They called you a troll, deal with it—court slaps down libel lawsuit

Found on Ars Technica on Monday, 19 August 2019
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Automated Transactions LLC (ATL) is a small firm known for its aggressive enforcement of broad patents related to automated teller machines. Numerous critics labeled ATL a patent troll, and in 2016 the firm sued several of them in New Hampshire state courts, arguing that the label was defamatory.

New Hampshire's Supreme Court ruled that calling someone a "troll" was just such a statement of opinion—and so it can't be defamatory.

In the 1990s, ATL founder David Barcelou invented a machine for automated gaming that made cash payouts to winners. While his invention never became commercially successful, he patented some of the underlying concepts—including patents related to the process of paying out cash to customers.

The patent system is obviously completely broken if you can patent giving cash to a customer.

WIPO Says Websites In Its Pirate Database Don't Deserve Due Process

Found on Techdirt on Thursday, 01 August 2019
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After a number of emails back and forth, WIPO eventually told me that since this database is "under formal discussion by WIPO member states at a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Enforcement" in early September, WIPO felt that it was best not to comment until after it's too late for it to matter and after the member states have discussed it. That strikes me as odd.

I am quite sure that Thille thought he was being helpful here -- and, he actually was being super helpful in revealing WIPO's complete and utter disgust for basic due process on issues that impact speech and innovation.

You cannot leave any legal questions to companies, because they will always find a way to abuse this new power.

Proposed US law would ban infinite scroll, autoplaying video

Found on Ars Technica on Tuesday, 30 July 2019
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Nobody likes auto-playing video or sites that keep scrolling away infinitely when you're just trying to reach the bottom of the page. But you probably don't hate either "feature" as much as Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who introduced a bill today to ban these and other "exploitative" practices.

Hawley's bill also seeks to ban social media gamification, including "badges and other awards linked to engagement with the platform," such as the emoji rewards Snapchat users earn for Snapstreaks.

On second thought, it does not sound as stupid as it does on the first thought. Especially autoplay is the worst that can happen, followed closely by the marqee and blink tags of the early days.

Office 365 declared illegal in German schools due to privacy risks

Found on Ars Technica on Tuesday, 16 July 2019
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Although the press release specifically targets Office 365, it notes that competing Apple and Google cloud suites also do not satisfy German privacy regulations for use in schools.

The Hessian commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HBDI) isn't just saying that schools would prefer not to use Microsoft, he's stating that their use of Office 365 is outright illegal.

In addition to the physical geography of the cloud, the HBDI is unhappy about telemetry in both Office 365 and Windows 10 itself. Neither can be disabled by end users or organizations, and the content of both remains undisclosed by Microsoft despite repeated inquiries.

Microsoft has since the beginning ignored any questions about privacy when it comes to telemetry and refused to make it possible for the user to turn it off completely. So, yes, it serves them right.

Firm fat-fingered G Suite and deleted its data, so it escalated its support ticket to a lawsuit

Found on The Register on Monday, 15 July 2019
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An interior design tools startup called Mosss on Wednesday sued Google to get it to restore its data after someone at the startup accidentally deleted the firm's G Suite account.

"[W]hile clearly an urgent matter, to our dismay, our case was not escalated, and no action was taken for nearly three days!" the filing says. "From a business point of view, we had no access to emails and lost all contact with our clients and users."

Mosss (Musey) said while investors have put $1.5m into the firm, it's not seeking monetary damages.

So, in other words, Mosss raked in $1.5m from investors, but still failed the most basic and most essential IT lessons: make backups. This case should be laughed out of court, along with this stupid reliance on "cloud" services.

Facebook 'to be fined $5bn over Cambridge Analytica scandal'

Found on BBCNews on Saturday, 13 July 2019
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The consumer protection agency the FTC began investigating Facebook in March 2018 following reports that Cambridge Analytica had accessed the data of tens of millions of its users.

Facebook had been expecting this. It told investors back in April that it had put aside most of the money, which means the firm won't feel much added financial strain from this penalty.

As was common with apps and games at that time, it was designed to harvest not only the user data of the person taking part in the quiz, but also the data of their friends.

Too much? By far not enough.

Front-end dev cops to billing NSA $220,000 for hours he didn't work

Found on The Register on Thursday, 04 July 2019
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A software developer employed by two different IT subcontractors participating in separate National Security Agency (NSA) contracts has pleaded guilty to submitting false claims about the number of hours he worked, according to the US Department of Justice.

Unsurprisingly, the NSA keeps track of the comings and goings of people at secure facilities. According to the plea agreement, the agency's tally of Smego's time on-site fell short of his claimed work hours.

How stupid do you have to be when you try to cheat on the monitor-everything NSA?

Woman knocked down while on phone wins payout from cyclist

Found on The Guardian on Wednesday, 19 June 2019
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Judge Shanti Mauger, at Central London county court, said the cyclist was “a calm and reasonable road user” and that Brushett was looking at her phone when she walked into the road in front of him.

The judge’s ruling found that the parties shared responsibility, so while Brushett is guaranteed a payout, she will get only half of the full value of her claim.

People have to learn to look ahead. Yes, the cyclist might have done better, but walking around like a blind zombie and staring at your phone should be reason enough to dismiss any claims. People dumb down more and more and expect others to be responsible.

Porn trolling lawyer jailed for 14 years

Found on BBC News on Monday, 17 June 2019
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Paul Hansmeier shared copies of pornographic films online and then sued people who downloaded them, for copyright infringement.

The scheme was unmasked because some victims refused to settle, and decided to fight the copyright claim in court.

The judge has also ordered Hansmeier to repay $1.5m to 704 victims of the scam.

Took long enough, but at least this troll got what he deserved.

Parliament gets its knife out for veggie burgers

Found on Politico on Wednesday, 15 May 2019
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MEPs in the European Parliament's agriculture committee are now pushing to enshrine into law that only meat products can use words such as "steak," "sausage," "escalope," "burger" and "hamburger."

Needless to say, environmentalists and vegetarian food providers see an outright assault on increasingly popular plant-based foods.

If you need to give your food a meat-connected name, then you are not really supporting the idea behind it. As long as you need to lie to yourself (or worse, your customers), you might as well drop the farce and eat real meat. However, if you see a vegan life as an enjoyable alternative, you do not need to stay tied to what you want to leave behind.