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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 14 declined, 4 accepted (18 total, 22.22% accepted)

The Internet

+ - Can You Read Wikileaks In A Fascist Police State?-> 1

Submitted by oliphaunt
oliphaunt (124016) writes "Zero Hedge makes the case that a pair of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions mean that the USA now has the necessary characteristics to be classified as a police state, which means you better stop reading wikileaks if you don't want to be disappeared to Guantanamo (or somewhere worse):

For example, if the Executive- in the form of the Secretary of State -decides that, say, WikiLeaks or Amnesty International is a terrorist organization, well then by golly, it is a terrorist organization. It no longer has any right to free speech — nor can anyone else speak to them or associate with them, for risk of being charged with providing "material support" to this heinous terrorist organization known as Amnesty International. But furthermore, as per Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, anyone associating with WikiLeaks — including, presumably, those who read it, and most certainly those who give it information about government abuses-- would be guilty of aiding and abetting terrorism.

"

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Google

+ - Crowdsourcing the Google Books Settlement->

Submitted by
oliphaunt
oliphaunt writes "The folks at NY Law have launched The Public Index to explore the proposed settlement agreement that would end all of the various class-action lawsuits that were filed to stop Google from scanning every book in the world. They've republished all the litigation documents and the proposed agreement, and they're inviting world + dog to post commentary. Even if you're not a lawyer, here's your chance to post a comment that might end up in a legal brief.

The Public Index is a project of the Public-Interest Book Search Initiative and the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School. We are a group of professors, students, and volunteers who believe that the Google Book Search lawsuit and settlement deserve a full, careful, and thoughtful public discussion. The Public Index is a site for people from all points of view to learn from each other about the settlement and join together to make their voices heard in the public debate.

"

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Government

+ - DOJ report on NSA wiretaps finally released->

Submitted by
oliphaunt
oliphaunt writes "As regular readers will recall, after the 2004 elections the New York Times revealed that the NSA had been conducting illegal wiretaps of American citizens since early 2001. Over the course of the next four years, more information about the illegal program trickled out, leading to several lawsuits against the government and various officials involved in its implementation. This week several of these matters are coming to a head: Yesterday, the lawyers for the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation filed a motion for summary judgment in their lawsuit against the Obama DOJ. The motion begins by quoting a statement made by Candidate Obama in 2007, acknowledging that the warrantless wiretap program was illegal. US District Judge Vaughn Walker has given indications that he is increasingly skeptical of the government's arguments in this case. In what might just be a coincidence of timing, today the long-awaited report from the DOJ inspector general to the US Congress about the wiretapping program was declassified and released. Emptywheel has the beginnings of a working thread going here."
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The Courts

+ - 3 Bagram Prisoners to Get Access To US Courts?->

Submitted by
oliphaunt
oliphaunt writes "Ok, this time I actually read the article instead of just pasting from the page. The venerable Lyle Dennitson over at SCOTUSblog has a short post up discussing a decision handed down by Judge John Bates of the D.C. District [federal] Court. Judge Bates's opinion says, in a nutshell, that the 2008 Boumediene v. Bush Supreme Court decision requires him to find that some of the people currently detained by the U.S. at Bagram Air Base have the right to Habeas Corpus hearings in U.S. federal courts. The Obama administration has so far defended the position staked out by the Bush admin, which was that the "enemy combatants" held at Guantanamo should have no access to U.S. courts. This is a big loss for the old Bush policy. Even though the Obama DOJ might still appeal, these cases could be the first step towards closing Bagram's prison and the prison at Guantanamo. From Lyle's post:

In one of the most significant sequels to the Supreme Court's ruling last June on the rights of terrorism suspects held by the U.S. military, a federal judge decided Thursday that the ruling protects the rights of at least some of the detainees the U.S. is holding at Bagram air base outside of Kabul, Afghanistan. . . . The decision is the most important setback in detainee matters so far for the new Obama Administration ...

"

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Cellphones

+ - ACLU wins- no sexting charges for NJ teens->

Submitted by
oliphaunt
oliphaunt writes "The TIMES/TRIBUNE reports a New Jersey federal judge ordered the prosecutor not to file charges in the cases of three teen girls whose cell phones were confiscated:

Wyoming County District Attorney George Skumanick Jr. cannot charge three teenage girls who appeared in photographs seminude traded by classmates last year, a judge ruled Monday. U.S. District Judge James M. Munley granted a request by the American Civil Liberties Union to temporarily stop Mr. Skumanick from filing felony charges against the Tunkhannock Area School District students.

"

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Cellphones

+ - Apple wins by favoring customers over carriers->

Submitted by
oliphaunt
oliphaunt writes "Here's an article from the Register about why the new version of the iPhone is so full of win: apple listened to the people instead of to the carriers.

For Apple, coming late to the phone business has actually been a huge advantage. The success of the iPhone is down not just to great engineering, but profiting from several years of desperate and outright stupid behaviour by the mobile phone networks, who set the terms for the manufacturers. The received wisdom of the industry — that you had to know the wiles of the mobile networks to succeed — turned out to be completely mistaken.

"

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Government

+ - Net Neutrality in the Federal Stimulus Package->

Submitted by
oliphaunt
oliphaunt writes "Barack Obama signed a $700 million stimulus package a few weeks ago, and the details are finally trickling out. The good news is, there is some language in the new law that promotes open access. The bad news is, the FCC gets to decide what "open access" actually means. Good news- that corrupt douchebag Kevin Martin is out, and Julius Genachowski is in, and Genachowski has been pro-NN in the past. But will he do the right thing now that he has the chance to set national policy?

The most recent development in the battle over web neutrality has appeared in an unlikely place, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan of 2009, also known as "the stimulus package". Buried within the bill, on pages 399-402, are provisions for grants to build out internet and wireless service in "unserved" areas of the country. Tied into these provisions are requirements that any newly developed networks operate on an "open access" basis. Coincidentally, "open access" is not defined in the bill, and since the role of the courts is to interpret legislation, any FCC definition of "open access" will be subject to the scrutiny of the courts. Although net neutrality proponents were hoping for more, they should not be disappointed in this development. It may seem like a small step, but it is some of the first language in passed legislation directly referring to net neutrality.

"

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Patents

+ - Are business method patents finally dead?->

Submitted by
oliphaunt
oliphaunt writes "Here's a short story from Law.com about a stupid patent application that got the final smackdown this week, thanks to another application of the Federal Circuit's Bilski decision. The applicant here was trying to patent a very broad idea for a business method, but ...

The court [...] applied the test from Bilski: that a method or process has to be tied to a machine or transform an article to be patentable. The idea for a marketing company does neither, wrote Judge Arthur Gajarsa. "Although Applicants argue that the method claims are tied to the use of a shared marketing force, a marketing force is not a machine or apparatus,"

Have we finally seen the end of business method patents? Will the patent office continue to deny new claims like the 1-Click patent if they don't involve a "Machine or Transformation?""
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Privacy

+ - The CDA is dead, but will states try to revive it?->

Submitted by
oliphaunt
oliphaunt writes "This week at The Legality, Tracy Frazier has an article discussing the damage that can be done by anonymous online comments. While regulars here are familiar with infamous bits of net censorship like the Fishman Affidavit fiasco, and everyone has been an anonymous coward at least once or twice, some of you you may not know about the conflict between Heide Iravani and AutoAdmit.com. Heide eventually filed a lawsuit because the first result for a google search on her name brought up anonymous comments on AutoAdmit that accused her of carrying an STD and sleeping her way to the top of her class. The Communications Decency Act was supposed to prevent this kind of thing, but the Supreme Court killed it. Should the law be changed? Read on for the pros and cons..."
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Cellphones

+ - teen sexting and the law->

Submitted by oliphaunt
oliphaunt (124016) writes "This week, the Legality discusses the totally unpredictable discovery that teens are using cell phones to take racy pictures of themselves and send them to their friends.

Child pornography convicts are widely considered the lowliest offenders [...] But what if the victim is the same person as the photographer? A recent Pennsylvania case is turning heads for that very reason. Six teenagers at a Greensburg, Pa., high school were facing felony charges pertaining to manufacturing, disseminating, or possessing child pornography. Three of the defendants are girls, aged 14 to 15, who took semi-nude pictures of themselves and sent via cell phone them to their male classmates.

"

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Security

+ - FUD alert: Law.com warns on DANGERS!!! of OSS->

Submitted by
oliphaunt
oliphaunt writes "In this article from Law.com, William Venema tries to discuss the risk and reward associated with a business decision to adopt open source. And he makes a few fair points. But he shows his true FUD colors in the following paragraph: "The dangers inherent in open-source code are not only legal, however. The technical aspects of such code can also harbor risks for the enterprise. Although many open-source aficionados would disagree, many software experts claim that open-source code ... is more dangerous than proprietary source code ... because hackers can use the source code to find and exploit flaws." This claim is laughable on its face. Which "software experts" make this claim? Really, I'm curious. Is there any credible source still trying to claim that secret code is more secure and less error-prone than OSS?"
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Government

+ - FOIA: It's not just for the FBI X-Files ->

Submitted by oliphaunt
oliphaunt (124016) writes "(quoting heavily from TFA:) The John Yoo torture memos would never have been publicly released without the Freedom of Information Act.

FOIA has been used to obtain government information about everything from FBI information on pop culture icons (like Elvis and Frank Sinatra), to notorious criminals (such as Bonnie & Clyde and Al Capone), to famous scientists (like Einstein), and even paranormal activity (UFOs, Roswell, and ESP).

What exactly is this tool and how does it help the public acquire the necessary knowledge to participate effectively in democracy?"

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Privacy

+ - SeattlePostIntelligencer stands up to FBI->

Submitted by tekel
tekel (124016) writes "This post at RawStory caught my eye:

The alert issued by FBI agents in Seattle on Monday called for the public's help in identifying photographs of two Middle Eastern-looking men who had been reported travelling on ferries exhibiting "unusual behavior."
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer refused to run the photos, explaining:

"We have no confirmation that these men's behavior was anything but innocuous, and to forever taint them by associating them with terrorism under these circumstances is not consistent with our policy," the paper said.
Not consistent with the newspaper's policy, or, you know, the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of the press from government interference and equal protection under the law for everyone in the United States.

The rest of my amateur legal analysis here."

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