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Piracy

How Proxied Torrents Could End ISP Subpoenas 307

Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes "With the announcement of Verizon's "six strikes plan" for movie pirates (which includes reporting users to the RIAA and MPAA), and content companies continuing to sue users en masse for peer-to-peer downloads, I think it's inevitable that we'll see the rise of p2p software that proxifies your downloads through other users. In this model, you would not only download content from other users, but you also use other users' machines as anonymizing proxies for the downloads, which would make it impossible for third parties to identify the source or destination of the file transfer. This would hopefully put an end to the era of movie studios subpoenaing ISPs for the identities of end users and taking those users to court." Read below for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Censorship

Hotmail & Yahoo Mail Using Secret Domain Blacklist 345

Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: "Hotmail and Yahoo Mail are apparently sharing a secret blacklist of domain names such that any mention of these domains will cause a message to be bounced back to the sender as spam. I found out about this because — surprise! — some of my new proxy site domains ended up on the blacklist. Hotmail and Yahoo are stonewalling, but here's what I've dug up so far — and why you should care." Read on for much more on how Bennett figured out what's going on, and why it's a hard problem to solve.
Christmas Cheer

Bennett's Whimsi-Geek Gift Guide For 2012 57

Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes this week with his favorite novelty science gift items for 2012. Levitation engines, puzzles, optical illusions brought to life, and all of the tips and tricks he's found for getting the products to work correctly. Decorative, whimsical, and not too expensive — except for the items that have earned it by being pretty amazing. Read on for the details, and be sure to mention other good possibilities (Just 14 shopping days left until Christmas) in the comments below.
The Internet

Even Capped Prediction Markets Can Be Manipulated 130

Slashdot regular contributor Bennett Haselton writes "My last article on prediction markets contained an erroneous assumption, one whose implications are far-reaching enough that they deserve their own article. (And if you read to the end, I'm offering $100 to be split between the readers who submit the best alternative solution or the best counter-argument to the points made here.)" Read below for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
The Almighty Buck

Legalizing Online Futures Betting 80

Bennett Haselton writes: "Online political futures betting is in a legal limbo in the United States. But with the lifting of legal sanctions, and with the addition of one simple new feature, online futures betting could not only provide more accurate forecasts of the merits of different candidates, but also provide a tool for quieting partisan blowhards who think the opposing party's candidate is going to drag the country to hell. Let the blowhards bet!" You'll find the rest of Bennett's story below.
Censorship

Zero Errors? Spamhaus Flubs Causing Domain Deletions 170

Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: After I sent 10 new proxy sites to my (confirmed-opt-in) mailing list, two of them ended up on one of Spamhaus's blacklists, and as a result, all 10 domains were disabled by the domain registrar, so the sites disappeared from the Web. Did you even know this could happen?"
Social Networks

Bring On the Decentralized Social Networking 238

Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: "The distributed-social-networking Diaspora Project recently announced that their software will be released as open source. I don't know if Diaspora specifically will be the Next Big Thing in social networking, but I hope that social networking moves to a decentralized model within the next few years, where anyone can set up and run a hub to administer profiles for themselves and their friends or clients, and where profiles can interact with each other in a distributed fashion instead of on a centralized system like Facebook." Read on for Bennett's thoughts on how that model could work.
Government

The Google Transparency Project Transparency Project 50

Regular contributor Bennett Haselton writes "As Google releases more data about their compliance with requests from foreign governments, they should clarify their stance on exactly when they will comply with requests to turn over user data to foreign law enforcement." Bennett expands on that thought below; read on for some details of just why that kind of disclosure matters, in making sense of Google's own efforts to provide transparency.
Censorship

Court on Video Games: Less Cleavage, More Carnage 397

On Monday we discussed news of a Supreme Court ruling which held that violent video games deserved free speech protection under the First Amendment. Now, frequent Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes with this followup that questions the Court's consistency in such matters. "I'm glad the Supreme Court struck down the California law against selling violent video games to minors, but reading over the decision, I had the odd feeling that the arguments by the dissenters made more sense than the majority — mainly because of the hypocrisy of continuing to ban sexuality while giving violence a pass." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
The Courts

A Court's Weak Argument For Blocking IP Subpoenas 220

Frequent Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes to point out some unfortunate holes in a judge's recent ruling that was largely welcomed 'round these parts: "A federal judge has ruled that a Canadian adult film producer cannot subpoena the identities of ISP users that were alleged to be sharing its copyrighted movies. Regardless of whether one supports the conclusion, the judge's reasoning was pretty weak. But the real hurdle is convincing people that a non-lawyer is entitled to call out a federal judge on their logic in the first place." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

My Crowdsourced Follow-Up About Crowdsourcing 59

Slashdot regular contributor Bennett Haselton writes "In my last article, I proposed an algorithm that Facebook could use to handle abuse complaints, which would make it difficult for co-ordinated mobs to get unpopular content removed by filing complaints all at once. I offered a total of $100 for the best reader suggestions on how to improve the idea, or why they thought it wouldn't work. Read their suggestions and decide what value I got for my infotainment dollar."
Social Networks

Crowdsourcing the Censors: A Contest 111

Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton is back with an article about how sites with huge amounts of user-generated content struggle to deal with abuse complaints, and could benefit from a crowd-sourced policing system similar to Slashdot's meta-moderation. He writes "In The Net Delusion, Evgeny Morozov cites examples of online mobs that filed phony abuse complaints in order to shut down pro-democracy Facebook groups and YouTube videos criticizing the Saudi royal family. I've got an idea for an algorithm that would help solve the problem, and I'm offering $100 (or a donation to a charity of your choice) for the best suggested improvement, or alternative, or criticism of the idea proposed in this article." Hit the link below to read the rest of his thoughts.

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