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The Almighty Buck

$415 Million Settlement Approved In Tech Worker Anti-Poaching Case 83

An anonymous reader writes: Adobe, Apple, Google, and Intel have been embroiled in a high-profile court case accusing them of creating anti-poaching agreements in an attempt to keep tech industry salaries under control. Now, Judge Lucy Koh has ruled that the $415 million settlement against the tech giants is fair, and will stand. Koh also cut in half the amount awarded to the attorneys in the case. The lawsuit was a class-action originally joined by about 64,000 workers. Other companies were involved with the case, and reached settlements earlier, and a few members of the class action may opt out of any settlement. But the remaining members will only get something in the vicinity of $6,000 apiece for the damage done to their earnings.
Piracy

More Popcorn Time Users Sued 146

An anonymous reader writes: The torrent-based video streaming software Popcorn Time has been in the news lately as multiple entities have initiated legal action over its use. Now, 16 Oregon-based Comcast subscribers have been targeted for their torrenting of the movie Survivor. The attorney who filed the lawsuit (PDF) says his client, Survivor Productions Inc., doesn't plan to seek any more than the minimum $750 fine, and that their goal is to "deter infringement." The lawsuit against these Popcorn Time users was accompanied by 12 other lawsuits targeting individuals who acquired copies of the movie using more typical torrenting practices.
Bitcoin

Secret Service Agent Pleads Guilty In Bitcoin Theft 82

An anonymous reader writes: A former Secret Service agent has pleaded guilty to charges related to the theft of $800,000 worth of bitcoins during a high-profile investigation into the online drug marketplace Silk Road. Reuters reports: "Shaun Bridges, 33, appeared in federal court in San Francisco and admitted to money laundering and obstruction of justice....In court on Monday, Bridges admitted his theft made Ulbricht believe that another individual was stealing from Silk Road and helped lead Ulbricht to try to hire someone to kill that person."
Microsoft

A Courtroom Victory For Microsoft In Cellphone-Related Patent Suit 14

Mark Wilson writes: Microsoft has been cleared of patent infringement by the US International Trade Commission. The case dates back to 2007 when InterDigital Inc claimed Microsoft infringed its patents, and there were calls for a ban on the import of handsets. InterDigital Inc has been battling in court for eight years, initially trying to claim royalties on phones made by Nokia, now transferred to Microsoft. As well as blocking the call for an import ban, the ITC stated that Microsoft did not infringe patents relating to the way mobiles make calls. In short Microsoft is in the clear and InterDigital's rights have not been violated.
Crime

Harshest Penalty for Alleged Rapist Was For Using a Computer To Arrange Contact With Teen 263

An anonymous reader writes: Today in a nationally publicized case, an alleged rapist from a fairly elite boarding school was convicted of a number of related misdemeanors, but the jury did not find him guilty of rape. According to the New York Times, his lone felony conviction was "using a computer to lure a minor." In effect, a criminal was convicted of multiple misdemeanors, including sexual penetration of a child, but the biggest penalty he faces is a felony record and years in jail because he used a computer to contact the child, rather than picking her up at a coffee shop, meeting her at a party, or hiring a fifteen-year-old prostitute. Prosecutors have these "using a computer" charges as an additional quiver in their bow, but should we really be making it a felony to use a computer for non-computer-related crime when there is no underlying felony conviction?
The Courts

Federal Court Overturns Ruling That NSA Metadata Collection Was Illegal 150

New submitter captnjohnny1618 writes: NPR is reporting that an appeals court has overturned the decision that found the NSA's bulk data collection to be illegal. "Judges for the District of Columbia court of appeals found that the man who brought the case, conservative lawyer Larry Klayman, could not prove that his particular cellphone records had been swept up in NSA dragnets." The article clarifies that due to the recent passage of new laws governing how metadata is collected, this is of less significance than it would have otherwise been: "If you remember, after a fierce battle, both houses of Congress voted in favor of a law that lets phone companies keep that database, but still allows the government to query it for specific data. The three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia still decided to take on the case, because that new program doesn't begin until 180 days after the date that law was enacted (June 2, 2015.)" On top of that, the injunction from the earlier ruling never actually went into effect. Still, it seems like an important ruling to me: a government agency was willfully and directly violating the rights of the Americans (and international citizens as well) and now it's just going to get shrugged off?
Wireless Networking

French Woman Gets €800/month For Electromagnetic-Field 'Disability' 456

An anonymous reader writes: If you were dismayed to hear Tuesday's news that a school is being sued over Wi-Fi sickness, you might be even more disappointed in a recent verdict by the French judicial system. A court based in Toulouse has awarded a disability claim of €800 (~$898) per month for three years over a 39-year-old woman's "hypersensitivity to electromagnetic waves." Robin Des Toits, an organization that campaigns for "sufferers" of this malady, was pleased: "We can no longer say that it is a psychiatric illness." (Actually, we can and will.) The woman has been living in a remote part of France's south-west mountains with no electricity around. She claims to be affected by common gadgets like cellphones.
Government

Kansas Secretary of State Blocks Release of Voting Machine Tapes 284

PvtVoid writes: Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson has filed a lawsuit under Kansas' open records law to force the state to release paper tape records from voting machines, to be used as data in her research on statistical anomalies in voting patterns in the state. Clarkson, a certified quality engineer with a Ph.D. in statistics, has analyzed election returns in Kansas and elsewhere over several elections that indicate 'a statistically significant' pattern where the percentage of Republican votes increase the larger the size of the precinct. The pattern could be voter fraud or a demographic trend that has not been picked up by extensive polling. Secretary of State Kris Kobach argued that the records sought by Clarkson are not subject to the Kansas open records act, and that their disclosure is prohibited by Kansas statute.
Wireless Networking

Massachusetts Boarding School Sued Over Wi-Fi Sickness 588

alphadogg writes: The parents of an anonymous student at the Fay School in Southborough, Mass., allege that the Wi-Fi at the institution is making their child sick, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court earlier this month (PDF). The child, identified only as "G" in court documents, is said to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome. The radio waves emitted by the school's Wi-Fi routers cause G serious discomfort and physical harm, according to the suit. "After being continually denied access to the school in order to test their student's classroom, and having their request that all classrooms in which their child is present have the WiFi network replaced with a hard-wired Ethernet denied, the parents sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act."
Security

Court: FTC Can Punish Companies With Sloppy Cybersecurity 86

jfruh writes: The Congressional act that created the Federal Trade Commission gave that agency broad powers to punish companies engaged in "unfair and deceptive practices." Today, a U.S. appeals court affirmed that sloppy cybersecurity falls under that umbrella. The case involves data breaches at Wyndham Worldwide, which stored customer payment card information in clear, readable text, and used easily guessed passwords to access its important systems.
Stats

Mostly Theater? Taking Aim At White House 'We the People' Petitions 68

theodp writes: "Since we launched We the People in 2011," wrote the White House last month, "millions of Americans have engaged with their government on the issues that matter to them. This groundbreaking online platform has made petitioning the government, a First Amendment right, more accessible than ever. Over the past few years, the Obama administration has taken a stance on a number of causes that citizens really care about and used the We the People petition platform to voice their concerns." Sounds good, but even if the White House is listening to We the People petitions, as it assured skeptics, one wonders what — and who — exactly they are listening to. Petitions suffer from being aye-only, lack identity and location verification, and appear to have other data quality issues. One attempting to explore the petition data for the 67,022-and-counting signers of a new petition urging a quick response to a court decision that could cut the time international STEM students can work in the U.S. on student visas after graduation, for example, would be stymied by thousands of missing and non-U.S. postal codes. Plotting what location info is available does show that the petitioners are clustered around tech and university hubs, hardly a surprise, but it sheds no context on whether these represent corporate, university, and/or international student interests.
Cellphones

In Baltimore and Elsewhere, Police Use Stingrays For Petty Crimes 211

USA Today reports on the widespread use of stingray technology by police to track down even petty criminals and witnesses, as well as their equally widespread reluctance to disclose that use. The article focuses mostly on the city of Baltimore; by cross-checking court records against a surveillance log from the city’s Advanced Technical Team, the USA Today reporters were able to determine at least several hundred cases in which phony ("simulated") cell phone towers were used to snoop traffic. In court, though, and even in the information that the police department provides to the city's prosecutors, the use of these devices is rarely disclosed, thanks to a non-disclosure agreement with the FBI and probably a general reluctance to make public how much the department is using them, especially without bothering to obtain search warrants. From the article: In at least one case, police and prosecutors appear to have gone further to hide the use of a stingray. After Kerron Andrews was charged with attempted murder last year, Baltimore's State's Attorney's Office said it had no information about whether a phone tracker had been used in the case, according to court filings. In May, prosecutors reversed course and said the police had used one to locate him. "It seems clear that misrepresentations and omissions pertaining to the government's use of stingrays are intentional," Andrews' attorney, Assistant Public Defender Deborah Levi, charged in a court filing.

Judge Kendra Ausby ruled last week that the police should not have used a stingray to track Andrews without a search warrant, and she said prosecutors could not use any of the evidence found at the time of his arrest.
Canada

Extortionists Begin Targeting AshleyMadison Users, Demand Bitcoin 286

tsu doh nimh writes: It was bound to happen: Brian Krebs reports that extortionists have begun emailing people whose information is included in the leaked Ashleymadison.com user database, threatening to find and contact the target's spouse and alert them if the recipient fails to cough up 1 Bitcoin. Krebs interviews one guy who got such a demand, a user who admits to having had an affair after meeting a woman on the site and who is now worried about the fallout, which he said could endanger his happily married life with his wife and kids. Perhaps inevitable: two Canadian law firms have filed a class action lawsuit against the company, seeking more than half a billion dollars in damages.
The Courts

Do You Have a Right To Use Electrical Weapons? 698

An anonymous reader writes: David Cravets points out a growing debate in U.S. constitutional law: does the second amendment grant the same rights regarding electrical weapons as it does for traditional firearms? A Massachusetts ban on private ownership of stun-guns is being considered by the Supreme Court, and it's unclear whether such ownership has constitutional protection. The state's top court didn't think so: "... although modern handguns were not in common use at the time of enactment of the Second Amendment, their basic function has not changed: many are readily adaptable to military use in the same way that their predecessors were used prior to the enactment. A stun gun, by contrast, is a thoroughly modern invention (PDF). Even were we to view stun guns through a contemporary lens for purposes of our analysis, there is nothing in the record to suggest that they are readily adaptable to use in the military." The petitioner is asking the court (PDF) to clarify that the Second Amendment covers non-lethal weapons used for self-defense. Constitutional law expert Eugene Volokh agrees: "Some people have religious or ethical compunctions about killing. ... Some adherents to these beliefs may therefore conclude that fairly effective non-deadly defensive tools are preferable to deadly tools."
The Courts

Germany Says Taking Photos Of Food Infringes The Chef's Copyright 280

xPertCodert writes: According to this article in Der Welt (Google translate from German), in Germany if you take a picture of a dish in a restaurant without prior permission, you are violating chef's copyright for his creation and can be liable to pay a hefty fine. If this approach to foodporn will become universal, what will we put in our Instagrams? Techdirt reports: "Apparently, this situation goes back to a German court judgment from 2013, which widened copyright law to include the applied arts too. As a result, the threshold for copyrightability was lowered considerably, with the practical consequence that it was easier for chefs to sue those who posted photographs of their creations without permission. The Die Welt article notes that this ban can apply even to manifestly unartistic piles of food dumped unceremoniously on a plate if a restaurant owner puts up a notice refusing permission for photos to be taken of its food."
Censorship

Now Google Must Censor Search Results About "Right To Be Forgotten" Removals 179

Mark Wilson writes, drolly, that the so-called right to be forgotten "has proved somewhat controversial," and expands on that with a new twist in a post at Beta News: While some see the requirement for Google to remove search results that link to pages that contain information about people that is 'inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant' as a win for privacy, other see it as a form of censorship. To fight back, there have been a number of sites that have started to list the stories Google is forced to stop linking to. In the latest twist, Google has now been ordered to remove links to contemporary news reports about the stories that were previously removed from search results. All clear? Thought not... The Information Commissioner's Office has ordered Google to remove from search results links to nine stories about other search result links removed under the Right to Be Forgotten rules.
Movies

Movie Studio Sues Individual Popcorn Time Users For Infringement 144

An anonymous reader writes with another story about Popcorn Time, after yesterday's report that two Danes were arrested for sharing information about how to use it. From the article at BGR: Often described as 'Netflix for pirates,' Popcorn Time users are now being targeted for infringement. The makers of a film called The Cobbler recently initiated a lawsuit against 11 Popcorn Time users in Oregon for copying and distributing the aforementioned film without authorization. The Cobbler, in case you're unfamiliar, stars Adam Sandler and was released in early 2015 to tepid reviews. "Tepid" is putting it nicely.
The Internet

Former Russian Troll Wins Lawsuit Against Propaganda "Factory" 49

An anonymous reader writes: Lyudmila Savchuk, a former Russian internet "troll" has been awarded one rouble ($0.01) in damages after she sued her ex-employer claiming it was a propaganda "factory". A Russian court ordered the secretive agency to pay her symbolic damages. Savchuk claims that she and her co-workers at Internet Research were paid to flood websites with pro-Putin commentary. The BBC reports: "Ms Savchuk said she was happy with the result because she had succeeded in exposing the work of Russia's internet 'trolls'. Russian media quoted a spokesman for Internet Research denying the accusations. The Kremlin says it has no links to Internet Research's operations. Since leaving the agency, Ms Savchuk has been organizing a public movement against online trolling."
Crime

US No-Fly List Uses 'Predictive Judgement' Instead of Hard Evidence 264

HughPickens.com writes: The Guardian reports that in a little-noticed filing before an Oregon federal judge, the US Justice Department and the FBI conceded that stopping U.S. and other citizens from traveling on airplanes is a matter of "predictive assessments about potential threats." "By its very nature, identifying individuals who 'may be a threat to civil aviation or national security' is a predictive judgment intended to prevent future acts of terrorism in an uncertain context," Justice Department officials Benjamin C Mizer and Anthony J Coppolino told the court. It is believed to be the government's most direct acknowledgment to date that people are not allowed to fly because of what the government believes they might do and not what they have already done. The ACLU has asked Judge Anna Brown to conduct her own review of the error rate in the government's predictions modeling – a process the ACLU likens to the "pre-crime" of Philip K Dick's science fiction. "It has been nearly five years since plaintiffs on the no-fly list filed this case seeking a fair process by which to clear their names and regain a right that most other Americans take for granted," say ACLU lawyers.

The Obama administration is seeking to block the release of further information about how the predictions are made, as damaging to national security. "If the Government were required to provide full notice of its reasons for placing an individual on the No Fly List and to turn over all evidence (both incriminating and exculpatory) supporting the No Fly determination, the No Fly redress process would place highly sensitive national security information directly in the hands of terrorist organizations and other adversaries," says the assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism division, Michael Steinbach.
United States

Georgia Aquarium Battles Federal Government Over Belugas 90

An anonymous reader writes: The Georgia Aquarium has argued in court that the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's denial of its permit to import beluga whales from Russia was arbitrary and capricious. The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service says the aquarium failed to meet the requirements of a law meant to protect marine mammals. Both sides accuse the other of twisting the facts, a NOAA lawyer accuses the aquarium trying "to confuse the court," and a lawyer for the aquarium says the government had "cooked the books" on whale population numbers.