Privacy

Yelp Ordered To Identify User Accused of Defaming a Tax Preparer (bloomberg.com) 141

mi writes: California State Appeals Court ruled this week that Yelp can't shield the identify of an anonymous reviewer who posted allegedly defamatory statements about a tax preparer. "The three-judge appeals panel in Santa Ana agreed with Yelp that it could protect the First Amendment rights of its anonymous reviewer but it still had to turn over the information," reports Bloomberg. "The panel reasoned that the accountant had made a showing that the review was defamatory in that it went beyond expressing an opinion and allegedly included false statements."
The Courts

Tesla Is a 'Hotbed For Racist Behavior,' Worker Claims In Lawsuit (bloomberg.com) 298

An African-American employee has filed a lawsuit against Tesla, claiming their production floor is a "hotbed for racist behavior" and that black workers at the electric carmaker suffer severe and pervasive harassment. "The employee says he's one of more than 100 African-American Tesla workers affected and is seeking permission from a judge to sue on behalf of the group," reports Bloomberg. "He's seeking unspecified general and punitive monetary damages as well as an order for Tesla to implement policies to prevent and correct harassment." From the report: "Although Tesla stands out as a groundbreaking company at the forefront of the electric car revolution, its standard operating procedure at the Tesla factory is pre-Civil Rights era race discrimination," the employee said in the complaint, filed Monday in California's Alameda County Superior Court. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Marcus Vaughn, who worked in the Fremont factory from April 23 to Oct. 31. Vaughn alleged that employees and supervisors regularly used the "N word" around him and other black colleagues. Vaughn said he complained in writing to human resources and Musk and was terminated in late October for "not having a positive attitude."
Google

Google Subpoenaed Over Data Privacy, Antitrust in Missouri (cnbc.com) 18

Google is facing a new front in its regulatory battles after Missouri's attorney general on Monday launched a broad investigation into whether the company's business practices violate the state's consumer-protection and antitrust laws. From a report: Attorney General Josh Hawley's office said on Monday that it issued a subpoena to investigate if Google's use of information that it collects about consumers is appropriate and if the company stifles competing websites in search results. Google has largely steered clear of antitrust problems in the U.S. That's not the case in Europe, where the company faces a fine of about $2.7 billion over the display of its shopping ads.
Security

Man Who Sent GIF of Laughing Mouse To Employer After DDoS Attack Is Now Arrested (bleepingcomputer.com) 75

An anonymous reader writes: The FBI has arrested and charged a man for launching DDoS attacks against a wide range of targets, including his former employer, a Minnesota-based PoS repair shop. The man, who bought access to a VPN but didn't use it all the time, was caught after registering email accounts and sending taunting emails to victims, including his former employer. The taunting emails also included a GIF image of a laughing mouse, which eventually tied the man to the DDoS attacks as well. The guy also uploaded the image on Facebook in a post that asked people to join in DDoS attacks on banks as part of Anonymous' Operation Icarus. The suspect also created the fake email accounts using the name of another former colleague, trying to pin suspicions on him. The FBI was not only able to track the man's real IP address, but they also tied him to attacks without a doubt because he used a DDoS-for-hire service that was hacked and its database was shared with the FBI.
Encryption

DOJ: Strong Encryption That We Don't Have Access To Is 'Unreasonable' (arstechnica.com) 510

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Just two days after the FBI said it could not get into the Sutherland Springs shooter's seized iPhone, Politico Pro published a lengthy interview with a top Department of Justice official who has become the "government's unexpected encryption warrior." According to the interview, which was summarized and published in transcript form on Thursday for subscribers of the website, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein indicated that the showdown between the DOJ and Silicon Valley is quietly intensifying. "We have an ongoing dialogue with a lot of tech companies in a variety of different areas," he told Politico Pro. "There's some areas where they are cooperative with us. But on this particular issue of encryption, the tech companies are moving in the opposite direction. They're moving in favor of more and more warrant-proof encryption." "I want our prosecutors to know that, if there's a case where they believe they have an appropriate need for information and there is a legal avenue to get it, they should not be reluctant to pursue it," Rosenstein said. "I wouldn't say we're searching for a case. I''d say we're receptive, if a case arises, that we would litigate."

In the interview, Rosenstein also said he "favors strong encryption." "I favor strong encryption, because the stronger the encryption, the more secure data is against criminals who are trying to commit fraud," he explained. "And I'm in favor of that, because that means less business for us prosecuting cases of people who have stolen data and hacked into computer networks and done all sorts of damage. So I'm in favor of strong encryption." "This is, obviously, a related issue, but it's distinct, which is, what about cases where people are using electronic media to commit crimes? Having access to those devices is going to be critical to have evidence that we can present in court to prove the crime. I understand why some people merge the issues. I understand that they're related. But I think logically, we have to look at these differently. People want to secure their houses, but they still need to get in and out. Same issue here." He later added that the claim that the "absolutist position" that strong encryption should be by definition, unbreakable, is "unreasonable." "And I think it's necessary to weigh law enforcement equities in appropriate cases against the interest in security," he said.

AT&T

Justice Department Tells Time Warner It Must Sell CNN Or DirecTV To Approve Its AT&T Merger (nytimes.com) 118

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): The Justice Department has called on AT&T and Time Warner to sell Turner Broadcasting, the group of cable channels that includes CNN, as a potential requirement for approving the companies' pending $85.4 billion deal, people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday. The other potential way the merger could win approval would be for AT&T to sell its DirecTV division, two of these people added. As originally envisioned, combining AT&T and Time Warner would yield a giant company offering wireless and broadband internet service, DirecTV, the Warner Brothers movie studio and cable channels like HBO and CNN. If the Justice Department formally makes either demand a requisite for approval, AT&T and Time Warner would almost certainly take the matter to court to challenge the government's legal basis for blocking their deal.
Piracy

US Court Grants ISPs and Search Engine Blockade of Sci-Hub (torrentfreak.com) 165

Sci-Hub, a scientific research piracy site home to thousands of research papers, has suffered another blow in a U.S. federal court. According to TorrentFreak, "The American Chemical Society has won a default judgment of $4.8 million for alleged copyright infringement against the site. In addition, the publisher was granted an unprecedented injunction which requires search engines and ISPs to block the platform." This comes after a $15 million fine was imposed on Sci-Hub by a New York federal judge earlier this year. From the report: Just before the weekend, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema issued a final decision which is a clear win for ACS. The publisher was awarded the maximum statutory damages of $4.8 million for 32 infringing works, as well as a permanent injunction. The injunction is not limited to domain name registrars and hosting companies, but expands to search engines, ISPs and hosting companies too, who can be ordered to stop linking to or offering services to Sci-Hub. The injunction means that Internet providers, such as Comcast, can be requested to block users from accessing Sci-Hub. That's a big deal since pirate site blockades are not common in the United States. The same is true for search engine blocking of copyright-infringing sites.

"Ordered that any person or entity in active concert or participation with Defendant Sci-Hub and with notice of the injunction, including any Internet search engines, web hosting and Internet service providers, domain name registrars, and domain name registries, cease facilitating access to any or all domain names and websites through which Sci-Hub engages in unlawful access to, use, reproduction, and distribution of ACS's trademarks or copyrighted works," the injunction reads.

Patents

Apple Wins $120 Million From Samsung In Slide-To-Unlock Patent Battle (theverge.com) 72

Apple has finally claimed victory over Samsung to the count of $120 million. "The Supreme Court said today that it wouldn't hear an appeal of the patent infringement case, first decided in 2014, which has been bouncing through appeals courts in the years since," reports The Verge. From the report: The case revolved around Apple's famous slide-to-unlock patent and, among others, its less-famous quick links patent, which covered software that automatically turned information like a phone number into a tappable link. Samsung was found to have infringed both patents. The ruling was overturned almost two years later, and then reinstated once again less than a year after that. From there, Samsung appealed to the Supreme Court, which is where the case met its end today. Naturally, Samsung isn't pleased with the outcome. "Our argument was supported by many who believed that the Court should hear the case to reinstate fair standards that promote innovation and prevent abuse of the patent system," a Samsung representative said in a statement. The company also said the ruling would let Apple "unjustly profit" from an invalid patent.
The Courts

Advice To Twitter Worker Who Deactivated Trump's Account: 'Get A Lawyer' (thehill.com) 271

An anonymous reader quotes The Hill: A prominent attorney for cybersecurity issues has this advice to the unnamed Twitter worker said to have pulled the plug on President Trump's Twitter account: "Don't say anything and get a lawyer." Tor Ekeland told The Hill that while the facts of the case are still unclear and the primary law used to prosecute hackers is murky and unevenly applied, there is a reasonable chance the Twitter worker violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act...widely considered to be, as Ekeland explained it, "a mess." Various courts around the country have come up with seemingly contradictory rulings on what unauthorized access actually means. Ekeland said the Ninth Circuit, covering the state of California, has itself issued rulings at odds with itself that would have an impact on the Trump Twitter account fiasco as a potential case. The Ninth Circuit ruled that employees do not violate the law if they exceed their workplace computer policies. It has also ruled that employees who have been told they do not have permission to access a system cannot legally access it. Depending on which ruling a court leans on the hardest, a current Twitter employee without permission to shutter accounts may have violated the law by nixing Trump's account.
Ekeland points out that just $5,000 worth of damage could carry a 10-year prison sentence.

Friday the New York Times also reported that the worker responsible wasn't even a Twitter employee, but a hired contractor, adding that "nearly every" major tech company uses contractors for non-technical positions, including Google, Apple, and Facebook.
The Courts

Appeals Court Rules: SCO v. IBM Case Can Continue (arstechnica.com) 131

Long-time Slashdot reader Freshly Exhumed quotes Ars Technica: A federal appeals court has now partially ruled in favor of the SCO Group, breathing new life into a lawsuit and a company (now bankrupt and nearly dead) that has been suing IBM for nearly 15 years.

Last year, U.S. District Judge David Nuffer had ruled against SCO (whose original name was Santa Cruz Operation) in two summary judgment orders, and the court refused to allow SCO to amend its initial complaint against IBM. SCO soon appealed. On Monday, the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals found that SCO's claims of misappropriation could go forward while also upholding Judge Nuffer's other two orders.

Here's Slashdot's first story about the trial more than 14 years ago, and a nice timeline from 2012 of the next nine years of legal drama.
Open Source

Software Freedom Law Center Launches Trademark War Against Software Freedom Conservancy (sfconservancy.org) 105

Long-time Slashdot reader Bruce Perens writes: The Software Freedom Law Center, a Linux-Foundation supported organization, has asked USPTO to cancel the trademark of the name of the Software Freedom Conservancy, an organization that assists and represents Free Software / Open Source developers.

What makes this bizzare is that SFLC started SFC, SFLC was SFC's law firm and filed for the very same trademark on their behalf, and both organizations were funded by Linux Foundation at the start.

There are a few other wild things that have happened related to this. Eben Moglen, president of SFLC and for decades the General Counsel of the Free Software Foundation, is no longer associated with FSF. Linux Foundation has on its executive board a company that is being sued in Germany for violating the GPL, with the case presently under appeal, and the lawsuit is funded by SFC. And remember when Linux Foundation removed the community representative from its executive board, when Karen Sandler, executive director of SFC, said she'd run?

If you need a clue, the SFC are the good guys in this. There's a lot to look into.

The Courts

Alphabet Loses Another Trade Secret Claim In Its Lawsuit Against Uber (recode.net) 10

In a new order dated Nov. 2, Judge William Alsup said that Alphabet's self-driving arm Waymo cannot pursue one of the nine trade secrets it had accused Uber of misappropriating. The company had already been ordered to narrow its more than 120 trade secrets down to nine. Recode reports: The judge said, among other things, that the expert opinion that Alphabet used to assert this claim was unreliable. While the other eight trade secrets remain intact, it's worth mentioning this was the same expert that Waymo relied on to substantiate those claims. "Waymo's case continues to shrink," an Uber spokesperson said. "After dropping their patent claims, this week Waymo lost one of the trade secrets they claimed was most important, had their damages expert excluded, and saw an entire defendant removed from the case -- and all this before the trial has even started." An Alphabet spokesperson said the document did provide additional evidence to bolster its remaining claims. Additionally, Alphabet's case for the monetary damages it wanted -- more than $1 billion for a single trade secret -- will rest squarely on its own arguments. In a yet-unsealed document, the judge said that Alphabet could not call on its damages expert during the trial.
Google

Google Wins Ruling to Block Global Censorship Order (fortune.com) 89

A U.S. judge has partially blocked a recent decision by Canada's Supreme Court that requires Google to delete search results not just in Canada, but in every other country too. From a report: Citing the violation of American laws as well as a threat to speech, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila agreed to grant Google a temporary injunction, which means the company can show the search results in the United States. The search results in question are part of an intellectual property dispute between a Canadian industrial firm called Equustek and a rival company that is reportedly misusing Equustek's trademarks to poach its business. In response, Equustek obtained an injunction in Canada that treated Google as a defendant even though it had no direct relationship with either company. In a controversial decision in June, Canada's highest court agreed by a 7-2 margin to leave the injunction in place.
Botnet

Malware Developer Who Used Spam Botnet To Pay For College Gets No Prison Time (bleepingcomputer.com) 57

An anonymous reader writes: The operator of a 77,000-strong spam botnet was sentenced to two years probation and no prison time after admitting his crime and completely reforming his life. The former botnet operator is now working for a cybersecurity company, and admitted his actions as soon as the FBI knocked on his door back in 2013. The botnet operator, a 29-year-old from Santa Clara, California, says he was tricked by fellow co-schemers who told him they were not doing anything wrong by infecting computers with malware because they were not accessing private information such as banking or financial records. Furthermore, the botnet operator escaped prison time because he used all the money he earned in getting a college degree at Cal Poly instead of using it on a lavish lifestyle or drugs. This case is similar to the one that MalwareTech (aka Marcus Hutchins) now faces in the U.S. for his role in developing the Kronos trojan, but also after turning his life around and working as a cybersecurity researcher for years.
AT&T

Department of Justice Considers Blocking AT&T Deal For Time Warner (reuters.com) 32

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: AT&T and the U.S. Department of Justice are discussing conditions the No. 2 wireless carrier needs to meet in order for its acquisition of Time Warner Inc to win government approval. The $85.4 billion deal, hatched last October, is opposed by some consumer groups and TV companies on the grounds that it would give the wireless company too much power over the media it would carry on its own network. Donald Trump, who has accused media companies like Time Warner's CNN of being unfair to him, criticized the deal on the campaign trail last year and vowed that as president his Justice Department would block it. The proposed deal represents an early challenge for the Justice Department's new antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, a Trump appointee who was confirmed by Congress in late September. Delrahim may be looking to ramp up pressure on AT&T. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Justice Department was laying the groundwork for a potential lawsuit aimed at stopping the deal if settlement talks did not work out.
Intel

Qualcomm Sues Apple For Contract Breach (reuters.com) 37

Qualcomm has sued Apple, again, this time alleging that it violated a software license contract to benefit rival chipmaker Intel for making broadband modems, the latest salvo in a longstanding dispute between the two companies. From a report: Qualcomm alleged in a lawsuit filed in the California state court in San Diego on Wednesday that Apple used its commercial leverage to demand unprecedented access to the chipmaker's highly confidential software, including source code. Apple began to use Intel's broadband modem chips in the iPhone 7, which it launched last year.
AT&T

AT&T Admits Defeat In Lawsuit It Filed To Stall Google Fiber (arstechnica.com) 34

According to Ars Technica, AT&T is reportedly abandoning its attempt to stop a Louisville ordinance that helped draw Google Fiber into the city. The telecommunications giant sued Louisville and Jefferson County, Kentucky to stop an ordinance that gives Google Fiber and other ISPs faster access to utility poles. AT&T's lawsuit was dismissed in August by a district court, who determined that AT&T's claims that the ordinance is invalid are false. WDRB News and Louisville Business First are both reporting that AT&T has decided not to appeal the ruling.
Businesses

CBS Sues Man For Copyright Over Screenshots of 59-year-old TV Show (arstechnica.com) 180

CBS has sued a photographer for copyright infringement for publishing a still image from a 59-year-old television show. From a report: The lawsuit against New York photojournalist Jon Tannen, filed on Friday, is essentially a retaliatory strike. Tannen sued CBS Interactive in February, claiming that the online division of CBS had used two of his photographs without permission. Now, CBS has sued Tannen back, claiming that he "hypocritically" used CBS' intellectual property "while simultaneously bringing suit against Plaintiff's sister company, CBS Interactive Inc., claiming it had violated his own copyright." "Without any license or authorization from Plaintiff, Defendant has copied and published via social media platforms images copied from the Dooley Surrenders episode of GUNSMOKE," write CBS lawyers. CBS is asking for $150,000 in damages for willful infringement.
Security

Student Charged By FBI For Hacking His Grades More Than 90 times (sophos.com) 142

An anonymous reader shares a report: In college, you can use your time to study. Or then again, you could perhaps rely on the Hand of God. And when I say "Hand of God," what I really mean is "keylogger." Think of it like the "Nimble Fingers of God." "Hand of God" (that makes sense) and "pineapple" (???) are two of the nicknames allegedly used to refer to keyloggers used by a former University of Iowa wrestler and student who was arrested last week on federal computer-hacking charges in a high-tech cheating scheme. According to the New York Times, Trevor Graves, 22, is accused in an FBI affidavit of working with an unnamed accomplice to secretly plug keyloggers into university computers in classrooms and in labs. The FBI says keyloggers allowed Graves to record whatever his professors typed, including credentials to log into university grading and email systems. Court documents allege that Graves intercepted exams and test questions in advance and repeatedly changed grades on tests, quizzes and homework assignments. This went on for 21 months -- between March 2015 and December 2016. The scheme was discovered when a professor noticed that a number of Graves' grades had been changed without her authorization. She reported it to campus IT security officials.
Businesses

Vendor Tracks LinkedIn Profile Changes To Alert Client Employers (techtarget.com) 101

dcblogs shares a report from TechTarget: IT managers have long had the ability and right to monitor employee behavior on internal networks. Now, HR managers are getting similar capabilities thanks to cloud-based services -- but for tracking employee activity outside of their employer's network. A controversy and court fight is swelling over its potential impact on employee privacy. A San Francisco-based startup, hiQ Labs Inc., offers products based on its analysis of publicly available LinkedIn data. One is Keeper, which identifies employees at risk of being recruited away, and another is Skill Mapper, which analyzes employee skills. The profile data is collected by software bots. The clients of hiQ's service may learn whether a LinkedIn member is a flight risk thanks to an individual risk score: high (red), medium (yellow) or low (green), according to court papers. LinkedIn is in court fighting this, but so far it's losing. A federal judge recently took exception to the use of the CFAA in this case "to punish hiQ for accessing publicly available data." The judge warned such an interpretation "could profoundly impact open access to the internet."

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