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Businesses

Submission + - Amazon's Merchandising of Its Search Results Doesn't Violate Trademark Law (forbes.com)

concealment writes: "Many of us have had the experience of going to Amazon to buy one thing but checking out with a huge shopping cart of items that we didn’t initially seek—or even know were available. Amazon’s merchandising often benefits Amazon’s customers, but trademark owners who lose sales to their competition due to it aren’t as thrilled. Fortunately for Amazon, a California federal court recently upheld Amazon’s merchandising practices in its internal search results."
Government

Submission + - Illinois state senator pushes anti-anonymity bill (dailycaller.com)

concealment writes: "The bill, called the Internet Posting Removal Act, is sponsored by Illinois state Sen. Ira Silverstein. It states that a “web site administrator upon request shall remove any comments posted on his or her web site by an anonymous poster unless the anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms that his or her IP address, legal name, and home address are accurate.”

The bill, which does not ask for or clarify requirements from entities requesting the comment removal, would take effect 90 days after becoming law."

Government

Submission + - FBI Files Unlock History Behind Clandestine Cellphone Tracking Tool (slate.com)

concealment writes: "Stingrays, as I’ve reported here before, are portable surveillance gadgets that can trick phones within a specific area into hopping onto a fake network. The feds call them “cell-site simulators” or “digital analyzers,” and they are sometimes also described as “IMSI catchers.” The FBI says it uses them to target criminals and help track the movements of suspects in real time, not to intercept communications. But because Stingrays by design collaterally gather data from innocent bystanders’ phones and can interrupt phone users’ service, critics say they may violate a federal communications law.

A fresh trove of FBI files on cell tracking, some marked “secret,” was published this week by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. They shed light on how, far from being a “new” tool used by the authorities to track down targets, Stingray-style technology has been in the hands of the feds since about 1995 (at least). During that time, local and state law enforcement agencies have also been able to borrow the spy equipment in “exceptional circumstances,” thanks to an order approved by former FBI Director Louis Freeh."

Businesses

Submission + - Canadian Game Developer Fired After Spoofing Call-Center Workplace (cio.com)

concealment writes: "An independent game developer recently got fired from his day job at the Canadian Revenue Agency after releasing a satirical depiction of his apparently aggravating and unfulfilling call-center job.

Entitled "I get this call every day," David Gallant's point-and-click "adventure" game highlights the dubious satisfaction of dealing with thoughtless, abrasive people on the phone every day.

Gallant has not confirmed that the game is the reason for his dismissal due to legal concerns. However, the site also notes that he has realized a not-inconsiderable silver lining from the loss of his job: Sales of "I get this call every day" have skyrocketed."

Crime

Submission + - Is The Line Between 'Hacker' And 'Criminal' Really That Fuzzy? (techdirt.com)

concealment writes: don't think there's a "line" — fuzzy, shifting or not — between "hacker" and "criminal." The two things are different. Can you be a criminal hacker? Sure. But the problem is that many non-techie folks seem to assume that any kind of hacking must be criminal. And that's the problem. It's not that some imaginary line is moving around, but that some people don't seem to understand that hacking itself is not criminal, and that there are plenty of good reasons to hack — including to expose security holes.
Government

Submission + - Federal officials take down 132 websites in 'Cyber Monday' crackdown (thehill.com)

concealment writes: "U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and European officials seized 132 websites on Monday for allegedly selling counterfeit merchandise in a coordinated crackdown timed to coincide with the holiday shopping season.

It is the third straight year that the government has seized websites on "Cyber Monday" — the marketing term for the Monday after Thanksgiving, when many online retailers offer steep discounts and promotions."

Facebook

Submission + - Outrage in India over arrests for Facebook posts (chron.com)

concealment writes: "As India's financial capital shut down for the weekend funeral of a powerful politician linked to waves of mob violence, a woman posted on Facebook that the closures in Mumbai were "due to fear, not due to respect." A friend of hers hit the "like" button.

For that, both women were arrested.

Analysts and the media are slamming the Maharashtra state government for what they said was a flagrant misuse of the law and an attempt to curb freedom of expression. The arrests were seen as a move by police to prevent any outbreak of violence by supporters of Bal Thackeray, a powerful Hindu fundamentalist politician who died Saturday."

Government

Submission + - Jail Looms for Man Who Revealed AT&T Leaked iPad User E-Mails (technologyreview.com)

concealment writes: "AT&T screwed up in 2010, serving up the e-mail addresses of over 110,000 of its iPad 3G customers online for anyone to find. But today Andrew Auernheimer, an online activist who pointed out AT&T’s blunder to Gawker Media, which went on to publicize the breach of private information, is the one in federal court this week.

Groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) worry that should that charge succeed it will become easy to criminalize many online activities, including work by well-intentioned activists looking for leaks of private information or other online security holes. Weev’s case hasn’t received much attention so far, but should he be found guilty this week it will likely become well known, fast."

Your Rights Online

Submission + - Let's not hide behind the argument that anonymity isn't possible on the web (guardian.co.uk)

concealment writes: "There are two main arguments about anonymity when applied to sexual offences that are increasingly entering the public debate. The first is that it's not really possible to protect or prosecute it in our wired world, nor is it feasible to expect authorities with limited resources to police the internet; the second that it is an outdated notion anyway, and that it is a freedom of speech issue to deny anyone the right to criticise or demean another person. Witness Naomi Wolf calling for the women who have accused Julian Assange to be named: he's famous, so why shouldn't they be, seems to be the argument. It isn't a huge leap from this to those who question why Evans is damned as a rapist (although currently appealing against his six-year sentence) while a woman too drunk to give consent remains anonymous.

These are new and complicated issues, but that is no excuse for the surprising amount of wrongheadedness they have prompted. And this isn't just an argument down the pub – the government itself tried to extend anonymity to the accused in sexual offence cases and has shown no desire to do anything about how authorities could go about policing the internet. Fortunately, Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, believes this is possible and recently issued guidelines on prosecuting offences online, hoping to bring about a step change in the perception that online bullying or victimisation isn't really bullying at all."

Patents

Submission + - Let's Go Back to Patenting the 'Solution,' Not the 'Problem' (wired.com)

concealment writes: "Functional claiming of software inventions is arguably responsible for most of the well-recognized problems with software patents today. Software patentees have increasingly been claiming to own the function of their program itself – not merely the particular way they achieved that goal.

Since patentees have regained the ability to claim ownership not of what they built, but of what it does, they have brought suits purporting to own everything from international electronic commerce to video-on-demand to voice over the Internet to emoticons to means of hedging commodity risk. Mind you, the claims aren’t that defendants used their method of implementing electronic commerce or video on demand: the argument is that defendants used the idea itself."

Your Rights Online

Submission + - RIAA Failed To Disclose Expert's Lobbying History to "Six-Strikes" Partners (torrentfreak.com)

concealment writes: "A month before the controversial “six strikes” anti-piracy plan goes live in the U.S., the responsible Center of Copyright Information (CCI) is dealing with a small crisis. As it turns out the RIAA failed to mention to its partners that the “impartial and independent” technology expert they retained previously lobbied for the music industry group. In a response to the controversy, CCI is now considering whether it should hire another expert to evaluate the anti-piracy monitoring technology."
Businesses

Submission + - How To Fix The Patent Mess (techdirt.com)

concealment writes: "In something of a follow up to This American Life's famous episode about the horrors of software patents, the Planet Money team brought on Mark Lemley to talk about how to fix the patent system. If you're aware of Lemley (or read Techdirt) what he talks about isn't all that surprising. He does note that, even if software patents are particularly silly, he doesn't agree with trying to carve them out specifically. Instead, he's still mostly focused on fixing the patent system by properly enforcing the laws already on the books. That means having the USPTO and the courts actually recognize that too many software patents are on general ideas ("functional claiming") when that's not allowed.

Next, the courts and the USPTO need to get much better at rejecting patents for obviousness. He doesn't quite get into how to do this, though I'm still a big fan of using independent invention as a sign of obviousness. He does note that the KSR case (which isn't named in the story) helped move the needle just slightly in the right direction. In that case, the court noted that merely combining two existing inventions is obvious. From there, he suggests recognizing how many patents stack up into an existing innovation — and what that means. So, using the 250,000 patents in a smartphone as an example, he notes that it's ridiculous for any one patent to hold up innovation in such a scenario, pointing to the MercExchange ruling (again, not named) that said the courts shouldn't issue automatic injunctions for infringement. In other words, when you have 250,000 patents in a smartphone, infringing on one shouldn't hold up the entire device."

Google

Submission + - Congressman warns FTC: Leave Google alone (arstechnica.com)

concealment writes: "A Democratic congressman who played a leading role in the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act earlier this year has taken up a new cause: shielding Google from antitrust scrutiny. In a strongly worded letter to Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Leibowitz, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) praised Google's contribution to the nation's economy. He warned Leibowitz that if the FTC does choose to initiate an antitrust case against Google, Congress might react by curtailing its regulatory authority"
Privacy

Submission + - Scientists ask for legal safeguards to keep their work out of court (arstechnica.com)

concealment writes: "How much privacy is the scientific process entitled to? During the course of their work, researchers produce e-mails, preliminary results, and peer reviews, all of which might be more confused or critical than the final published works. Recently, both private companies with a vested interest in discounting the results, and private groups with a political axe to grind have attempted to use the courts to get access to that material.

Would it be possible or wise to keep these documents private and immune to subpoenas? In the latest issue of Science, a group of researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) argue that scientists need more legal rights to retain these documents and protect themselves in court."

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