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Cloud

NSA's Legal Win Introduces a Lot of Online Insecurity 239

Nerval's Lobster writes "The decision of a New York judge that the wholesale collection of cell-phone metadata by the National Security Agency is constitutional ties the score between pro- and anti-NSA forces at one victory apiece. The contradictory decisions use similar reasoning and criteria to come to opposite conclusions, leaving both individuals and corporations uncertain of whether their phone calls, online activity or even data stored in the cloud will ultimately be shielded by U.S. laws protecting property, privacy or search and seizure by law-enforcement agencies. On Dec. 27, Judge William H. Pauley threw out a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that sought to stop the NSA PRISM cell-phone metadata-collection program on the grounds it violated Fourth Amendment provisions protecting individual privacy and limits on search and seizure of personal property by the federal government. Pauley threw out the lawsuit largely due to his conclusion that Fourth Amendment protections do not apply to records held by third parties. That eliminates the criteria for most legal challenges, but throws into question the privacy of any data held by phone companies, cloud providers or external hosting companies – all of which could qualify as unprotected third parties."
Censorship

North Korea Erases Executed Official From the Internet 276

itwbennett writes "The North Korean state propaganda machine has edited and deleted hundreds of news articles that mention Jang Song Thaek, the former top government and party official and uncle to leader Kim Jong Un, who was executed Thursday. Earlier this week, Jang was arrested in front of hundreds of senior members of the ruling Worker's Party of Korea and denounced for numerous alleged acts against the state and Kim Jong Un. From arrest to trial to death took only four days and the unprecedented fall from grace is widely being interpreted as an attempt by Kim Jong Un to keep officials loyal and scared."
The Courts

Monsanto Takes Home $23m From Small Farmers According To Report 419

An anonymous reader writes "Seed giant Monsanto has won more than $23 million from hundreds of small farmers accused of replanting the company's genetically engineered seeds. Now, another case is looming – and it could set a landmark precedent for the future of seed ownership. From the article: 'According to the report, Monsanto has alleged seed patent infringement in 144 lawsuits against 410 farmers and 56 small farm businesses in at least 27 U.S. states as of January of 2013. Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta together hold 53 percent of the global commercial seed market, which the report says has led to price increases for seeds -- between 1995 and 2011, the average cost of planting one acre of soybeans rose 325 percent and corn seed prices went up 259 percent.'"
Biotech

300k Organic Farmers To Sue Monsanto For Seed Patent Claims 617

microphage writes "Monsanto went after hundreds of farmers for infringing on their patented seed after audits revealed that their farms had contained their product — as a result of routine pollination by animals and acts of nature. Unable to afford a proper defense, competing small farms have been bought out by the company in droves. As a result, Monsanto saw their profits increase by the hundreds of millions over the last few years as a result. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto tackled 144 organic farms with lawsuits and investigated roughly 500 plantations annually during that span with a so-called 'seed police.'"
Censorship

GoDaddy Backs SOPA 353

redletterdave writes "Website hosting company GoDaddy has officially voiced its support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) Bill in 2012, which is designed to thwart movie and music piracy on the Internet by empowering copyright holders to effectively shut down websites or online services found with infringing material. If passed, the U.S. government could blacklist any website it deems in violation of copyright, which could range from a few posts in a Web forum to a few links sent in an e-mail. GoDaddy supports SOPA for 'protecting the intellectual property of hard-working Americans, U.S. business and the American public from the harm that necessarily flows from the purchase of counterfeit products.' Yet, of the 142 companies that support the SOPA bill, GoDaddy is the only Internet company on the list."
AT&T

AT&T Issues Scathing Response To FCC Report 215

An anonymous reader writes "AT&T has issued a scathing letter in response to the FCC's decision to release a staff report on its findings surrounding AT&T's planned $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA. 'We expected that the AT&T-T-Mobile transaction would receive careful, considered, and fair analysis,' Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs, said. 'Unfortunately, the preliminary FCC Staff Analysis offers none of that.'"
Privacy

EFF Says Burning Man Usurps Digital Rights 439

Hugh Pickens writes "In a few weeks, tens of thousands of creative people will make their yearly pilgrimage to Nevada's Black Rock desert for Burning Man, an annual art event and temporary community celebrating radical self expression, self-reliance, creativity and freedom, but EFF reports that the event's Terms and Conditions include 'a remarkable bit of legal sleight-of-hand.' As soon as 'any third party displays or disseminates' your photos or videos in a manner that the Burning Man Organization (BMO) doesn't like, those photos or videos become the property of the BMO. BMO's Terms and Conditions also limits your own rights to use your own photos and videos on any public websites obliging you to take down any photos to which BMO objects, for any reason; and forbidding you from allowing anyone else to reuse your photos. This 'we automatically own all your stuff' magic appears to be creative lawyering intended to allow the BMO to use the streamlined 'notice and takedown' process enshrined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to quickly remove photos from the Internet giving BMO the power of fast and easy online censorship. 'Burning Man strives to celebrate our individuality, creativity and free spirit,' writes Corynne McSherry. 'Unfortunately, the fine print on the tickets doesn't live up to that aspiration.'"
Earth

GM Gets To Dump Its Polluted Sites 336

ParticleGirl writes with this excerpt from the Detroit Free Press: "GM's unusual, government-engineered bankruptcy allowed the Detroit automaker to emerge as a new company — and to shed billions in liabilities, including claims that governments had against GM for polluting. Environmental liabilities estimated at $530 million were left with the old GM, which has only $1.2 billion to wind down. Administrative fees and other claims will soak up that money, and state and local officials told the Free Press they fear the cleanups will be shortchanged. ... The New York Attorney General's Office, seeking to protect environmental claims for cleanup at Massena and other sites, argued that federal and state regulatory requirements should not be eliminated by a bankruptcy sale. ... But [US Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber] ruled otherwise."
Privacy

The NSA Wiretapping Story Nobody Wanted 144

CWmike writes "They sometimes call national security the third rail of politics. Touch it and, politically, you're dead. The cliché doesn't seem far off the mark after reading Mark Klein's new book, Wiring up the Big Brother Machine ... and Fighting It. It's an account of his experiences as the whistleblower who exposed a secret room at a Folsom Street facility in San Francisco that was apparently used to monitor the Internet communications of ordinary Americans. Amazingly, however, nobody wanted to hear his story. In his book he talks about meetings with reporters and privacy groups that went nowhere until a fateful January 20, 2006 meeting with Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Bankston was preparing a lawsuit that he hoped would put a stop to the wiretap program, and Klein was just the kind of witness the EFF was looking for. He spoke with Robert McMillan for an interview."
The Courts

Judge May Take "Fair Use" Away From Jury 342

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In what I can only describe as a shocker, the Judge in SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum has, on her own, issued an order questioning whether the jury will be allowed to decide the 'fair use' issue at all, or whether the Judge herself should decide it. Judge Nancy Gertner's decision (PDF) notes that the courts have traditionally submitted the fair use defense to the jury, but questions whether that was appropriate, since the courts have referred to it as an 'equitable' — as opposed to a 'legal' — defense. This decision came from out of the blue, as neither party had raised this issue. IMHO the Judge is barking up the wrong tree. For one, all across the legal spectrum in the US, 'equitable' defenses to 'legal' claims are triable to a jury. Secondly, as the Judge herself notes, the courts have traditionally submitted the issue to the jury. It also seems a bit unfair to bring up a totally new issue like that and give the parties only 6 days to do their research and writing on the subject, at a time when they are feverishly preparing for a July 27th trial."
Networking

US ISPs Using Push Polling To Stop Cheap Internet 417

An anonymous reader writes "What happens when a new ISP is started somewhere in the United States that completely blows out of the water all the other ISPs in the area, in terms of price and performance? Apparently, that question is being answered in North Carolina, where Greenlight Inc., a company started by a city government, is trying to offer faster, more reliable, and cheaper Internet service to the local residents. Time Warner and Embarq can't compete. So they are not only lobbying the state government to destroy the upstart competition, but are now using push polling methods to gain support, across the two cities that could benefit from the new ISP, for the 'Level the playing field' legislation they got introduced in the legislature." A local news outlet provides coverage more friendly to the incumbents' point of view.
The Courts

Papers Sealed In Class Action Against RIAA 215

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In Andersen v. Atlantic Recording, the Oregon class action brought by Tanya Anderson against the RIAA, MediaSentry, and others, the plaintiff's motion for class action certification has been sealed by the Court. Also, the Court conducted an 'in camera' conference with the defendants' attorneys — meaning the Judge met with the defendants' attorneys alone — in connection with a discovery motion, and the record of that conference has been sealed as well. The RIAA has made a motion to dismiss the class action; that has not been sealed. In case you're wondering what's going on here, so am I."
Microsoft

Microsoft Update Slips In a Firefox Extension 803

An anonymous reader writes "While doing a weekly scrub of my Windows systems, which includes checking for driver updates and running virus scans, I found Firefox notifying me of a new add-on. It's labelled 'Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant,' and it 'Adds ClickOnce support and the ability to report installed .NET versions to the web server.' The add-on could not be uninstalled in the usual way. A little Net searching turned up a number of sites offering advice on getting rid of the unrequested add-on." The unasked-for extension has been hitchhiking along with updates to Visual Studio, and perhaps other products that depend on .NET, since August. It appears to have gone wider recently, coming in with updates to XP SP3.
Communications

FCC Cancels Free Internet Vote 257

Earlier this year we discussed a proposal from the FCC which would have required winning bidders for a portion of the wireless spectrum to use some of that bandwidth for free internet access. A vote for the plan was scheduled for next Thursday, but now the FCC has canceled those plans, facing "opposition from several top officials, wireless providers, and even civil rights groups." The internet access would have had some level of filtering, to which privacy groups took exception, and the Bush administration objected to forcing requirements on the winners of the spectrum auction. Others simply asked the FCC not to take on such a major project as the transition between analog and digital television transmissions looms.
Portables (Apple)

Apple's New MacBooks Have Built-In Copy Protection 821

raque writes "Appleinsider is reporting that the new MacBooks/MacBookPros have built-in copy protection. Quote: 'Apple's new MacBook lines include a form of digital copy protection that will prevent protected media, such as DRM-infused iTunes movies, from playing back on devices that aren't compliant with the new priority protection measures.' Ars Technica is also reporting on the issue. Is this the deal they had to make to get NBC back? Is this a deal breaker for Apple or will fans just ignore it to get their hands on the pretty new machines? Is this a new opportunity for Linux? And what happened to Jobs not liking DRM?"

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