Despite not owning a computer or even a router, a retired woman has been ordered by a court to pay compensation to a movie company. The woman had been pursued by a rightsholder who claimed she had illegally shared a violent movie about hooligans on the Internet, but the fact that she didn’t even have an email address proved of little interest to the court. Guilty until proven innocent is the formula in Germany.
The just-concluded case in Germany demonstrates perfectly that in some jurisdictions the standard way to deal with a file-sharing claim is guilty until proven innocent.
At 09:10 during a cold January morning in 2010, the defendant in the case says she was tucked up in bed. A movie copyright holder, however, insists the retired single woman was illegally sharing files on the Internet.
The settlement letter sent to the woman by the copyright holder stated clearly that on January 4th she’d been using the eDonkey network to share a violent film about hooligans. For this offense she must pay compensation of around 650 euros or face court, they said.
So remember Carrier IQ? That would be the company that is providing what’s been deemed a root kit on a ton of mobile phones. While the company has sought to downplay the security and privacy risks of its software (to the point of threatening the main researcher behind the revelation), further research suggested that the software likely tracked actions down to the keystroke. Again, Carrier IQ has insisted that its only purpose was to help mobile operators get data and information to help out when users are having problems. For example, it notes the ability to highlight when and how users have dropped calls. And if this was all it really does, then the software might be slightly reasonable (though, the fact that it’s hidden and almost impossible to remove represents a significant problem no matter how benign the software might be).
However, Michael Morisy over at the site Muckrock, decided he might try a different angle to learn about Carrier IQ and whether it was used for surveillance: he filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI to find out if and how it uses Carrier IQ data. Not too surprisingly, the FBI won’t provide him any details, but the way in which it turned him down was actually quite telling. Rather than just saying there were "no responsive documents," it instead said that it did have responsive documents "but they were exempt under a provision that covers materials that, if disclosed, might reasonably interfere with an ongoing investigation." That may imply, contrary to Carrier IQ’s suggestions, that its software isn’t for monitoring and spying, that the FBI views it quite differently, and already makes use of some Carrier IQ data. Of course, Morisy notes that there is another possible explanation: the FBI could be investigating Carrier IQ itself following these allegations, and it won’t reveal the data for fear of compromising that investigation. Either way, it at least raises some significant new questions concerning Carrier IQ and how its data is being used.
Update: Carrier IQ has come out with a response insisting that it has never given out info to the FBI. I would imagine that’s true, but it’s besides the point. The issue is whether or not the FBI uses Carrier IQ data that it receives via the mobile operators.
In an article I wrote in late October 2011 (“NJ Transit Ushers In Cashless Society With Google Wallet App For Smartphone Payment), I detailed a new policy being implemented at New Jersey Transit stations and Newark Liberty International Airport Rail Station, as well as in Penn Station and the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York. At the time, I deemed the program, “the most recent Orwellian Big Brother policy under the guise of greater traveler convenience; a cover story for privacy intrusion that is becoming more and more popular when attempting to introduce the hi-tech police state security grid.”
Essentially, the new procedure being introduced is a wireless payment program that allows passengers to wave their smartphones in front of a special sensor in order to purchase a ticket for travel. The sensor is located on the ticket vending machine and both the train and bus tickets are accessed via Google Wallet – an app that provides for wireless payment capabilities. In the article mentioned above, I argued that the implementation of such technology is the foreshadowing of the coming cashless society which itself will play a major role in the totalitarian police state control grid being established right before our eyes.
The federal government has left Canada’s provinces and territories in the dark about the cost of the omnibus crime bill even as the legislation heads to the Senate for approval.
The controversial bill includes new mandatory minimum sentences and tougher sentencing for young offenders, among other changes. It is expected to put more people in jail for longer, ratcheting up the cost of administering justice at both the provincial and federal levels.
After limiting debate on the bill in committee and the House of Commons, the Conservatives used their majority status to move it through third reading on Monday night.
But Canada’s most populous provinces say they still don’t know how much of the financial burden the federal government expects them to bear.
Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario’s Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, said the legislation will require “significant” new spending for which the province has not budgeted.
“In our view, it is not appropriate for one level of government to create financial burdens for another without discussion and an appropriate financial offset,” she wrote in a recent letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.
The federal government has said its share of the bill will be $78.6-million over five years, although opposition MPs say that underestimates its true cost. The figure does not include spending on provincial and territorial jails, which deal with anyone sentenced for less than two years.
Quebec’s Ministry of Public Security estimates it will cost $294-million to $545-million to expand the province’s prisons, and an additional $40-million to $74-million each year to service the growing inmate population.
That cost is in addition to the $299-million Quebec currently spends on prisons each year, the ministry said.
Quebec has said it would refuse to pay the cost because it strongly opposes the new rules for young offenders, which it believes will hurt their prospects for rehabilitation.
A spokeswoman from Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson’s office said transfer payments to the provinces and territories have increased by 30 per cent since the Conservative government took office, but declined to say whether the payments would continue to increase to reflect the added costs of the bill.
“There’s ongoing discussions between both levels of government, and I think that’s important to get their input on – on all these initiatives and the initiatives that we’ll take forward,” Mr. Nicholson told reporters on Monday, adding that he gets together with his provincial counterparts at least once a year.
But representatives from Alberta, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and other provinces said on Monday they still had no word from Ottawa on how much they would be expected to pay.
Many of the provinces said they expect the federal government to step in with additional support if their costs rise.
Manitoba Attorney-General Andrew Swan said his government supports many aspects of the crime bill, but still expects a hand from the government, particularly to expand the province’s drug courts and legal aid programs.
“If the federal government steps up, we think we can work well [with the legislation],” he said.
With reports from Rhéal Séguin in Quebec, Karen Howlett in Toronto and Justine Hunter in Vancouver
An unpatched security flaw in Apple’s iTunes software allowed intelligence agencies and police to hack into users’ computers for more than three years, it’s claimed.
A British company called Gamma International marketed hacking software to governments that exploited the vulnerability via a bogus update to iTunes, Apple’s media player, which is installed on more than 250 million machines worldwide.
The hacking software, FinFisher, is used to spy on intelligence targets’ computers. It is known to be used by British agencies and earlier this year records were discovered in abandoned offices of that showed it had been offered to Egypt’s feared secret police.
Apple was informed about the relevant flaw in iTunes in 2008, according to Brian Krebs, a security writer, but did not patch the software until earlier this month, a delay of more than three years.
“A prominent security researcher warned Apple about this dangerous vulnerability in mid-2008, yet the company waited more than 1,200 days to fix the flaw,” he said in a blog post.
"The disclosure raises questions about whether and when Apple knew about the Trojan offering, and its timing in choosing to sew up the security hole in this ubiquitous software title."