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Electronic Frontier Foundation

DOJ Often Used Cell Tower Impersonating Devices Without Explicit Warrants 146

Via the EFF comes news that, during a case involving the use of a Stingray device, the DOJ revealed that it was standard practice to use the devices without explicitly requesting permission in warrants. "When Rigmaiden filed a motion to suppress the Stingray evidence as a warrantless search in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the government responded that this order was a search warrant that authorized the government to use the Stingray. Together with the ACLU of Northern California and the ACLU, we filed an amicus brief in support of Rigmaiden, noting that this 'order' wasn't a search warrant because it was directed towards Verizon, made no mention of an IMSI catcher or Stingray and didn't authorize the government — rather than Verizon — to do anything. Plus to the extent it captured loads of information from other people not suspected of criminal activity it was a 'general warrant,' the precise evil the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent. ... The emails make clear that U.S. Attorneys in the Northern California were using Stingrays but not informing magistrates of what exactly they were doing. And once the judges got wind of what was actually going on, they were none too pleased:"

Google Pledges Not To Sue Any Open Source Projects Using Their Patents 153

sfcrazy writes "Google has announced the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge. In the pledge Google says that they will not sue any user, distributor, or developer of Open Source software on specified patents, unless first attacked. Under this pledge, Google is starting off with 10 patents relating to MapReduce, a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at Google. Google says that over time they intend to expand the set of Google's patents covered by the pledge to other technologies." This is in addition to the Open Invention Network, and their general work toward reforming the patent system. The patents covered in the OPN will be free to use in Free/Open Source software for the life of the patent, even if Google should transfer ownership to another party. Read the text of the pledge. It appears that interaction with non-copyleft licenses (MIT/BSD/Apache) is a bit weird: if you create a non-free fork it appears you are no longer covered under the pledge.
The Media

What Does It Actually Cost To Publish a Scientific Paper? 166

ananyo writes "Nature has published an investigation into the real costs of publishing research after delving into the secretive, murky world of science publishing. Few publishers (open access or otherwise-including Nature Publishing Group) would reveal their profit margins, but they've pieced together a picture of how much it really costs to publish a paper by talking to analysts and insiders. Quoting from the piece: '"The costs of research publishing can be much lower than people think," agrees Peter Binfield, co-founder of one of the newest open-access journals, PeerJ, and formerly a publisher at PLoS. But publishers of subscription journals insist that such views are misguided — born of a failure to appreciate the value they add to the papers they publish, and to the research community as a whole. They say that their commercial operations are in fact quite efficient, so that if a switch to open-access publishing led scientists to drive down fees by choosing cheaper journals, it would undermine important values such as editorial quality.' There's also a comment piece by three open access advocates setting out what they think needs to happen next to push forward the movement as well as a piece arguing that 'Objections to the Creative Commons attribution license are straw men raised by parties who want open access to be as closed as possible.'"

Interviews: James Randi Answers Your Questions 217

A while ago you had the chance to ask James Randi, the founder of The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), about exposing hucksters, frauds, and fakers. Below you'll find his answers to your questions. In addition to his writings below, Randi was nice enough to sit down and talk to us about his life and his foundation. Keep an eye out for those videos coming soon.

Uniloc Patent Case Against Rackspace Tossed for Bogus Patents 76

netbuzz writes "A federal judge in Texas, presiding over a district notorious for favoring patent trolls, has summarily dismissed all claims relating to a case brought by Uniloc USA against Rackspace for [Linux] allegedly infringing upon [Uniloc's] patents. Red Hat defended Rackspace in the matter and issued a press release saying: 'In dismissing the case, Chief Judge Leonard Davis found that Uniloc's claim was unpatentable under Supreme Court case law that prohibits the patenting of mathematical algorithms. This is the first reported instance in which the Eastern District of Texas has granted an early motion to dismiss finding a patent invalid because it claimed unpatentable subject matter.'" You can't patent floating point math after all.

Submission + - Thousands of Tumblr Accounts Compromised (

Orome1 writes: Tumblr users have been targeted with an aggressive phishing campaign in the last week or so and are still being lured into entering their login credentials for access to adult content. And it seems that the scheme is working very well — GFI researchers have accessed one of the dropzones for the stolen credentials and have discovered a massive amount of data. What makes this phishing scheme stand out from others is the fact that the scammers are using the compromised Tumblr accounts to set up more and more phishing pages.

Submission + - B&N Responds to Microsoft's Android Suit (

eldavojohn writes: "You're probably familiar with Microsoft's long running assault on Android but, as noticed by Groklaw, Barnes and Noble has fired back saying, 'Microsoft has asserted patents that extend only to arbitrary, outmoded, or non-essential design features, but uses these patents to demand that every manufacturer of an Android-based mobile device take a license from Microsoft and pay exorbitant licensing fees or face protracted and expensive patent infringement litigation.' Barnes and Noble goes on to assert that Microsoft violates 'antitrust laws, threatens competition for mobile device operating systems and is further evidence of Microsoft’s efforts to dominate and control Android and other open source operating systems.' The PDF of the filing from two days ago is rife with accusations including, 'Microsoft intends to utilize its patents to control the activities of and extract fees from the designers, developers, and manufacturers of devices, including tablets, eReaders, and other mobile devices, that employ the Android Operating System.' and 'Microsoft has falsely and without justification asserted that its patents somehow provide it with the right to prohibit device manufacturers from employing new versions of the Android Operating System, or third party software.' Barnes and Noble does not mince words when explaining Microsoft's FUD campaign to both the public and developers in its attempts to suppress Android. It's good to see PJ still digging through massive court briefs to bring us the details on IP court battles."

Submission + - U.K. student records to sit in accessible database (

mytrip writes: "British students aged 14 to 19 will have their school records permanently placed on an electronic database accessible to prospective employers.

The project, called Managing Information Across Partners (MIAP), will launch in September. The record will include personal details and exam results and will remain with the pupil for life.

"This will save a lot of effort for the learner in having to present this information to a prospective employer or a college," it added.

Margaret Morrissey, spokeswoman for the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, said: "From the point of view of parents and children hold on — hold on to what is probably a good idea, but which raises concern about data protection."

The ability of official bodies to keep personal data secure has been questioned by a spate of recent scandals."

Feed Engadget: UK blames sat navs for damaging 2,000 bridges per year (

Filed under: GPS

We've already seen plenty of evidence of the potential damage that sat navs can cause, but the UK's Network Rail has now put a figure on at least some of it, saying that the devices are responsible for damaging some 2,000 bridges per year and causing 5,000 hours of delays. That, thankfully, is not from the satellites falling from the sky, but rather from over drivers relying a little too heavily on GPS units (in particular those driving trucks too large for the bridges), a problem apparently so bad that some places in the UK have taken to putting up signs warning of the dangers. That's apparently not quite enough to solve the problem, however, and now , in addition to warning people to use a little common sense, Network Rail is also reportedly attempting to map all of the UK's low bridges and level crossings so that the information can be added to GPS software.

[Thanks, Charles H]

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Submission + - Multifunction Printers: The Forgotten Security Ris (

eweekhickins writes: "That networked multifunction printer sitting innocently in the corner of your office just might be the most significant entry point for hackers to hijack sensitive data from your business. Even worse, security researchers warn, they are a forgotten risk in every enterprise, featuring hardware that combines several functions in a single unit — fax, copier, printer and scanner."

Feed Science Daily: Men Who Are Continually Active At Work May Have Decreased Prostate Cancer Risk, (

Men with jobs that require them to be physically active may be getting benefits beyond salary and health insurance - they may be at a decreased risk of developing prostate cancer, according to a new study. Researchers studied more than 2,100 men, many of whom were exposed to radiation and chemicals that may have increased their risk for certain cancers. The findings are supported by other studies that suggest continuous physical activity, but not intermittent activity, is required to lower the risk of prostate cancer.


Submission + - Half of observed global warming is spurious: study (

Sgs-Cruz writes: "A study by Ross McKitrick and Patrick Michaels is in press in the December issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research. A non-technical summary can be found at McKitrick's web site at the University of Guelph.

The authors regress the observed temperature trends in rectangular "grid boxes" around the world against the spatial distribution of GDP, coal use, education level, and other economic variables and find a statistically significant correlation. (If the temperature measurements had been properly corrected for urban heating, etc., there should be no correlation.) They then use this relationship to estimate what the world temperature trend would be if the measurements were as good everywhere as they are in the United States and find that it reduces the post-1980 world trend from 0.30 to 0.17 degrees Celsius per decade.

With the world's leaders in Bali right now negotiating a post-Kyoto framework for reducing CO2 emissions, will this study make a splash, or will it have no impact on the existing consensus?"

Feed Science Daily: Anticancer Drugs Might Be Of Benefit To Sickle-cell Patients (

Although some individuals with the inherited blood disorder sickle cell disease benefit from treatment with hydroxyurea, which increases fetal hemoglobin expression, it does not work for all sickle-cell patients. Now, hope for a new therapy has been provided by the observation that the anticancer drugs lenalidomide and pomalidomide were more effective than hydroxyurea at inducing HbF expression by red blood cells derived in vitro from CD34+ cells from both healthy and sickle-cell individuals.

Submission + - AMD sued by worker for disabling her son (

icecap writes: "An ex AMD employee is suing AMD, claiming that exposure (before she became pregnant) to glycol ethers and acetates in an AMD Fab plant clean room caused severe birth defects in her son. "AMD negligently failed to use chemicals, which were less hazardous, and/or failed to design its facility or use equipment so as to prohibit or minimize the hazards," Writes the angry ex-employee. "Quite simply, AMD put profits ahead of employee safety, and the safety of its employees' unborn children.""

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