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HughPickens.com writes James Swearingen writes at The Atlantic that the Internet can be a mean, hateful, and frightening place — especially for young women but human behavior and the limits placed on it by both law and society can change. In a Pew Research Center survey of 2,849 Internet users, one out of every four women between 18 years old and 24 years old reports having been stalked or sexually harassed online. "Like banner ads and spam bots, online harassment is still routinely treated as part of the landscape of being online," writes Swearingen adding that "we are in the early days of online harassment being taken as a serious problem, and not simply a quirk of online life." Law professor Danielle Citron draws a parallel between how sexual harassment was treated in the workplace decades ago and our current standard. "Think about in the 1960s and 1970s, what we said to women in the workplace," says Citron. "'This is just flirting.' That a sexually hostile environment was just a perk for men to enjoy, it's just what the environment is like. If you don't like it, leave and get a new job." It took years of activism, court cases, and Title VII protection to change that. "Here we are today, and sexual harassment in the workplace is not normal," said Citron. "Our norms and how we understand it are different now."
According to Swearingen, the likely solution to internet trolls will be a combination of things. The expansion of laws like the one currently on the books in California, which expands what constitutes online harassment, could help put the pressure on harassers. The upcoming Supreme Court case, Elonis v. The United States, looks to test the limits of free speech versus threatening comments on Facebook. "Can a combination of legal action, market pressure, and societal taboo work together to curb harassment?" asks Swearingen. "Too many people do too much online for things to stay the way they are."
507 comments | yesterday
DemonOnIce writes with a story, as reported by Ars Technica, that a federal judge in San Francisco has dismissed a proposed securities fraud class action lawsuit connected to Battlefield 4's bungled rollout. From the report: EA and several top executives were sued in December and were accused of duping investors with their public statements and concealing issues with the first-person shooter game. The suit claimed executives were painting too rosy of a picture surrounding what ultimately would be Battlefield 4's disastrous debut on various gaming consoles beginning last October, including the next-generation Xbox One. But US District Judge Susan Illston of San Francisco said their comments about EA and the first-person shooter game were essentially protected corporate speak. "The Court agrees with defendants that all of the purported misstatements are inactionable statements of opinion, corporate optimism, or puffery," Illston ruled Monday.
91 comments | 2 days ago
itwbennett (1594911) writes Oracle, Microsoft and Ask.com are facing suits alleging that they conspired to restrict hiring of staff. The suits appear to refer to a memo that names a large number of companies that allegedly had special arrangements with Google to prevent poaching of staff and was filed as an exhibit on May 17, 2013 in another class action suit over hiring practices. The former employees filing lawsuits against Microsoft, Ask.com and Oracle have asked that the cases be assigned to Judge Koh as there were similarities with the case against Google, Apple and others — and it maybe doesn't hurt that Judge Koh thought the $324.5 million settlement in that case was too low.
47 comments | 2 days ago
HughPickens.com writes: CNNMoney reports that Facebook has sent a letter to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration demanding that agents stop impersonating users on the social network. "The DEA's deceptive actions... threaten the integrity of our community," Facebook chief security officer Joe Sullivan wrote to DEA head Michele Leonhart. "Using Facebook to impersonate others abuses that trust and makes people feel less safe and secure when using our service." Facebook's letter comes on the heels of reports that the DEA impersonated a young woman on Facebook to communicate with suspected criminals, and the Department of Justice argued that they had the right to do so. Facebook contends that their terms and Community Standards — which the DEA agent had to acknowledge and agree to when registering for a Facebook account — expressly prohibit the creation and use of fake accounts. "Isn't this the definition of identity theft?" says privacy researcher Runa Sandvik. The DEA has declined to comment and referred all questions to the Justice Department, which has not returned CNNMoney's calls.
238 comments | 3 days ago
jfruh writes: Japan has some of the strictest anti-gun laws in the world, and the authorities there aim to make sure new technologies don't open any loopholes. 28-year-old engineer Yoshitomo Imura has been sentenced to two years in jail after making guns with a 3D printer in his home in Kawasaki.
326 comments | 3 days ago
An anonymous reader writes with this news from the UK, as reported by Ars Technica: A 39-year-old UK man has been convicted of possessing illegal cartoon drawings of young girls exposing themselves in school uniforms and engaging in sex acts. The case is believed to be the UK's first prosecution of illegal manga and anime images. Local media said that Robul Hoque was sentenced last week to nine months' imprisonment, though the sentence is suspended so long as the defendant does not break the law again. Police seized Hoque's computer in 2012 and said they found nearly 400 such images on it, none of which depicted real people but were illegal nonetheless because of their similarity to child pornography. Hoque was initially charged with 20 counts of illegal possession but eventually pled guilty to just 10 counts.
470 comments | 3 days ago
An anonymous reader writes with this news from The Guardian about a proposed change in UK law that would greatly increase the penalties for online incivility: Internet trolls who spread "venom" on social media could be jailed for up to two years, the justice secretary Chris Grayling has said as he announced plans to quadruple the maximum prison sentence. Grayling, who spoke of a "baying cybermob", said the changes will allow magistrates to pass on the most serious cases to crown courts. The changes, which will be introduced as amendments to the criminal justice and courts bill, will mean the maximum custodial sentence of six months will be increased to 24 months. Grayling told the Mail on Sunday: "These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life. No one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the six-month sentence.
485 comments | 4 days ago
SternisheFan writes with an excerpt from Wired with some (state-specific, but encouraging) news about how much latitude police are given to track you based on signals like wireless transmissions. The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that obtaining cell phone location data to track a person's location or movement in real time constitutes a Fourth Amendment search and therefore requires a court-ordered warrant.
The case specifically involves cell tower data for a convicted drug dealer that police obtained from a telecom without a warrant. But the way the ruling is written (.pdf), it would also cover the use of so-called "stingrays" — sophisticated technology law enforcement agencies use to locate and track people in the field without assistance from telecoms. Agencies around the country, including in Florida, have been using the technology to track suspects — sometimes without obtaining a court order, other times deliberately deceiving judges and defendants about their use of the devices to track suspects, telling judges the information came from "confidential" sources rather than disclose their use of stingrays. The new ruling would require them to obtain a warrant or stop using the devices. The American Civil Liberties Union calls the Florida ruling "a resounding defense" of the public's right to privacy.
113 comments | 5 days ago
schwit1 writes Parents can be held liable for what their kids post on Facebook, a Georgia appellate court ruled in a decision that lawyers said marked a legal precedent on the issue of parental responsibility over their children's online activity. The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that the parents of a seventh-grade student may be negligent for failing to get their son to delete a fake Facebook profile that allegedly defamed a female classmate.
323 comments | about a week ago
cartechboy writes It's a story we've come to see quite often: a state trying to ban Tesla's direct sales model. It seems something sneaky just happened in Michigan where Tesla sales are about to be banned. Bill HB 5606 originally intended to offer added protection to franchised dealers and consumers from price gouging by carmakers, and was passed by the Michigan House in September without any anti-Tesla language. However, once it hit the Senate wording was changed that might imply the legality of a manufacturer-owned dealership was removed. The modified bill was passed unanimously by the Senate on October 2, and then sent back to the House that day where it passed with only a single dissenting vote. The bill was modified without any opportunity for public comment. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has less than a week to sign the bill into law. Of course, Tesla's already fighting this legislation.
294 comments | about a week ago
itwbennett writes Tech workers have asked an appeals court not to approve a $324.5 million settlement in Silicon Valley's controversial employee hiring case, according to a document filed Tuesday. This move by the plaintiffs puts them in alignment with an earlier decision by Judge Lucy Koh of the federal district court in San Jose to throw out the settlement on the grounds that it wouldn't pay the workers enough. Attorneys for the defendants — Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel — subsequently appealed Koh's decision.
54 comments | about a week ago
HughPickens.com writes: Michelle Cottle reports in The Atlantic that today, spouses have easy access to an array of sophisticated spy software that record every keystroke; compile detailed logs of calls, texts, and video chats; that track a phone's location in real time; recover deleted messages from all manner of devices (without having to touch said devices); and that turn phones into wiretapping equipment. One might assume that the proliferation of such spyware would have a chilling effect on extramarital activities. But according to Cottle, aspiring cheaters need not despair: software developers are also rolling out ever stealthier technology to help people conceal their affairs. Right or wrong, cheating apps tap into a potentially lucrative market and researchers regard the Internet as fertile ground for female infidelity in particular. "Men tend to cheat for physical reasons and women for emotional reasons," says Katherine Hertlein. "The Internet facilitates a lot of emotional disclosure and connections with someone else."
But virtual surveillance has its risks. Stumbling across an incriminating email your partner left open is one thing; premeditated spying can land you in court. A Minnesota man named Danny Lee Hormann, suspecting his wife of infidelity, installed a GPS tracker on her car and allegedly downloaded spyware onto her phone and the family computer. In March 2010, Hormann's wife had a mechanic search her car and found the tracker. She called the police, and Hormann spent a month in jail on stalking charges. "I always tell people two things: (1) do it legally, and (2) do it right," says John Paul Lucich, a computer-forensics expert and the author of Cyber Lies, a do-it-yourself guide for spouses looking to become virtual sleuths. Lucich has worked his share of ugly divorces, and he stresses that even the most damning digital evidence of infidelity will prove worthless in court — and potentially land you in trouble — if improperly gathered. His blanket advice: Get a really good lawyer.
304 comments | about a week ago
An anonymous reader writes: The Irish Finance Minister announced on Tuesday that Ireland will no longer allow companies to register in Ireland unless the companies are also tax resident. This will effectively close off the corporate tax avoidance scheme known as the "Double Irish" used by the likes of Google, Apple, and Facebook to route their earnings through their Irish holdings in order to garner an effective tax rate of, as in Google FY2013, 0.16%. Ireland's new policy will take effect in 2015 for new companies. "For existing companies, there will be provision for a transition period until the end of 2020."
259 comments | about two weeks ago
HughPickens.com writes German was the dominant scientific language in 1900. Today if a scientist is going to coin a new term, it's most likely in English. And if they are going to publish a new discovery, it is most definitely in English. Look no further than the Nobel Prize awarded for physiology and medicine to Norwegian couple May-Britt and Edvard Moser. Their research was written and published in English. How did English come to dominate German in the realm of science? BBC reports that the major shock to the system was World War One, which had two major impacts. According to Gordin, after World War One, Belgian, French and British scientists organized a boycott of scientists from Germany and Austria. They were blocked from conferences and weren't able to publish in Western European journals. "Increasingly, you have two scientific communities, one German, which functions in the defeated [Central Powers] of Germany and Austria, and another that functions in Western Europe, which is mostly English and French," says Gordin.
The second effect of World War One took place in the US. Starting in 1917 when the US entered the war, there was a wave of anti-German hysteria that swept the country. In Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota there were many, many German speakers. World War One changed all that. "German is criminalized in 23 states. You're not allowed to speak it in public, you're not allowed to use it in the radio, you're not allowed to teach it to a child under the age of 10," says Gordin. The Supreme Court overturned those anti-German laws in 1923, but for years they were the law of the land. What that effectively did, according to Gordin, was decimate foreign language learning in the US resulting in a generation of future scientists who came of age with limited exposure to foreign languages. That was also the moment, according to Gordin, when the American scientific establishment started to take over dominance in the world. "The story of the 20th Century is not so much the rise of English as the serial collapse of German as the up-and-coming language of scientific communication," concludes Gordin.
323 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes: In response to a district judge ruling that declared the Department of Homeland Security's Traveler Redress Inquiry Program unconstitutional, the federal government has annouced its removal of seven Americans from its no-fly list (PDF). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is representing a total of 13 people suing to get off that list, and the government has until January of this year to deal with remaining six in that group. "Federal agencies have nominated more than 1.5 million names to terrorist watch lists over the past five years alone. Yet being a terrorist isn't a condition of getting on a roster that, until now, has been virtually impossible to be removed from..." One of the seven removed from the list is Marine Corps veteran and dog trainer Ibraheim Mashal of Illinois. The others had similarly Middle-Eastern-sounding names.
124 comments | about two weeks ago
Florian Mueller is a blogger, software developer and former consultant who writes about software patents and copyright issues on his FOSSPatents blog. In 2004 he founded the NoSoftwarePatents campaign, and has written about Microsoft's multi-billion-dollar Android patent licensing business and Google's appeal of Oracle's Android-Java copyright case to the Supreme Court. Florian has agreed to give us some of his time in order to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
187 comments | about two weeks ago
hackingbear writes The Supreme People's Court, China's top court, has outlined the liabilities of network service providers in a document on the handling of online personal rights violation cases. "Rights violators usually hide in the dark online. They post harmful information out of the blue, and victims just can't be certain whom they should accuse when they want to bring the case to court," said Yao Hui, a senior SPC judge specializing in civil cases. Those re-posting content that violates others' rights and interests will also answer for their actions, and their liability will be determined based on the consequences of their posts, the online influence of re-posters, and whether they make untruthful changes to content that mislead. This essentially tries to ban the so-called human flesh searching. Though this does not stop others from using the chance to highlight the country's censorship problems even though the rulings seem to focus on personal privacy protection.
109 comments | about two weeks ago
maynard writes: Kathy Sierra spent a tech career developing videogames and teaching Java programming in Sun Microsystems masterclasses. Up until 2007, she'd been a well regarded tech specialist who happened to be female. Until the day she opined on her private blog that given the crap-flood of bad comments, maybe forum moderation wasn't a bad idea. This opinion made her a target. A sustained trolling and harassment campaign followed, comprised of death and rape threats, threats against her family, fabricated claims of prostitution, and a false claim that she had issued a DMCA takedown to stifle criticism. All of this culminated in the public release of her private address and Social Security Number, a technique known as Doxxing. And so she fled from the public, her career, and even her home.
It turned out that a man named Andrew Auernheimer was responsible for having harassed Sierra. Known as 'Weev', he admitted it in a 2008 New York Times story on Internet Trolls. There, he spoke to the lengths which he and his cohorts went to discredit and destroy the woman. "Over a candlelit dinner of tuna sashimi, Weev asked if I would attribute his comments to Memphis Two, the handle he used to troll Kathy Sierra, a blogger. Inspired by her touchy response to online commenters, Weev said he "dropped docs" on Sierra, posting a fabricated narrative of her career alongside her real Social Security number and address. This was part of a larger trolling campaign against Sierra, one that culminated in death threats."
Now, seven years later, Kathy Sierra has returned to explain why she left and what recent spates of online harassment against women portend for the future if decent people don't organize. The situation has grown much more serious since she went into hiding all those years ago. It's more than just the threat of Doxxing to incite physical violence by random crazies with a screw loose. Read on for the rest of maynard's thoughts.
727 comments | about two weeks ago
Gunkerty Jeb writes The Ninth Circuit appeals court in San Francisco took oral arguments from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Department of Justice yesterday over the constitutionality of National Security Letters and the gag orders associated with them. The EFF defended a lower court's ruling that NSLs are unconstitutional, while the DoJ defended a separate ruling that NSLs can be enforced. Whatever the court rules, the issue of NSLs is all but certainly headed for the Supreme Court in the not too distant future.
112 comments | about two weeks ago
whoever57 writes Google has asked the Supreme Court to review the issue of whether APIs can be copyrighted. Google beat Oracle in the trial court, where a judge with a software background ruled that APIs could not be copyrighted. but the Appeals court sided with Oracle, ruling that APIs can be copyrighted. Now Google is asking the Supreme Court to overturn that decision. (Also of interest.)
146 comments | about two weeks ago