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Fortnite Remains Banned From Apple's App Store After Judge Refuses Epic's Request

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2020-10-12 02:04
Epic Games "did not win its preliminary injunction in its antitrust action against Apple, which would have forced Apple to allow Fortnite back onto the iPhone, iPad, and Mac," reports BGR, calling it "the decision we warned you about a few weeks ago." Gonzalez Rogers hinted during the injunction relief hearing a few weeks ago that she wasn't inclined to side with Epic when it comes to Fortnite. She pointed out at the time that Epic lied in its business relationship with Apple. "You did something, you lied about it by omission, by not being forthcoming. That's the security issue. That's the security issue!" Gonzalez Rogers told Epic. "There are a lot of people in the public who consider you guys heroes for what you guys did, but it's still not honest...." Epic engineered a huge PR stunt to turn gamers against Apple over the expected Fortnite ban and then sued Apple for anti-competitive practices at the same time. Even if the antitrust case might have merit on its own, this doesn't change the fact that Epic breached its contract... The judge clarified that Epic has breached a contract unilaterally and cannot claim that it did it because of monopoly concerns. Judge Rogers also said that Epic's failure to show it's willing to work with Apple and the court to have the game reinstated proves that Epic isn't necessarily concerned with the well-being of iOS users. "Epic Games cannot simply exclaim 'monopoly' to rewrite agreements giving itself unilateral benefit..." Epic did receive some good news in the ruling. "Epic Games is grateful that Apple will continue to be barred from retaliating against Unreal Engine and our game development customers," the company said in a statement which was quoted by Thurrott.com. "We will continue developing for Apple's platforms and pursue all avenues to end Apple's anti-competitive behavior." And the same site also quotes Apple's own statement on the ruling. "We are grateful that the Court recognized that Epic's actions were not in the best interests of its own customers and that any problems they may have encountered were of their own making when they breached their agreement."

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America's 'Cyber Command' Is Trying to Disrupt the World's Largest Botnet

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2020-10-12 01:03
The Washington Post reports: In recent weeks, the U.S. military has mounted an operation to temporarily disrupt what is described as the world's largest botnet — one used also to drop ransomware, which officials say is one of the top threats to the 2020 election. U.S. Cyber Command's campaign against the Trickbot botnet, an army of at least 1 million hijacked computers run by Russian-speaking criminals, is not expected to permanently dismantle the network, said four U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter's sensitivity. But it is one way to distract them at least for a while as they seek to restore operations. U.S. Cyber Command also "stuffed millions of bogus records about new victims into the Trickbot database — apparently to confuse or stymie the botnet's operators," reports security researcher Brian Krebs: Alex Holden, chief information security officer and president of Milwaukee-based Hold Security, has been monitoring Trickbot activity before and after the 10-day operation. Holden said while the attack on Trickbot appears to have cut its operators off from a large number of victim computers, the bad guys still have passwords, financial data and reams of other sensitive information stolen from more than 2.7 million systems around the world. Holden said the Trickbot operators have begun rebuilding their botnet, and continue to engage in deploying ransomware at new targets. "They are running normally and their ransomware operations are pretty much back in full swing," Holden said. "They are not slowing down because they still have a great deal of stolen data." Holden added that since news of the disruption first broke a week ago, the Russian-speaking cybercriminals behind Trickbot have been discussing how to recoup their losses, and have been toying with the idea of massively increasing the amount of money demanded from future ransomware victims.

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Should Colleges Do Admissions Without Standardized Tests?

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2020-10-11 03:34
America's not-for-profit College Board is a membership organization of 6,000 educational institutions that creates and administers tests used by college admissions offices. But it "operates as a near monopoly" with tests "which have a stranglehold on their student-customers...an organization under serious strain, run by an elitist, tone-deaf chief executive," according to a new article shared by long-term Slashdot reader theodp: The College Board's core product, the SAT, has set the standard for college admissions for more than five decades and fuels $1+ billion in annual revenue. In How The SAT Failed America, Forbes' Susan Adams takes a look at the College Board's billion-dollar testing monopoly and questions whether the great-granddaddy of standardized tests will survive... Adams notes that 2020 and fallout from the Board's inability to administer its tests safely and efficiently during the pandemic may be the undoing of the seemingly invincible cash machine. Since March, 500+ colleges — including every Ivy League school — have joined the growing 'test optional' movement. And on top of widely-reported technical problems with virtual AP exams in the spring, just-disclosed 2020 College Board AP data reveals that decreases in exam participation were seen in nearly every course. "They're going to learn how to do admissions without the tests," warns the head of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. The article notes that "All told, more than 1,600 four-year schools will not require scores for admission in 2021, and a growing number are becoming 'test blind,' meaning they won't consider scores at all..." And there's also privacy concerns: College Board "leases" student data, including ethnicity, religion, gender and their parents' educational backgrounds, to colleges and other third parties. The practice initiates an onslaught of promotional mailings and brochures that students' families must endure in the years leading up to admission. (Late last year, a class action suit was filed in federal court in Illinois, claiming the College Board is violating the state's child privacy laws and using deceptive practices to enrich itself. College Board points out that a similar suit was dismissed several years ago.) The PSAT and SAT exams are loss leaders, in a sense, steering students to other opportunities on which College Board can cash in.

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What Happens When Researchers Give Thousands of Dollars to Homeless People?

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-10-10 16:34
CNN reports on "The New Leaf Project," an initiative in which the University of British Columbia partnered with a Vancouver-based charity called Foundations for Social Change: Researchers gave 50 recently homeless people a lump sum of 7,500 Canadian dollars (nearly $5,700). They followed the cash recipients' life over 12-18 months and compared their outcomes to that of a control group who didn't receive the payment. The preliminary findings, which will be peer-reviewed next year, show that: - Those who received cash were able to find stable housing faster, on average. By comparison, those who didn't receive cash lagged about 12 months behind in securing more permanent housing. - People who received cash were able to access the food they needed to live, faster. Nearly 70% did after one month, and maintained greater food security throughout the year. - The recipients spent more on food, clothing and rent, while there was a 39% decrease in spending on goods like alcohol, cigarettes or drugs... The 115 participants in the randomized controlled trial were between the ages of 19 and 64, and they had been homeless for an average of 6 months. Participants were screened for a low risk of mental health challenges and substance abuse. Funding for the initiative came from a grant from the Canadian federal government, and from donors and foundations in the country... Direct cash transfers are not "a silver bullet for homelessness in general," and the program focused on "a higher functioning subset of the homeless population," said Claire Williams, the CEO and co-founder of Foundations for Social Change, but she believes the research shows that providing meaningful support to folks who have recently become homeless decreases the likelihood they will become entrenched in the experience... According to the research, reducing the number of nights spent in shelters by the 50 study participants who received cash saved approximately 8,100 Canadian dollars per person per year, or about 405,000 Canadian dollars over one year for all 50 participants. "There's a common misconception that the cost of doing nothing is free or cheap and it absolutely is not," Williams said.

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Chrome Changes How Its Cache System Works To Improve Privacy

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-10-10 00:03
Google has changed how a core component of the Chrome browser works in order to add additional privacy protections for its users. From a report: Known as the HTTP Cache or the Shared Cache, this Chrome component works by saving copies of resources loaded on a web page, such as images, CSS files, and JavaScript files. The idea is that when a user revisits the same site or visits another website where the same files are used, Chrome will load them from its internal cache, rather than waste time re-downloading each file all over again. [...] With Chrome 86, released earlier this week, Google has rolled out important changes to this mechanism. Known as "cache partitioning," this feature works by changing how resources are saved in the HTTP cache based on two additional factors. From now on, a resource's storage key will contain three items, instead of one: The top-level site domain (http://a.example), the resource's current frame (http://c.example), and the resource's URL (https://x.example/doge.png). By adding additional keys to the cache pre-load checking process, Chrome has effectively blocked all the past attacks against its cache mechanism, as most website components will only have access to their own resources and won't be able to check resources they have not created themselves.

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Faith in Government Declines When Mobile Internet Arrives

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-10-09 16:09
An anonymous reader shares a report: The early days of the internet were full of predictions about access to information unleashing a wave of democratisation. More recently, views on the internet's impact have soured, as states use it to spy on dissidents and influence foreign elections. Opinions on this topic are abundant, but hard data are scarce. No one knows whether the Arab spring could have occurred without the internet, or whether Russia's online efforts to boost President Donald Trump's campaign had any effect. Nonetheless, scholars can sometimes find natural experiments to substitute for such counter-factual scenarios. A recently revised study by the economists Sergei Guriev, Nikita Melnikov and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, which is now undergoing peer review, uses the growth of mobile broadband to reveal a link between internet access and scepticism of government. Most of the 4.1bn people now online got connected after 2010. To measure how new users' views changed as a result, the authors combined two datasets. First, for each year in 2007-18, they estimated the share of people in each of 2,232 regions (such as states or provinces), spread across 116 countries, that could access at least 3G-level mobile internet. Then they used surveys by Gallup, a pollster, to measure how faith in government, courts and elections changed during this period in each area. In general, people's confidence in their leaders declined after getting 3G. However, the size of this effect varied. It was smaller in countries that allow a free press than in ones where traditional media are muzzled, and bigger in countries with unlimited web browsing than in ones that censor the internet. This implies that people are most likely to turn against their governments when they are exposed to online criticism that is not present offline. The decline was also larger in rural areas than in cities. A similar pattern emerged at the ballot box. Among 102 elections in 33 European countries, incumbent parties' vote-share fell by an average of 4.7 percentage points once 3G arrived. The biggest beneficiaries were parties classified as populist -- though this may simply have been because they happened to be in opposition when voters turned against parties in power, rather than because of their ideology.

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Microsoft Is Now the 'Adult In the Room' Among Big Tech, Says Seattle Congresswoman

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-10-09 12:00
As Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google are being targeted by the House Judiciary Committee for abusing American antitrust law, one major company has managed to escape the glare: Microsoft. That's because they are now "the adult in the room in some ways on this issue," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.), a Democratic member of the House Antitrust subcommittee, which has been diving into Big Tech's practices for the last 16 months. Yahoo Finance reports: Jayapal's Seattle district includes Amazon's headquarters and the company's practices, specifically how it uses data from third-party sellers, has been one of her major focuses. It's Congress's job to make sure "a company like Amazon can't just put a small business that produces diapers out of business by taking all of that market information that nobody else has access to, and using it to subsidize losses and push small companies out," Jayapal told Yahoo Finance. She has also had a less-than-cordial relationship with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. During a Yahoo Finance interview this summer, Jayapal said she had never before met the billionaire. They did talk virtually in July when she grilled him during the hearings, but she said this week that communication since then has been sparse. "I've had an open door policy to speaking with Mr. Bezos and have invited him many times," she said. Though she has met with Amazon senior managers. "The lesson here is self-regulation doesn't work," said Jayapal. She points to Microsoft as an example that Amazon should follow, of successfully working with the government. In 1998, Microsoft was the subject of Congressional antitrust inquiries and many wanted to break the company up. In the end, Bill Gates was able to avoid a breakup by promising to change his company's ways. The company had to "change its culture, change its lines of business," Jayapal said. The process of government involvement led to Microsoft creating a "platform for other small companies to thrive," she said. Jayapal also pointed to the Microsoft example as to why breaking up a company isn't always the best option. "Perhaps in retrospect, Amazon, after we've regulated them, after we've put through some of the recommendations that are in the report, we'll look back and say, "You know what? It's a good thing that that happened," she said.

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EU Parliament Votes For 60% Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cut By 2030

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-10-09 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: EU capitals have been put under pressure to agree to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2030 compared with 1990, after the European parliament voted in favor of an "ambitious" climate law that would also oblige each member state to be carbon neutral by 2050. The vote, which sets the chamber's position as it goes into negotiations with the 27 member states and the European commission, won the backing of 392 MEPs, with 161 voting against and 142 abstaining. Speaking to the Guardian, Pascal Canfin, the chair of the chamber's environment committee, who proposed the 2030 target, said he was convinced the position would drive member countries to raise their sights when their representatives sit together in the EU setting known as the council. The parliament's vote was a rejection of a 55% emissions reduction target for 2030 proposed by the commission, the EU's executive body led by Ursula von der Leyen. "Having the parliament supporting 60% helps the progressive countries in the council to drive ambition upwards," Canfin said. Following the vote, Finland's environment minister, Krista Mikkonen, said she would propose that her government update its national position in line with that of the EU parliament.

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Judge Orders Twitter To Unmask FBI Impersonator Who Set Off Seth Rich Conspiracy

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-10-09 02:45
AmiMoJo shares a report from NPR: A federal judge in California has ordered that Twitter reveal the identity of an anonymous user who allegedly fabricated an FBI document to spread a conspiracy theory about the killing of Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer who died in 2016. The ruling could lead to the identification of the person behind the Twitter name @whyspertech. Through that account, the user allegedly provided forged FBI materials to Fox News. The documents falsely linked Rich's killing to the WikiLeaks hack of Democratic Party emails in the lead-up to the 2016 election. While Twitter fought to keep the user's identity secret, U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu in Oakland, Calif., ordered on Tuesday that the tech company must turn over the information to attorneys representing Rich's family in a defamation suit by Oct. 20. It is the latest twist in a years-long saga over a conspiracy theory that rocked Washington, caused a grieving family a great deal of pain and set off multiple legal battles. "In a now-retracted story, Fox News falsely claimed that Rich's computer was connected to the leak of Democratic Party emails provided to WikiLeaks, and that Rich's slaying was related to the purported leak," the report adds. "The theory was even debunked in special counsel Robert Mueller's report." "The Washington Times later reported in 2018 that Rich's brother, Aaron Rich, helped steal the emails in exchange for money from WikiLeaks and that he knew his brother would be killed and did nothing to stop it. None of those allegations are true. That story has also been retracted."

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US Appeals Injunction Against TikTok Ban

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-10-09 01:20
The federal government on Thursday appealed a judge's ruling that prevented the Trump administration from imposing a ban on TikTok, the viral video app owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. The New York Times reports: In a filing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the Justice Department argued that a preliminary injunction issued last month by Judge Carl Nichols in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia should be lifted. A Justice Department spokeswoman said it had no further comment beyond the appeal. TikTok declined to comment. It was not immediately clear when the court might act on the government's appeal. The government's decision to appeal the injunction, which delayed TikTok from being banned in U.S. app stores, further escalates the battle between the White House and ByteDance. The move is part of a Cold War between the United States and the Chinese government. The Chinese government has for years prevented its citizens from using international apps like Facebook, Twitter and other communications services. Since President Trump took office, he has repeatedly moved to stop Chinese companies from investing in and acquiring American companies. Citing national security concerns, the administration has also sought to stop American citizens from using Chinese-owned apps and has worked to banish Chinese technology and hardware from American telecommunications networks.

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Google is Giving Data To Police Based on Search Keywords, Court Docs Show

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-10-08 20:01
There are few things as revealing as a person's search history, and police typically need a warrant on a known suspect to demand that sensitive information. But a recently unsealed court document found that investigators can request such data in reverse order by asking Google to disclose everyone who searched a keyword rather than for information on a known suspect. From a report: In August, police arrested Michael Williams, an associate of singer and accused sex offender R. Kelly, for allegedly setting fire to a witness' car in Florida. Investigators linked Williams to the arson, as well as witness tampering, after sending a search warrant to Google that requested information on "users who had searched the address of the residence close in time to the arson." The July court filing was unsealed on Tuesday. Detroit News reporter Robert Snell tweeted about the filing after it was unsealed. Court documents showed that Google provided the IP addresses of people who searched for the arson victim's address, which investigators tied to a phone number belonging to Williams. Police then used the phone number records to pinpoint the location of Williams' device near the arson, according to court documents. The original warrant sent to Google is still sealed, but the report provides another example of a growing trend of data requests to the search engine giant in which investigators demand data on a large group of users rather than a specific request on a single suspect. "This 'keyword warrant' evades the Fourth Amendment checks on police surveillance," said Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project. "When a court authorizes a data dump of every person who searched for a specific term or address, it's likely unconstitutional."

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France Passes New Law To Protect Child Influencers

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-10-08 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: France has introduced a new law to protect young social media stars. The legislation aims to regulate the hours under-16s can work online and what happens to their earnings. It also enshrines the right to be forgotten, meaning that platforms will be obliged to take down content on the child's request. The popularity of child influencers has grown rapidly in recent years, with a number of young names appearing on the list of YouTube's top earners. The change will make France a pioneer in the rights of child social media stars, the MP behind the bill, Bruno Studer, was quoted as saying by Le Monde newspaper. The new law, which was passed unanimously on Tuesday, does not affect all children who appear on social media, but instead targets those who spend significant amounts of time working online and whose work generates an income. The change offers them the same protections as those given to child models and actors in France, with their earnings placed in a bank account until they turn 16. Companies wishing to employ child influencers must also receive permission from local authorities.

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Netflix Indicted By Texas Grand Jury Over 'Lewd' Depiction of Children In 'Cuties'

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-10-08 12:00
A Texas grand jury indicted Netflix for the "lewd" representation of children in the controversial French film "Cuties." The Hill reports: The Sept. 23 indictment shows the Tyler County Grand Jury charged the popular streaming site for "promotion of lewd visual material depicting child" for its drama about a young girl who is torn between her conservative Muslim family's values and her desire to join a dance troupe. Among the charges in question is Netflix's alleged promotion of material that portrays the "exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child, which appeals to the prurient interest in sex and has no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value" -- a violation of the Texas penal code, according to the press release from Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin. Netflix denied any wrongdoing after a summons was served on Oct. 1 by the Texas State Rangers. "'Cuties' is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. This charge is without merit and we stand by the film," the company said in a statement to The Hill. After its Sept. 9 release, various GOP lawmakers including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) condemned "Cuties" for its alleged sexualization of minors. In a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr dated Sept. 11, Cruz called on the Department of Justice to investigate possible child abuse in relation to "Cuties."

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US Explores Curbs On Ant Group, Tencent Payment Systems

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-10-08 02:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: The Trump administration is exploring restrictions on billionaire Jack Ma's Ant Group as well as Tencent Holdings Ltd. over concerns that their digital payment platforms threaten U.S. national security, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that risks infuriating China and disrupting what could be the world's largest initial public offering. Debate over how and whether to restrict Ant Group's and Tencent's payment systems has accelerated among senior U.S. officials in recent weeks though a final decision isn't imminent, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity about an idea that's still taking shape. U.S. officials are concerned that Ant Group and other Chinese fintech platforms will come to dominate global digital payments, the people said. That in turn could give China access to banking and personal data of hundreds of millions of people. Senior administration officials discussed the idea in a Sept. 30 meeting in the White House Situation Room, according to two people familiar with the matter. Yet officials acknowledge that it would be difficult to move forward until they sort out the mechanism, and that is proving difficult to do as the officials seek to find a legally sound approach. There's no indication the idea has been presented to President Donald Trump, whose approval would be required to proceed, two of the people said. The president fell ill with coronavirus a day after officials met to discuss China, and the issue hasn't made much progress at such a senior level in the days since, one of the people said. The report also notes that Ant, the online finance giant and owner of the Alipay e-payment system, "nears a dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong, possibly by the end of the month. An affiliate of Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Ant is preparing for an IPO of about $35 billion that would give it an overall valuation of $250 billion, twice that of Citigroup Inc."

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EU Lawmakers Ask Jeff Bezos Whether Amazon Spies on Politicians

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2020-10-07 18:45
A cross-party group of MEPs has written to Amazon's chief executive, Jeff Bezos, demanding information on the online retailer's monitoring of trade union activists and politicians in response to deleted job postings that described unions as "threats." From a report: The letter, from 37 members of the European parliament, said they were concerned Amazon deliberately targeted workers seeking to organise, and also questioned whether the company had "spied" on politicians. Trade unions last week called for a European commission investigation into whether Amazon's monitoring of workers was legal, after two job posts on the US company's website advertised "intelligence analyst" roles that referred to "labor organizing threats against the company." The advertisements, aimed at candidates with law enforcement or military experience, also mentioned the monitoring of "hostile political leaders." The posts grouped organised labour with hate groups and terrorism, two illegal activities, and listed French and Spanish language skills among the preferred qualifications, suggesting European workers could be targets. Amazon deleted the posts after Vice News first reported on them.

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Trump Administration Announces Overhaul of H-1B Visa Program

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2020-10-07 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Mercury News: The administration of President Donald Trump on Tuesday moved to impose major new limits on use of the controversial H-1B visa, intended for jobs requiring specialized skills and widely used by Silicon Valley technology firms. The new rules are expected to reduce the pool of skilled labor and raise costs for tech companies and other employers. Critics say that could force companies to move some operations outside the U.S. The announced changes involve new rules from both Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Labor. Homeland Security said its rule, effective 60 days after it's published in the federal register, would "combat the use of H-1B workers to serve as a low-cost replacement for otherwise qualified American workers." The Homeland Security rule would fulfill a long-running Trump administration promise to revise the definition of which "specialty occupations" are eligible for the visa, according to a draft copy released late Tuesday. Also revised would be definitions of "worksite," "third-party worksite" and "U.S. employer," as well as clarifying how the government will determine whether an "employer-employee" relationship exists. Placements of H-1B workers at third-party sites -- as staffing companies do -- would last a maximum of a year. The Labor Department's draft rule suggests visa approvals will require specific degrees for job types. If that change is made, it could lead to qualified applications being rejected, [said Sean Randolph, senior director of the Bay Area Council's Economic Institute.] While there are problems around wages paid to less-skilled H-1B holders, including those hired out to big tech firms by staffing companies, "it would be a mistake to tar and feather the entire system with that because what I've seen about how our tech companies here use the H-1Bs, they're very selective, and they're for important niche positions that otherwise a company would have a hard time filling," Randolph said.

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Cisco Ordered To Cough Up $2 Billion Plus Royalties After Ripping Off Biz's Cybersecurity Patents

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2020-10-07 00:20
Cisco has been hit with a massive $1.9 billion patent-infringement bill for copying cybersecurity tech from Centripetal Networks and pushing the company out of lucrative government contracts. The Register reports: The network switch maker infringed four patents, a Virginia court decided on Monday, but since the infringement was "willful and egregious," the judge multiplied the $756 million owed by 2.5 to a total fine of $1,889,521,362.50. With interest, Cisco faces a hefty $1,903,239,287.50 bill "payable in a lump sum due on the judgment date," the court said. The four patents are: US 9,203,806, 9,560,176, 9,686,193, and 9,917,856. That's not all: the court also imposed [PDF] a royalty of ten per cent of some of Cisco's products for the next three years, and five per cent for three years after that. That royalty must be at least $168 million and no more than $300 million for the first three years, and between $84 million and $150 million for the next three, the judge said. Even though the sums are massive, they are far from ruinous, and represent about three months of profit for Cisco. The networking giant also has a massive cash pile of roughly $30 billion that the total bill will barely eat into. As for the tech itself, Centripetal Networks, based in Virginia, developed a network protection system that was in part funded by the US government. The patented parts of it deal with speed and scalability issues, and allowed for live updates and automated workflows. It outlined the technology to Cisco after the company had signed a non-disclosure agreement. But then Cisco simply stole the functionality and incorporated it into its own products in 2017. Centripetal sued [PDF] the following year. "The fact that Cisco released products with Centripetal's functionality within a year of these meetings goes beyond mere coincidence," said District Judge Henry Morgan in his judgment. He noted that Cisco had "continually gathered information from Centripetal as if it intended to buy the technology from Centripetal," but then "appropriated the information gained in these meetings to learn about Centripetal's patented functionality and embedded it into its own products."

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The IRS Is Being Investigated For Using Location Data Without a Warrant

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-10-06 23:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: The body tasked with oversight of the IRS announced in a letter that it will investigate the agency's use of location data harvested from ordinary apps installed on peoples' phones, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Motherboard. The move comes after Senators Ron Wyden and Elizabeth Warren demanded a formal investigation into how the IRS used the location data to track Americans without a warrant. "We are going to conduct a review of this matter, and we are in the process of contacting the CI [Criminal Investigation] division about this review," the letter, signed by J. Russell George, the Inspector General, and addressed to the Senators, reads. CI has a broad mandate to investigate abusive tax schemes, bankruptcy fraud, identity theft, and many more similar crimes. Wyden's office provided Motherboard with a copy of the letter on Tuesday. In June, officials from the IRS Criminal Investigation unit told Wyden's office that it had purchased location data from a contractor called Venntel, and that the IRS had tried to use it to identify individual criminal suspects. Venntel obtains location data from innocuous looking apps such as games, weather, or e-commerce apps, and then sells access to the data to government clients. [...] The IRS' attempts were not successful though, as the people the IRS was looking for weren't included in the particular Venntel data set, the aide added. But the IRS still obtained this data without a warrant, and the legal justification for doing so remains unclear. The aide said that the IRS received verbal approval to use the data, but stopped responding to their office's inquiries.

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Slashback: How Eddie Van Halen Hacks a Guitar

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-10-06 23:00
In honor of legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen, who tragically passed away today from throat cancer at the age of 65, we wanted to resurface an article Eddie wrote in 2015 for Popular Mechanics. While many know him as the guitar god, Eddie Van Halen was also an inventor and patent holder who has spent the better part of 35 years in his shop, rebuilding guitars and amps, searching for his signature sound. Here's an excerpt from the article: I've always been a tinkerer. It comes from my dad. Growing up, we lived in a house in Pasadena that had no driveway. You used an alley that ran through the middle of the block, behind all the houses, to get to your backyard or the garage. Well, the neighbor behind us had a U-Haul trailer up on car jacks and loaded with cinder block. One night my dad came home from a gig at three in the morning. He had a little heat going, he'd had a few drinks, so he says, "This thing is blocking me from getting in again." So he got out of the car and tried to move it. As soon as he lifted the trailer, the jack fell over, and it chopped his finger off. This was a problem. Besides the obvious reasons, he played clarinet and saxophone. On a sax, you don't need to seal the hole with your finger. A valve closes over it. But with a clarinet, you have to seal the hole, so he took a saxophone valve cover and adapted it to work on his clarinet. Another funny thing was later in his life, when he started losing his teeth. You need your bottom teeth to play a reed instrument. Instead of going to the dentist, he made himself a perfectly shaped prosthesis out of white Teflon that filled the gap where his teeth were missing. He slipped that in when he had to play. Watching him do that kind of stuff instilled a curiosity in me. If something doesn't do what you want it to, there's always a way to fix it... Van Halen was an inventor on three patents related to guitars: A folding prop to support a guitar in a flat position, a tension-adjusting tailpiece, and an ornamental design for a headstock. Two of the three remain today. Slashdot reader nicolaiplum shares the following news about his passing: Rock legend Eddie van Halen has died, aged 65, after a long battle with cancer. "In a band known for its instability -- due in part to a rotating cast of lead singers that most notably includes David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar -- Eddie Van Halen and his brother Alex remained constants, appearing on 12 studio albums that reached across five decades and sold tens of millions of copies," reports NPR. The New York Times adds: "His outpouring of riffs, runs and solos was hyperactive and athletic, making deeper or darker emotions feel irrelevant. The band he led was one of the most popular of all time." This story is part of a new occasional article series we're calling Slashback. We'll be covering a topic that may not be breaking news, but is interesting to us.

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A Literal Child and His Mom Sue Nintendo Over 'Joy-Con Drift'

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-10-06 21:41
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: A boy and his mother today filed a class action lawsuit against Nintendo for not doing enough to fix a hardware problem common among Nintendo Switch controllers. It is one of several legal efforts related to the issue of "Joy-Con drift" -- a phenomenon where the Switch Joy-Con controllers make in-game characters "drift" even when nobody is moving them. The complaint, filed in Northern California, was brought by a woman named Luz Sanchez and her 9- or 10-year-old son, who, as a minor, is referred to in court documents as M.S. The complaint describes how Sanchez purchased her son a Nintendo Switch in December 2018, when he was 8. Within a month, the complaint alleges, Sanchez's controllers began registering in-game movement when his hands weren't on them. Less than a year later, it says, "the Joy-Con drift became so pronounced that the controllers became inoperable for general gameplay use." Sanchez's mom obligingly purchased another set of controllers, but seven months later, the complaint alleges, they began drifting too. Joy-Con drift is pervasive among Switch devices. (Anecdotally, I've experienced it on two sets of my own controllers). Characters inch left or right as if a ghost was operating the console. Nintendo didn't acknowledge the problem much until July 2019. That month, a thread on the Nintendo Switch subreddit calling out Joy-Con drift received over 25,000 upvotes. More than a dozen Switch owners filed a potential class action lawsuit (PDF) at the time calling Joy-Cons "defective." Lawyers said Nintendo had heard users' complaints for long enough; why didn't the company disclose the issue? The 2019 lawsuit has been moved into arbitration, and the plaintiffs' lawyers recently asked Switch users to submit videos describing their experiences with Joy-Con drift to help bolster their case. Last month, a French consumer group filed a complaint, too, alleging planned obsolescence. Nintendo began fixing Joy-Cons for free, post-warranty, in July 2019, and Nintendo's president apologized for the problem in a financial meeting this summer. But Sanchez's lawyers argue that Nintendo hasn't done enough to fix the issue or warn customers about it up front.

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