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Russian Hackers Targeted US Conservative Think-Tanks, Says Microsoft

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - 3 godzin 53 min ago
retroworks shares a report: Hackers linked to Russia's government tried to target the websites of two right-wing U.S. think-tanks, suggesting they were broadening their attacks in the build-up to November elections, Microsoft said. The software giant said it thwarted the attempts last week by taking control of sites that hackers had designed to mimic the pages of The International Republican Institute and The Hudson Institute. Users were redirected to fake addresses where they were asked to enter usernames and passwords. There was no immediate comment from Russian authorities, but the Kremlin was expected to address the report later on Tuesday. It has regularly dismissed accusations that it has used hackers to influence U.S. elections and political opinion. Casting such allegations as part of an anti-Russian campaign designed to justify new sanctions on Russia, it says it wants to improve not worsen ties with Washington. Further reading: Microsoft Reveals First Known Midterm Campaign Hacking Attempts, and Microsoft Launches Pilot Program To Provide Cybersecurity Protection To Political Campaigns and Election Authorities.

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22 States Ask US Appeals Court To Reinstate Net Neutrality Rules

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - 4 godzin 53 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: A group of 22 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia late Monday asked a U.S. appeals court to reinstate the Obama administration's 2015 landmark net neutrality rules and reject the Trump administration's efforts to preempt states from imposing their own rules guaranteeing an open internet. The states argue the FCC reversal will harm consumers. The states also suggested the FCC failed to identify any "valid authority" for preempting state and local laws that would protect net neutrality. The FCC failed to offer a "meaningful defense of its decision to uncritically accept industry promises that are untethered to any enforcement mechanism," the states said. The state attorney generals suing represent states with 165 million people -- more than half the United States population -- and include California, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The states argue the FCC action could harm public safety, citing electrical grids as an example. They argue "the absence of open internet rules jeopardizes the ability to reduce load in times of extreme energy grid stress. Consequently, the order threatens the reliability of the electric grid." Several internet companies also filed a legal challenge to overturn the FCC ruling, including Mozilla, Vimeo, Etsy, and numerous media and technology advocacy groups, reports Reuters. The group of 22 state attorneys general first filed their lawsuit in January after the Trump administration voted to repeal the net neutrality rules in December.

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Judge Guts FTC's $4 Billion Lawsuit Against DirecTV

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - 7 godzin 53 min ago
The FTC has "failed to convince a federal judge in San Francisco that DirecTV should pay nearly $4 billion in restitution to customers for allegedly misleading consumers about the costs of programming packages," reports the Los Angeles Times. From the report: The judge didn't eliminate all of the FTC's false-advertising claims but made clear that "the scope of the maximum potential recovery in this case has been substantially curtailed." "This case did not involve the type of strong proof the court would expect to see in a case seeking nearly $4 billion in restitution, based on a claim that all of DirecTV's 33 million customers between 2007 and 2015 were necessarily deceived," U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam said Thursday. The ruling follows an August 2017 nonjury trial of the FTC suit, alleging that DirecTV failed to adequately disclose to consumers in 40,000 print, mail, online and TV advertisements that its lower introductory pricing lasted just one year but tied buyers to a two-year contract. The FTC also alleged the subscription television service failed to alert customers that its offer for 90 days of premium channels required them to cancel the subscription to avoid continuing monthly charges.

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Man Sues Over Google's 'Location History' Fiasco, Case Could Affect Millions

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - 17 godzin 3 min ago
Last week, The Associated Press found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you've explicitly disabled the location sharing feature. As a result, Google has now been sued by a man in San Diego, who argues that Google is violating the California Invasion of Privacy Act and the state's constitutional right to privacy. Ars Technica reports: The lawsuit seeks class-action status, and it would include both an "Android Class" and "iPhone Class" for the potential millions of people in the United States with such phones who turned off their Location History and nonetheless had it recorded by Google. It will likely take months or longer for the judge to determine whether there is a sufficient class. Also on August 17, attorneys from the Electronic Privacy Information Center wrote in a sternly worded three-page letter to the FTC that Google's practices are in clear violation of the 2011 settlement with the agency. In that settlement, Google agreed that it would not misrepresent anything related to "(1) the purposes for which it collects and uses covered information, and (2) the extent to which consumers may exercise control over the collection, use, or disclosure of covered information." Until the Associated Press story on August 13, Google's policy simply stated: "You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored."

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Saint Louis University Is Outfitting Student Living Spaces With Thousands of Echo Dots

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2018-08-20 15:00
Saint Louis University announced this week a plan to outfit living spaces with 2,300 Echo Dots. The smart speakers will be ready by the time classes start later this month. TechCrunch reports: SLU is quick to note that it's "the first college or university in the country to bring Amazon Alexa-enabled devices, managed by Alexa for Business, into every student residence hall room and student apartment on campus." It's certainly not the first to adopt Amazon's smart speakers, but it's among the largest scale for this sort of deployment. While the product has become a mainstay in plenty of American homes, it does seem like an odd choice dorms and student campus. SLU has worked with Alexa for Business to create 100 custom questions, including, "What time does the library close tonight?" and "Where is the registrar's office?" The company addressed [the privacy concerns] on a privacy page, writing: "Because of our use of the Amazon Alexa for Business (A4B) platform, your Echo Dot is managed by a central system dedicated to SLU. This system is not tied to individual accounts and does not maintain any personal information for any of our users, so all use currently is anonymous. Additionally, neither Alexa nor the Alexa for Business management system maintains recordings of any questions that are asked."

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'Americans Own Less Stuff, and That's Reason To Be Nervous'

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2018-08-19 23:21
Bloomberg's Tyler Cowen writes about "the erosion of personal ownership and what that will mean for our loyalties to traditional American concepts of capitalism and private property." An anonymous Slashdot reader shares the report: The main culprits for the change are software and the internet. For instance, Amazon's Kindle and other methods of online reading have revolutionized how Americans consume text. Fifteen years ago, people typically owned the books and magazines they were reading. Much less so now. If you look at the fine print, it turns out that you do not own the books on your Kindle. Amazon.com Inc. does. I do not consider this much of a practical problem. Although Amazon could obliterate the books on my Kindle, this has happened only in a very small number of cases, typically involving account abuse. Still, this licensing of e-books, instead of stacking books on a shelf, has altered our psychological sense of how we connect to what we read -- it is no longer truly "ours." The change in our relationship with physical objects does not stop there. We used to buy DVDs or video cassettes; now viewers stream movies or TV shows with Netflix. Even the company's disc-mailing service is falling out of favor. Music lovers used to buy compact discs; now Spotify and YouTube are more commonly used to hear our favorite tunes. Each of these changes is beneficial, yet I worry that Americans are, slowly but surely, losing their connection to the idea of private ownership. The nation was based on the notion that property ownership gives individuals a stake in the system. It set Americans apart from feudal peasants, taught us how property rights and incentives operate, and was a kind of training for future entrepreneurship. We're hardly at a point where American property has been abolished, but I am still nervous that we are finding ownership to be so inconvenient.

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Stolen Android Anti-Piracy Software Dumped On Github

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2018-08-19 20:18
Dexguard, a tool used to protect Android software from piracy, tampering and cloning attacks, has been removed after being illegally posted on Github. A version of the tool exposed on the code repository was stolen from a customer of Guardsquare, the software's creator. TorrentFreak reports: "We develop premium software for the protection of mobile applications against reverse engineering and hacking," the [security company Guardsquare's] website reads. "Our products are used across the world in a broad range of industries, from financial services, e-commerce and the public sector to telecommunication, gaming and media." One of Guardsquare's products is Dexguard, a tool to protect Android applications from being decompiled, something that can lead to piracy, credential harvesting, tampering and cloning. Unfortunately, a version of Dexguard itself ended up on Github. In a takedown notice filed with the Microsoft-owned code platform, Guardsquare explains that the code is unauthorized and was obtained illegally. "The listed folders... contain an older version of our commercial obfuscation software (DexGuard) for Android applications. The folder is part of a larger code base that was stolen from one of our former customers," Guardsquare writes. Guardsquare found almost 300 "forks" of the stolen software on Github and filed a request to have them all taken down.

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Volkswagen's CEO Was Told About Emissions Software Months Before Scandal, Says Report

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2018-08-19 19:17
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Volkswagen Chief Executive Herbert Diess was told about the existence of cheating software in cars two months before regulators blew the whistle on a multi-billion exhaust emissions scandal, German magazine Der Spiegel said. Der Spiegel's story, based on recently unsealed documents from the Braunschweig prosecutor's office, raises questions about whether VW informed investors in a timely manner about the scope of a scandal which it said has cost it more than $27 billion in penalties and fines. Responding to the magazine report, the carmaker reiterated on Saturday that the management board had not violated its disclosure duties, and had decided to not inform investors earlier because they had failed to grasp the scope of the potential fines and penalties. Citing documents unsealed by the Braunschweig prosecutor's office, Der Spiegel said Diess was present at a meeting on July 27, 2015 when senior engineers and executives discussed how to deal with U.S. regulators, who were threatening to ban VW cars because of excessive pollution levels. Diess, who had defected from BMW to become head of the VW brand on July 1, 2015, joined the July 27 meeting with Volkswagen's then Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn to discuss how to convince regulators that VW's cars could be sold, a VW defense document filed with a court in Braunschweig in February, shows.

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Does Gmail's 'Confidential Mode' Go Far Enough?

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2018-08-19 18:16
Last month, Gmail's big redesign became default for everyone, changing up the aesthetic appearance of the email service and introducing several new features. One of the key features, Confidential Mode, lets you add an "expiration date" and passcode to emails either in the web interface or via SMS, but not everyone is so trusting of its ability to keep your private data secure. "Recipients of these confidential emails won't be able to copy, paste, download, print or forward the message, and attachments will be disabled," notes Engadget. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) doesn't think this new mode is secure at all. It's not encrypted end-to-end, so Google could read your messages in transit, and the expiring messages do not disappear from your Sent mail, which means they are retrievable. What's more is that if you use an SMS passcode, you might need to give Google your recipient's phone number. Because of these reasons, Slashdot reader shanen doesn't believe the new feature goes far enough to secure your data. They write: [M]y initial reaction is that I now need a new feature for Gmail. I want an option to reject incoming email from any person who wants to use confidential mode to communicate with me. Whatever conspiracy you are trying to hide, I'm not interested. So can anyone convince me you have a legitimate need for confidential mode? The main features I still want are completely different. Easiest one to describe would be future delivery of email, preferably combined with a tickler system.

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HUD Files Complaint Alleging Facebook Ad Tools Allow Housing Discrimination

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2018-08-19 16:14
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has filed an official discrimination complaint against Facebook, saying the site's dizzying array of advertising tools makes it simple for advertisers to illegally exclude wide swathes of the population from seeing housing ads, Politico wrote on Friday. In a press release, HUD wrote that Facebook's "targeted advertising" model more or less constitutes a way for said advertisers to skirt the federal Fair Housing Act, specifically by excluding members of protected categories: "HUD claims Facebook enables advertisers to control which users receive housing-related ads based upon the recipient's race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, and/or zip code. Facebook then invites advertisers to express unlawful preferences by offering discriminatory options, allowing them to effectively limit housing options for these protected classes under the guise of 'targeted advertising.'" Specific examples cited by HUD included showing display ads "either only to men or women," as well as preventing users flagged as interested in disabilities-related topics like "assistance dog" or "accessibility" from seeing display ads. HUD also said that the targeted advertising tool can be used to prevent people interested in specific religions or regions from seeing ads, as well as "draw a red line around zip codes and then not display ads to Facebook users who live in specific zip codes." The complaint is just a complaint, but it does start an official process that will either end in Facebook reaching a resolution with federal officials or a lawsuit. CNN Tech notes that the National Fair Housing Alliance is simultaneously suing Facebook for the same reason. "Facebook is trying to dismiss the suit by claiming it has limited liability for user-generated content, though HUD and federal prosecutors claim the site operates as an internet content provider with respect to housing ads and therefore is subject to civil rights law," reports Gizmodo.

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Egypt Fights Terrorism By Censoring Web Sites, Threatening Jail Time For Accessing Them

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2018-08-19 06:34
An anonymous reader quotes the Associated Press: Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has ratified an anti-cybercrime law that rights groups say paves the way for censoring online media. The law, published Saturday in the country's official gazette, empowers authorities to order the blocking of websites that publish content considered a threat to national security. Viewers attempting to access blocked sites can also be sentenced to one year in prison or fined up to EGP100,000 ($5,593) under the law. Last month, Egypt's parliament approved a bill placing personal social media accounts and websites with over 5,000 followers under the supervision of the top media authority, which can block them if they're found to be disseminating false news. "Authorities say the new measures are needed to tackle instability and terrorism," reports the BBC. "But human rights groups accuse the government of trying to crush all political dissent in the country."

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Australians Who Won't Unlock Their Phones Could Face 10 Years In Jail

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2018-08-19 00:34
An anonymous reader quotes the Sophos security blog: The Australian government wants to force companies to help it get at suspected criminals' data. If they can't, it would jail people for up to a decade if they refuse to unlock their phones. The country's Assistance and Access Bill, introduced this week for public consultation, strengthens the penalties for people who refuse to unlock their phones for the police. Under Australia's existing Crimes Act, judges could jail a person for two years for not handing over their data. The proposed Bill extends that to up to ten years, arguing that the existing penalty wasn't strong enough... [C]ompanies would be subject to two kinds of government order that would compel them to help retrieve a suspect's information. The first of these is a "technical assistance notice" that requires telcos to hand over any decryption keys they hold. This notice would help the government in end-to-end encryption cases where the target lets a service provider hold their own encryption keys. But what if the suspect stores the keys themselves? In that case, the government would pull out the big guns with a second kind of order called a technical capability notice. It forces communications providers to build new capabilities that would help the government access a target's information where possible. In short, the government asks companies whether they can access the data. If they can't, then the second order asks them to figure out a way.... The government's explanatory note says that the Bill could force a manufacturer to hand over detailed specs of a device, install government software on it, help agencies develop their own "systems and capabilities", and notify agencies of major changes to their systems. "[T]he proposed legislation also creates a new class of access warrant that lets police officers get evidence from devices in secret before the device encrypts it, including intercepting communications and using other computers to access the data. It also amends existing search and seizure warrants, allowing the cops to access data remotely, including online accounts."

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H-1B Visa Use Soared Last Year At Major Tech Firms

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-08-18 18:34
"Even as the White House began cracking down on U.S. work visas, major Silicon Valley technology firms last year dramatically ramped up hiring of workers under the controversial H-1B visa program," reports the Mercury News. Menlo Park-based Facebook in 2017 received 720 H-1B approvals, a 53 percent increase over 2016, according to the National Foundation for American Policy, which obtained federal government data. Mountain View's Google received 1,213 H-1B approvals, a 31 percent increase. The number of H-1B approvals at Intel in Santa Clara rose 19 percent and Cupertino-based Apple received 673, a 7 percent increase.... [E]xperts say the data doesn't show how many additional H-1B contractors tech companies may get from staffing agencies or outsourcing companies. In response to this news organization's inquiries, Facebook said it does not publicly discuss its use of H-1B workers or contractors. Google, Apple and Intel did not respond to requests for information about their use of H-1B workers or contractors.... Amazon chalked up the largest increase in H-1B approvals, with 2,515 in 2017, a 78 percent leap. Microsoft received 1,479 approvals, an increase of 29 percent. Neither company responded to a request for comment. A distinguished fellow at Carnegie Mellon's School of Engineering at Silicon Valley believes that the threat of a U.S. crackdown on H-1B visas may simply have prompted companies to secure as many visas as possible while they could.

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EU Accepts Resolution Abolishing Planned Obsolescence, Making Devices Easier to Repair

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-08-18 16:34
Long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo writes: The European Parliament accepted a resolution to lengthen consumer goods and software's longevity, a counter to the alleged planned obsolescence process built into a lot of products. The European Parliament now wants the European Commission to create a clear definition of the term "planned obsolescence" and to develop a system to track that aging process. It also wants longer warranty periods and criteria to measure a product's strength. Each and every device should also have a mention of its minimal life expectancy. Devices should also be easier to repair: batteries and other components should be freely accessible for replacement, unless safety dictates otherwise. Manufacturers will also need to give other companies access to their components so that consumers can visit those companies for repairs.

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After Employee Revolt, Google Says It's 'Not Close' To Launching Search In China

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-08-18 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Reports from earlier this month claimed Google was working on products for the Chinese market, detailing plans for a search engine and news app that complied with the Chinese government's censorship and surveillance demands. The news was a surprise to many Googlers, and yesterday an article from The New York Times detailed a Maven-style internal revolt at the company. Fourteen hundred employees signed a letter demanding more transparency from Google's leadership on ethical issues, saying, "Google employees need to know what we're building." The letter says many employees only learned about the project through news reports and that "currently we do not have the information required to make ethically informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment." According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Google addressed the issue of China at this week's all-hands meeting. The report says CEO Sundar Pichai told employees the company was "not close to launching a search product" in China but that Pichai thinks Google can do good by engaging with China. "I genuinely do believe we have a positive impact when we engage around the world," The Journal quotes Pichai as say, "and I don't see any reason why that would be different in China." The report says Brin "sounded optimistic about doing more business in China" but that Brin called progress in the country "slow-going and complicated."

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Facebook Flat-Out 'Lies' About How Many People Can See Its Ads, Lawsuit Alleges

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-08-18 03:10
A new lawsuit claims that Facebook exaggerates how many people can see its ads, thereby defrauding advertisers. "In other words, it is alleged not quite as many eyeballs are seeing Facebook's ads as its salespeople charge for," writes Thomas Claburn via The Register. From the report: In a complaint filed on Wednesday in a US district court in Oakland, California, plaintiffs Danielle Singer and her company Project Therapy, LLC claim the Potential Reach and Estimated Daily Reach figures that Facebook provides to advertisers are wildly inflated. As an example, the complaint claims that Facebook's purported Potential Reach among 18-to-34-year-olds in each U.S. state is greater the actual population of 18-to-34-year-olds in each of those states. "Based on a combination of publicly available research and Plaintiffs' own analysis, among 18-34 years-olds in Chicago, for example, Facebook asserted its Potential Reach was approximately 4 times (400 per cent) higher than the number of real 18-34 year-olds with Facebook accounts in Chicago," the complaint states. And in Kansas City, the complaint asserts, the number provided by Facebook was 200 per cent higher than the actual number of 18-to-54-year-olds with Facebook accounts in the area. What's more, the court filing contends that former Facebook employees, described as confidential witnesses, have acknowledged that Facebook is fine with inflated numbers. The attorneys representing Singer and her biz, which supposedly spent over $14,000 on Facebook ads, are seeking class-action certification in order to represent other affected Facebook advertisers. According to the complaint, "a former Facebook employee who worked in the infrastructure/mapping team stated that those who were responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the Potential Reach at Facebook were indifferent to the actual numbers and in fact 'did not give a sh--.'" They also said the "Potential Reach" statistic is "like a made-up PR number."

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US Government Seeks Facebook Help To Wiretap Messenger, Report Says

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-08-18 01:50
The U.S. government is trying to force Facebook to break the encryption in its popular Messenger app so law enforcement may listen to a suspect's voice conversations in a criminal probe, Reuters reported Friday, citing three people briefed on the case said, resurrecting the issue of whether companies can be compelled to alter their products to enable surveillance. From the report: The previously unreported case in a federal court in California is proceeding under seal, so no filings are publicly available, but the three people told Reuters that Facebook is contesting the U.S. Department of Justice's demand. The judge in the Messenger case heard arguments on Tuesday on a government motion to hold Facebook in contempt of court for refusing to carry out the surveillance request, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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NSA Cracked Open Encrypted Networks of Russian Airlines, Al Jazeera, and Other 'High Potential' Targets

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2018-08-17 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Intercept: The National Security Agency successfully broke the encryption on a number of "high potential" virtual private networks, including those of media organization Al Jazeera, the Iraqi military and internet service organizations, and a number of airline reservation systems, according to a March 2006 NSA document. The fact that the NSA spied on Al Jazeera's communications was reported by the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel in 2013, but that reporting did not mention that the spying was accomplished through the NSA's compromise of Al Jazeera's VPN. During the Bush administration, high-ranking U.S. officials criticized Al Jazeera, accusing the Qatar-based news organization of having an anti-American bias, including because it broadcasted taped messages from Osama bin Laden. According to the document, contained in the cache of materials provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA also compromised VPNs used by airline reservation systems Iran Air, "Paraguayan SABRE," Russian airline Aeroflot, and "Russian Galileo." Sabre and Galileo are both privately operated, centralized computer systems that facilitate travel transactions like booking airline tickets. Collectively, they are used by hundreds of airlines around the world. In Iraq, the NSA compromised VPNs at the Ministries of Defense and the Interior; the Ministry of Defense had been established by the U.S. in 2004 after the prior iteration was dissolved. Exploitation against the ministries' VPNs appears to have occurred at roughly the same time as a broader "all-out campaign to penetrate Iraqi networks," described by an NSA staffer in 2005.

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US Judge Blocks Programs Letting 'Grand Theft Auto' Players 'Cheat'

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2018-08-17 20:41
A federal judge has awarded Take-Two Interactive Software, the maker of the "Grand Theft Auto" series, a preliminary injunction to stop a Georgia man from selling programs that it said helps players cheat at the best-selling video game. From a report: Take-Two had accused David Zipperer of selling computer programs called Menyoo and Absolute that let users of the "Grand Theft Auto V" multiplayer feature Grand Theft Auto Online cheat by altering the game for their own benefit, or "griefing" other players by altering their game play without permission. U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in Manhattan said Take-Two was likely to show that Zipperer infringed its "Grand Theft Auto V" copyright, and that his programs would cause irreparable harm to its sales and reputation by discouraging users from buying its video games.

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This Company Embeds Microchips in Its Employees, and They Love It

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2018-08-17 18:40
Last August, 50 employees at Three Square Market got RFID chips in their hands. Now 80 have them. From a report: The idea came about in early 2017, president of Three Square Market Patrick McMullan says, when he was on a business trip to Sweden -- a country where some people are getting subcutaneous microchips to do things like enter secure buildings or book train tickets. It's one of very few places where chip implants, which have been around for quite a while, have taken off in some fashion. The chips he and his employees got are about the size of a very large grain of rice. They're intended to make it a little easier to do things like get into the office, log on to computers, and buy food and drinks in the company cafeteria. Like many RFID chips, they are passive -- they don't have batteries, and instead get their power from an RFID reader when it requests data from the chip. A year into their experiment, McMullan and a few employees say they are still using the chips regularly at work for all the activities they started out with last summer. Since then, an additional 30 employees have gotten the chips, which means that roughly 80 of the company's now 250 employees, or nearly a third, are walking, talking cyborgs. "You get used to it; it's easy," McMullan says. As far as he knows, just two Three Square Market employees have had their chips removed -- and that was when they left the company.

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