Saturday, August 11, 2007

Greetings from your Secretary of State! We've been watching your privacy closely, and we can now tell you definitely that your privacy walked out of our office last Wednesday night. We are proud to report that they didn't get your social security number, your wallet, your shoes, or any other assets you didn't entrust to us. We just gave them everything we had. In all other respects, we are ignorant, clueless, unable to determine, etc.”

Official: No Social Security numbers stolen


ELGIN – People who visited the secretary of state’s Elgin office Wednesday might have [No “might have” -- they did! Bob] had their names, addresses and driver’s license numbers stolen.

Social Security numbers, however, were not among the information taken during the Wednesday night burglary, said Dave Druker, Secretary of State Jesse White’s press secretary. The Elgin police and secretary of state police are running a joint investigation.

Some camera parts were taken,” Druker said. “We estimated a value of under $200, but there was some information taken from people who were in that day.”

The stolen information was on a ribbon of film from a camera. It contained about 300 images of drivers licenses, including names, addresses, photos and license numbers, Druker said.

The film likely [“We don't know how that camera is used?” Bob] would not contain information from people who did not get photographed during their visit.

... Depending on how long it takes to figure which names and addresses were stolen, [“We have no other records?” Bob] Druker hopes the secretary of state’s office will be able to send out letters notifying the victims by early next week.

Another embarrassment... Rule # 46: Everyone needs to know what the shredder is used for...

Internet hackers steal confidential data on 60,000 Norwegians

Friday, August 10 2007 @ 09:58 AM CDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews News Section: Breaches

Internet hackers have stolen confidential data on 60,000 Norwegians, including the head of the agency for safeguarding them, the agency itself revealed Friday.

It said they had used a weakness on the website of the telephone operators Tele2 to procure the national personal identity numbers and addresses of subscribers, amounting to 1.3 percent of the country's population.

The information would enable the hackers to change the addresses of the people concerned so as to intercept their mail, or order goods on their account.

Source - Brisbane Times

[From the article: After retrieving all of the records, Nix contacted the newspaper again to say his preliminary investigation indicates the custodial crew threw away records that were stacked on the floor by the school’s shredder.

If I carry my wife's bag as far as the security checkpoint, am I free to leave? (You don't really know when they will start the cavity searches until you get to the security checkpoint...)

Court Says Travelers Can't Avoid Airport Searches

Saturday, August 11 2007 @ 06:15 AM CDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews News Section: In the Courts

U.S. airline passengers near the security checkpoint can be searched any time and no longer can refuse consent by leaving the airport, the nation's largest federal appeals court ruled Friday.

The decision(.pdf) by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the circuit's 34-year-old precedent that over time was evolving toward limiting when passengers could refuse a search and leave the airport after they had checked their bags or placed items on the security screening X-ray machine. Citing threats of terrorism, the court ruled passengers give up all rights to be free of warrantless searches once a "passenger places hand luggage on a conveyor belt for inspection" or "passes though a magnetometer."

Source - Threat Level (blog)

At last!

SCO Loses

Posted by Zonk on Friday August 10, @05:47PM from the finish-him dept. Caldera Novell The Courts Unix Linux

An anonymous reader writes "The one summary judgement that puts a stick into SCO's spokes has just come down. The judge in the epic SCO case has ruled that SCO doesn't own the Unix copyrights. With that one decision, a whole bunch of other decisions will fall like dominoes. As PJ says, 'That's Aaaaall, Folks! ... All right, all you Doubting Thomases. I double dog dare you to complain about the US court system now. I told you if you would just be patient, I had confidence in the system's ability to sort this out in the end. But we must say thank you to Novell and especially to its legal team for the incredible work they have done. I know it's not technically over and there will be more to slog through, but they won what matters most, and it's been a plum pleasin' pleasure watching you work. The entire FOSS community thanks you for your skill and all the hard work and thanks go to Novell for being willing to see this through."

Other fun stuff...

... The judge also ruled that SCO owes Novell for SCO's licensing revenue from Sun Microsystems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. SCO is obligated to pass through to Novell a portion of those licenses, the judge said.

... In another major blow to SCO, the judge said that because Novell is the owner of the Unix copyrights, it can direct SCO to waive its suits against IBM Corp. and Sequant. "SCO can't sue IBM for copyright infringement on copyrights it doesn't own," Jones said.

This increase in volume is due to spammers. Imagine what a hostile government could do...,1759,2169497,00.asp?kc=EWRSS03119TX1K0000594

Biggest Pump-and-Dump Scam Ever Spikes Spam 445%

By Lisa Vaas August 10, 2007

The largest spam scam ever tracked increased the spam count by 445 percent in one day.

The largest spam attack ever tracked wound down Aug. 9 after delivering enough big, fat PDF files to increase total spam size 445 percent in one day, according to Postini, a hosted e-mail filtering company that's been tracking the attack since it started Aug. 7.

Postini tracked a 53 percent jump in spam volume from the day before the attack started to the day it launched, according to Senior Marketing Manger Adam Swidler, in San Carlos, Calif.

... How much would renting that botnet have cost? PandaLabs recently released research into the malware market. It suggested one scenario in which a criminal could buy a Trojan for $500, a 1 million-address mailing list for about $100, a $20 encryption program, and a $500 spamming server. The total outlay in this theoretical example would be $1,120. (For PandaLabs' screen grabs showing what the market looks like, check out the slideshow.

... Prime Time, the subject of the stock pump, did see its stock rise 60 percent as of Aug. 8. It was up 20 percent as of Aug. 9, compared with its pre-spam scam price.

Clearly we have the technology to do this, so we should do it at all levels. Next, let's track politicians! (Would you want to live near one?)

New case cited in call for Hawaii murder registry

By Peter Boylan Posted on: Friday, August 10, 2007

The scheduled release of another killer into the community has renewed calls for an electronic registry of Hawai'i's violent criminals.

... Proponents of the registry say community members have a right to know whether a neighbor has been convicted of murder.

... Opponents of a violent-crime registry say the state's sex-offender registry — on which the murder database would be modeled — still is missing hundreds of sex offenders who have failed to register. They also question whether registries of this nature violate privacy rights and say the databases do little to actually reduce crime.

... Hawai'i would join several other states with a registry for tracking violent offenders. Kansas, Montana and Oklahoma are among states that have violent-offender registries, which include names of convicted murderers.

Illinois has a Child Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registry and lawmakers in Wisconsin and Minnesota are pushing for similar legislation.

It's not the technology, it's what you do with it... It's not the lessons to be learned, it's who bothers to learn those lessons.

Police Data-Mining Done Right

Posted by Zonk on Friday August 10, @03:33PM from the way-its-supposed-to-be-used dept. Privacy Databases Technology

enharmonix writes "Courtesy of Bruce Schneier, it's nice to hear something good about data mining for a change: predicting and stopping crime. For example, police in Redmond, VA, 'started overlaying crime reports with other data, such as weather, traffic, sports events and paydays for large employers. The data was analyzed three times a day and something interesting emerged: Robberies spiked on paydays near cheque cashing storefronts in specific neighbourhoods. Other clusters also became apparent, and pretty soon police were deploying resources in advance and predicting where crime was most likely to occur.'" [Sounds better that the FBIs' prediction of where crimes occurred last year... Bob]

You mean you can't just take their word of it?

D.C. Court's "State Secrets" Ruling May Have Broader Consequences

August 09, 2007

A little noticed federal appeals court ruling may have broader consequences for the Administration's attempt to shield its illegal spying program from judicial scrutiny.

In Sealed Case, __ F. 3d __ 2007 WL 2067029 (D.C. Cir. July 20, 2007), the plaintiff brought suit against the government on the basis of a wiretap in violation of Fourth Amendment rights, and, on July 20, the D.C. Circuit allowed the case to go forward despite the government's invocation of the so-called "state secrets privilege." As we explained in a letter to the Ninth Circuit, the Court held that circumstantial evidence and inferences therefrom are sufficient to let the plaintiff's case proceed. Dismissal at the case's outset based on potential privileged defenses and conjecture or suspicion would be premature, and courts are entitled to review the purportedly state secret information while adjudicating the merits of claims and defenses.

This isn't the only case in which the state secrets privilege is at issue -- it's also at the center of the U.S. government's and AT&T's appeal in our case against the telco giant, which will be heard before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals next Wednesday. Before the district court, the government contended that any judicial inquiry into the whether AT&T broke the law could reveal state secrets and harm national security. But in July 2006, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Judge Walker ruled that the case could continue, noting that "The compromise between liberty and security remains a difficult one. But dismissing this case at the outset would sacrifice liberty for no apparent enhancement of security."

As we argue in our brief to the Ninth Circuit, the government must not be allowed to prevent the judiciary from enforcing the rule of law and holding AT&T accountable for its illegal behavior. You can read our whole brief here. We also sent a supplemental letter to the court regarding Sealed Case here.

I'll see your Global, and raise you an Intergalactic...

National ID? How about a global ID?

Friday, August 10 2007 @ 09:57 AM CDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews News Section: Other Privacy News

The Federation for Identity and Cross-Credentialing Systems (FiXs) -- a little-known group of non-profits, government contractors, commercial entities, and government agencies -- has just unveiled a first-of-its-kind global infrastructure to support distributed, integrated identity management and cross-credentialing across organizations. The implementation combines several existing security technologies along with a set of trusted models, policies, and operating rules to insure the accurate identity of personnel accessing physical sites or logical systems.

Already in a pilot mode at a handful of government agencies and defense contractors, the FiXs identity management initiative does not have a hard date for broad deployment, although the impediments do not appear to be technical. "The cultural gap with the public in general is still too wide," said Dr. Mike Mestrovich, president of FiXs. "I think there would have to be a public consensus to move us in that direction and I don't see that happening until at least 2009 or beyond."

Source - Computerworld

Interesting that there is so much variation. Eventually, we'll have to determine what should happen... I wonder how long these records are available? ...and which other government agencies have access to them?

Toll Records Trip Up Philanderers

By CHRIS NEWMARKER Associated Press Writer Aug 10, 4:24 PM EDT

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Adulterers, beware: Your cheatin' heart might be exposed by E-ZPass. E-ZPass and other electronic toll collection systems are emerging as a powerful means of proving infidelity. That's because when your spouse doesn't know where you've been, E-ZPass does.

"E-ZPass is an E-ZPass to go directly to divorce court, because it's an easy way to show you took the off-ramp to adultery," said Jacalyn Barnett, a New York divorce lawyer who has used E-ZPass records a few times.

... Of the 12 states in the Northeast and Midwest that are part of the E-ZPass system, agencies in seven states provide electronic toll information in response to court orders in criminal and civil cases, including divorces, according to an Associated Press survey.

In four of the 12 states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, highway authorities release E-ZPass records only in criminal cases. West Virginia parkways authority has no policy. (Divorce attorneys in some cases can still obtain toll records from the other spouse rather than a highway agency.)

... The E-ZPass network covers about half the East Coast and part of the Midwest, with about 2 billion charges per year. That can mean a lot of records. One of the busiest toll plazas in New Jersey, the Garden State Parkway's southbound Raritan plaza, gets about 90,000 E-ZPass hits per day.

Dear, Mr. Gore, We are sorry to report...

Blogger Finds Bug in NASA Global Warming Study?

Posted by Zonk on Friday August 10, @12:11PM from the not-such-a-good-thing dept. NASA Bug Science

An anonymous reader writes "According to an article at DailyTech, a blogger has discovered a Y2K bug in a NASA climate study by the same writer who accused the Bush administration of trying to censor him on the issue of global warming. The authors have acknowledged the problem and released corrected data. Now the study shows the warmest year on record for the contiguous 48 states as being 1934, not 1998 as previously reported in the media. In fact, the corrected study shows that half of the 10 warmest years on record occurred before World War II." The article's assertion that there's a propaganda machine working on behalf of global warming theorists is outside the bounds of the data, which I think is interesting to note.

Ah! From now on, don't call me an ignorant bastard with ridiculous ideas, call me a heretic!

The Heretical Freeman Dyson

Posted by Zonk on Saturday August 11, @01:31AM from the is-he-a-duck-or-a-witch dept. Education Science

dublin writes "Big-thinker Freeman Dyson has written a new essay in which he points out the need for heretics in science, and goes on to gore some sacred cows, including global climate change: 'My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated ... There is no doubt that parts of the world are getting warmer, but the warming is not global ... When I listen to the public debates about climate change, I am impressed by the enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations and the superficiality of our theories ... All our fashionable worries and all our prevailing dogmas will probably be obsolete in fifty years. My heresies will probably also be obsolete. It is up to [the people of 2070] to find new heresies to guide our way to a more hopeful future.'"

Even if you don't find anything particularly useful, it may help you define what you need.

ONLINE BUSINESS TOOLBOX: 230+ Tools for Running a Business Online

Forget useless desktop apps and piles of paperwork: there are now thousands of small and medium-sized businesses managing all their affairs with online applications. After an exhaustive hunt this week, we ’ve rounded up more than 230 of the leading online applications for super-productive companies.


No More Hard Drive! 100 Free Software Apps to Go Online-Only

Written by David Weiss

Friday, August 10, 2007

There seems no end to the innovative ways organizations can spill data...

5,800 students at risk of ID theft, Loyola warns

Friday, August 10 2007 @ 06:33 AM CDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews News Section: Breaches

A Loyola University computer with the Social Security numbers of 5,800 students was discarded before its hard drive was erased, forcing the school this week to warn the students about potential identify theft.

Source - Sun-Times

More (but not unique) methods of spilling data...

Navy secretary laments continued loss of private data

Thursday, August 09 2007 @ 04:33 PM CDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews News Section: Breaches Editor's note: I don't remember seeing 100 incidents involving breaches of information involving the Navy in the past 19 months. Once again, it is clear that we only hear about the tip of the iceberg...

The Navy continues to wrestle with maintaining control of service members’ personal information. “Unfortunately, numerous naval messages, media attention and changes to policy have had only a limited impact on improving our handling and safeguarding of [personally identifiable information], and losses have continued,” Navy Secretary Donald Winter wrote in a July 7 message to all Navy and Marine Corps personnel.

... In the past 19 months, Navy officials reported more than 100 incidents of such information of being lost. Those incidents affected more than 200,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel, including retirees, civilians and dependents, according to Winter’s message.

The cases involved lost or stolen laptop computers and thumb drives, material erroneously posted on Navy Web sites, stolen or misplaced documents, e-mail messages with attachments forwarded in error, and documents thrown away intact, the message reads.

Source - FCW

[From the article: This isn't the first time breathalyzer source code has been the subject of legal scrutiny. A Florida court ruled two years ago that police can't use electronic breathalyzers as courtroom evidence against drivers unless the source code is disclosed. Other alleged drunk drivers have had charges thrown out because CMI refuses to reveal the Intoxilyzer source code.

No doubt they learned how from US companies...

ISPs suspected of massive identity theft in Korea

Thursday, August 09 2007 @ 12:06 PM CDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews News Section: Breaches

Police are investigating South Korea's two biggest ISPs on suspicion that they broke identity theft laws on more than seven million occasions. The two companies, KT and Hanaro Telecom Inc, are suspected of signing up more than seven million customers for services without their permission, according to police sources cited by local media today.

... Hanaro Telecom has also been accused of illegally sharing subscriber contact information with outside firms, which then contacted the customers in an attempt to sell products to them.

Source - IT Week (UK)

I'm surprised it took so long...

BREAKING: Citing Four-Day Old Surveillance Law, Bush Seeks Dismissal of Lawsuit Challenging NSA Spying

Thursday, August 09 2007 @ 03:52 PM CDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews News Section: In the Courts

Four days after President Bush signed controversial legislation legalizing some warrantless surveillance of Americans, the administration is citing the law in a surprise motion today urging a federal judge to dismisss a lawsuit challenging the NSA spy program. The lawsuit was brought by lawyers defending Guantanamo Bay prisoners. The lawyers and others alleged the threat of surveillance is chilling their First Amendment rights of speech, and their clients' right to legal representation. ... Justice Department lawyers are asking (.pdf) U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to toss the case, citing the new law -- which says warrantless surveillance can continue for up to a year so long as one person in the intercepted communications is reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States.

The motion is set to be heard in federal court in San Francisco this afternoon. THREAT LEVEL will be there.

Source - Threat Level (blog)

Hackers looking for a “Get out of jail free” card will be following this one closely!

DUI Defendant Wins Source Code to Breathalyzer

Posted by Zonk on Thursday August 09, @05:23PM from the one-way-to-fight-the-man dept. Software The Courts

MyrddinBach writes "CNet's Police Blotter column looks into a Minnesota drunk driving defendant case with a twist. The defendant says he needs the source code to the Intoxilyzer 5000EN to fight the charges in court. Apparently the company has agreed to turn over the code to the defense. 'A judge granted the defendant's request, but Michael Campion, Minnesota's commissioner in charge of public safety, opposed it. Minnesota quickly asked an appeals court to intervene, which it declined to do. Then the state appealed a second time. What became central to the dispute was whether the source code was owned by the state or CMI, the maker of the Intoxilyzer.'"


United Kingdom: ICO Guidance On Collecting Personal Information On Websites

09 August 2007 Article by Hannah Sutcliffe

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) recently published a ‘Good Practice Note’ on the collection of personal information using websites. This provides some practical guidance which will be relevant to any business that collects or processes personal data via its website.

This is amusing. I have several people in mind, just ignore that digital camera I'm pointing at you...

JibJab's 'Starring You!' is the greatest office time-waster in history

By Caroline McCarthy – August 9, 2007, 2:51 PM PDT

Trust me--I know procrastination. But this one really takes the cake.

JibJab, as you probably know already, made a name for itself by creating corny (yet socially relevant) musical skits that superimposed the heads of politicians and celebrities onto cartoon bodies. Now that user-generated content is nothing new, it almost seems overdue that JibJab would introduce a "make your own" feature. But now, at long last, here it is: "JibJab Starring You!"

The concept, at least according to the creators, is to JibJab yourself by uploading a photo, easily crop it with the Flash-based tools to make a bobblehead-like image, and then revel at the absurdity of watching yourself dance the Charleston.

But don't let that fool you. The real purpose of "Starring You!" is to dig up photos of your boss and put them into any number of the dorky dance videos. As a bonus, most of them require two dancers, so you can use the likenesses of multiple co-workers--or choose from a small library of celebrity heads that range from Donald Trump to Barack Obama.

I'm not sure that 26 months is enough time for me to solve Rubik's Cube

Cracking the Cube

By Julie J. Rehmeyer

Daniel Kunkle can solve a Rubik's Cube in 26 moves. Or at least his computer can.

Kunkle, a computer scientist at Northeastern University in Boston, has proved that 26 moves are enough to solve any Rubik's Cube, no matter how scrambled. That's one move below the previous record. In the process of cracking the cube, he developed algorithms that can be useful for problems as disparate as scheduling air flights and determining how proteins will fold.

Customer Service?

Man sues online florist for revealing affair

Say it with flowers, send her a triffid

Iain Thomson, 09 Aug 2007

An online florist is facing a million-dollar legal case after it revealed one of its customers was sending flowers to his girlfriend.

Leroy Greer is suing 1-800-Flowers after it sent a thank you card for using its service to the man's home address. His wife opened the card and queried the order, which was then faxed through to her.

The fax contained details of the order and the message "Just wanted to say I love you and you mean the world to me! Leroy". The order also included a stuffed animal.

Greer's wife amended the fax, sent it to her husband and has sued for divorce. He is now suing the florist for a million dollars in the Texas Southern District Court.

Interesting topic for a dissertation...

Maybe surveillance is bad, after all

By John Borland August 08, 2007 | 7:55:38 AM

Privacy advocates have a problem.

People who want to increase the amount of surveillance in society, whether it's wire-tapping, closed-circuit cameras, or data mining, have an easy argument. There are terrorists and criminals out there, and these tools can help stop violence and crime, they say.

Philosopher Sandro Gaycken, a PhD student at Germany's Institut für Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung in Bielefeld, wants to give pro-privacy forces stronger arguments to counter these concerns. Speaking today at the Chaos Communication Camp, he conceded that activists' justifications for their concerns often fail to resonate with the broad public. Many anti-surveillance arguments are based on vaguely emotional concerns, or appeals to abstract values, as opposed to the hard facts of suicide bombers or commuters killed on the subway.

In response, Gaycken argued that there are well-established psychological consequences to being watched, observed consistently in studies. People change, tailoring their behavior to fit what they believe the observer wants (or in some cases actively rebelling against those wishes).

Now imagine a society where everyone knows they are or may be watched as they walk through the streets, or while surfing online. That – as in societies like Hitler's Germany or Soviet Russia – will have tangible and widespread psychological consequences, reinforcing conformity, and literally crippling the ability to make autonomous and ethical decisions, he argued.

An analogy might be the well-studied population of children with overprotective mothers, the philosopher said. Studies show that such children tend to be indecisive, dependent on others, have little "ethical competence," and often live suppressed and unhappy lives.

As or more disturbing may be the political implications of having a surveillance infrastructure in place.

Many philosophers reject the notion that given technologies are inherently politically neutral, Gaycken said. Surveillance, for example, can be used to support democratic values of freedom, equality, and state neutrality – but its tendency to create a watched and a watching class lends itself better to totalitarianism. In a country such as Germany, which has seen democracy slide into the Nazi state, such a warning resonates strongly.

"Surveillance stabilizes totalitarianism, and destabilizes democracy," Gaycken warned.

One of my Tech correspondents send in this tip...

The Evolution of the iPhone?

Apple Computer announced today that it has developed a computer chip that can store and play music in women's breast implants.

The i-Tit will cost $499 or $599 depending on the size. This is considered to be a major breakthrough because women are always complaining about men staring at their breasts and not listening to them.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

It ain't over till its over.” Y. Berra

Credit card headaches from TJX breach remain

By Se Young Lee, Globe Correspondent | August 9, 2007

Almost seven months after the biggest security breach of financial data in the nation was revealed, some banks still appear to be sorting out which of their credit card customers were put at risk.

Retail giant TJX Cos., with headquarters in Framingham, revealed this spring that at least 45.7 million credit and debit card numbers were compromised by hackers who gained access to the company's computer systems in the second half of 2005 as well as from May 2006 to January of this year. But some companies, such as Citibank, are still reissuing cards for customers whose information may have been exposed.

... Some banks have said information from TJX about the compromised accounts has been sporadic since the news first broke.

"I can't remember an example that has had such a magnitude in a continued, slow process as this breach," said Daniel Forte, president of the Massachusetts Bankers Association, which sued TJX in April to recover damages from the costs of reissuing cards and launching other measures to protect customers.

But TJX said in a statement that it fulfilled its obligations in January and February by providing "extensive numerical payment card information to banks and payment card companies."

Stories like this give me an underwhelming confidence in post 9/11 security measures...

Protesters ‘broke into airport and boarded US military jet’

MARTIN WILLIAMS August 09 2007

Anti-war protesters managed to break into Prestwick Airport and board a US Air Force aircraft despite a step up in security after a breach the previous day, a court was told yesterday.

Marcus Armstrong, 47, from Milton Keynes, one of three members of the Trident Ploughshares protest group who are accused of breaking into the airport and boarding a C130 military plane, was allegedly apprehended in the cockpit.

What slippery slope?

Police want DNA from speeding drivers and litterbugs on database

Richard Ford, Home Correspondent From The Times August 2, 2007

Police are seeking powers to take DNA samples from suspects on the streets and for non-imprisonable offences such as speeding and dropping litter.

The demand for a huge expansion of powers to take DNA comes as a government watchdog announced the first public inquiry into the national DNA database.

There is growing concern among MPs and civil liberties groups about the number of children under 10 and young black men on the database — the biggest in the world. But a number of police forces in England and Wales are backing proposals that would add millions more samples to it.

The Association of Chief Police Officers gave a warning, however, that allowing police to take samples for non-recordable offences — crimes for which offenders cannot be imprisoned — might be perceived as indicative of “the increasing criminalisation of the generally law-abiding public”.

... Mr Huntley added: “While the increase of suspects on the database will lead to an increased cost, this should be considered as preferential to allowing a serious offender to walk from custody following arrest for a non-recordable offence.”

Online promotion

How a small winery found Internet fame

A small South African winery is using conversational marketing to go global, reports Business 2.0 Magazine.

Business 2.0 Magazine By Tom McNichol, Business 2.0 Magazine senior writer August 8 2007: 7:21 AM EDT

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- How do you get your product noticed in a sea of look-alike competitors? If you're South African winery Stormhoek, you go Web 2.0, with blogging, viral marketing, and crowdsourcing.

... Two years ago the Wellington-based winery hired MacLeod to promote its products on his blog, where he publishes advertising and technology commentaries and stream-of-consciousness cartoons.

... As Stormhoek's representative, MacLeod offered a free bottle to any blogger who asked -- as long as he or she was of legal drinking age and had been blogging at least three months.

... While the blogosphere's reviews of Stormhoek have been mostly good ("drinkable" and "pleasant," with the odd "disappointment"), MacLeod's results have been amazing. Stormhoek sales have jumped nearly sixfold, from 50,000 cases a year worldwide to almost 300,000. The winery expects to sell a million cases annually within three years.

... The campaign has also been remarkably cheap. For about $40,000 over two years, the company has created the kind of buzz others spend millions to generate. The trade journal Ad Age named the Stormhoek strategy one of the top 50 marketing campaigns in 2006.

Irrefutable proof there is a God!

If GOD was Programmer

I found this amusing site on the internets, you've just got to see it!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Fortunately, they can call on an old graduate to nuke the thieves...

Computers containing 10,000 SSNs are stolen

Wednesday, August 08 2007 @ 06:20 AM CDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews News Section: Breaches

Social Security numbers for over 10,000 current and former students, faculty and staff were compromised last month following the theft of two University computers, officials said Tuesday.

The computers were stolen from the Yale College Dean’s Office on July 17, in only the latest in a series of data security breaches that have plagued universities nationwide. The computers were password-protected, and were probably stolen to be sold rather than for the data stored on them, University officials said. Yale has sent letters to the individuals whose personal information may now be at risk.

A review of back-up tapes after the theft found files on the two computers that included names and Social Security numbers for approximately 10,000 current and former students and about 200 current and former faculty and staff members, but no financial account information.

Source - Yale Daily News

Walk it poor, walk out richer?

Merrill Lynch reports computer theft

Tuesday, August 07 2007 @ 01:21 PM CDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews News Section: Breaches

Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. said on Tuesday a computer with personal information on some employees had been stolen from one of its offices.

Merrill Lynch, the world's largest brokerage, said the theft did not involve client information.

It did not give other details and declined to say how many employees records were on the computer.

Source - Reuters

Related - CNBC's Charlie Gasparino is reporting that "According to sources, the device contained sensitive personal information, including Social Security numbers, about some 33,000 employees of the financial firm."

Related - Merrill Lynch had another incident of a stolen laptop affecting client information in February 2007. Not reported in the media, it was reported to New Hampshire under their mandatory disclosure law. They also reported other incidents involving stolen laptops to New York State in February [pdf] of 2006 and April [pdf] of 2006; those incidents were not reported in the media, either, and we would not know about them but for mandatory disclosure laws -- and Chris Walsh, who takes the time and expense to obtain the reports under FOIA.

It's all perception...

IBM Lost His Data... A Follow Up Story

Tuesday, August 07 2007 @ 11:26 AM CDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews News Section: Breaches

... Enter George -- who is not revealing his last name. George received notification from IBM in May about the data breach, which was a surprise for George because he said he never worked for IBM. He looked into the offer but figured that it may not be worth it to him since he already pays for credit monitoring.

George e-mailed me to say he recently had a 75-minute detailed conversation with IBM about their data breach. "IBM insists on calling it "lost" data tapes," he said. Of course George said he had several questions about the investigation status and IBM's records retention policy. He had heard very little about whether someone found the tapes and what authorities were doing about it.

But George's bigger beef is that "there are problems with the way IBM is handling their data breach."

Source - InformationWeek

Related - "I've Been Mugged... One person's experience with identity theft and corporate responsibility" blog

Just look for the new Disease Center?,1759,2167936,00.asp?kc=EWRSS03119TX1K0000594

$22M Worth of CDC Equipment Disappears

August 7, 2007 By Lisa Vaas

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports it cannot account for $22 million worth of computers and other equipment, according to a July 12 story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Thievery is suspected [What? No alien abductions? Bob] behind some of the missing gear. According to news reports, the Inspector General's office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will investigate the loss and will look into procedures and allegations of theft, at the request of a congressional oversight committee that reported "troubling" findings in June.

Listen on your iPod!

August 07, 2007

Two Courts Offer Digital Audio Recordings Online

Press release: "Two federal courts today became the vanguard of a pilot project to make digital audio recordings of courtroom proceedings publicly available online. The U.S. District Court in Nebraska and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina have integrated their recording and Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) systems to make some audio files available the same way written files have long been available on the Internet."

Not that I've told you so...

R.I.P TimesSelect?

from the good-riddance dept

The New York Times' plan to lock up its premium content known as TimesSelect was a terrible idea to begin with, and every piece of data that came out about it merely confirmed that the program was unpopular. Sure, the company drew a modest amount of revenue from it, but in exchange it severely limited the exposure of its top columnists, not to mention all of the foregone advertising revenue from the lower traffic. Now comes word that the paper is set to pull the plug on the offering (via Romenesko). At this point, it's still just a rumor, but either way, the company has to arrive at this conclusion eventually. Newspaper publishers cling to the dream that one day all of their content will be safely behind paywalls and that readers will suddenly wake up with an allergy to money and favor this model. But the trend is only moving one direction, as there's even talk about the Wall Street Journal, the one paper that's had a moderate amount of success charging for access, making its content free.

Perhaps the intimidation strategy has run its course? (Or maybe one lawyer smells blood?)

Oklahoma Security Expert Attacks RIAA Claims

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday August 07, @08:50PM from the resting-on-shifting-sands dept. The Courts Music

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "A group of Oklahoma University students has made a motion to vacate the ex parte order the RIAA had obtained compelling the university to turn over their names and addresses. In support of their motion was the expert witness declaration (PDF) of a computer security and forensics expert who essentially attacked the entire premise of the RIAA's lawsuit, characterizing the declaration upon which the RIAA based its motion as 'factually erroneous' and 'misleading.' Among other things he pointed out that 'An individual cannot be uniquely identified by an IP address,' and that 'Many computers can be connected to the Internet with identical IP addresses as long as they remain behind control points.' The students are represented by the same Oklahoma lawyer who recently obtained a award for $68,000-plus in attorneys fees against the RIAA in Capitol v. Foster."

More perspective?

Op-Eds in the Aftermath of Warrantless Spying Legislation

August 07, 2007

Op-ed pages and blogs around the country are bleeding with palpable outrage, as the country wakes up to exactly what happened when Congress radically expanded surveillance powers. Most are asking the same question: faced with this atrocious legislation, how could its many opponents shrink from the moment and let it pass?

Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post has an excellent round-up of editorials and news reporting since the weekend. Here are a few choice bits from opinion pieces around the Web:

  • The NY Times Editorial Page: "[T]he problem with Congress last week was that Democrats were afraid to explain to Americans why the White House bill was so bad and so unnecessary — despite what the White House was claiming.... While serving little purpose, the new law has real dangers. It would allow the government to intercept, without a warrant, every communication into or out of any country, including the United States. Instead of explaining all this to American voters — the minimal benefits and the enormous risks — the Democrats have allowed Mr. Bush and his fear-mongering to dominate all discussions on terrorism and national security."

  • The Washington Post Editorial Page: "To call this legislation ill-considered is to give it too much credit: It was scarcely considered at all. Instead, it was strong-armed through both chambers by an administration that seized the opportunity to write its warrantless wiretapping program into law -- or, more precisely, to write it out from under any real legal restrictions."

  • The LA Times Editorial Page:"That this flawed legislation was approved by a Democratic Congress is a reminder that many in the party are still fearful that they will be labeled 'soft on terror' if they don't give this administration what it wants when it wants it. But the party may be equally injured by the perception that it won't stand up for what it believes."

  • Professor Jack Balkin:"Do not be mistaken: We are not hurtling toward the Gulag or anything that we have seen before. It will be nothing so dramatic as that. Rather, we are slowly inching, through each act of fear mongering and fecklessness, pandering and political compromise, toward a world in which Americans have increasingly little say over how they are actually governed, and increasingly little control over how the government collects information on them to regulate and control them. Slowly, secretly and imperceptibly, the mechanisms of government surveillance are being freed from methods of political control and accountability; and the liberties of ordinary citizens are being surgically removed under a potent anesthesia concocted from propaganda, fear, ignorance and apathy."

  • Salon's Glenn Greenwald: "Those who fail to defend [the Constitutional] framework, or worse, those who are passively or actively complicit in its further erosion, are all equally culpable. With each day that passes, the radicalism and extremism originally spawned in secret by the Bush presidency becomes less and less his fault and more and more the fault of those who -- having discovered what they have been doing and having been given the power to stop it -- instead acquiesce to it and, worse, enable and endorse it."

  • Meteor Blades at DailyKos, speaking directly to Democratic leadership: "Weak is bad enough. Must you be simpletons as well? How many times has he [The President] marketed this crap? How many times have you bought it? Do you also fall for those late-night $19.95 television deals for a double-set of knives that never need sharpening?"

E-Discovery Doesn't this suggest that governments can use “not government business” “excuse” to eliminate e-mails, but businesses have to keep to the “you own the computer, therefore it's your e-mail?”

Are Government Employee Emails Always a Public Record?

Are all emails stored on government computers automatically “public records” subject to disclosure under state and federal Freedom of Information Acts (”FOIA”)? In a sharply divided opinion the Arkansas Supreme Court recently said no. Pulaski County v. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc., No.07-669 (Ark., July 20, 2007). The majority held that it all depends upon the content of the email, not its location in a government computer. Some emails written and received by government employees are personal in nature, and have no “substantial nexus” with government activities. For that reason they are not considered “public records” and thus are not subject to disclosure under FOIA.

In this case a newspaper requested all emails from a management employee of the county who had recently been arrested and accused of embezzling $42,000. [Clearly these e-mails would relate.. Bob] Before his arrest, and the FOIA request, the employee deleted many of his emails. Deleted, but not fully erased, and certainly not gone. A computer tech for the county was able to restore them. The county then produced most of his emails, but withheld others that were “of a highly personal and private nature.” They were emails to and from a woman with whom the accused manager was having an extramarital affair. This “other woman” also happened to work for a company who was a vendor of the county.

The newspaper naturally wanted to see this emails, and argued they must be presumed to be public records because they were written by a government employee during working hours on government computers, and were located and maintained on government computers. The trial court agreed and held that:

Because the emails at issue are maintained in a public office and are maintained by public employees within the scope of their employment, they are presumed to be public records according to the Freedom of Information Act.

Based on the facts before this Court, the emails at issue are public records because they involve a business relationship of the County and are a record of the performance or lack of performance of official functions by Ron Quillin during the times when he was an employee of Pulaski County.

The county, and the girlfriend, who intervened in the suit as “Jane Doe”, asked the court to look at the withheld emails in camera. They wanted the Judge to determine whether the emails in fact pertained to County business, as he presumed, or were instead just “monkey business” with no relevance to any kind of county activities, legal or illegal. The judge declined to do so, and entered an injunction giving the county 24 hours to turn over the emails to the newspaper. The county and Jane Doe immediately appealed.

The Arkansas Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case back for the judge to read the letters in camera. The appeals court noted that since the trial court had declined to review the emails, they were not in the record, and so it was impossible to “discern whether some emails at issue were purely business emails while other emails were purely personal in nature.” The Arkansas supreme court held that:

[I]n this particular case, it is necessary to conduct an in camera review of the e-mails to discern whether these e-mails relate solely to personal matters or whether they reflect a substantial nexus with Pulaski County’s activities, thereby classifying them as public records. See Griffis, supra . Both parties agree that the definition of “public records” is content-driven. The only way to determine the content of the e-mails is to examine them. In this case, no court has reviewed the e-mails at issue. Absent such a review, we have no record on which we can determine the nature and content of the requested documents.

Why go to school when you can hack yourself a degree?

Why Go to School, When You Can Be Online Learning Law?

By : Trevor Mulholland Submitted 2007-08-08 01:01:56

Now that the Internet has made higher education more accessible, why would anyone still think it was advisable to go to school to become a lawyer? If you can go online learning law, you'd be saved transportation fees, as well as the time it takes to commute from your residence to campus. Time is, in fact, one of the biggest factors that drive people to consider online schooling: some people, notably family people and working professionals, find it hard to afford the time to participate in classroom activities.

... Author Resource:- provides you with info on Online learning education, law enforcement training onlineand much more, come take a look at

Could be useful for all those English teachers. I wonder if they have plays about hacking> - Plays for Your iPod

posted 8 Hours 35 Minutes ago by Siri | Visit

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Laptop theft is so common he expected to get away with it? Unfortunately, video surveillance is also common.

(follow-up) University of Toledo professor accused in theft of hard drive

Tuesday, August 07 2007 @ 07:09 AM CDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews News Section: Breaches

A University of Toledo professor who reported his computer stolen, leading to concerns that personal information could be at risk, was charged yesterday by UT police with taking the hard drive.

Thomas Tatchell, 33, an associate professor of health education, was charged in arrest warrants filed yesterday in Toledo Municipal Court with receiving stolen property, tampering with evidence, unauthorized use of property, obstructing official business, and filing a false report.

Source - Toledo Blade

[From the article:

... He told UT police he hadn’t been in his office since May 2

... Surveillance video from the office reviewed by UT police shows Mr. Tatchell taking the computer about 9 p.m. June 8, UT spokesman Matt Lockwood said.

Isolated incident or fun new way to embarrass your competition?

IL: Personal Information at the Center of Insurance Companies' Fight

Tuesday, August 07 2007 @ 07:13 AM CDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews News Section: Breaches

Hundreds of documents, including social security and credit card numbers are supposedly found in an insurance company's dumpster. 13 News brought you the exclusive story Monday.

Ally Insurance Agency in Rockford says its competitor, Insurance King stole client information from Ally's office. But an Insurance King representative who did not want to be named, says he found loads of unshredded papers in the trash behind the office building. He tells 13 News, "You should keep this stuff. What if a claim were to come up and they don't have any proof?" Ally Insurance Vice President Bill Kerschner says, "This is something that does not go to the bank. This stays in our office. So if he's got a copy of that, my question to him is how did he get a copy of it? Did he have somebody come in our office illegally?"

Source - 13NBC

[Should be simple enough to prove – If he has a copy, show us the original... Bob]

Do you suppose the Class Action lawyers data mine these lists?

Data “Dysprotection:” breaches reported last week

Monday, August 06 2007 @ 06:44 AM CDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews News Section: Breaches

A recap of incidents or privacy breaches reported last week for those who enjoy shaking their head and muttering to themselves with their morning coffee. Source - Chronicles of Dissent

August 06, 2007

Questions and Answers on the Protect America Act of 2007

Follow-up to August 5, 2007 posting - Bill to Amend Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Ready for President's Signature - today's FAQ: How far does the new wiretap law go? by Declan McCullagh - "Over strong objections from civil liberties groups and many Democrats, legislators voted over the weekend to temporarily rewrite a 1978 wiretapping law that the Bush administration claimed was hindering antiterrorism investigations."

Related government documents:

Some interesting statistics

August 06, 2007

Consumer Report's 2007 State of the Net

"The risk associated with using the Internet remains high. Our State of the Net assesses the likelihood and impact of four leading online hazards, listed in order of incidence, based on the survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center and our follow-up investigation."

New legal term: “Screwed up”

Judge Says Jury Screwed Up In Awarding Alcatel-Lucent $1.5 Billion From Microsoft For MP3 Patents

from the so-sorry-about-that dept

Back in February, a jury told Microsoft to pay Alcatel-Lucent $1.5 billion for supposedly violating some patents Alcatel-Lucent held on MP3 technology. The case helped highlight the patent thicket around MP3 technologies, as Microsoft had licensed the technology from the creator of the MP3 technology, Fraunhofer. Back in May, as the judge was considering what to do about the jury's award, Alcatel-Lucent actually claimed that $1.5 billion wasn't enough. It appears the judge not only didn't buy that story, but didn't buy the jury's reasoning either. Today he threw out the jury's ruling, noting that Microsoft doesn't even infringe on one of the patents in question, and the other one is jointly owned by Fraunhofer, and therefore Microsoft has a legitimate license to it already. As the judge said, "The jury's verdict was against the clear weight of the evidence." As you might imagine, Alcatel-Lucent is not happy about this, calling the ruling "shocking and disturbing." So, there is likely going to be a long appeals process. However, this is the second time in recent weeks that we're seeing courts take a more reasonable approach on patents. Hopefully, it's the start of a trend.

This closely parallels what happens in organizations when the computer is unavailable. No other work gets done either.

Congressional Computer Crashes: Congressional Reps Too Confused To Vote

from the oh-no! dept

It's no secret that many members of Congress seem to not understand technology issues, but they sure don't seem to like it when their own technology malfunctions. The Raw Feed points us to the news that the Congressional computer that shows vote tallies in the House of Representatives went on the fritz Friday afternoon, leaving those poor Congressional Representatives with no large monitor to tell them how their colleagues were voting. Apparently, without having this information being prominently displayed, some were concerned that they wouldn't know if their votes were being accurately counted (they were), and therefore began debating whether voting should cease until the computer was fixed. Rep. Joe Barton pointed out that each side had their own computers with tallies, and if those tallies matched up, it seemed silly to delay the voting, but eventually the Representatives decided it was just too difficult and recessed while the machines were fixed. What ever did they do before computers?

Tools & Techniques: (Take that IE users!)

Single line of HTML crashes IE 6

Microsoft, Web Development August 6th, 2007

A Japanese blogger who goes by the name Hamachiya2 has discovered a single line of HTML and CSS that crashes IE 6. The line is:

If you’re brave, you can click here to try it out. The code is rendered correctly in Firefox, Safari and Opera (didn’t get a chance to try any other browsers, but presumably they work too). But in IE 6 it raises a fatal error in mshtml.dll.

Blog globally, sue locally?

Californian Can Be Sued in N.J. for Alleged Libel on Internet

Henry Gottlieb New Jersey Law Journal August 6, 2007

New Jersey's long-arm jurisdiction over Internet disputes just got a little longer.

A state appeals court ruled Thursday that a California resident accused of making libelous statements in a Web-based forum can be sued in New Jersey because the material was "targeted" toward a New Jersey audience. [“We could tell, 'cause they was lots a spelling errors!” Bob]

Many state courts have ruled that posting libelous material in open forums that can be seen everywhere does not vest jurisdiction in the victim's state. Where the libeler posts the comments is what counts.

But in Goldhaber v. Kohlenberg, A-5114-05, the allegedly libelous material was not only directed at a New Jersey resident; it included disparaging or insulting references to a town, a police department and the New Jersey resident's neighbors.

Given such targeting, the defendant had reason to foresee he would be hauled into court in New Jersey, [by that logic, the NJ Judges should expect to be hauled before the California courts for harassing their citizens. Bob] Judge Dorothea Wefing said, joined by Judges Lorraine Parker and Joseph Yannotti.

... Kohlenberg declined to submit to personal jurisdiction in New Jersey and the Goldhabers obtained a default judgment for $2,644 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages. Thursday's appellate decision vacated the default judgment, giving Kohlenberg an opportunity to defend himself against the libel charge, but he will have to do it in New Jersey.

... Courts in Minnesota, Connecticut, Nevada, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, to name a few, have ruled that the mere posting of messages on an open forum by a resident of one state read in a second state was not sufficient to confer jurisdiction on the latter.

In a print media case, though, the U.S. Supreme Court adopted what is known as an "effects" test. The Court granted jurisdiction in California to the libel claims of Hollywood actress Shirley Jones against the Florida-published, but internationally circulated, National Enquirer in Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1984).

The New Jersey court found Calder applicable in an Internet setting and went a step farther and used a so-called targeting-based analysis. It found that the posted comments not only circulated widely in New Jersey; they appeared to be targeted to a New Jersey forum.

Ubiquitous surveillance: Did you think there were exceptions?

UK: Cameras in toilets 'a breach of privacy'

Tuesday, August 07 2007 @ 07:11 AM CDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews News Section: Non-U.S. News

MORE than 1,000 workers could take part in industrial action after CCTV cameras were installed in a factory's toilet blocks, The Northern Echo can reveal.

The move by ThyssenKrupp Automotive (TKA) Tallent Chassis, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, has been branded a "horrendous breach of employee privacy".

Source - The Northern Echo

Ubiquitous surveillance: Did you think there were inviolate legal protections?

FEMA To Contact Up To 2.2 Million Applicants Affected By Court Order Directing Release Of Personal Information

Release Date: August 6, 2007 Release Number: HQ-07-155

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is launching an effort to contact up to 2.2 million applicants for federal disaster assistance to inform them that a federal appellate court ruling requires FEMA to release certain personally identifiable information. This information would normally be protected [Except when someone wants it... Bob] under the Privacy Act and the exemption for personal privacy under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

FEMA will send letters and make phone calls to notify people that the addresses of their disaster-damaged dwellings are included in the order, and must be released to certain media organizations. Information on the applicant notification timetable, distribution of information to the requesters; a state-by-state breakdown of disaster events, counties and disasters numbers may be found at

Ubiquitous surveillance: Did you think it didn't apply to you?,23599,22203308-23109,00.html

Everyone in the world to be on website

By Helene Labriet-Gross in San Francisco August 07, 2007 12:39pm Article from: Agence France-Presse

A US web firm is preparing to launch an ambitious internet search engine it hopes will eventually track down the names of the world's six billion people. says it has already indexed 100 million people and is adding a million names per day on the invitation-only, beta version of its website, which will be made available to the public in mid-August.

Business model I like this one on many levels! Announces Series A Financing Led By

PR Newswire August 06, 2007: 12:01 AM EST

NEW YORK, Aug. 6 /PRNewswire/ --, a fast-growing digital music store with a unique demand-based pricing system, announced today the completion of its Series A financing led by, Inc. . The amount of Amazon's investment and the terms are not disclosed.

... is the first digital music store propelled by social networking, where members of the community drive the discovery, promotion and pricing of music. All songs on start at a price of zero cents. As more people download a song the price rises, capping at $0.98.

Interesting claim. Will anyone believe it?

August 06, 2007

DHS Privacy Act System of Records Notice for the Automated Targeting System

Press release: "The Department of Homeland Security has posted on its web site, and will publish on Aug. 6, 2007, in the Federal Register, four Privacy Act records involving the Automated Targeting System (ATS). The records are an updated System of Records Notice (SORN), the Discussion of Public Comments Received on the SORN, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Privacy Act Exemptions, and a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA). In doing so, the department has strengthened privacy protections for all individuals traveling in to and out of the United States."

Reducing the candidates to a spreadsheet... “No nuance here!”

Chart of presidential candidate's positions

Chart of 18 Democratic and Republican presidential candidates and their positions on 25 issues ranging from Iraq, immigration, universal heathcare, stem cell research, and same-sex marriage.

Swap early and often!

Vote-swapping Web sites are legal, appeals court (finally) says

Posted by Declan McCullagh August 6, 2007 7:08 PM PDT

It took seven years, but a federal appeals court has finally vindicated the creators of vote-swapping Web sites that let Al Gore and Ralph Nader fans support their chosen candidates in the 2000 presidential election.

The purpose of the sites, which included the now-defunct and, was to let a Nader supporter in a state where George Bush might win "swap" his vote with a Gore supporter in a state like Texas where Republican victory was practically assured.

There was no actual way to enforce the swap. But the killjoys who inhabit government bureaucracies were nevertheless unamused and came up with the bizarre claim that operating a vote-swap site was a criminal act. California Secretary of State Bill Jones even threatened to prosecute and (which immediately shut their virtual doors in response).

Fortunately, the site operators--Alan Porter, Patrick Kerr, Steven Lewis, and William Cody--had the means to force the issue and take the state of California to court. They met with little luck before a federal district judge.

But on Monday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (PDF) that "the websites' vote-swapping mechanisms as well as the communication and vote swaps they enabled were constitutionally protected" and California's spurious threats violated the First Amendment. The 9th Circuit also said the threats violated the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause.

Here's the key graf: "Both the websites' vote-swapping mechanisms and the communication and vote swaps that they enabled were...constitutionally protected. At their core, they amounted to efforts by politically engaged people to support their preferred candidates and to avoid election results that they feared would contravene the preferences of a majority of voters in closely contested states. Whether or not one agrees with these voters' tactics, such efforts, when conducted honestly and without money changing hands, are at the heart of the liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment."

Won't RIAA have a kitten?

Anywhere.FM - Enjoy Your iTunes Library From Anywhere

posted 6 Hours 32 Minutes ago by rakohn | Visit view profile

Wish you could listen to your iPod library while at work or some other place you haven’t brought your iPod or its connectors to? With Anywhere.FM you can upload your entire iTunes library with their handy uploading tool and save it for easy access from anywhere with internet. This is great if you have a song you want to play for someone or don’t have your iPod accessible, making it easy to reach the music you love from anywhere. You listen to songs via playlists, and you can listen to other members’ playlists as well. This is great for discovering new music if you like the music tastes of particular users. The site lets you know how similar your music tastes are based on your music libraries so that you have a better idea without even looking of whose playlists you might enjoy more.