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United Kingdom

Prosecution of UK News Photographer Collapses After Recording Disproves Police Testimony (wordpress.com) 205

Slashdot reader Andy Smith writes: Slashdot reported last September how I was arrested while standing in a field near a road accident, as I photographed the scene for a newspaper. I was initially given a police warning for "obstruction", but the warning was then cancelled and I was prosecuted for resisting arrest and breach of the peace. These are serious charges and I was facing a prison sentence. Fortunately we had one very strong piece of evidence: A recording of my arrest. Not only did the recording prove that two police officers' testimony was false, but it caught one of them boasting about how he had conspired with a prosecutor to arrest and prosecute me. Yesterday the case was dropped, and now the two police officers and the prosecutor face a criminal investigation.
Open Source

'Open Source Security' Loses in Court, Must Pay $259,900 To Bruce Perens (theregister.co.uk) 116

Bruce Perens co-founded the Open Source Initiative with Eric Raymond -- and he's also Slashdot reader #3872. Now he's just won a legal victory in court. "Open Source Security, maker of the grsecurity Linux kernel patches, has been directed to pay Bruce Perens and his legal team almost $260,000 following a failed defamation claim," reports The Register. Slashdot reader Right to Opine writes: The order requires Spengler and his company to pay $259,900.50, with the bill due immediately rather than allowing a wait for the appeal of the case. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's attorneys will represent Perens during OSS/Spengler's appeal of the case.

Perens was sued for comments on his blog and here on Slashdot that suggested that OSS's Grsecurity product could be in violation of the GPL license on the Linux kernel. The court had previously ruled that Perens' statements were not defamatory, because they were statements by a non-attorney regarding an undecided issue in law. It is possible that Spengler is personally liable for any damages his small company can't pay, since he joined the case as an individual in order to preserve a claim of false light (which could not be brought by his company), removing his own corporate protection.

Crime

Two Teenaged Gamers Plead 'Not Guilty' For Fatal Kansas Swatting Death (reuters.com) 148

Two more men entered pleas in federal court for their roles in a SWAT call that led to a fatal police shooting in Kansas: not guilty. An anonymous reader quotes Reuters: Shane Gaskill, 19, of Wichita, Kansas, and Casey Viner, 18, from a suburb of Cincinnati, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday and remained free on $10,000 bond, court records showed. Both of the suspects live with their parents, local media reported. In the so-called "swatting" incident, in which someone falsely reports an emergency requiring a police response, Viner got upset at Gaskill over a video game they played online, federal prosecutors said, and Viner contacted a known "swatter"...and asked him to make the false report to police at an address that had been provided by Gaskill. Viner did not know that Gaskill no longer lived at the address, but Gaskill knew, prosecutors said.

After media reports of the shooting, Gaskill urged [swatter Tyler] Barriss to delete their communications and Viner wiped his phone, according to the indictment... Barriss and Viner face federal charges of conspiracy and several counts of wire fraud. Viner and Gaskill were charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, and Gaskill was also charged with wire fraud and additional counts of obstruction of justice.

In a jailhouse interview in January, Barriss told a local news team that "Whether you hang me from a tree, or you give me 5, 10, 15 years... I don't think it will ever justify what happened... I hope no one ever does it, ever again. I hope it's something that ceases to exist."

In April, while still in jail, Barriss gained access to the internet then posted "All right, now who was talking shit? >:) Your ass is about to get swatted."
The Courts

The Silk Road's Alleged Right-Hand Man Will Finally Face a US Court (arstechnica.com) 73

It's been nearly five years since the FBI surrounded Ross Ulbricht in the science fiction section of a San Francisco library, arrested him, and grabbed the laptop from which he had run the dark web drug bazaar known as the Silk Road. Ulbricht went on trial in a New York courtroom, and is currently serving a life sentence without parole. But even now, the Silk Road saga still hasn't ended: Half a decade after Ulbricht's arrest, his alleged advisor, mentor and right-hand man Roger Clark will finally face a US court, too. From a report: On Friday, the FBI, IRS, DHS, and prosecutors in the Southern District of New York announced the extradition of 56-year-old Canadian man Roger Clark from a Thai jail cell to New York to face newly unsealed charges for his role in Silk Road's operation. The indictment accuses Clark, who allegedly went by the pseudonyms Variety Jones, Cimon, and Plural of Mongoose in his role as Silk Road's consigliere, of crimes ranging from narcotics trafficking to money laundering. But even those charges don't capture the outsize role Clark is believed to have played in building and managing the Silk Road, from security audits to marketing, and even reportedly encouraging Ulbricht to use violence to maintain his empire.

"As Ulbricht's right-hand man, Roger Clark allegedly advised him of methods to thwart law enforcement during the operation of this illegal ploy, pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process," writes FBI assistant director William Sweeney in a press statement. "Today's extradition of Roger Clark shows that despite alleged attempts to operate under the radar, he was never out of our reach."

Crime

US Files Criminal Charges Against Theranos's Elizabeth Holmes, Ramesh Balwani (wsj.com) 124

John Carreyrou, reporting for WSJ: Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes and the blood-testing company's former No. 2 executive, alleging that they defrauded investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and also defrauded doctors and patients. The indictments of Ms. Holmes and Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, Theranos's former president and chief operating officer who was also Ms. Holmes's boyfriend, are the culmination of a two-and-a-half-year investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco, sparked by articles in The Wall Street Journal that raised questions about the company's technology and practices. Ms. Holmes, 34 years old, and Mr. Balwani, 53, were charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud in an indictment handed up Thursday and unsealed Friday.
The Courts

6 Fitbit Employees Charged With Stealing Trade Secrets From Jawbone (mercurynews.com) 80

Six current and former Fitbit employees were charged in a federal indictment Thursday filed in San Jose for allegedly being in possession of trade secrets stolen from competitor Jawbone, according to information from the Department of Justice. From a report: The indictment charges the six people -- Katherine Mogal, 52, of San Francisco; Rong Zhang, 45, of El Cerrito; Jing Qi Weiden, 39, of San Jose; Ana Rosario, 33, of Pacifica; Patrick Narron, 41, of Boulder Creek; and Patricio Romano, 37, of Calabasas -- with violating confidentiality agreements they had signed as former employees of Jawbone after they accepted employment with Fitbit, according to an announcement from Acting U.S. Attorney Alex G. Tse and Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Spradlin. San Francisco-based companies Fitbit and Jawbone were competitors in making wearable fitness trackers until Jawbone, once valued at $3.2B, went out of business in 2017. Each of the defendants worked for Jawbone for at least one year between May 2011 and April 2015, and had signed a confidentiality agreement with the company, according to the Department of Justice.
Businesses

A British Plumber May Show Uber the Future of Employment (bloomberg.com) 96

A British plumber may show Uber the future of employment. From a report: The U.K.'s top judges ruled Wednesday that Pimlico Plumbers Ltd. should've treated one of its tradesman as a "worker," giving him the right to vacation pay and to sue the company in a decision that could have ramifications for other gig economy lawsuits. Supreme Court judges found that plumber Gary Smith, who worked for London-based Pimlico Plumbers between August 2005 and April 2011, wasn't self-employed or a client of the firm, giving him the right to sue the company under discrimination laws.

"This is one of the most significant employment status decisions we have seen in the last five years," said James Murray, an employment lawyer at Kingsley Napley in London. Uber and other app-based firms will be watching the ruling with interest as they face similar legal challenges over the way they treat employees. Uber's appeal of a decision granting its drivers benefits including overtime and paid vacation is scheduled to be heard by another court October 30. Meanwhile Deliveroo, the food-delivery service, is currently battling the IWGB union over its riders' employment status and in May, taxi service Addison Lee lost an appeal over whether drivers were independent contractors or employees with rights to benefits.

Social Networks

Turkey Bans Periscope (stockholmcf.org) 87

stikves writes: According to online reports, a recent court order has banned Periscope across Turkey. The cited reason is the alleged violation of copyrights of a local company named "Periskop." This adds to the list of online services no longer available in Turkey, including Wikipedia, PayPal and WordPress, among others. While access from Turkey to the domain periscope.tv and to the Twitter account "periscopeco" is banned, users can still access Periscope services under the name Scope TR and Twitter account "scopetr." Lawyers from Twitter, Apple and Google requested rejection of the case, "saying it was impossible for a company like Twitter, operating in the U.S., to be aware of the existence of the same brand name in Turkey," reports Stockholm Center for Freedom.
Businesses

Vietnam Lawmakers Approve Cyber Law Clamping Down on Tech Firms, Dissent (reuters.com) 46

Vietnamese legislators approved a cybersecurity law on Tuesday that tightens control of the internet and global tech companies operating in the Communist-led country, raising fears of economic harm and a further crackdown on dissent. From a report: The cyber law, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2019, requires Facebook, Google and other global technology firms to store locally "important" personal data on users in Vietnam and open offices there. The vote in the National Assembly came a day after lawmakers delayed a decision on another controversial bill that had sparked violent protests in parts of the country on the weekend. Thousands of demonstrators in cities and provinces had denounced a plan to create new economic zones for foreign investment that has fueled anti-Chinese sentiment. Some protesters had also derided the cybersecurity bill, which experts and activists say could cause economic harm and stifle online dissent.
Digital

Sweden Tries To Halt Its March To Total Cashlessness (bloomberg.com) 329

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: A key committee of Swedish lawmakers wants to force the country's biggest banks to handle cash in an effort to halt the nation's march toward complete cashlessness. Parliament's Riksbank committee, which is in the process of reviewing the central bank law, proposed making it mandatory for banks to offer cash withdrawals and handle daily receipts. The requirement would apply to banks that provide checking accounts and have more than 70 billion kronor ($8 billion) in deposits from the Swedish public, according to a report.

The lawmakers said there needs to be "reasonable access to those services in all of Sweden," and that 99 percent of Swedes should have a maximum distance of 25 kilometers (16 miles) to the nearest cash withdrawal. The requirement doesn't state how banks should offer those services, and lenders can choose whether to use a third party, machines or over-the-counter services. The move is a response to Sweden's rapid transformation as it becomes one of the most cashless societies in the world. That's led to concerns that some people are finding it increasingly difficult to cope without access to mobile phones or bank cards. There are also fears around what would happen if the digital payments systems suddenly crashed.

Earth

The Icelandic Families Tracking Climate Change With Measuring Tape (undark.org) 88

Gloria Dickie, writing for Undark Magazine: A 30-meter Komelon-branded measuring tape, a pencil, and a yellow paper form are all Hallsteinn Haraldsson carries with him when he travels to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland. But unfurling the measuring tape before me at his home in Mosfellsbaer, a town just outside of Reykjavik, he says it is a significant upgrade from the piece of marked rope he used to bring along. With 11 percent of the landmass covered in ice, rapidly ebbing glaciers are threatening to reshape Iceland's landscape, and Haraldsson, 74, is part of a contingent of volunteer glacier monitors who are at the frontlines of tracking the retreat. Every autumn, Haraldsson, often accompanied by his wife and son, sets off on foot to measure the changes in his assigned glacier.

Their rudimentary tools are a far cry from the satellites and time-lapse photography deployed around the world in recent decades to track ice loss, and lately, there's been talk of disbanding this nearly century-old, low-tech network of monitors. But this sort of ground-truthing work has more than one purpose: With Iceland's glaciers at their melting point, these men and women -- farmers, schoolchildren, a plastic surgeon, even a Supreme Court judge -- serve not only as the glaciers' guardians, but also their messengers. Today, some 35 volunteers monitor 64 measurement sites around the country. The numbers they collect are published in the Icelandic scientific journal Jokull, and submitted to the World Glacier Monitoring Service database. Vacancies for glacier monitors are rare and highly sought-after, and many glaciers have been in the same family for generations, passed down to sons and daughters, like Haraldsson, when the journey becomes too arduous for their aging watchmen. It's very likely one of the longest-running examples of citizen climate science in the world. But in an age when precision glacier tracking can be conducted from afar, it remains unclear whether, or for how long, this sort of heirloom monitoring will continue into the future. It's a question even some of the network's own members have been asking.

DRM

Lawrence Lessig Criticizes Proposed 140-Year Copyright Protections (techcrunch.com) 174

EqualCitizens.US reports on growing opposition to the CLASSICS Act proposed by the U.S. Congress, which grants blanket copyright protection to all audio works created before 1972, leaving some of them copyrighted until 2067. Importantly, the Act doesn't require artists or the rights holder to register for the copyright. Rather, any and all pre-1972 sound recordings would be copyrighted, greatly limiting the public's access to these works. Various organizations and scholars have responded. Equal Citizens along with a coalition of internet freedom and democracy reform organizations, is sending this letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee to urge its members to reject this Act in its entirety, or at a minimum, at least require registration of pre-1972 works. Otherwise, if the Act passes as is, famous artists and wealthy corporations will benefit greatly while the public will get absolutely nothing in return, as Professor Lawrence Lessig notes in Wired....

This act will limit access to past works and stifle creativity for new works. It would effectively remove many existing works, including some popular documentaries, podcasts, etc., from the public arena. The Coalition recommends adding a registration requirement to secure the extended copyright term, such that works that nobody claimed could be allowed to enter the public domain. As this TechCrunch report on the coalition letter explains:

By having artists and rights owners register, it solves the problem for everyone. Anyone who wants to have their pre-1972 works brought into the new scheme can easily achieve that, but orphan works will enter the public domain as they ought to.

"Either way," Lessig writes, "it is finally clear that the Supreme Court's prediction that the copyright owners would be satisfied with the copyright protection provided by the Sonny Bono Act turns out not to be true."
Privacy

Facebook Gave Some Developers Access To Users' Friends After Policy Changed (usatoday.com) 31

Facebook granted a select group of companies special access to its users' records even after the point in 2015 that the company has claimed it stopped sharing such data with app developers. USA Today reports: According to the Wall Street Journal, which cited court documents, unnamed Facebook officials and other unnamed sources, Facebook made special agreements with certain companies called "whitelists," which gave them access to extra information about a user's friends. This includes data such as phone numbers and "friend links," which measure the degree of closeness between users and their friends. These deals were made separately from the company's data-sharing agreements with device manufacturers such as Huawei, which Facebook disclosed earlier this week after a New York Times report on the arrangement. Facebook said following the WSJ report it inked deals with a small number of developers that gave them access to users' friends after the more restrictive policy went into effect.
Politics

In a Blow To E-Voting Critics, Brazil Suspends Use of All Paper Ballots (arstechnica.com) 120

An anonymous reader shares a report: In a blow to electronic-voting critics, Brazil's Supreme Court has suspended the use of all paper ballots in this year's elections. The ruling means that only electronic ballot boxes will be used, and there will be no voter-verified paper trail that officials can use to check the accuracy of results. In an 8-2 majority, justices on Wednesday sided with government arguments that the paper trails posed a risk to ballot secrecy, Brazil's Folha De S.Paulo newspaper reported on Thursday. In so doing, the justices suspended a requirement that 5 percent of Brazil's ballot boxes this year use paper. That requirement, by Brazil's Supreme Electoral Court, already represented a major weakening of an election reform bill passed in 2015. Speaking in support of Wednesday's decision, Justice Gilmar Mendes equated proponents of voter-verified paper trails to conspiracy theorists. "After the statements made here [by those who defend paper votes], we have to believe that perhaps we did not actually reach the moon," Mendes was quoted as saying. "There are beliefs and even a religion around this theme."
Google

Google Facing Billions in EU Antitrust Fines (axios.com) 230

Another EU antitrust fine for Google is coming down the pipe in mid-July over allegations Google has used its Android mobile operating system to beat out rivals, Reuters reports. From a report: The European Commission has been investigating the case since 2015. It's another example of how the EU takes anti-competition violations far more seriously than the U.S. In June of last year, the EU slapped Google with a record $2.8 billion fine for anti-trust practices around its search product, which they said unfairly pushed consumers to use Google's Shopping platform. Sources told Reuters they expect this new fine to top that record.
Government

US Piles New Charges on Marcus Hutchins (aka MalwareTech) (bleepingcomputer.com) 104

British cyber-security researcher Marcus Hutchins, who has been credited with stopping the spread of WannaCry, is now facing four more charges related to separate malware he is alleged to have created. BleepingComputer reports: According to court documents, the new charges are for allegedly creating another piece of malware and for lying to the FBI. Hutchins had previously been accused of creating and selling the Kronos banking trojan last year. But in a superseding indictment filed this week, U.S. prosecutors claim Hutchins also coded and sold another piece of malware called the UPAS Kit. According to US prosecutors, UPAS Kit "used a form grabber and web injects to intercept and collect personal information from a protected computer," and "allowed for the unauthorized exfiltration of information from protected computers." The U.S. government claims Hutchins sold this second malware strain in July 2012 to a person going by the online pseudonym of Aurora123, who later infected US users. Hutchins expressed disappointment on the development, tweeting, "Spend months and $100k+ fighting this case, then they go and reset the clock by adding even more bullshit charges like 'lying to the FBI.' We require more minerals." In a subsequent tweet, he requested people to help him with the cost of legal proceedings.
Youtube

YouTube Can Be Liable For Copyright Infringing Videos, Court Rules (torrentfreak.com) 170

An anonymous reader shares a report: YouTube is known to be a breeding ground for creators. At the same time, however, it's also regularly used to share copyrighted material without permission. While copyright holders can issue takedown notices to remove infringing content, a preliminary ruling by the Commercial Court in Vienna has decided this is not sufficient. The ruling follows a complaint from local television channel Puls 4. After a thorough review of YouTube's functionalities, the Court concluded that YouTube has an obligation to prevent third parties from uploading infringing content. In its defense, YouTube argued that it's a neutral hosting provider under the provisions of the E-Commerce Act. As such, it should be shielded from direct liability for the actions of users. However, the Commercial Court disagreed, noting that YouTube takes several motivated actions to organize and optimize how videos are displayed. By doing so, it becomes more than a neutral hosting provider.
Science

Judge Orders EPA To Produce Science Behind Pruitt's Climate Claims (scientificamerican.com) 428

EPA must produce the opposing body of science Administrator Scott Pruitt has relied upon to claim that humans are not the primary drivers of global warming, a federal judge has ruled. From a report: The EPA boss has so far resisted attempts to show the science backing up his claims. His critics say such evidence doesn't exist, even as Pruitt has called for greater science transparency at the agency. Now, a court case may compel him to produce research that attempts to contradict the mountain of peer-reviewed studies collected by the world's top science agencies over decades that show humans are warming the planet at an unprecedented pace through the burning of fossil fuels. Not long after he took over as EPA administrator, Pruitt appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Box," where he was asked about carbon dioxide and climate change. He said, "I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see." The next day, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER, filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the studies Pruitt used to make his claims. Specifically, the group requested "EPA documents that support the conclusion that human activity is not the largest factor driving global climate change." On Friday, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Beryl Howell, ordered the agency to comply.
The Courts

Judge Rules Amazon Isn't Liable For Damages Caused By a Hoverboard It Sold (cnbc.com) 176

Earlier this week, a judge in Tennessee ruled that Amazon isn't liable for damages caused by a hoverboard that spontaneously exploded and burned down a family's house, even though they bought it on Amazon's website. "The plaintiff claimed that Amazon didn't properly warn her about the dangers they knew existed with the product, but the judge didn't agree," reports CNBC. At the time, hoverboards were all the rage; Amazon sold almost 250,000 of them over a 30-day period. The plaintiff claims the company had an obligation to warn customers properly about the dangers it knew existed. "[The plaintiff] bought the hoverboard on Amazon, the receipt came from Amazon, the box had an Amazon label and all the money was in Amazon's hands," adds CNBC. "[The plaintiff] has been unable to find the Chinese manufacturer of the device." From the report: It's the latest legal victory for Amazon, which has for years fended off litigation related to product quality and safety by arguing that, for a big and growing part of its business, it's just a marketplace. There are buyers on one end and sellers on the other -- the argument goes -- and Amazon connects them through a popular portal, facilitating the transaction with a sophisticated logistics system. The courts are reinforcing the power of Amazon's business model as the ultimate middleman. But for American consumers, there's growing cause for concern. [...] But if Amazon isn't liable when faulty products sold through its website cause personal injuries and property damage, customers are often left with no recourse. That's because it's frequently impossible for consumers to figure out who manufactured the defective product and hold that party responsible.
Canada

Woman Looking At Apple Watch Found Guilty of Distracted Driving (nationalpost.com) 128

Ontario law defines distracted driving as "holding or using a handheld wireless communication device" -- and a judge just fined Victoria Ambrose $400 for checking her Apple Watch while waiting at a stoplight. Long-time Slashdot reader innocent_white_lamb quotes the National Post: Even with its miniaturization and trendy technology, an Apple Watch is no safer "than a cellphone taped to someone's wrist," said a justice of the peace, while convicting a Guelph woman this month of holding or using a hand-held wireless communication device while driving... "The key to determining this matter is distraction. It is abundantly clear from the evidence that Ms. Ambrose was distracted..."
When the light turned green Ambrose had remained parked at an intersection, according to the officer who ticketed her, though two cars ahead of her had moved forward. Ambrose testified that she was only checking the time, but the officer told the court he'd seen Ambrose check her watch four different times.

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