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Books

Jeff Bezos Offers Apology For Erasing 1984 437

levicivita writes "From the down-but-not-out NYT comes an article (warning: login may be required) about user backlash against Kindle's embedded DRM: 'Last week, Jeffrey P. Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, offered an apparently heartfelt and anguished mea culpa to customers whose digital editions of George Orwell's "1984" were remotely deleted from their Kindle reading devices. Though copies of the books were sold by a bookseller that did not have legal rights to the novel, Mr. Bezos wrote on a company forum that Amazon's "'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless and painfully out of line with our principles."' Bezos's post is here."
Privacy

Councils Recruit Unpaid Volunteers To Spy On Their Neighbors 521

Several readers have written to tell us that a recent move in the UK has councils relying on info from "Citizen Snoopers" to report the transgressions of their neighbors. Currently only implemented as "environment volunteers" designed to keep watch on things like litter, dog habits, and improper trash sorting, there is a certain amount of trepidation that this could grow into something more sinister. "It will fuel fears that Britain is lurching towards a Big Brother society, following the revelation this week that the Home Office is extending some police powers to council staff and private security guards. Critics said the latest scheme could easily be abused and encourage a culture of bin spies and curtain twitchers. Matthew Elliott, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: 'Snooping on your neighbors to report recycling infringements sounds like something straight out of the East German Stasi's copybook.'"
Privacy

Newark and the Future of Crime Fighting 172

theodp writes "Newark Mayor Cory Booker is betting that cutting-edge technology will reduce crime and spark an economic renaissance. From a newly opened Surveillance Operations Center, cops armed with joystick controllers monitor live video feeds from more than 100 donated cameras scattered across the crime-ridden city. The moves are drawing kudos from businesses like Amazon subsidiary Audible.com, which has moved its HQ to downtown Newark, where space is 50% cheaper than in Manhattan. But are citizens giving up too much privacy?"
Privacy

FISA and Border Searches of Laptops 421

With the recent attention to the DHS's draconian policy on laptop searches at borders, a blog post by Steven Bellovin from last month is worth wider discussion. Bellovin extrapolates from the DHS border policy on physical electronic devices and asks why authorities wouldn't push to extend it to electronic data transfers. "...it would seem to make little difference if the information is 'imported' into the US via a physical laptop or via a VPN, or for that matter by a Web connection. The right to search a laptop for information, then, is equivalent to the right to tap any and all international connections, without a warrant or probable cause. (More precisely, one always has a constitutional protection against 'unreasonable' search and seizure; the issue is what the definition of 'unreasonable' is.)"
Privacy

White House Says Phone Wiretaps Will Resume For Now 262

austinhook brings us news that the U.S. government has resumed wiretapping with the help of telecommunications companies. The companies are said to have "understandable misgivings" over the unresolved issue of retroactive immunity for their participation in past wiretapping. Spy agencies have claimed that the expiration of the old legislation has caused them to miss important information. The bill that would grant the immunity passed in the Senate, but not in the House.
Government

'War on Terror' Allies Form Information Consortium 139

Wowsers writes us with a story from The Guardian about FBI interest in connectivity between its own database resources and those abroad. It's spearheading a program labeled 'Server in the Sky', meant to coordinate the police forces of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to better fight international crime/terrorist groups. The group is calling itself the International Information Consortium. "Britain's National Policing Improvement Agency has been the lead body for the FBI project because it is responsible for IDENT1, the UK database holding 7m sets of fingerprints and other biometric details used by police forces to search for matches from scenes of crimes. Many of the prints are either from a person with no criminal record, or have yet to be matched to a named individual. IDENT1 was built by the computer technology arm of the US defence company Northrop Grumman. In future it is expected to hold palm prints, facial images and video sequences."

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