsevier CEO Michael Hansen now admits that at least six fake journals were published for pharmaceutical companies."
Hugh Pickens writes "Mass strandings of dolphins and whales could be caused because the animals are rendered temporarily deaf by military sonar, experiments have shown. Tests on a captive dolphin have demonstrated that hearing can be lost for up to 40 minutes on exposure to sonar and may explain several strandings of dolphins and whales in the past decade. Most strandings are still thought to be natural events, but the tests strengthen fears that exercises by naval vessels equipped with sonar are responsible for at least some of them. For example, in the Bahamas in March, 2000, 16 Cuvier's beaked whales and Blainville's beaked whales and a spotted dolphin beached during a US navy exercise in which sonar was used intensively for 16 hours (PDF). 'The big question is what causes them to strand,' says Dr. Aran Mooney, of the University of Hawaii. 'What we are looking at are animals whose primary sense is hearing, like ours is seeing. Their ears are the most sensitive organ they have.' In the experiment, scientists fitted a harmless suction cup to the dolphin's head, with a sensor attached that monitored the animal's brainwaves, and when the pings reached 203 decibels and were repeated, the neurological data showed the mammal had become deaf, for its brain no longer responded to sound. 'We definitely showed that there are physiological and some behavioral effects [from repeated, loud sonar], but to extrapolate that into the wild, we don't really know,' said Mooney."
digithed writes "In response to Sweden's recent introduction of new laws (discussed here recently) implementing the European IPRED directive, a new Swedish Web site has been launched allowing users to check if their IP address is currently under investigation. The site also allows users to subscribe for email updates alerting them if their IP address comes under investigation in the future, or to report IP addresses known to be under investigation. This interesting use of people power 'watching the watchers' is possible because the new Swedish laws implementing the IPRED directive require a public request to the courts in order to get ISPs to forcibly disclose potentially sensitive private information. Since all court records are public in Sweden, it will be easy to compile a list of addresses currently being investigated."
narramissic writes "Change is afoot at the Office of the US Trade Representative. New details have been released about an anti-counterfeiting trade agreement that has been discussed in secret among the US, Japan, the European Union and other countries since 2006. Although the six-page summary (PDF) provides little in the way of specific detail about the current state of negotiations, the release represents a change in policy at the USTR, which had argued in the past that information on the trade pact was 'properly classified in the interest of national security.'" Michael Geist has a timeline that puts together more details about the ACTA negotiations than any government has so far been willing to reveal.