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Microsoft

Court Ruling Shows The Internet Does Have Borders After All (csoonline.com) 33

itwbennett writes: Microsoft's recent victory in court, when it was ruled that the physical location of the company's servers in Ireland were out of reach of the U.S. government, was described on Slashdot as being "perceived as a major victory for privacy." But J. Trevor Hughes, president and CEO of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) has a different view of the implications of the ruling that speaks to John Perry Barlow's vision of an independent cyberspace: "By recognizing the jurisdictional boundaries of Ireland, it is possible that the Second Circuit Court created an incentive for other jurisdictions to require data to be held within their national boundaries. We have seen similar laws emerge in Russia -- they fall under a policy trend towards 'data localization' that has many cloud service and global organizations deeply concerned. Which leads to a tough question: what happens if every country tries to assert jurisdictional control over the web? Might we end up with a fractured web, a 'splinternet,' of lessening utility?"
The Courts

Judge Rules Political Robocalls Are Protected By First Amendment (onthewire.io) 146

Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On the Wire: A federal judge has ruled that robocalls made on behalf of political candidates are protected by the First Amendment and cannot be outlawed. The decision came in a case in Arkansas, where political robocalls had been illegal for more than 30 years. On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Leon Holmes ruled that banning political robocalls amounts to an infringement of free speech protections and also constitutes prior restraint of speech. Political campaigns have been using robocalls for decades, and some states have sought to ban them, arguing that they are intrusive and violate recipients' privacy. In the Arkansas case, the state attorney general put forward both of these arguments, and also argued that the calls can tie up phone lines, making them unusable in an emergency. Holmes said in his decision that there was no evidence that political robocalls prevent emergency communications, and also said that the Arkansas statute should have banned all robocalls, not just commercial and political ones. "The statute at issue here imposes a content-based restriction on speech; it is not one of the rare cases that survives strict scrutiny. The state has failed to prove that the statute at issue advances a compelling state interest and is narrowly tailored to serve that interest," Holmes wrote.
Facebook

Facebook Offering Refunds For Kids' In-App Purchases (pcmag.com) 21

Parents who found themselves with hefty bills after their kids made in-app purchases -- mainly via the now-defunct Facebook Credits -- can now request a refund from Facebook. PCMag reports: The news comes as part of a settlement for a class-action lawsuit brought against the social network in February 2012, and covers those who made any kind of purchase through their Facebook accounts between February 2008 and March 2015. Facebook maintained that it did nothing wrong, as those purchasing digital currency received what they paid for. But California's Family Code stipulates that minors can void contracts they make at any point when they're under 18 years of age. In other words, the legislation is designed to prevent other entities from preying on minors who don't otherwise understand the ramifications of their actions -- like tapping repeatedly on an in-app item to acquire it.
The Courts

UK Judge Calls For An Online Court Without Lawyers To Cut Costs 87

mi writes from a report via The Times: A senior judge has called for the establishment of an online court (Warning: source may be paywalled) that does not have lawyers and can deal with claims of up to 25,000 British Pound (around $32,850). The proposal is the centerpiece of a package of reforms to the civil justice system, drawn up by Lord Justice Briggs, a Court of Appeal judge. Just how exactly will this court ensure no one is, in fact, a trained professional on the internet, where no one knows who you really are, is not explained. We discussed the idea last year. Apparently, it is still alive. The judge's report says this computer court would provide "effective access to justice without having to incur the disproportionate cost of using lawyers." The Law Gazette reported earlier in June that Briggs has mused about a three-stage process -- triage, conciliation and final judgement -- in which there might be some lawyer involvement.
Windows

Microsoft Faces Two New Lawsuits Over Aggressive Windows 10 Upgrade Tactics 103

Microsoft is facing two more lawsuits over its Windows 10 upgrade tactics. The first lawsuit comes from U.S. District Court in Florida, where the company has been accused of violating "laws governing unsolicited electronic advertisements" The suit, PCWorld reports, says Microsoft's tactics are against the FTC's rules on deceptive and unfair practices. The second lawsuit was filed last month in Haifa, Israel alleging that Microsoft installed Windows 10 on users' computer without their consent. It's similar to another recent lawsuit that was filed against Microsoft in which the Redmond company had to pay a sum of $10,000. The company, however, believes that these new lawsuits won't succeed. In a statement to The Seattle Times, the company said:We believe the plaintiffs' claims are without merit and we are confident we'll be successful in court.
Government

Stiglitz Calls Apple's Profit Reporting In Ireland 'a Fraud' (bloomberg.com) 176

Jeanna Smialek, and Alex Webb, reporting for Bloomberg: Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz said U.S. tax law that allows Apple to hold a large amount of cash abroad is "obviously deficient" and called the company's attribution of significant earnings to a comparatively small overseas unit a "fraud." "Our current tax system encourages companies to keep their money abroad, opens up a vast loophole through what is called the transfer-pricing system that allows them not only to keep their money abroad but, effectively, to escape taxation," Stiglitz, who advises Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, said. Stiglitz was speaking in response to a question about whether policy makers like Clinton and Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, could develop a plan to encourage companies like Apple to bring their accumulated foreign earnings back to the U.S. About $215 billion of Apple's total $232 billion in cash is held outside of the country, third-quarter earnings results showed this week.
Star Wars Prequels

Harrison Ford Could Have Died In Star Wars Set Incident, Court Hears (theguardian.com) 152

An anonymous reader writes: While filming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Harrison Ford almost died when he was crushed by a hydraulic door on the set of the Millennium Falcon. He was reportedly knocked to the ground and crushed beneath the heavy door when he walked on to the set not believing it to be live. The 71-year-old actor suffered a broken left leg. Prosecutor Andrew Marshall said the door "could have killed somebody. The fact that it didn't was because an emergency stop was activated," he said. The company responsible, Foodles Production, pleaded guilty to two breaches under health and safety legislation, one count under section two of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which related to a breach of duty in relation to employees, and a second under section three, a breach over people not employed by the company. The lawyer for Foodles Production, which is owned by Disney, said the company would contest the level of risk involved on August 22nd at Aylesbury crown court.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Not Money, Rules Miami Judge In Dismissing Laundering Charges (miamiherald.com) 150

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Miami Herald: Bitcoin does not actually qualify as money, a Miami-Dade judge ruled Monday in throwing out criminal charges against a Miami Beach man charged with illegally selling the virtual currency. The defendant, Michell Espinoza, was charged with illegally selling and laundering $1,500 worth of Bitcoins to undercover detectives who told him they wanted to use the money to buy stolen credit-card numbers. But Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler ruled that Bitcoin was not backed by any government or bank, and was not "tangible wealth" and "cannot be hidden under a mattress like cash and gold bars." "The court is not an expert in economics, however, it is very clear, even to someone with limited knowledge in the area, the Bitcoin has a long way to go before it the equivalent of money," Pooler wrote in an eight-page order. The judge also wrote that Florida law -- which says someone can be charged with money laundering if they engage in a financial transaction that will "promote" illegal activity -- is way too vague to apply to Bitcoin. "This court is unwilling to punish a man for selling his property to another, when his actions fall under a statute that is so vaguely written that even legal professionals have difficulty finding a singular meaning," she wrote. Espinoza's case is believed to be the first money-laundering prosecution involving Bitcoin.
Iphone

Suspect Required To Unlock iPhone Using Touch ID in Second Federal Case (9to5mac.com) 230

An anonymous reader shares a report on 9to5Mac: A second federal judge has ruled that a suspect can be compelled to unlock their iPhone using their fingerprint in order to give investigators access to data which can be used as evidence against them. The first time this ever happened in a federal case was back in May, following a District Court ruling in 2014. The legal position of forcing suspects to use their fingerprints to unlock devices won't be known with certainty until a case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, but lower court rulings so far appear to establish a precedent which is at odds with that concerning passcodes. Most constitutional experts appear to believe that the Fifth Amendment prevents a suspect from being compelled to reveal a password or passcode, as this would amount to forced self-incrimination -- though even this isn't certain. Fingerprints, in contrast, have traditionally been viewed as 'real or physical evidence,' meaning that police are entitled to take them without permission.Ars Technica has more details.
Microsoft

Microsoft Can't Shield User Data From Government, Says Government (bloomberg.com) 190

Microsoft is now arguing in court that their customers have a right to know when the government is reading their e-mail. But "The U.S. said federal law allows it to obtain electronic communications without a warrant or without disclosure of a specific warrant if it would endanger an individual or an investigation," according to Bloomberg. An anonymous reader quotes their report: The software giant's lawsuit alleging that customers have a constitutional right to know if the government has searched or seized their property should be thrown out, the government said in a court filing... The U.S. says there's no legal basis for the government to be required to tell Microsoft customers when it intercepts their e-mail... The Justice Department's reply Friday underscores the government's willingness to fight back against tech companies it sees obstructing national security and law enforcement investigations...

Secrecy orders on government warrants for access to private e-mail accounts generally prohibit Microsoft from telling customers about the requests for lengthy or even unlimited periods, the company said when it sued. At the time, federal courts had issued almost 2,600 secrecy orders to Microsoft alone, and more than two-thirds had no fixed end date, cases the company can never tell customers about, even after an investigation is completed.

United Kingdom

Yahoo Ordered to Show How It Recovered 'Deleted' Emails (pcmag.com) 80

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PC Magazine: Just what kind of email retentions powers does Yahoo have? According to a policy guide from the company, Yahoo cannot recover emails that have been deleted from a user's account -- simple as that. If the email is in a user's account, it's fair game, and Yahoo can even give law enforcement the IP address of whatever computer is being used to send said email.

Or, at least, that's what Yahoo has said. A magistrate judge from the Northern District of California has ordered Yahoo to produce documents, as well as a witness for deposition, related to the company's ability to recover seemingly deleted emails in a UK drug case... a UK defendant was convicted -- and is currently serving an extra 20-year prison sentence -- as part of a conspiracy to import drugs into the United Kingdom. He's currently appealing the conviction, in part because the means by which Yahoo recovered the emails in question allegedly violate British law.

The drug smugglers apparently communicated by creating a draft of an email, which was then available to others who logged into that same account.
United Kingdom

UK Cybersecurity Executives Plead Guilty To Hacking A Rival Firm (zdnet.com) 14

An anonymous reader writes: "Five employees from cybersecurity firm Quadsys have admitted to hacking into a rival company's servers to allegedly steal customer data and pricing information," ZDNet is reporting. After a series of hearings, five top-ranking employees "admitted to obtaining unauthorised access to computer materials to facilitate the commission of an offence," including the company's owner, managing director, and account manager. Now they're facing 12 months in prison or fines, as well as additional charges, at their sentencing hearing in September. The headline at ZDNet gloats, "Not only did the Quadsys staff reportedly break into servers, they were caught doing it."
China

Samsung Fights Back, Sues China's Huawei For Patent Infringement (reuters.com) 24

In May, China's conglomerate Huawei filed a lawsuit against Samsung accusing the Korean company of infringing on some of its 4G-related patents. Now, Samsung is returning the favor. According to Reuters, Samsung has filed a lawsuit of its own against Huawei for a very similar reason. From the report: An intellectual property court in Beijing said on its official Weixin account that Samsung sued Huawei and a department store in Beijing and has claimed 161 million yuan ($24.14 million) in damages. Samsung asked the two defendants to stop production and sales of products the South Korean firm says infringes on its patents, including Huawei's Mate 8 and Honor smartphones, the court said.
Government

Texas Man Who Acted As Russian Agent Gets 10 Years' Prison (go.com) 87

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: A Texas man who acted as a secret agent for the Russian government and illegally exported cutting-edge military technology to Russia has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Alexander Fishenko learned his punishment Thursday in federal court in New York. He pleaded guilty in September to crimes including acting as a Russian agent. The 50-year-old Fishenko is a U.S. and Russian citizen. He owned Houston-based Arc Electronics Inc. Prosecutors say he led a scheme that evaded strict export controls for micro-electronics commonly used in missile guidance systems, detonation triggers and radar systems. Prosecutors say his company shipped about $50 million worth of technologies to Russia between 2002 and 2012. In other Russian-related news, a Russian government-owned news site Sputnik has reported that the Kremlin is building a nuclear space bomber that should be flight-ready by 2020.
Movies

'The Wolf of Wall Street' Movie Was Financed With Stolen Money, Says DOJ (nydailynews.com) 160

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NY Daily News: Federal officials charged a $3.5 billion Malaysian money-laundering scheme helped finance the Leonardo DiCaprio movie "Wolf of Wall Street" -- the Hollywood tale that parallels the corruption charges. U.S. officials seek to recover $1.3 billion of the missing funds, including profits from the Martin Scorsese-directed movie that earned five Oscar nominations. The conspirators used some of their illicit cash to fund Scorsese's tale of "a corrupt stockbroker who tried to hide his own illicit profits in a perceived foreign safe haven," said U.S. Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell. DiCaprio famously played the lead role of convicted fraudster Jordan Belfort, who was ordered to repay $110 million to 1,500 victims of his scam. The identified conspirators included movie producer Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, the prime minister's stepson, and businessman Low Taek John, a friend of Najib's family. A third scammer identified only as "Malaysian Official 1" was widely believed to be Najib. Court papers indicated that $681 million from a 2013 bond sale went directly into the official's private account. The nation's attorney-general, Mohamed Apandi, came to Najib's defense Thursday, expressing his "strong concerns at the insinuations and allegations" brought against the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Apandi's office, after investigating the $681 million bank deposit, announced in January that the funds were a donation from the Saudi royal family. The prime minister wound up returning most of the cash. Federal officials, in their California court filing, indicated they were hoping to seize proceeds from the 2013 movie, along with luxury properties in New York and California, artwork by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, and a $35 million private jet. Investigations of 1MDB are already underway in Switzerland and Singapore, with officials in the latter announcing Thursday that they had seized assets worth $176 million. This is shaping up to be the largest U.S. Justice Department asset recovery action in history.
DRM

EFF Is Suing the US Government To Invalidate the DMCA's DRM Provisions (boingboing.net) 93

Cory Doctorow, writes for BoingBoing: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has just filed a lawsuit that challenges the Constitutionality of Section 1201 of the DMCA, the "Digital Rights Management" provision of the law, a notoriously overbroad law that bans activities that bypass or weaken copyright access-control systems, including reconfiguring software-enabled devices (making sure your IoT light-socket will accept third-party lightbulbs; tapping into diagnostic info in your car or tractor to allow an independent party to repair it) and reporting security vulnerabilities in these devices. EFF is representing two clients in its lawsuit: Andrew "bunnie" Huang, a legendary hardware hacker whose NeTV product lets users put overlays on DRM-restricted digital video signals; and Matthew Green, a heavyweight security researcher at Johns Hopkins who has an NSF grant to investigate medical record systems and whose research plans encompass the security of industrial firewalls and finance-industry "black boxes" used to manage the cryptographic security of billions of financial transactions every day. Both clients reflect the deep constitutional flaws in the DMCA, and both have standing to sue the US government to challenge DMCA 1201 because of its serious criminal provisions (5 years in prison and a $500K fine for a first offense).Doctorow has explained aspects of this for The Guardian today. You should also check Huang's blog post on this.
Government

Saudi Arabia Revives 15-Year-Old Ban On 'Zionism-Promoting' Pokemon (timesofisrael.com) 328

An anonymous reader writes: Clerics in Saudi Arabia have renewed a 15-year-old ban on Pokemon, following the release of the highly popular augmented reality version of the game, Pokemon Go. According to Reuters, the General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars reaffirmed a 2001 ban on the game. The Times of Israel reports: "While fatwa no. 21,758 makes no mention of the latest iteration of [the] game, it does list many sinful aspects of Pokemon. Firstly, the game is seen as a form of gambling, which itself is forbidden. Secondly, it encourages belief in Darwin's theory of evolution, and thirdly, the fatwa says, the symbols used in the game promote the Shinto religion of Japan, Christianity, Freemasonry and 'global Zionism.'" The ruling says: "The symbols and logos of devious religions and organizations are used [including] the six-pointed star: You rarely find a card that does not contain such a star. It is associated with Judaism, the logo and sign of the State of Israel, and the first symbol of the Masonry organizations in the world." Pokemon Go has been such a success that it has already doubled Nintendo's stock price after launching just two weeks ago.
Piracy

US Navy Faces $600M Lawsuit For Allegedly Pirating 3D VR Software (hothardware.com) 115

An anonymous reader quotes a report from HotHardware: The U.S. Navy has been accused of pirating 3D software after first testing a software package offered by Germany company Bitmanagement Software GmbH. The company is suing the United States of America for nearly $600 million. HotHardware reports: "According to the court filing, Bitmanagement licensed its BS Contact Geo software for use on 38 Navy computers from 2011 to 2012. This limited rollout was 'for the purposes of testing, trial runs, and integration into Navy systems.' While this test period was underway, the Navy reportedly began negotiating to license the software for use on thousands of additional computers. However, even as the negotiations were ongoing, the Navy decided to go ahead and initiate its full-scale rollout without actually paying for the software. In total, the initial 38 computers allegedly swelled to 104,922 computers by October 2013. As of today, BS Contact GEO is claimed to be installed on 558,466 Navy computers, although 'likely this unauthorized copying has taken place on an even larger scale' according to the filing. As if the unauthorized installation of software onto hundreds of thousands of computers wasn't enough, Bitmanagement is alleging that the Navy during 2014 began disabling the Flexwrap software that is tasked with tracking the use of BS Contact Geo and helping to prevent it from being duplicated. When this software piracy was taking place, the retail price of a single BS Contact Geo license was $1067.76. With nearly 600,000 computers now in play, Bitmanagement is seeking a whopping $596,308,103 in damages. The lawsuit, which alleges willful copyright infringement was filed on July 15th."
Cloud

Amazon Isn't Saying If Echo Has Been Wiretapped (zdnet.com) 86

An anonymous reader writes from a report via ZDNet: Since announcing how many government data requests and wiretap orders it receives, Amazon has so far issued two transparency reports. The two reports outline how many subpoenas, search warrants, and court orders the company received to cloud service, Amazon Web Services. The cloud makes up a large portion of all the data Amazon gathers, but the company does also collect vast amounts of data from its retail businesses, mobile services, book purchases, and requests made to Echo. The company's third report is due to be released in a few weeks but an Amazon spokesperson wouldn't comment on whether or not the company will expand its transparency report to include information regarding whether or not the Amazon Echo has been wiretapped. There are reportedly more than three million Amazon Echo speakers out in the wild. Gizmodo filed a freedom of information (FOIA) request with the FBI earlier this year to see if the agency had wiretapped an Echo as part of a criminal investigation. The FBI didn't confirm or deny wiretapping the Echo. Amazon was recently awarded a patent for drone docking and recharging stations that would be built on tall, existing structures like lampposts, cell towers, or church steeples.
Google

Google and Bing Have No Obligation To Censor Searches For Torrents (betanews.com) 62

Microsoft and Google are under no obligation to weed out 'torrent' results from their respective search engines, the High Court of Paris has ruled. BetaNews adds: French music industry group SNEP went to court on behalf of a trio of artists, requesting that Microsoft and Google automatically filter out links to pirated material. The group had called for a complete block on searches that include the word 'torrent' as well as blocking sites whose name includes the word. The court found that SNEP's request was far too broad, saying: "SNEP's requests are general, and pertain not to a specific site but to all websites accessible through the stated methods, without consideration for identifying or even determining the site's content, on the premise that the term 'Torrent' is necessarily associated with infringing content".The court added that 'torrent' is a common noun, which has a range of different meanings.

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