March 16, 2006
Web Sites Offer Anonymous Venting
And they name names, too. The Chicago Tribune is reporting about a number of web sites that offer anonymous venters to complain about everything from bad tippers to bad bosses, and everything in between. Some have resulted in litigation, as individuals who have allegedly riled anonymous venters have been named. One attorney identified as a bad tipper is cited by the story. In his defense, he said the $3 tip on a $200 bill was an error of a decimal point. And that actually points out the problem with these sites. While it may feel good to blast a perceived injustice, how can one defend against this? It's not pretty. Maybe it's time to invoke that law congress passed earlier that prohibits anonymous communications with the intent to annoy.
Read it in the Trib (free with site subscription).
Net Neutrality Update
Quest CEO Richard Notebart (formerly with Ameritech, now part of SBC which is now the new AT&T) said his company would never degrade web traffic on his company's network to get a competitive advantage. More at eWeek.
In other news, Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said while he favored the principle of net neutrality, he didn't think it would be in the telecommunications bill that's before the Commerce Committee. Senator Stevens is the chair. The National Journal has one take on the story, with CNET having a slightly different one. That story suggests a more luke-warm support for the principle by the senator.
Another Court Holds Google Caching Legal
A federal court in Pennsylvania dismissed copyright claims against Google brought by an e-book author that covered caching of his web site and other entries in Google's Usenet archive. The story is at CNET, and the opinion is here. Judge Surrick issued his opinion on March 10.
March 15, 2006
Sony Loses Patent Round on Game Technology
Sony has been locked in a patent battle with Immersion Technology over Sony's use of "DualShock Technology" as used in the PlayStation 2. This involves the use of vibrating motors that provide feedback in game controllers. Immersion sued Sony and Microsoft in 2004 and won a judgment of $82 million. Sony claimed in a later case that Immersion withheld evidence, seeking to overturn the ruling. The District Court said no, and now Sony faces damages at $91 million. No word on Sony's next step, which would be to the Court of Appeals.
Sony PlayStation 3 Delayed
Sony announced that the PlayStation 3 has been delayed due to digital rights management software for the Blu-ray drives that will be part of the console. The technology standard for Blu-ray copyright protection has yet to be finalized. CNN International has the story.
I guess root kit technology is out on that that system.
Apple Issues Patches for OS X
Apple issued its own set of patches for OS X on Monday that fixes security flaws. The story is in CNET, and a follow-up story has an interview with Bud Tribble, one of the architects of OS X on hacker attention to Apple and Apple's patch policies.
Microsoft Patch Tuesday - Critical Fixes
Yesterday was patch Tuesday for Microsoft, and there are critical fixes for Windows and Office. As typical, these fixes go after flaws that would allow attackers to take over a computer. Details from ComputerWorld.
March 14, 2006
Judge to Order Google to Give Some Information to the Government
The hearing in the subpoena dispute between the Department of Justice and Google took place today. According to the Washington Post, Judge Ware said he would order Google to turn over some information, specifically a random sample list of web sites in the Google database. The Judge expressed concern about other parts of the government's request. He expressed concern about giving the government a random sample of search requests, stating that he didn't want to create the impression that search engines could become tools for government surveillance.
There is some indication in the press that Google negotiated with the DOJ for a disclosure that was more palatable to the company. That report is in Red Herring. The Court indicated that a formal ruling was imminent.
Court filings are available at FindLaw.
March 13, 2006
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Watching the Watchers
The Chicago Tribune published an investigative report yesterday on how easy it is to use the Internet to out CIA employees, even the secret ones. The story lead starts with a description of an agent, her general past history and current whereabouts. The Tribune did not publish so many details at the request of the CIA, who, from the tone of the story, acknowledged what the paper uncovered. In fact, using subscription based online services, the Tribune was able to find "a virtual directory of more than 2,600 CIA employees, 50 internal agency telephone numbers and the locations of some two dozen secret CIA facilities around the United States." This has got to be scary for an agency that does most of its business in shadows.
It has to be scary for the rest of us as well, as 1) the government can't keep certain secrets which they ought to keep, 2) even though we know our lives are digitized, we don't know the true extent, and 3) if the Tribune can get information on 2,600 CIA agents, what can anybody get on us?
Scary stuff. Lexis and Westlaw have people finder portions of their databases that contain some truly detailed information about people, although they were not mentioned in the article. The paper probably used other sites as well, similar to those who promised telephone records for anyone. Those sites came through prompting outrage and legislation. Will these disclosures do the same?
The article is on the Tribune web site, with free access via site subscription.