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by Tim Cushing
Tue, Jul 7th 2015 9:20am
Well, we finally received some surveillance reform with the passage of the USA Freedom Act, which, even with its built-in six-month waiting period is still more surveillance reform than we've seen in the past thirty years. So, of course, the intelligence "community" is seeking to counterbalance its "losses" with gains from the private sector. Self-spying will have to replace government spying, if we're expected to run a secure nation.
Social media sites such as Twitter and YouTube would be required to report videos and other content posted by suspected terrorists to federal authorities under legislation approved this past week by the Senate Intelligence Committee.But there is a silver lining, although it makes absolutely no sense.
The measure, contained in the 2016 intelligence authorization, which still has to be voted on by the full Senate, is an effort to help intelligence and law enforcement officials detect threats from the Islamic State and other terrorist groups.
It would not require companies to monitor their sites if they do not already do so, said a committee aide…So… to better secure the nation, companies that already do this thing would be forced to continue doing this thing, even though they've had no problem doing so voluntarily. Those who don't wish to do this won't be forced to do it. The only change then would be the "reporting" aspect, which I imagine is also already in place for most of those voluntarily removing terrorist-related content.
Although officials are generally pleased to see such accounts taken down, they also worry that threats might go unnoticed.On one hand, the government complains that leaving the content up could result in "radicalization" of the few citizens that haven't already been swept up by the FBI's Radicalization Program. On the other, it complains that taking the content down makes it harder to keep an eye on those radicalizing potential terrorists. Its solution is to act like the Internet's Recyle Bin. Toss your terrorist posts here so we can browse them before deletion.
“In our discussions with parts of the executive branch, they said there have been cases where there have been posts of one sort or another taken down” that might have been useful to know about, the aide said.
“In a core set of cases, when companies are made aware [of terrorist content], there is real value to security, and potentially even to the companies’ reputation,” said Michael Leiter, a former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, now an executive vice president with Leidos, a national security contractor. “Rules like this always implicate complex First Amendment and corporate interests. But ultimately this is a higher-tech version of ‘See something, say something.’ And in that sense, I believe that there is value.”The technical problems are skirted completely and the tiny nod towards citizens' privacy is swallowed up by "see something, say something" and "value." Intelligence at any cost -- especially if the majority of the cost is absorbed by civil liberties and the private sector.
The committee aide said the measure presents “a pretty low burden” to companies, who would have to report only activity that has been reported to them. “We have heard from federal law enforcement that it would be useful to have this kind of information,” he said.Basically, it's the same non-argument Michael Leiter makes: "value" and "use" to government agencies is really the only thing that matters. These other concerns aren't even worthy of a thoughtful response.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 7th 2015 8:21am
So, after opening the kimono and giving these guys a whole lot of info on how we ran things, how big we were and that we dedicated 20% of our staff on these issues, what was the response. (You could probably see this one coming.)In short, to state AGs, no opportunity to issue a press release slamming a tech company is too good to miss. We've seen it done against Twitter, Facebook, Craigslist, small social networking sites, MySpace, ISPs, and video game companies. Frequently there is no actual legal basis for this at all. They just issue completely misleading and out-of-context press releases that slam companies, frequently because people who are up to no good use those tools and the companies haven't magically weeded out bad actors. In fact, the state AGs have become so drunk with the power of all this that they've actually pushed very strongly to change federal law to give them more power to blame websites for the actions of their users, by exempting their investigations from Section 230 of the CDA (the law that says you can't blame sites for actions of their users).
That's right. Another press release. This time from 23 states' Attorney's General.
This pile-on took much of what we had told them, and turned it against us. We had mentioned that we required three separate people to flag something before we would take action (mainly to prevent individuals from easily spiking things that they didn't like). That was called out as a particular sin to be cleansed from our site. They also asked us to drop the priority review program in its entirety, drop the time it takes us to review posts from 7 days to 3 and "immediately revamp our AI technology to block more violative posts" amongst other things.
If allowed to stand, the District Court’s March 27, 2015 order (the “Order”) enjoining the Mississippi Attorney General’s enforcement of his own subpoena would provide a roadmap for any potential wrongdoer subject to a legitimate state law enforcement investigation to attempt to thwart such an inquiry. With the Order as a guide, any target of a state investigation would be invited to conjure up potential federal defenses to yet-to-be filed civil claims and file a preemptive lawsuit in federal court against state law enforcement authorities. Such an outcome would undermine Attorneys General’s powers, granted to them by state constitutions and state statutes, to protect the general citizenry from violations of state law. It would also flood the federal courts with what amount to state-law discovery disputes. And it should not be countenanced by this Court.What a bunch of hogwash. If there's a legitimate violation of state law, then such cases will quickly get dumped. In this case, it was clear from the beginning that the investigation (again, paid for and run by the MPAA rather than Hood's office) had nothing to do with "violations of state law." It was, as revealed by the Sony emails, entirely about trying to attack Google. That's why the court ruled in Google's favor, noting directly that Hood's proceeding "was brought in bad faith" and "with the purpose of harassing" Google in an effort to "coerce Google to comply" with unconstitutional demands to remove material from its website (in violation of the First Amendment).
In furtherance of this paramount duty, Attorneys General have broad authority under the common law and/or state statutes1 to investigate potential violations of state laws within their jurisdiction, particularly state consumer protection laws.But that broad authority does not trump the First Amendment and in no way should allow state AGs to launch massive investigations funded for and run by corporate entities into companies those entities don't like -- and whose sole purpose appears to be to violate the First Amendment rights of those targeted. This is a pretty basic and obvious distinction, and the fact that these state AGs play dumb about it is ridiculous, though not all that surprising.
Google attempts to avoid this jurisdictional bar by arguing, in part, that it is entitled to immunity under the Communications Decency Act for any state law consumer protection claims the Attorney General may bring against it. Notably, however, the immunity the CDA affords internet service providers is not absolute. Although the CDA immunizes an interactive computer service from liability for content posted by a third party, it does not provide immunity for content or speech properly attributable to the service provider itself. See Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.com, LLC, 521 F.3d 1157, 1162 (9th Cir. 2008) (en banc) (“Section 230 of the CDA immunizes providers of interactive computer services against liability arising from content created by third parties[.]”) .... Accordingly, the Mississippi Attorney General is entitled to investigate Google’s activity to determine whether Google may be responsible for web content violative of Mississippi’s Consumer Protection Act. Indeed, it is unfair to ask the Attorney General to respond to Google’s contention that the CDA cloaks it with immunity when Google is withholding, and now has a preliminary injunction permitting it to withhold, the very materials that will allow the Attorney General to evaluate whether the CDA applies to Google’s acts and practices.In other words, because of the very narrow and specific Roommates.com ruling, state AGs should be able to demand all sorts of stuff from companies, even if everything they're targeting is protected by Section 230, just in case the fishing expedition happens to turn up something not protected by Section 230. That interpretation effectively eviscerates the entire point of Section 230 protections and would allow the state AGs to shake down companies over actions they had nothing to do with. Such an interpretation is not just dangerous, it basically would open the floodgates to more of these bogus corporate-run and corporate-funded investigations.
Yet, here the Attorney General’s Subpoena merely represents an investigation. Responding to the Subpoena itself would not force or coerce Google to change its practices and procedures or otherwise abandon its rights. And, in fact, Google has not changed its behavior based on the Subpoena in order to eliminate the threat of potential prosecution--instead, it seeks to eliminate that threat through its lawsuit and the preliminary injunction.But that ignores the entire history of how the state AGs operate. Again, read that story about Chris Tolles and Topix and his interactions with the state AGs. Despite no legal basis whatsoever, the state AGs constantly used any information he gave them in out-of-context and misleading press releases, creating a massive wave of bogus public pressure to force him to give in or just keep fighting more bad publicity and more bogus threats.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 7th 2015 6:15am
1. A method for transmitting data comprising a sequence of blocks in encrypted form over a communication link from a transmitter to a receiver comprising, in combination, the steps of:TQP, a company controlled by notorious patent troll Erich Spangenberg (who now claims to have left the patent trolling business), claimed that this covered basically any encryption online and it sued hundreds of companies with most choosing to settle rather than fight -- with a variety of companies paying out over $45 million to settle TQP lawsuits. But, you know, that's not how NewEgg rolls, with its pledge to never settle with patent trolls.
- providing a seed value to both said transmitter and receiver,
- generating a first sequence of pseudo-random key values based on said seed value at said transmitter, each new key value in said sequence being produced at a time dependent upon a predetermined characteristic of the data being transmitted over said link,
- encrypting the data sent over said link at said transmitter in accordance with said first sequence,
- generating a second sequence of pseudo-random key values based on said seed value at said receiver, each new key value in said sequence being produced at a time dependent upon said predetermined characteristic of said data transmitted over said link such that said first and second sequences are identical to one another a new one of said key values in said first and said second sequences being produced each time a predetermined number of said blocks are transmitted over said link, and
- decrypting the data sent over said link at said receiver in accordance with said second sequence.
2. The method as set forth in claim 1 further including the step of altering said predetermined number of blocks each time said new key value in said first and said second sequences is produced.
This Petition involves a case tried in November 2013 that still has not reached any appealable judgment. Although the jury found infringement and awarded $2.3 million in damages to TQP Development, LLC (“TQP”), it is beyond any reasonable debate that Newegg does not infringe the asserted claims, and Newegg sought appropriate post-trial relief on that basis. In the absence of a judgment, however, Newegg has been unduly burdened with an untenable $2.3 million liability on its books for 20 months and counting, which prejudices Newegg’s ability to make business decisions regarding that considerable sum.Newegg further points out that in the very same court, with a different judge, it was ruled that Intuit did not infringe on TQP's patent, despite using the identical encryption system on its site, and making the same arguments as Newegg.
Newegg has respectfully encouraged the district court to decide Newegg’s motion for judgment as a matter of law no fewer than four times, and has communicated the prejudice caused by the delay. It is now approaching two years after trial and no action has been taken by the district court on Newegg’s motion. This is several times longer than the time it has taken most other patent cases, tried before the same judge and around the same time, to reach final judgments. With no appealable judgment, and none ostensibly forthcoming, Newegg has no realistic recourse aside from seeking a writ of mandamus.
Moreover, in a closely related case brought by TQP asserting the same patent and the same claims against Intuit, Inc., Judge Bryson of this Court (sitting by designation) granted Intuit summary judgment of non-infringement on the same grounds Newegg argued. Judge Bryson’s ruling applied to Intuit’s accused systems that were identical to Newegg’s, was based on testimony from the Newegg trial, and was made under a claim construction slightly broader (and thus more favorable to TQP) than the one given in Newegg’s case. Although Newegg was already entitled to judgment of non-infringement prior to Judge Bryson’s ruling, the force of collateral estoppel from the ruling further vindicates Newegg’s positions. This is not to mention the principles of comity that strongly encourage deference by Judge Gilstrap to Judge Bryson’s prior ruling on the exact same issue.Newegg's filing goes through the full timeline, in which it has repeatedly asked the court to actually issue a final ruling one way or the other so it can get on with things. And... nothing.
The failure of the district court to act while Newegg’s prejudice compounds cannot be remedied by awaiting the ordinary course of a final judgment and appeal. Nor can Newegg effectively do anything before the district court to avoid further delay. Indeed, Newegg attempted to encourage prompt resolution of this case in the district court no fewer than four times—twice requesting an oral hearing and twice submitting controlling dispositive supplemental authority—but can only do so much at the district court level to move things along. Newegg has been patient but firm, and filed the present Petition only as a last resort when no action from the district court appeared to be forthcoming 20 months after trial.In the filing, Newegg notes that it "makes no assertions" of "bad intent" by Judge Gilstrap. However, in an email from Newegg's Chief Legal Officer, Lee Cheng, you can sense his frustration:
Newegg’s post-trial appealable judgment has already been delayed up to four times longer than other patent cases that went through trial around the same time as Newegg (November 2013) before the same judge. See, e.g., Hitachi Consumer Elecs. Co. v. Top Victory Elecs. (Taiwan) Co., No. 2:10-cv-260-JRG (5 months from April 2013 trial to appealable judgment); Wi-Lan Inc. v. HTC Corp., No. 2:11-cv-00068-JRG (5.5 months from October 2013 trial to appealable judgment); Cassidian Comms., Inc. v. microDATA GIS, Inc., No. 2:12-cv-00162- JRG (7.5 months from December 2013 trial to appealable judgment); Google Inc. v. Beneficial Innovations, Inc., No. 2:11-cv-00229-JRG (7 months from January 2014 trial to appealable judgment). Even considering the time from the close of post-trial briefing to judgment, the delay in Newegg’s case is still excessive— while Newegg has been waiting 15 months since briefing closed on its JMOL motion, the cases cited in the preceding sentence received judgments only two to five months after post-trial briefing closed. All told, data pulled from Lex Machina shows that Newegg’s case has been pending longer than 98.8% of cases filed before the same judge. Newegg’s case has taken far, far too long to reach an appealable final judgment.
Many have expressed concern and dismay about the rules, practices and rulings of various federal judges in the Eastern District of Texas (“EDTX”) in patent cases, including Judge Gilstrap. There is a common perception that the judges in EDTX adopt rules, engage in practices and issue rulings (or instructions that lead to jury verdicts) that favor plaintiffs, or which encourage or force defendants to settle even meritless cases to avoid the cost and risk of trial in EDTX. Some examples of such rules, practices and rulings are identified in the Petition. Commentators have speculated as to the judges’ motivations. Statistical evidence on patent infringement filings in EDTX generally, and with Judge Gilstrap specifically, seems to support the proposition that the venue and Judge Gilstrap are indeed favorites of the patent plaintiffs’ bar.While he insists that the company does "not wish to speculate as to the motives or rationale" behind what's happening, "actions speak louder than words."
The facts of this matter are objectively egregious, and we have not received any guidance or reasonably acceptable explanations from Judge Gilstrap for almost 2 years for the incredibly prejudicial and extended delay in providing us with an appealable judgment. We need, and we deserve, justice and judicial relief in this matter now, under these exceptional circumstances.This really is an incredible story. The whole thing is ridiculous and provides yet another reason why people should raise serious questions about the way in which the district court in East Texas handles its business.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 7th 2015 4:12am
Hello,At first Al-Bassam thinks that Lexsi must be a Hacking Team client, but then notes that there's no listing of Lexsi in the documents (which include customer rolls). It's possible that the client relationship runs the other way. Lexsi claims it does "cybercrime mitigation," so it's possible that Hacking Team (or others?) hired the company to try to bury the Hacking Team documents -- though that seems like an unenviable, if Sisyphean, task. Either way, whatever Lexsi was thinking here, it seems unlikely to have the desired impact.
We have just identified that the website musalbas.com/ displays sensitive and confidential information.
We would be grateful if you transmit the identify of the hosting provider in order to retrieve the sensitve documents.
Please confirm the reception of our request by responding to this email.
Thank you in advance for your help and feel free to contact us should you need more information.
by Glyn Moody
Tue, Jul 7th 2015 1:11am
National identification numbers are common enough -- many countries issue their citizens with a unique identifier. But in terms of scale, few can match Aadhaar, India's identity number system. As The Times of India explained a few years back, when the scheme was first announced:
Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique number which will be issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to all residents of the country. It's a step towards putting India in the club of more than 50 countries around the world that have some form of national identity cards. These include most of continental Europe (not the UK), China, Brazil, Japan, Iran, Israel and Indonesia. The number will be stored in a centralized database and linked to the basic demographics and biometric information photograph, ten fingerprints and iris of each individual. The number will be unique and would be available for online and offline verification and, hence, will rule out the possibility of duplicate and fake identities from government as well as various private databases.
The Aadhaar system is designed to make it easier for people on the sub-continent to prove their identity:
One of the key challenges faced by people in India is difficulty in establishing identity. People have multiple identity documents, each serving a different purpose. The most important characteristic of Aadhaar is its universality and it is assumed that the biometric card with the number will be gradually accepted across the country as the identification number by all service providers and government agencies.
The system is almost in place. According to an article in The Economic Times, as of this month, 870 million Aadhaar numbers have been issued. The hope is to achieve "universal coverage" -- 1.2 billion people -- by December.
Initially, the Indian government insisted that the scheme was voluntary, although even in 2013, there were concerns that it was effectively mandatory because various state benefits required its use. In 2014, India's Supreme Court reiterated that the system should not be compulsory, and also forbade the authorities from sharing biometric data held on the associated database with the police or similar agencies without the permission of the person concerned.
That raises one of the principal concerns with such centralized databases: the fact that, once created, there is a natural tendency to use them for purposes that have nothing to do with the original justification. For example, in 2013, there were suggestions that the Aadhaar card could be linked to driving licenses. In December last year, 100 million bank accounts were already associated with Aadhaar numbers. Last month, it was revealed that the Indian Railways may make the use of the Aadhaar number mandatory for booking online tickets. All of those will make tracking a person's activities much easier.
As the use of the Aadhaar system spreads to more domains, and becomes indispensable for more everyday services, that single number will assume an ever-greater importance in the lives of people in India -- and therefore become increasingly useful for identity fraud. It will doubtless make things much easier for the public there; but it will also provide the authorities with the perfect way of unifying all the information that they hold about citizens. Let's hope that by the time that happens, India has in place suitably robust laws regulating both government surveillance and data protection.
by Tim Cushing
Mon, Jul 6th 2015 9:04pm
prison legal news
The DC Circuit Court has revived Prison Legal News' long-running FOIA lawsuit against the federal Bureau of Prisons. "Long-running" tends to describe a lot of FOIA litigation, but this particular case is the ultra-marathon of FOIA lawsuits.
In 2003, PLN filed a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request with the Federal Bureau of Prisons seeking all documents showing money the Bureau paid in connection with lawsuits and claims brought against it between January 1, 1996, and July 31, 2003.That's right. Twelve years past its original request and the Appeals Court has reversed and remanded the decision to the district court to finally get it right. At the heart of the decade-plus legal battle is the supposed "categorical redaction" of personal information, which, upon examination by the Appeals Court, appears to be anything but categorical. It could charitably be called "inconsistent," despite the government's claims that it has a right to utilize a blanket exception.
Both the final Vaughn index and the Moorer Declaration lump the privacy interests of all claimants and any perpetrator or witness whose information is redacted into categories based on the type of document in which the individual’s information appears. Both provide only cursory statements such as those described above to justify the redactions.It's not that the government can't use categorial redactions, the Appeals Court explains. It's that it can't apply this exemption categorically when the redactions cover such a wide variety of information.
The categories, centered as they are on specific types of filed documents, include a wide range of claims covering various degrees of privacy interests. As PLN points out, the privacy interest of tort claimants will be different when they are claiming injury from a slip and fall as compared to a sexual assault. The EEOC claims also present a diverse picture and can hardly be considered a category that “‘characteristically support[s] an inference’ that the statutory requirements for exemption are satisfied.”But the government has applied this categorical exemption, either due to laziness or a desire to obfuscate. The twelve-year legal battle suggests the latter. This isn't the only "failure" of the categorical redactions. In the disputed documents, the government decided privacy interests outweighed the public interest, no matter the underlying circumstances. The court finds this "inconsistent," at best.
There is another problem with the categorical approach here – it fails to distinguish between redacting the identity of the alleged victim and the identity of the alleged perpetrator. This distinction is significant with respect to the employees’ interest in keeping their information private. But the Bureau has made no effort to distinguish between the privacy interests of employees who are victims and those who are perpetrators. In fact, it has offered little support for redacting information that would identify perpetrators.Even its inconsistency is inconsistent.
In addition, the Bureau has not been consistent in shielding the names of its employees accused of wrongdoing. While redacting the names of those accused of discriminating in Exhibits 1 (Doc. 110-5) and 2 (Doc. 110-6), it did not redact the name of a Bureau employee who was the alleged perpetrator of a sexual assault on an inmate in Exhibit 3 (Doc. 110-7). Joint Appendix 274, 291, 302. The Bureau never explains its inconsistency. Neither the Stroble Vaughn index nor the Moorer Declaration provides insight into why the names of some alleged perpetrators are redacted while others are revealed.This arbitrary use of a blanket exemption leads to the ridiculousness of treating a minor injury as no different than five months of improper imprisonment… or alleged sexual assault by a prison employee.
In the scheme of things, one would think that an employee’s eye injury resulting from the throwing of a screw is vastly different from a sexual assault on an inmate and that the privacy interests of the victims and perpetrators in these two cases will be different. These examples are sufficient to show that the privacy interests involved in a given type of claim do not fall within a single category that “characteristically support[s] an inference that the statutory requirements for exemption are satisfied.”In the end, the case is remanded to the lower court for further examination of the balancing of personal and public interest. The decision points out that this balance must be examined in detail and cannot be simply handed over to blanket exemptions, other than that of a few distinct individuals (medical professionals who treat inmates, inmates who have filed claims against prisons, etc.).
by Michael Ho
Mon, Jul 6th 2015 5:00pm
Mon, Jul 6th 2015 3:52pm
Lionsgate Studios, as you may remember, was last seen absolutely losing its mind over the leak of Expendables 3, which [insert snarky comment about movie quality here]. The studio's reaction to the leak was to peel off a massive lawsuit, get a restraining order, and go takedown crazy. Between those actions and the studio's willingness to go the DMCA and/or legal route in silencing a documentary about The Pirate Bay, not to mention a video that the Copyright Office itself used as an example of Fair Use, it's clear that Lionsgate doesn't mind firing off legal shots at questionable targets.
And, in case you thought this trend had somehow abated, it hasn't. The latest example is Lionsgate apparently suing TD Ameritrade for trademark violation after the latter had included in one of its advertisements the line, "Nobody puts your old 401(k) in the corner." You can see the commercial here, but essentially: a guy holds up his piggy bank in a manner similar to the dance moves from the movie.
Yeah, it's an imperfect reference to a line from Dirty Dancing, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner." Lionsgate apparently owns the rights to that movie. The studio has also apparently filed for trademark on the line for items such as books, clothing and household items. None of those categories appears to include financial services, but that hasn't stopped Lionsgate from demanding a ton of money for the use in the now-discontinued commercial.
A letter sent by Lionsgate on April 2 is said to have demanded that TD America cease the advertisement and pay Lionsgate a seven figure amount to settle its claim. (Besides trademark, the film studio is said to have "alluded" to copyright as well.). In an action filed on Friday in New York federal court seeking declaratory relief, TD America and its marketing agency Havas Worldwide say they wish "to put to rest the baseless, overreaching claims asserted by Lionsgate."And so TD Ameritrade is seeking relief via the court to basically swat Lionsgate off its back, like some kind of seven-figure-sucking mosquito. Not all use requires permission, after all, and a trademark case involving trademarks that have been applied for areas in which the use doesn't occur doesn't seem like great legal footing from Lionsgate's standpoint. Instead it comes across as a pure moneygrab, attempting to extract cash for the use of a line from a movie released in the 80's that no reasonable person had any possible chance of being confused by. If the studio wants to actually build a case around the idea that the public is really stupid, let it try, but I expect it to back down instead.
The plaintiffs say there's no evidence that anyone was confused while the advertisement ran for a seven-month period. They add they have no plans to use the ad in the future.
by Karl Bode
Mon, Jul 6th 2015 2:42pm
"To improve data experience for the majority of users, throughput may be limited, varied or reduced on the network. Streaming video speeds will be limited to 600Kbps at all times, which may impact quality. Sprint may terminate service if off-network roaming usage in a month exceeds: (1) 800 min. or a majority of min.; or (2) 100MB or a majority of KB."Users quickly made it clear that they weren't interested in an "unlimited" data plan with such limits, forcing Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure -- who claimed he was asleep in Tokyo during all the ruckus -- to reverse course and remove the 600 kbps limit. This flub came after the company's CEO had been making it perfectly clear Sprint is planning to kill unlimited data entirely, one of the few things people actually like about Sprint. In short, Sprint's trying very hard lately to act like the more-disruptive T-Mobile, but as the uncool "dad jeans" of the wireless sector, isn't quite sure how to go about it.
@JohnLegere I am so tired of your Uncarrier bullshit when you are worse than the other two carriers together. Your cheap misleading lease— MarceloClaure (@marceloclaure) July 2, 2015
.@marceloclaure you mad bro?— John Legere (@JohnLegere) July 2, 2015
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