FutureDomain writes: The Weslaco Texas School District is threatening the Monitor, a local newspaper for running a story detailing financial mismanagement by the school district. According to the Monitor, investigations by state authorities and a confidential memo reveal that the school district siphoned off $2 million dollars from the school employee's health insurance fund and used it to build a press box at a high school stadium, violating Texas labor law. The school district has threated to take “any legal action necessary to preserve its rights.” unless the Monitor removes the article.
FutureDomain writes: Stymied last time, US lawmakers are again pushing a bill that would give the President the ability to shut down "critical" portions of the Internet. Unlike last time however, the new bill would prohibit judicial review of the law, which would also prevent challenges to any abuses of it.
FutureDomain writes: In an attempt to save the old media, the FTC is floating proposals to subsidize news sources and tax consumer electronics and news aggregators such as Slashdot. Among the proposals is a plan to "Allow news organizations to agree jointly on a mechanis to require news aggregators and others to pay for the use of online content, perhaps through the use of copyright licenses." Are news sites like Slashdot the next thing on the government hit list to be taxed?
FutureDomain writes: The mayor of Bordentown, NJ is attempting to silence the website bordentownmayorreallysucks.com which has been criticizing his performance. The City Commission passed a resolution that would send a letter to the site's host requesting the site be taken down and lets the city appoint a special council to investigate. Mayor James Lynch claims that the site is illegal because an early version of the site, which is no longer available "wrongfully implies" an association with the city and the current site has "very, very derogatory" content.
FutureDomain writes: Is SSL becoming pointless? Researchers are poking holes in the chain of trust for SSL certificates which protect sensitive data.
According to these hypothesized attacks, governments could compel certificate authorities to give them phony certificates that are signed by the CA, which are then used to perform man in the middle attacks.
They point out that Verisign already makes large sums of money by facilitating the disclosure of US consumers' private data to US government law enforcement.
The researchers are developing a Firefox plugin that checks past certificates and warns of anomalies in the issuing country, but not much can help if government starts spying on the secure connections of its own citizens.
FutureDomain writes: Real has lost the court case against the DVD Copy Control Association. Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled that RealDVD violates the CSS license and the DMCA, and ruled against Real's claim that the DVD Copy Control Association is an illegal cartel. RealDVD has been banned by an injunction and Real settled for $4.5 million dollars.
FutureDomain writes: Nathan Myhrvold from Intellectual Solutions has proposed a hose to pipe sulfur particles to the stratosphere as a temporary solution to stop global warming. Noting the recent Climategate emails and distrust of global warming science, he suggested that an open scientific study should be done of global warming, with everything above board and dissenters included. If the study concludes that global warming is occurring, then a temporary solution of pumping sulfur particles into the atmosphere should be started while the world moves to clean energy as a permanent solution. The sulfur particles will dim the sun's light just enough to counteract any warming, with the particles only making up an extra 1% of the sulfur particles already in the stratosphere from volcanoes. The scheme would only cost $250 million dollars, compared with a loss in GDP of $151 to $210 billion in 2020 and $631 to $639 billion in 2030 for the Lieberman-Warner bill currently in congress.
FutureDomain writes: In an uncommon display of common sense, a federal judge in Atlanta has declined a retraining order from AT&T that would have prevented Verizon from running ads that compared their 3G coverage to AT&T's. AT&T felt that Verizon's ads "mislead consumers into thinking that AT&T doesn't offer wireless service in large portions of the country, which is clearly not the case." Verizon argued that the ads clearly indicated that the maps were only of 3G coverage, and that AT&T is only suing because it doesn't want to face the truth about its network.
FutureDomain writes: A bill which just passed the House Financial Services Committee would require Internet Service Providers to block access to sites hosting financial scams that pose as members of the government-backed Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). The bill is broad enough to block not only websites, but email and any other "electronic material". The bill is the Investor Protection Act sponsored by Paul Kanjorski. How long until the US starts censoring the Internet?
FutureDomain writes: "Annoyed at online commenters using police officer's names, the Austin Texas police department has threatened to "sue them for libel or file charges if investigators think a crime was committed". State lawmakers passed a bill that bans "using another person's name to post messages on a social networking site without their permission and with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate or threaten". The department also shut down a Twitter site last March that claimed to issue official police bulletins."
FutureDomain writes: The Boston College Campus Police have seized the electronics of a computer science student for allegedly sending an email outing another student. The probable cause? The search warrant application states that he is "a computer science major" and he uses "two different operating systems for hiding his illegal activity. One is the regular B.C. operating system and the other is a black screen with white font which he uses prompt commands on." The EFF is currently representing him.
FutureDomain writes: "PC World has an article about how security researchers have developed a way to bypass Vista's UAC. The attack involves installing malicious code with a lower-level program and adding an "executable stub" that is started instead of another higher-level program. When the higher program is run, the malicious code gets to run with the higher program's integrity level. This works because all installers are run with administrator privileges."
FutureDomain writes: With the US patent system in a mess, PC World writes about senators who have introduced a bill to reform the patent system.
The provisions of the Patent Reform Act would change the patent process from the current "first to invent" system to a "first to file" system like the rest of the world, restrict damages that patent holders can receive for infringement lawsuits, create a new procedure to challenge the validity of a patent after it has been granted, and boost resources for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.