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Government

Obama: The Word 'Classified' Means Whatever We Need It To Mean (techdirt.com) 554

An anonymous reader writes: During an interview with Fox News, President Obama said "There's classified, and then there's classified" when trying to answer questions about an ongoing investigation about Hillary Clinton and her emails. Techdirt writes, "Clinton sent, received and stored classified info on a private email server. But some classified info is more equal than others. It all depends on who has it and how the current administration feels about that person. Clinton playing fast and loose with classified info is subject to an entirely different standard than the large number of whistleblowers the Obama administration has prosecuted over the years." President Obama said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that while Hillary Clinton had been careless in managing her emails as secretary of state, she would never intentionally do anything to endanger the country. Obama says, "There's stuff that is really top-secret, and there's stuff that is being presented to the president or the secretary of state that you might not want on the transom, or going out over the wire, but is basically stuff that you could get in open-source." Basically, classification means all things to all people, as long as it allows officials and agencies to control narratives and disrupt public accountability.
The Courts

Redditors (and Popehat) Versus a Bus Company 153

Techdirt explains the strange story of a lawsuit-happy bus company in Illinois which managed to tick off a cadre of determined redditors by calling them uncomplimentary names in the reddit forums. This all started when a bus passenger, Jeremy Leval, reported unsavory behavior by a company employee (telling an exchange student "If you don't understand English, you don't belong at the University of Illinois or any 'American' University.") and said so online. Besides the name calling on reddit, the bus company threatened the forum moderator with libel charges, and over insults posted by the bus company employees which the moderator had deleted. Further, company owner "[Dennis] Toeppen threatened to sue Leval, saying, 'The attorneys for Suburban Express are reviewing this incident with a view towards filing the appropriate legal action against this meddlesome MBA student.'" Attorney Ken White of Popehat got involved, though, and asked with good effect whether the company had fully considered the Streisand Effect. The strangest part? Toeppen's former involvement as a domain squatter.
Cellphones

Jeff Bezos Wants To Put an Airbag In Your iPhone 102

theodp writes "Don't want to pay Apple $199 to repair the cracked screen of the $199 iPhone you dropped? Neither, apparently, does Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. A patent application made public Thursday lists Bezos as an inventor of 'a system and method for protecting devices from impact damage,' which proposes using airbags, springs, and even a jet propulsion system to keep your iPhones, iPads, and other portable devices safe and out of the clutches of the Genius Bar. Let's hope there's an API — those gas cartridges could be a game-changer for fart apps!"
Encryption

Crack the Code In US Cyber Command's Logo 380

Dan writes "According to Wired: 'The US military's new Cyber Command is headquartered at Ft. Meade, Maryland, one of the military's most secretive and secure facilities. Its mission is largely opaque, even inside the armed forces. But the there's another mystery surrounding the emerging unit. It's embedded in the Cyber Command logo. On the logo's inner gold ring is a code: 9ec4c12949a4f31474f299058ce2b22a.'"
Microsoft

Microsoft Ordered To Pay $290M, Stop Selling Word 272

Cytalk and other readers tipped us to Microsoft's loss in a US appeals court, in a patent case brought by Canadian company i4i. Microsoft must now pay $290M and either stop selling Word (and probably Office) by January 11, or somehow work around the patent by that date. A Seattle PI blog reports that Redmond has a few options left: "In a statement, Microsoft said it was working hard to comply with the injunction. The company also said it is considering further legal options, including possible requests for a new hearing or a writ of certiorari from the US Supreme Court." Update: 12/22 20:47 GMT by KD : Tim Bray has up a blog post explaining why it would be no great loss if Microsoft dropped the "custom XML" feature in dispute.
Update: 12/22 23:04 GMT by KD : Reader adeelarshad82 pointed out a statement released by Microsoft earlier today, which says in part: "We expect to have copies of Microsoft Word 2007 and Office 2007, with this feature removed, available for U.S. sale and distribution by the injunction date. In addition, the beta versions of Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Office 2010, which are available now for downloading, do not contain the technology covered by the injunction."
Privacy

California's Revised Pay-As-You-Drive Insurance Draws Continued Objections 411

The EFF has restated many of their original privacy objections about California's latest revision to the Pay-As-You-Drive auto insurance proposal. Admitting that the amended bill is an improvement, privacy advocates are still uneasy about the surveillance implications of this program. "The proposal centers on a simple idea: infrequent drivers are less of an insurance risk. By pricing policies according to the mileage driven, insurance companies can offer discounts to lower-risk infrequent drivers, and put an appropriate cost penalty on heavy drivers. The state estimates that 30% adoption of PAYD insurance nationwide would reduce miles driven by at least 10% among subscribers, and save 55 million tons of CO2 over the next ten years. The benefits of such a system could be quite dramatic, as California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner is sure to emphasize. Such insurance plans first became available in 2004, and are now available as a limited option in 30 US states from insurance companies like Progressive and Liberty Mutual."
The Courts

Court Orders Breathalyzer Code Opened, Reveals Mess 707

Death Metal writes with an excerpt from the website of defense attorney Evan Levow: "After two years of attempting to get the computer based source code for the Alcotest 7110 MKIII-C, defense counsel in State v. Chun were successful in obtaining the code, and had it analyzed by Base One Technologies, Inc. By making itself a party to the litigation after the oral arguments in April, Draeger subjected itself to the Supreme Court's directive that Draeger ultimately provide the source code to the defendants' software analysis house, Base One. ... Draeger reviewed the code, as well, through its software house, SysTest Labs, which agreed with Base One, that the patchwork code that makes up the 7110 is not written well, nor is it written to any defined coding standard. SysTest said, 'The Alcotest NJ3.11 source code appears to have evolved over numerous transitions and versioning, which is responsible for cyclomatic complexity.'" Bruce Schneier comments on the same report and neatly summarizes the take-away lesson: "'You can't look at our code because we don't want you to' simply isn't good enough."
The Courts

French Assembly Adopts 3-Strikes Bill 343

An anonymous reader writes "After lots of turmoil, including a surprise rejection and a European amendment against it, Sarkozy's 3 strikes law has just been passed by the French Assembly [in French]: 'The first warning mails ... should be sent in the coming fall. In case of second offenders, the first disconnections should start beginning 2010.'"

NPR Finds XM's Achilles Heel 330

PreacherTom writes "In the ongoing radio wars, one only has to listen to 20 seconds of Howard Stern's language to know that the lack of regulation gives satellite radio a distinct advantage. Of all the challengers, it seems that NPR has finally found a weakness in XM, which supplements its satellite coverage with earth-bound transmitters. A recent test found that 19 of these transmitters were unlicensed and another 221 exceeded their authorized power level, giving NPR an opening to press with an apparently sympathetic FCC. It certainly doesn't help that XM's own filings support their case."

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