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The Courts

Supreme Court Rules Cell Phones Can't Be Searched Without a Warrant 249

New submitter CarlThansk (3713681) writes The courts have long debated on if cell phones can be searched during an arrest without a warrant. Today, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest. "Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the court, said the vast amount of data contained on modern cellphones must be protected (PDF) from routine inspection." Phones may still be searched under limited circumstances (imminent threats), but this looks like a clear win for privacy. Quoting the decision: "We cannot deny that our decision today will have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime. Cell phones have become important tools in facilitating coordination and communication among members of criminal enterprises, and can provide valuable incriminating information about dangerous criminals. Privacy comes at a cost."
United States

The Government Can No Longer Track Your Cell Phone Without a Warrant 173

Jason Koebler (3528235) writes The government cannot use cell phone location data as evidence in a criminal proceeding without first obtaining a warrant, an appeals court ruled today, in one of the most important privacy decisions in recent memory. "In short, we hold that cell site location information is within the subscriber's reasonable expectation of privacy," the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled. "The obtaining of that data without a warrant is a Fourth Amendment violation."

Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Newegg Patent Case 204

NormalVisual writes "'It's a really tough time to be a patent owner', said Soverain Software, LLC president Katharine Wolanyk, after the Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit invalidated three of Soverain's shopping cart patents. Soverain had sued Newegg for allegedly infringing the patents in question, and had won in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Newegg later had the decision overturned on appeal, with the court ruling that the patents in question were obvious, and thus invalid."

EU Wants To Enshrine Network Neutrality In Law 76

Bismillah writes "Following the example of the Dutch, who enacted laws supporting network neutrality, the European Union is now looking at doing the same. They are pushing for an end to the throttling and blocking of services such as Skype and Whatsapp by providers hoping to drive users to their own competing services. The EU also wants a service transparency requirement for ISPs, so people know what they're buying — like minimum speed. It'll be interesting to see how this pans out."

New York Passes Landmark Gun Law 1591

New submitter mallyn points out that the state of New York has become the first state to pass a new gun control law since the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary last month. "Called the New York Safe Act, the law includes a tougher assault weapons ban that broadens the definition of what constitutes an assault weapon, and limits the capacity of magazines to seven bullets, down from 10. The law also requires background checks of ammunition and gun buyers, even in private sales, imposes tougher penalties for illegal gun use, a one-state check on all firearms purchases, and programs to cut gun violence in high-crime neighborhoods. ... New York's law also aims to keep guns out of the hands of those will mental illness. The law gives judges the power to require those who pose a threat to themselves or others get outpatient care. The law also requires that when a mental health professional determines a gun owner is likely to do harm, the risk must be reported and the gun removed by law enforcement." Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is expected to propose a new federal assault weapons ban later today.

ACTA Gets Death Certificate In Europe 36

First time accepted submitter Seeteufel writes "The controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is now officially pronounced dead in the E.U. The European Parliament broadly rejected the Anti-Counterfeiting Agreement a while ago, but there was still a court case pending at the European Court of Justice about the legality of ACTA. The Commission was open about its intent to reintroduce ACTA ratification to the Parliament after a positive Court decision. Now we learn the Commission has withdrawn its questions to the Court."

European Data Retention Rule Could Violate Fundamental EU Law 61

An anonymous reader writes in with a story about the Constitutional Court of Austria objecting to the EU's data retention law. "The European Union's data retention law could breach fundamental E.U. law because its requirements result in an invasion of citizens' privacy, according to the Constitutional Court of Austria, which has asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to determine the directive's validity. The primary problem with the data retention law is that it almost exclusively affects people in whom government or law enforcement have no prior interest. But authorities use the data for investigations and are informed about people's personal lives, the court said, and there is a risk that the data can be abused. 'We doubt that the E.U. Data Retention Directive is really compatible with the rights that are guaranteed by the E.U. Charter of Fundamental Rights,' Gerhart Holzinger, president of the Constitutional Court of Austria said in a statement."

Steve Jobs Patent On iPhone Declared Invalid 247

An anonymous reader writes "Apple's most famous multitouch software patents are increasingly coming under invalidation pressure. First the rubber-banding patent and now a patent that Apple's own lawyers planned to introduce to a Chicago jury as 'the Jobs patent.' U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949 covers a method for distinguishing vertical and horizontal gestures from diagonal movements based on an initial angle of movement. For example, everything up to a slant of 27 degrees would be considered vertical or horizontal, and everything else diagonal. The patent office now seems to think that Apple didn't invent the concept of 'heuristics' after all."

Another Call For Abolishing Patents, This One From the St. Louis Fed 315

New submitter WOOFYGOOFY writes "The most recent call for curtailing patents comes not just from an unexpected source, the St. Louis Fed, but also in its most basic form: total abolition of all patents. Via the Atlantic Monthly: a new working paper (PDF) from two members of the St. Louis Federal Reserve, Michele Boldrin and David Levine, in which they argue that while a weak patent system may mildly increase innovation with limited side-effects, such a system can never be contained and will inevitably lead to a stifling patent system such as that presently found in the U.S. They argue: '...strong patent systems retard innovation with many negative side-effects. ... the political demand for stronger patent protection comes from old and stagnant industries and firms, not from new and innovative ones. Hence the best solution is to abolish patents entirely through strong constitutional measures and to find other legislative instruments, less open to lobbying and rent-seeking.' They acknowledge that some industries could suffer under a such a system. They single out pharma, and suggest other legislative measures be found to foster innovation whenever there is clear evidence that laissez-faire under-supplies it."

HTC Defeats Apple In Slide-To-Unlock Patent Dispute 149

another random user sends this quote from the BBC: "HTC is claiming victory in a patent dispute with Apple after a ruling by the High Court in London. The judge ruled that HTC had not infringed four technologies that Apple had claimed as its own. He said Apple's slide-to-unlock feature was an 'obvious' development in the light of a similar function on an earlier Swedish handset. Lawyers fighting other lawsuits against Apple are likely to pay close attention to the decision regarding its slide-to-unlock patent."

Used Software Can Be Sold, Says EU Court of Justice 385

Sique writes "An author of software cannot oppose the resale of his 'used' licenses allowing the use of his programs downloaded from the internet. The exclusive right of distribution of a copy of a computer program covered by such a license is exhausted on its first sale. This was decided [Tuesday] (PDF) by the Court of Justice of the European Union in a case of Used Soft GmbH v. Oracle International Corp.."
The Courts

Judge Posner To Apple & Motorola: Go Home 63

reebmmm writes "Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner, voluntarily sitting as a district court judge, in the patent infringement dispute between Apple and Motorola has, tentatively, dismissed the case on the eve of trial. In this hilariously short order, Judge Posner states, 'I have tentatively decided that the case should be dismissed with prejudice because neither party can establish a right to relief.' Because it is 'with prejudice' the parties cannot refile their case. The parties are likely to appeal the order (when it's finalized)."

EU Court Rules APIs, Programming Languages Not Copyrightable 215

itwbennett writes "The European Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that the functionality of a computer program and the programming language it is written in cannot be protected by copyright. In its ruling on a case brought by SAS Institute against World Programming Limited (WPL), the court said that 'the purchaser of a license for a program is entitled, as a rule, to observe, study or test its functioning so as to determine the ideas and principles which underlie that program.'"

Why Distributing Music As 24-bit/192kHz Downloads Is Pointless 841

An anonymous reader writes "A recent post at provides a long and incredibly detailed explanation of why 24-bit/192kHz music downloads — touted as being of 'uncompromised studio quality' — don't make any sense. The post walks us through some of the basics of ear anatomy, sampling rates, and listening tests, finally concluding that lossless formats and a decent pair of headphones will do a lot more for your audio enjoyment than 24/192 recordings. 'Why push back against 24/192? Because it's a solution to a problem that doesn't exist, a business model based on willful ignorance and scamming people. The more that pseudoscience goes unchecked in the world at large, the harder it is for truth to overcome truthiness... even if this is a small and relatively insignificant example.'"
The Internet

EFF Wins Protection For Time Zone Database 71

First time accepted submitter TempestRose writes "The trials and tribulations of the time zone database sued by an astrology software company are finally over. From the article: 'The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is pleased to announce that a copyright lawsuit threatening an important database of time zone information has been dismissed. The astrology software company that filed the lawsuit, Astrolabe, has also apologized and agreed to a 'covenant not to sue' going forward, which will help protect the database from future baseless legal actions and disruptions.'"

You know you've landed gear-up when it takes full power to taxi.