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Older News Picks  
  • Apple, Samsung's next big showdown could reshape patent law
  • Tuesday, August 06 2013 @ 09:41 PM EDT
  • Apple and Samsung will take their global patent feud to a federal appeals court Friday, marking another legal showdown with sweeping implications for tech companies increasingly looking to ban the sales of rival products they consider copycats....

    For the two rivals, the appeals court will be weighing the ultimate weapon in these patent conflicts -- whether, and under what circumstances, a company should be barred from selling products found to have infringed a competitor's patent rights, the most damaging blow in the hypercompetitive technology markets. The answer could reshape patent law for years to come, particularly for products such as smartphones loaded with different patented technologies.

    "I think it is extremely important," said Mark Lemley, a Stanford University law professor and leading tech law scholar. "It could fundamentally change the way the patent system works in the (technology) industries." - Howard Mintz, San Jose Mercury News

  • Letter to Obama to stop the prosecution of Snowden
  • Tuesday, August 06 2013 @ 08:53 PM EDT
  • Dear President Obama,

    We are writing to you as free speech and media freedom organisations from around the world to express our strong concern over the response of the US government to the actions of whistleblower Edward Snowden. We urge you to take immediate action to protect whistleblowers and journalists....

    Statements by the State Department that Snowden is not a whistleblower simply because of the nature of the charges against him flatly contradict international standards on freedom of expression and information. Attempts to obstruct Snowden’s freedom of movement, his right to seek asylum, including the revocation of his passport, and other forms of retaliation also violate US obligations under international law. - Article 19

  • Prenda officially dissolves as Steele agrees to pay $5,400 penalty
  • Tuesday, August 06 2013 @ 08:09 PM EDT
  • The judge invited Morgan Pietz, who is already due a sanction of almost $82,000 plus interest, to file a motion for additional sanctions. But that motion won't get filed, because the case docket indicates that a deal was struck—Steele has agreed to pay defense lawyers Morgan Pietz and Nicholas Ranallo $5,400 to cover the costs of defending against Steele's most recent allegations. - Joe Mullin, ars technica

  • Inside the Tor exploit
  • Tuesday, August 06 2013 @ 06:10 PM EDT
  • Specifically, the attack targeted only Windows TBB users. Therefore, Roger Dingledine, Tor's creator and project leader, concluded it's "reasonable to conclude that the attacker now has a list of vulnerable [Windows] Tor users who visited those hidden services."...

    In the meantime, if you've been using the Windows version of TBB recently on hidden services servers, it's a pretty safe bet that your particular network address is now in the hands of the FBI. This, in turn, means that it's only a matter of time and effort for your real-world address to be revealed as well.

    This is a classic privacy dilemma. On the one hand, child abusers may soon find themselves facing jail time. On the other hand, everyone who used hidden services for a legitimate purpose, say tracking human rights abuses in the Syria civil war, have also had their data collected. The only thing we can say for certain is that Tor's reputation, which had been as the Gold-standard of Internet anonymity, has been tarnished. - Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, ZDNet

  • Surveillance scandal rips through hacker community
  • Tuesday, August 06 2013 @ 12:02 PM EDT
  • "The types of programs that he's developing are part of this trend of more efficient law enforcement, toward this world of 100 percent effective law enforcement," said Marlinspike, who uses the alias to protect his legal name.

    Marlinspike told CNET that he thinks the NSA is interested in hiring hackers because they tend to have an approach to critical thinking that produces an unusual mindset. Hackers are people, he said, who are "not always abiding by the letter of the law, but are not exactly harmful, either."

    "The problem is that he's asking us to participate in the destruction of the zone where hackers exist," Marlinspike said. - Seth Rosenblatt, CNET

  • Modular Laptops
  • Tuesday, August 06 2013 @ 11:03 AM EDT
  • The video above shows how this laptop with a very modular design can be quickly disassembled without the use of tools. If you’ve ever taken apart a laptop, you know the pain and frustration that comes from trying to find and keep track of the nigh infinite number and variety of screws that hold these things together. As these students demonstrate, it just does not have to be this way. Interestingly, there may not be much of a need for a modular designed laptop as long as the components themselves were sufficiently modular. This is the kind of thing I’ve come to expect to be uploaded to Thingiverse.

    Just imagine printing a custom laptop case, slapping in some totally modular parts, and rocking out on your new laptop 3 minutes later. - MakerBot

  • Comedian Marc Maron Gets That Patent Trolls Are Failed Inventors Trying to Hit the Lottery
  • Tuesday, August 06 2013 @ 04:30 AM EDT
  • Marc Maron is one of the podcasters who has been threatened by Personal Audio, a patent troll whose owner claims to have invented podcasting. This inventor never did manage to implement his own system successfully.

    Marc was interviewed about his situation by Corporate Counsel. Marc is no lawyer or patent expert (although he is a very funny comedian), but his understanding of the situation is dead on. - Matt Levy, Patent Progress

  • OpenNews: Knight-Mozilla Fellowships: “What do you mean, I get to do whatever I want?"
  • Tuesday, August 06 2013 @ 04:16 AM EDT
  • We’re looking for five people who love to code and want to make a difference to join us as 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellows. The application is simple (just a few questions and a bunch of links to your best stuff), but there are only two short weeks left to apply: The application window closes August 17th. What are you waiting for? - Dan Sinker, Knight-Mozilla OpenNews

  • Good News from Germany
  • Tuesday, August 06 2013 @ 03:52 AM EDT
  • Today a court in Mannheim, Germany, ruled that VP8 does not infringe a patent owned and asserted by Nokia. This decision is an important and positive step towards the WebM Project's ultimate goal: ensuring the web community has an open, high-quality, freely licensed video codec. Google's intervention in the underlying lawsuit (Nokia v. HTC) was a strong show of support for open standards like VP8.

    We believe that the web succeeds through community-developed innovation. VP8 brings that principle to video: a codec that anyone can use and build upon. The WebM Project’s next-generation video codec, VP9, is already available and we look forward to continuing our work with the broader community to help video on the open web keep getting better, faster. - Max Frost, WebM Open Media Project

  • Security Researchers, Academics, and Lawyers Demand Congress Reform CFAA, Support Aaron's Law
  • Tuesday, August 06 2013 @ 03:49 AM EDT
  • Dear Congress and members of the Senate and House Committees on the Judiciary,

    We are computer security experts who have dedicated our careers to maintaining the safety and integrity of information technology systems in the service of consumers, businesses, and governments worldwide. We are also coders, developers, engineers, explorers, and users of digital technologies who care deeply about protecting those who engage in computer security research and science. We write to urge you to support HR 2454: “Aaron’s law.” ...

    We recognize that there are bad actors in the world; individuals, groups, corporations, and nations that wish to use technology to manipulate, lie, cheat, and steal. We have no desire to eliminate the ability for real crimes to be investigated and criminals judged with due process. Yet while the CFAA has a core purpose of criminalizing harmful computer intrusions that we strongly support, the law has lost its way. It now poses an increasing threat to security research. In short, applied computer security research requires experimenting with computer systems. The CFAA, due to outdated wording, makes it unlawful to access a computer system “without authorization” or “in excess of authorization.” This vague wording, while not misused in the early days of the statute, has recently allowed the Department of Justice and companies litigating under the civil enforcement provision of the law to push an expansive definition that, if applied, would make much of the best work in computer security research a serious federal crime, along with criminalizing ordinary behavior like violating terms of service. - Mark M. Jaycox, EFF

  • Kass: Was police killing of 95-year-old necessary?
  • Monday, August 05 2013 @ 11:48 PM EDT
  • Just a few weeks shy of his 96th birthday, in need of a walker to move about, cops coming through the door of his retirement home with a Taser and a shotgun. The old man, described by a family member as "wobbly" on his feet, had refused medical attention. The paramedics were called. They brought in the Park Forest police. First they tased him, but that didn't work. So they fired a shotgun, hitting him in the stomach with a bean-bag round. Wrana was struck with such force that he bled to death internally, according to the Cook County medical examiner.

    [PJ: The detail that takes my breath away is that you are allowed by law in every state I have ever lived in and every state I have ever researched to refuse medical attention. Your body belongs to you, and forcing medical attention on you is a kind of invasion of your fundamental right to be left alone, an assault just as much as if someone mugs you to get your wallet.] - John Kass, Chicago Tribune

  • Is it Time to End the USITC’s Jurisdiction over Patent Cases?
  • Monday, August 05 2013 @ 11:27 PM EDT
  • Presidential review of USITC exclusion orders is designed to directly inject politics into the ultimate legal determination between the parties. In his recent letter of disapproval, US Trade Representative Michael Froman recognized that the review is based upon a number of policy goals, including considerations of how the decision impacts the US economy, US consumers, US competitive manufacture, and US-Foreign relations. Although Froman's letter of disapproval focused on FRAND issues, an undercurrent of the decision is that the American company (Apple) is avoiding its penalty after being judged as an infringer of a patent held by a foreign company (Samsung). Supporting the undercurrent of US-company favoritism is the fact that the USITC is designed as to protect US industry. - Patently O

  • The NSA is giving your phone records to the DEA. And the DEA is covering it up.
  • Monday, August 05 2013 @ 11:25 PM EDT
  • There’s another reason the DEA would rather not admit the involvement of NSA data in its investigations: It might lead to a constitutional challenge to the very law that gave rise to the evidence.

    Earlier this year, a federal court said that if law enforcement agencies wanted to use NSA information in court, they had to say so beforehand and give the defendant a chance to contest the legality of the surveillance. - Brian Fung, Washington Post

  • Researchers Develop DIY System to Detect Malware on Mobile Phones
  • Monday, August 05 2013 @ 11:21 PM EDT
  • “If your phone is infected, … it can send audio recordings, copies of your text messages and even intercept copies of your text messages so you never receive them,” says Sherri Davidoff, of LMG Security. “Our goal is to give people the ability to see the network traffic” to determine if this is occurring.

    The researchers presented their system on Saturday at the Def Con hacker conference and have since released a paper describing their method as well as code for others to use to develop their own system. - Kim Zetter, Wired

  • Court Rulings Blur the Line Between a Spy and a Leaker
  • Monday, August 05 2013 @ 11:09 PM EDT
  • The “aiding the enemy” charge in the Manning case was based on military law, and it is not directly applicable to leakers in other parts of the government or to reporters and publishers. But the theory on which it was based has echoes in the more general espionage laws.

    Until recently, its leading proponent was Nixon, who mused on the matter in a meeting in the Oval Office the day after The Times published the first installment of its reports on the Pentagon Papers. “That’s treasonable,” he said to an aide, “due to the fact that it’s aid to the enemy and it’s a release of classified documents.”

    In “Fighting for the Press,” a new book about the case, James C. Goodale, who was general counsel of The New York Times Company at the time, said President Obama has followed in Nixon’s footsteps.

    “Obama apparently cannot distinguish between communicating information to the enemy and communicating information to the press,” Mr. Goodale wrote. “The former is espionage, the latter is not.” - Adam Liptak, N.Y.Times

  • How Technology Companies Lobby the Federal Government
  • Monday, August 05 2013 @ 11:05 PM EDT
  • The top lobbying issue for both Apple and Amazon is reforming the tax code. Unlike Apple and Facebook, however, Amazon is playing a major role in lobbying for vendor collection of Internet sales taxes. Apple’s second and third major focus areas are telecommunications and copyright, patent, and trademark – likely because its lawsuit with Samsung, with which Google is also involved. - Laserfiche Blog

  • Jeff Bezos on Post purchase
  • Monday, August 05 2013 @ 10:32 PM EDT
  • Journalism plays a critical role in a free society, and The Washington Post -- as the hometown paper of the capital city of the United States -- is especially important. I would highlight two kinds of courage the Grahams have shown as owners that I hope to channel. The first is the courage to say wait, be sure, slow down, get another source. Real people and their reputations, livelihoods and families are at stake. The second is the courage to say follow the story, no matter the cost. While I hope no one ever threatens to put one of my body parts through a wringer, if they do, thanks to Mrs. Graham’s example, I’ll be ready.

    [PJ: He may not have a background in journalism, but it's clear he understands what journalism is and what it's for.] - Washington Post

  • Tor security advisory: Old Tor Browser Bundles vulnerable
  • Monday, August 05 2013 @ 10:24 PM EDT
  • Tor Browser Bundle users should ensure they're running a recent enough bundle version, and consider taking further security precautions as described below.

    WHO IS AFFECTED: In principle, all users of all Tor Browser Bundles earlier than the above versions are vulnerable. But in practice, it appears that only Windows users with vulnerable Firefox versions were actually exploitable by this attack.

    (If you're not sure what version you have, click on "Help -> About Torbrowser" and make sure it says Firefox 17.0.7. - tor-announce

  • US drug agency gets intel from NSA, then lies about its origins to build cases
  • Monday, August 05 2013 @ 08:12 PM EDT
  • “There’s nothing that allows lying to judges about the source of information in a criminal case,” Jennifer Granick, an attorney and the director of Civil Liberties at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society, told Ars.

    Similarly, others have already started to speak out against the practice. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a statement.

    "When law enforcement agents and prosecutors conceal the role of intelligence surveillance in criminal investigations, they violate the constitutional rights of the accused and insulate controversial intelligence programs from judicial review," wrote ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer. "Effectively, these intelligence programs are placed beyond the reach of the Constitution, where they develop and expand without any court ever weighing in on their lawfulness. This is inappropriate, dangerous, and contrary to the rule of law." - ars technica

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