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Comment Re:Not a Great Analogy (Score 1) 456

The mine should have not been allowed to close in the first place.

Not allowed? How do you "not allow" private property owners to stop incurring the expense of pulling underpriced dirt out of a hole on their own land? Take the land at gunpoint? Then operate the mine subsidized by tax money to be competitive with Chinese peasant labor? To what end? Why don't we nationalize the entire economy then, Mister Trotsky?

Comment Re:I question a key point from TFA (Score 2, Insightful) 144

You're right on both parts, essentially. I think they also were monitoring calls originating in the US that were made to foreign numbers they believed to have ties with terrorism, too, but honestly it's hard to really figure out what the truth is and was with so much fear-mongering and hyperbole going on.

No, the reason why it's hard to find out the truth is because the government has attempted to cloak the entire process under a "states secrets" privilege. When you decide, as the elected officials of the country, to hide every aspect of your executive plans from your electors, the judicial system, and Congress, you should not be surprised if "hyperbole and fear-mongering" enters the vacuum.

Oh, and the program itself wasn't really new, it's been around forever. Bush & Co. just tweaked the rules around a little bit -- a move that I think was less about invading the privacy of Americans (which they've been able to do for several decades now) and more a matter of removing a bottleneck. The whole secret wiretap deal has to be approved by a secret court, I think there's a 24 or 48 hour window in which they can start a wiretap and then seek approval by this secret court. Well, in the wake of 9/11, they were using this quite a bit, and I'm of the belief that they circumvented the court not because they wanted to be Big Brother but because they knew that most these wiretaps would NOT result in any information but felt that at the time it was best to cast as wide a net as possible, immediately, and later worry about narrowing things down from "possible" to "likely".

This is all supposition on your part. Reassuring supposition, but as absent of proof as the most paranoid theories. If it were the case, there's a very simple procedure the administration could have followed: it could have gone to Congress and asked for the "paperwork", as you call it, to be reformed. That paperwork is there for a reason: it is so we can keep track of who follows the law, and we are nation under the law, not under men.

As it is, we know that there was a new "President's Surveillance Program", that differed substantially enough from previous practice to be described as such. We know, thanks to Mr Klein, that there was an installation in San Francisco whose abilities far exceeded those required for lawful interception. We have a group of telecom companies who seemed so unsure of their own legal position that when asked for the simple, legal authorization documents to clarify the lawfulness of their actions, they lobbied for (and got) blanket retroactive immunity, using the argument that they might owe billions in fines (a possibility that could only have occurred if the numbers of those wiretapped were counted in the hundreds of thousands).

What's a more sensible attitude in the face of apparent law-breaking by the highest levels of government, working in concert with our largest corporations? A genial "well I guess they had their reasons," shrug or a demand that the other branches of government use their power and the responsibility to uncover that illegality?

Comment Re:freelegoporn.com is not cybersquatting (Score 2, Insightful) 183

I firmly believe that what you say is not true -- you don't have to litigate every trivial instance of your trademark being violated. AFAICS, this is an urban myth that developed from the potential (but usually unlikely) threat of genericisation through overuse, and the utility of claiming it to be the case by IP lawyers.

I really don't, for instance, believe the Lego porn is going to lead to people using "lego" to refer to any other kind of brick. This is because I don't believe any of Lego's competitors are going to stand up in court and say "Well, *of course* we should be able to refer to our bricks as legos. Did you not see them fail to go after that pornography site that used such obviously fake Lego bricks?" That's why I ask for evidence that what you're saying is true.

Of course, if you are right, please wait five years, and then start your own lego brick company, citing the lack of any court action against this slashdot post as evidence that the Danish company lost the mark years ago.

Censorship

A Black Day For Internet Freedom In Germany 420

Several readers including erlehmann and tmk wrote to inform us about the dawning of Internet censorship in Germany under the usual guise of protecting the children. "This week, the two big political parties ruling Germany in a coalition held the final talks on their proposed Internet censorship scheme. DNS queries for sites on a list will be given fake answers that lead to a page with a stop sign. The list itself is maintained by the German federal police (Bundeskriminalamt). A protest movement has formed over the course of the last several months, and over 130K citizens have signed a petition protesting the law. Despite this, and despite criticism from all sides, the two parties sped up the process for the law to be signed on Thursday, June 18, 2009."
Education

Judge Says Boston Student's Laptop Was Seized Illegally 190

You may remember a case we discussed this April in which a Boston College student's computers and other electronics were seized after he allegedly sent an email outing another student as gay. The search warrant made sure to note the student's ever-so-suspicious use of "two different operating systems," one of which was "a black screen with a white font which he uses prompt commands on." Now, the EFF reports that a Massachusetts judge has thrown out the search warrant and declared the search and seizure illegal. Quoting: "In her order Thursday, Justice Margot Botsford rejected the Commonwealth's theory that sending a hoax email might be unlawful under a Massachusetts computer crime statute barring the 'unauthorized access' to a computer, concluding that there could be no violation of what was only a 'hypothetical internet use policy.' Thursday's decision now stands as the highest state court opinion to reject the dangerous theory that terms of service violations constitute computer 'hacking' crimes. Justice Botsford further found that details offered by police as corroboration of other alleged offenses were insufficient and did not establish probable cause for the search." The court order (PDF) is available for viewing, and the EFF has broken down the significant arguments against the Commonwealth's claims.
Privacy

Using Net Proxies Will Lead To Harsher Sentences 366

Afforess writes "'Proxy servers are an everyday part of Internet surfing. But using one in a crime could soon lead to more time in the clink,' reports the Associated Press. The new federal rules would make the use of proxy servers count as 'sophistication' in a crime, leading to 25% longer jail sentences. Privacy advocates complain this will disincentivize privacy and anonymity online. '[The government is telling people] ... if you take normal steps to protect your privacy, we're going to view you as a more sophisticated criminal,' writes the Center for Democracy and Technology. Others fear this may lead to 'cruel and unusual punishments' as Internet and cell phone providers often use proxies without users' knowledge to reroute Internet traffic. This may also ultimately harm corporations when employees abuse VPN's, as they too are counted as a 'proxy' in the new legislation. TOR, a common Internet anonymizer, is also targeted in the new legislation. Some analysts believe this legislation is an effort to stop leaked US Government information from reaching outside sources, such as Wikileaks. The legislation (PDF, the proposed amendment is on pages 5-15) will be voted on by the United States Sentencing Commission on April 15, and is set to take effect on November 1st. The EFF has already urged the Commission to reject the amendment."
Hardware Hacking

Build Your Own Open Source Twittering Power Meter 31

ptorrone writes "Open source hardware company 'Adafruit Industries' has released a 'Tweet-a-watt' kit. It's an open source power monitoring kit that mods an off-the-shelf power meter which can 'tweet' (publish wirelessly) the daily KWH consumed & Cumulative Kilowatt-hours to your Twitter account, Google App Engine, Facebook, IRC, whatever ... They recently won the 'GreenerGadget' design competition and have now released an open source hardware kit."

Comment Re:I am not an Aussie... (Score 1) 308

>> So why in the hell would you spend money to meddle in foreign politics that don't affect you in any way?

> Because people outside Australia may very well end up being affected by it. Western governments have a habit of citing other governments' policies as a way to make those policies more palatable to their own citizens. The British have CCTV cameras at every street corner, let's also put them on our streets. Software patents are allowed in the U.S., let's harmonize the legislation. Australia thinks of the children and censors the Net, we should do the same!

> For instance, even though I'm not in the U.S., I donate to the EFF. It's a global world. We're running out of places where we can hide from these things.

This is exactly right, and why EFF tries to work internationally too: for instance, last week we wrote about how the interpretation of New Zealand's Section 92A law could affect other countries and smuggle three strikes rules through. New Zealand's language originally came from the US (via Australia), but the interpretations of the law have been very different. If New Zealand took one pro-three strikes stance, it would be quickly used as an argument for doing the same thing in other states.

Other countries can also be an inspiration. I know that the French have been inspired by New Zealand activists successful campaign to fight off Section 92A; the Australian battle against Net censorship will be noted by politicians elsewhere who might otherwise think that blocking sites would be a kneejerk vote-winner.

Data Storage

Long-Term PC Preservation Project? 465

failcomm writes "I've been talking with my son's (middle-school) computer lab teacher about a 'time capsule' project. The school has a number of 'retirement age' PCs (5-6 years old — Dells, HPs, a couple of Compaqs), and we've been kicking around the idea of trying to preserve a working system and some media (CDs and/or DVDs), and locking them away to be preserved for some period of time (say 50 years); to be opened by students of the future. The goal would be to have instructions on how to unpack the system, plug it into the wall (we'll assume everyone is still using 110v US outlets), and get the system to boot. Also provide instructions on how to load the media and see it in action; whether it is photos or video or games or even student programs — whatever. So first, is this idea crazy? Second, how would we go about packing/preserving various components? Lastly, any suggestions on how to store it long term? (Remember, this is a school project, so we can't exactly just 'freeze it in carbonite'; practical advice would be appreciated.)"
Microsoft

The Exact Cause of the Zune Meltdown 465

An anonymous reader writes "The Zune 30 failure became national news when it happened just three days ago. The source code for the bad driver leaked soon after, and now, someone has come up with a very detailed explanation for where the code was bad as well as a number of solutions to deal with it. From a coding/QA standpoint, one has to wonder how this bug was missed if the quality assurance team wasn't slacking off. Worse yet: this bug affects every Windows CE device carrying this driver."

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