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NZ Govt May Gut Privacy Laws For US Citizens and Ex-Pats 134

Master Moose writes with an excerpt from indicating that New Zealand's government "wants to override privacy laws to supply the U.S. Government with private details about Americans living in New Zealand. As part of a global tax-dodging crackdown, the U.S. is forcing banks and other financial institutions to hand over the private financial details of U.S. 'persons' and companies based overseas. From July this year, Kiwi banks and insurers will be required to provide U.S. tax authorities with American customers' contact details, bank account numbers and transaction history. The move comes amid continuing criticism of New Zealand's participation in Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement talks, aimed at securing a wider-reaching free trade deal with the U.S. and other countries. Critics say the secretive talks could restrict New Zealand's ability to make its own laws on everything from the environment to employment."

Smaller Than Earth-Sized Exomoon Discovered? 25

astroengine writes "Through the technique of microlensing, a candidate exomoon has been discovered in orbit around a free-floating planet about 1,600 light-years away toward the galactic bulge. The microlensing event, MOA-2011-BLG-262, was detected by the MOA-II telescope at Mt. John University Observatory (MJUO) in New Zealand and it appears to have a mass of approximately half that of Earth. The host planet is around 4 times the mass of Jupiter. Unfortunately there cannot be further studies of his particular exoplanet-exomoon pair (as microlensing events are transient and random), so the astronomers who made the discovery are remaining cautious and point out that although the exoplanet-exomoon model fits the data the best, there's a possibility that the lensing object may have been a more distant star with a massive exoplanet in tow. Microlensing surveys are, however, sensitive to low mass exoplanets orbiting massive free-floating planets, so this is a tantalizing first-detection. The study's pre-print publication has been uploaded to the arXiv."

New Zealand Government About To Legalize Spying On NZ Citizens 216

Flere Imsaho writes "After admitting they have illegally spied on NZ citizens or residents 88 times (PDF) since 2003, the government, in a stunning example of arse covering, is about to grant the GCSB the right to intercept the communications of New Zealanders in its role as the national cyber security agency, rather than examine the role the GCSB should play and then look at the laws. There has been strong criticism from many avenues. The bill is being opposed by Labor and the Greens, but it looks like National now have the numbers to get this passed. Of course, the front page story is all about the royal baby, with this huge erosion of privacy relegated to a small article near the bottom of the front page. Three cheers, the monarchy is secure, never mind the rights of the people. More bread and circuses anyone?"

NZ Copyright Tribunal Fines First File-Sharer 102

An anonymous reader writes with news that the first successful case was brought before the copyright tribunal under NZ's three strikes law. From the article: "The first music pirate stung under new file-sharing laws has been fined $616 but 'didn't realise' the actions were illegal. The Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) — which represents music studios — took an unnamed offender to the Copyright Tribunal last year for sharing songs on the Internet — a track by Barbadian pop-star Rihanna on two occasions and the other by Nashville band Hot Chelle Rae. In a decision released today, the tribunal found in RIANZ's favor and ordered the offender ... to pay a penalty $616.57." Torrent Freak has a slightly different perspective: a lack of evidence and pushback from the tribunal resulted in much smaller fines than the RIANZ wanted.
Data Storage

Kim Dotcom Reveals Mega Will Offer 50GB of Free Storage 203

An anonymous reader writes "Kim Dotcom on Thursday used Twitter to reveal some interesting new tidbits in regards to his upcoming Mega service, which will be hosted at the New Zealand-based domain Two days before the service is to go live, Doctom says he plans to offer 50GB of free storage to all members and is also working on bringing over users' Megaupload files and data, but has so far run into legal issues." To say that Kim Dotcom has "run into legal issues" is like saying that Julian Assange is having a sleepover at the Ecuadorian embassy.

Dotcom Drags NZ Spook Agency Into Court 165

New submitter d18c7db writes "Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom has won another court victory, today given the right to drag the secretive GCSB into the spotlight of a courtroom. Forcing the GCSB to be tied to the court action opens it up to court ordered discovery — meaning Dotcom's lawyers can go fishing for documents as they continue to fight extradition to the U.S. to face copyright charges. But the GCSB claimed any disclosure of what [was] intercepted would prejudice New Zealand's national security interests 'as it will tend to reveal intelligence gathering and sharing methods.' Dotcom and his fellow Mega Upload accused asked Chief High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann for the right to have the GCSB become part of the proceedings, amend their statement of claim, and for additional discovery. In a judgment issued today she gave that permission."
The Internet

Kim Dotcom Apparently Spied On For Longer Than Admitted 107

another random user writes "Kim Dotcom's internet connection was being diverted inside New Zealand weeks before the Government Communications Security Bureau says it started spying on him. The New Zealand Herald has obtained details showing Telecom engineers and staff at its technology services company Gen-I were investigating irregularities with his internet connection in November. The revelation has raised suspicion that Mr Dotcom was victim to earlier spying than the GCSB has admitted. It has brought fresh calls for an inquiry amid claims of the spy agency's role in the international 'Five Eyes' Echelon Network."

NZ To Investigate Illegally Intercepted Data In Dotcom Case 53

First time accepted submitter karit writes with this excerpt from Scoop News: "Prime Minister John Key today announced he has requested an inquiry by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security into the circumstances of unlawful interception of communications of certain individuals by the Government Communications Security Bureau. Mr Key says the Crown has filed a memorandum in the High Court in the Megaupload case advising the Court and affected parties that the GCSB had acted unlawfully while assisting the Police to locate certain individuals subject to arrest warrants issued in the case. The Bureau had acquired communications in some instances without statutory authority."

New Zealand Draft Patent Law Rewritten After Microsoft Meeting 120

ciaran_o_riordan writes "After two private meetings with Microsoft and IBM, New Zealand's proposed new patent legislation has been changed by 'replacing an exclusion in clause 15(3A) (which relates to computer programs) with new clause 10A. Rather than excluding a computer program from being a patentable invention, new clause 10A clarifies that a computer program is not an invention for the purposes of the Bill.' The difference is that the new 10A clause contains the 'as such' loophole — the wording that is used by the European Patent Office to grant software patents. This is the same Patents Bill launched in 2009."

Green Party Releases International Joint Statement Criticizing the TPP 76

Dangerous_Minds writes "The New Zealand, Australian, and Canadian Green Parties have released a joint statement on the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). Among the concerns are the secretive nature of the talks and 'could hinder access to safe, affordable medicines, weaken local content rules for media, stifle high-tech innovation, and even restrict the ability of future governments to legislate for the good of public health and the environment.' ZeroPaid also notes that the statement is starting to appear in New Zealand and Australian media."

Three-Strikes Copyright Law In NZ Halves Infringement 202

Bismillah writes "The 'Skynet' copyright act has been in effect for six months in New Zealand and rights holders reckon it halved the number of infringements in the first month. Even so, they're not happy and say over forty per cent of Kiwis continue to infringe online. The fix? Rightsholders want the current NZ$25 infringement notice processing fee payable to ISPs to be dropped to just a few dollars or even pennies, so that they can send out thousands of notices a month. ISPs want the fee to increase four times instead, to cover their costs. Unfortunately, the submissions for the review of the infringement notice fees are kept secret by the government."

Kim Dotcom Demands Access To Seized Property To Defend Himself 236

redletterdave writes "On Wednesday, Kim 'Dotcom' Schmitz and his legal team visited the High Court in Auckland, New Zealand, to demand access to the data stored on his computers and hard drives that were confiscated during the police raid, and also requested a judicial review of the general legality of the search warrants police used to raid his mansion. Dotcom's lawyer, Paul Davison, argued that his client needs the data for a few reasons: To mount a 'proper defense' case, to fight possibly being extradited to the U.S., and also to show that 'excessive police action' was used during the raid. Dotcom could prove this in court because the entire raid was recorded by CCTV data, which is stored on Dotcom's confiscated computers. Even though the FBI demanded Dotcom turn over the passwords for Megaupload's encrypted data, he refuses to give up any passwords until he can regain access to his seized property."
The Courts

US Judge Say Kim Dotcom May Never Be Tried or Extradited 345

vik writes "As Megaupload's Kim Dotcom's megafarce trial continues, the New Zealand Herald reports that his alleged offense not only falls below the threshold for extradition, but also that the warrant may not be properly served. 'My understanding as to why they haven't done that is because they can't. We don't believe Megaupload can be served in a criminal matter because it is not located within the jurisdiction of the United States,' says Megaupload's lawyer Ira Rothken. Not surprisingly, Kim Dotcom has a few choice words to say about having his business trashed this way, with 220 jobs lost, and millions left without access to their legitimate data."

It is easier to change the specification to fit the program than vice versa.