Jan 282015

On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission issued an “Enforcement Advisory” stating that blocking W-Fi in hotels is unequivocally “prohibited.”

“Persons or businesses causing intentional interference to Wi-Fi hotspots are subject to enforcement action,” the FCC bluntly stated, referencing a dispute between Marriott and its customers who said the hotel chain had blocked their personal hotspots to force them to pay for Marriott’s Wi-Fi services.

“The Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the commercial establishment’s premises,” the FCC wrote. “As a result, the Bureau is protecting consumers by aggressively investigating and acting against such unlawful intentional interference.”

via FCC: Blocking Wi-Fi in hotels is prohibited | Ars Technica.



May 152013


In what may be the first move toward a federal shutdown of the wildly popular online currency known as Bitcoin, the Department of Homeland Security today issued an order that has restricted the transfer of funds in and out of Mt. Gox, the Bitcoin exchange that handles some 60 percent of the transactions.

A creation of bank-fearing techies, Bitcoins are now worth more than $1 billion, and consumer interest has been skyrocketing. For more background, read our Bitcoin explainer.

The DHS is focusing on Dwolla, an online payment system sort of like PayPal that has become a popular way for Bitcoin users to transfer money to and from Mt. Gox. A Dwolla spokesman confirmed to BetaBeat that DHS and the US District Court for the District of Maryland have issued a “seizure warrant” for funds associated with the companys Mt. Gox account, which is known as Mutum Sigillum.

MORE: And So It Begins: The Feds Target Bitcoin Transactions | Mother Jones.




May 012013


Competitive video gaming community E-Sports Entertainment Association secretly updated its client software with Bitcoin-mining code that tapped players computers to mint more than $3,600 worth of the digital currency, one of its top officials said Wednesday.

The admission by co-founder and league administrator Eric ‘lpkane’ Thunberg came amid complaints from users that their ESEA-supplied software was generating antivirus warnings, computer crashes, and other problems. On Tuesday, one user reported usage of his power-hungry graphics processor was hovering in the 90-percent range even when his PC was idle. In addition to consuming electricity, the unauthorized Bitcoin code could have placed undue strain on the users hardware since the mining process causes GPUs to run at high temperatures.

“Turns out for the past 2 days, my computer has been farming bitcoins for someone in the esea community,” the person with the screen name ENJOY ESEA SHEEP wrote. “Luckily I have family in the software forensics industry.”

About five hours later, a separate user posted evidence of the ESEA software client included the Bitcoin code. The user also provided instructions showing how other ESEA players can check to see if their computers are running the secret program.

MORE:  Secret Bitcoin mining code added to e-sports software sparks outrage | Ars Technica.




Apr 022013


A federal appeals court has handed a big setback to broadcasters trying to stop Aereo, a startup that streams New York-area television content over the Internet. Broadcasters such as Fox and Univision argued that transmitting TV content without permission was copyright infringement. But Aereo countered that its service was analogous to a television and DVR that happened to have a really long cable between the antenna and the screen. On Monday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed.

Aereos technology was designed from the ground up to take advantage of a landmark 2008 ruling holding that a “remote” DVR product offered by Cablevision was consistent with copyright law. Key to that ruling was Cablevisions decision to create a separate copy of recorded TV programs for each user. While creating thousands of redundant copies makes little sense from a technical perspective, it turned out to be crucial from a legal point of view. Because each copy was viewed by only one household, the court ruled that Cablevision was not engaged in a “public performance” of copyrighted works.

Aereos founders realized that the Cablevision ruling offered a blueprint for building a TV rebroadcasting service that wouldn’t require the permission of broadcasters. In Aereos server rooms are row after row of tiny antennas mounted on circuit boards. When a user wants to view or record a television program, Aereo assigns him an antenna exclusively for his own use. And like Cablevision, when 1000 users record the same program, Aereo creates 1,000 redundant copies.

READ MORE:  Appeals court upholds legality of Aereo’s “tiny antennas” scheme | Ars Technica.




Feb 062013


In all, Retraction Watch published 22 stories on the implosion of Pottis career. In fact, three of the top four Google results for his name all point to the Retraction Watch blog the fourth is his Wikipedia entry. Despite the widespread attention to his misbehavior, Potti managed to get a position at the University of North Dakota where he worked earlier in his career. Meanwhile, he hired a reputation management company, which dutifully went about creating websites with glowing things to say about the doctor.

This morning, however, 10 of the Retraction Watch posts vanished. An e-mail Oransky received explained why: an individual from “Utter [sic] Pradesh” named Narendra Chatwal claimed to be a senior editor at NewsBulet.In, “a famous news firm in India.” Chatwal said the site only publishes work that is “individually researched by our reporters,” yet duplicates of some of the sites material appeared on Retraction Watch. Therefore, to protect his copyright, he asked that the WordPress host pull the material. It complied.

There are a large number of reasons to doubt this story. As Oransky told Ars, “WhoIs says the offending site didnt exist until after wed posted nine of the allegedly plagiarized posts.” And he noted one of the commenters at the site pointed out one of the supposedly plagiarized pieces visible on the News Bullet site refers to “Ivan’s Reuters colleagues.” The style of writing and format of the stories in question should also be very familiar to regular Retraction Watch readers.

A quick look at a number of other posts on the site also shows Chatawals claims of original reporting are bogus. Simple Google searches show sentences of the material appear at a variety of other outlets. See, for example, this story, which is apparently a direct copy of a Indo Asian News Service article.

This is the latest in a long line of spurious DMCA takedowns, but its the first that Oransky and Marcus have dealt with Oransky said theyve had a single cease-and-desist letter about a copyrighted image

MORE:  Site plagiarizes blog posts, then files DMCA takedown on originals | Ars Technica.




Sep 052012

A YouTube spokesman downplayed the blockage: “After tonight’s live stream ended, YouTube briefly showed an incorrect error message,” he said via e-mail. ” Neither the live stream nor any of the channel’s videos were affected.”

It’s not clear what he meant by none of the channel’s videos were affected as the video was unplayable.

The most likely culprit is YouTube’s pre-emptive content filters, which allow large media companies to upload content they claim to own and automatically block videos that an algorithm decides matches their own. That would make the glitch the second livestream copyright-policing snafu in the span of a few days: On Sunday, a similar algorithm at uStream interrupted the livestream of the Hugo science fiction awards. The award show included clips of copyrighted videos, though the algorithm didn’t know that the clips had been authorized.

In early August, an official NASA recording of the Mars landing was blocked hours after the successful landing, due to a rogue DMCA complaint by a news network.

MORE: YouTube Flags Democrats’ Convention Video on Copyright Grounds | Threat Level | Wired.com.


Sep 042012

AntiSec hacker group claims it has in its possession over 12,000,000 Apple iOS Unique Device IDs, as well as other personal info from device owners. To prove it, it has released 1,000,001 UDIDs to the public.

The release, posted on Pastebin, also contains a detailed description of how the hackers allegedly obtained the IDs from FBI.

“During the second week of March 2012, a Dell Vostro notebook, used by Supervisor Special Agent Christopher K. Stangl from FBI Regional Cyber Action Team and New York FBI Office Evidence Response Team was breached using the AtomicReferenceArray vulnerability on Java, during the shell session some files were downloaded from his Desktop folder one of them with the name of “NCFTA_iOS_devices_intel.csv” turned to be a list of 12,367,232 Apple iOS devices including Unique Device Identifiers (UDID), user names, name of device, type of device, Apple Push Notification Service tokens, zipcodes, cellphone numbers, addresses, etc,” claims Antisec.

MORE:  Hackers Allegedly Leak 1 Million Apple Device IDs.


Sep 042012

With the exception of Google Fiber, the United States isn’t exactly breaking records when it comes to high-speed Internet policy. The National Broadband Plan, which was released two years ago, says that there should be a minimum level of service of at least 4Mbps for all Americans. Since then, not much has happened.

But across the pond in Ireland, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, has recently decided that that’s not nearly enough.

On Thursday, he outlined a new broadband plan for Ireland that puts the United States to shame. He says that half the population, largely in the urban and suburban cores, should have speeds of 70Mbps to 100Mbps, with service of at least 40Mbps to the next 20 percent of the country. Finally, hewrites, there should be a “minimum of 30Mbps for every remaining home and business in the country—no matter how rural or remote.”

The measure in Ireland is part of the European Union’s Digital Agenda for Europe, which, among other things, requires member states to publish national broadband plans by the end of the year to bring a minimum level of 30Mbps service to all citizens by 2020.

MORE:  Ireland calls for minimum Internet speeds of 30Mbps | Ars Technica.


Aug 282012

Apple has now identified eight of Samsung’s devices that it wants to have banned from sale in the US following its patent victory last week. But while the jury in Apple’s court case against Samsung said Samsung had willfully infringed in most cases, Apple has apparently focused its attention on devices that are mostly unavailable in the US already.

Apple’s list of devices it wants to ban, published on Monday afternoon, is as follows:

Galaxy S 4G

Galaxy S2 AT&T

Galaxy S2 Skyrocket

Galaxy S2 T-Mobile

Galaxy S2 Epic 4G

Galaxy S Showcase

Droid Charge

Galaxy Prevail

MORE: Ban this: Apple lists 8 Samsung devices it wants kept out of the US | Ars Technica.


Aug 232012

It hasn’t been an especially felicitous year for the founder of file-sharing site MegaUpload: his domain name has been seized, his assets have been impounded, and Kim Dotcom faces potential extradition to the U.S. on criminal charges of copyright infringement.

That’s a fate that RapidShare is determined to avoid. The Swiss company says it wants to be a legitimate hosting service that not only responds promptly to removal requests from copyright holders, but that goes far beyond what the law requires.

RapidShare’s “responsible practices” policy may have pleased Hollywood when it was announced in April, but it nevertheless remains controversial. The U.S. advocacy group Public Knowledge responded by saying the policy “implies that cloud services that choose to merely comply with copyright law” are “somehow morally deficient or in favor of copyright infringement.”

RapidShare says it employs over 50 people and has over 400,000 files a day uploaded by its users to over 1,000 servers.

CNET spoke this week with Daniel Raimer, the company’s general counsel, about the techniques RapidShare uses to detect piratical material, and how far it’s willing to go.

MORE:  RapidShare: We’ll help Hollywood, but ‘not at all costs’ (Q&A) | Politics and Law – CNET News.