bonch writes: The MPAA used an undercover agent posing as a potential homebuyer to gain access to the home of a British couple charged with running a streaming links site. UK authorities decided not to pursue the case, but the MPAA continued, focusing on a Boston programmer who worked on the site, leading to an unprecedented legal maneuver whereby U.S. charges were dropped in exchange for testimony in a UK fraud case.
bonch writes: Feds seized a hip-hop website based on RIAA claims of copyright infringement for prerelease music tracks and held it for a year before giving it back due to lack of evidence. Unsealed court records show that the government was repeatedly given time extensions to build a case against Dajaz1.com, but the RIAA's evidence never came. The RIAA has declined to comment.
bonch writes: Google is facing an FTC fine for its use of a controversial method to bypass Safari's privacy settings. The FTC will allege that Google violated a consent decree signed last year and is negotiating with Google over the the size of the fee, which could amount to more than $10 million.
bonch writes: The FBI plans to push surveillance backdoors on websites and is pressuring ISPs not to oppose laws making such such backdoors mandatory. The proposal, an extension to the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act which currently applies to telecommunications companies, would extend the law's coverage to social networks, email, and VoIP. The FBI's legislation has already been approved by the Justice Department.
bonch writes: After an FCC report revealed that Google's Street View wi-fi logging wasn't the act of a rogue engineer and that other employees knew about it, European regulators are considering reopening their investigations into the program. Dutch regulator Jacob Kohnstamm said that lawmakers were misled by executives at Google and that 'it is time for data protection authorities around the world to work together to hold the company accountable'. A Google spokesperson responded, '[W]e agree with the F.C.C.’s conclusion that we did not break the law. We hope that we can now put this matter behind us.'
bonch writes: According to the FCC report, Google's collection of Street View data was not the unauthorized act of a rogue engineer, as Google had portrayed it, but an authorized program known to supervisors and at least seven other engineers. The original proposal contradicts Google's claim that there was no intent to gather payload data: 'We are logging user traffic along with sufficient data to precisely triangulate their position at a given time, along with information about what they were doing.'
bonch writes: Reddit has announced the addition of a rule banning sexually suggestive images of children after a media campaign by comedy website SomethingAwful decrying lax moderation of child pornography. Citing concerns over a potential 'slippery slope', Reddit said in a statement announcing the policy change: 'We will tirelessly defend the right to freely share information on reddit in any way we can, even if it is offensive or discusses something that may be illegal.' Last October, Reddit was forced to close a section devoted to 'jailbait' pictures after sexually explicit images of a 14-year-old girl were submitted to the site.
bonch writes: Since Thursday, Iran has shut down several major websites using the HTTPS protocol, including Google, Gmail, and Yahoo. Banking sites, proxies, and other services are also affected. Iranian web users believe that the shutdown will end after the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. A thread on Hacker News provides first-hand accounts as well as workarounds.
bonch writes: After drawing criticism over iBooks Author's licensing language, Apple has modified it in a software update to make clear that Apple is claiming rights to the.ibook format itself and not the content therein: '[The license restriction] does not apply to the content of such works when distributed in a form that does not include files in the.ibooks format.' In other words, the content may be sold on competing book stores as long as it is not packaged using iBooks Author.
bonch writes: Google will begin redirecting blogs to country-specific URLs. Blog visitors will be redirected to a URL specific to their location, with content subject to their country's censorship laws. A support post on Blogger explains the change: 'Over the coming weeks you might notice that the URL of a blog you're reading has been redirected to a country-code top level domain, or "ccTLD." For example, if you're in Australia and viewing [blogname].blogspot.com, you might be redirected to [blogname].blogspot.com.au. A ccTLD, when it appears, corresponds with the country of the reader's current location.'
bonch writes: Details of the MegaUpload indictment have been uploaded to the web, including text of the full indictment. 60 bank accounts and several PayPal accounts were seized by authorities, as well as around 30 vehicles. The FBI also obtained internal emails that included executives at MegaUpload joking about being 'modern days pirates', searching their own services for pirated copies of The Sopranos, and looking for server hosting to copy YouTube videos. Executives also described cash reward plans for uploaders of copyrighted content.
bonch writes: Hollywood studio chiefs are withholding donations to the Obama campaign after the White House expressed concerns over certain restrictions in the SOPA legislation. Taking it as a 'declaration of war,' studio execs have expressed outrage privately and publicly, with Robert Murdoch writing on Twitter: 'So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery.'