Boghound's World News

A Humorous Look At News Events And Life Around The World

Archive for May, 2013

FBI…Don’t You Just Love Them!!

Posted by Boghound on May 21, 2013


FBI Can Read E-mails without Warrant

According to recently released documents, the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) of Federal Bureau of Investigation allows agency reading your e-mail without having a warrant.

The American Civil Liberties Union published a copy of 2012’s edition of FBI’s Guide for Federal Bureau of Investigation, which basically allows the Bureau reading your e-mail whenever it sees fit and without a warrant.

In short words, under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, better known as ECPA (a privacy law of 1986), the law enforcement agencies are able to read your e-mail before being opened by an addressee as long as a warrant exists. However, there’s a problem: once the e-mail is opened by an addressee, or hasn’t been opened within 6 months, a warrant is not needed anymore. A few months ago, the Department of Justice of the United States attended a Congressional hearing, where it admitted that ECPA needs to be revised and even offered to support ECPA’s revisions.

Worse still, one of the circuit court of appeals recently handed down a decision that federal authorities need a warrant before accessing an e-mail address, but the problem is that the ruling only applies in the 4 states covered by the Sixth Circuit. This is why American Civil Liberties Union filed a request to find out whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation and similar agencies are taking advantage of a loophole in the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act and accessing some electronic communications without a warrant. Any person is able to find Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide for 2008 and 2011 on the FBI’s official website.

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Fly Me….But Not Here!

Posted by Boghound on May 20, 2013


Couple flown to wrong continent after airline error

Two US holidaymakers found themselves a long way from their intended destination after an airline confused two airport codes.

Sandy Valdiviseo and her husband Triet Vo were intending to fly from Los Angeles to Dakar in Senegal with Turkish Airlines. However, instead they ended up almost 7,000 miles away – on an entirely different continent – in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, after the airport codes were mixed up, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The airport code for Dakar, the capital of Senegal, is DKR, while the code for the airport in Dhaka, which is the capital of Bangladesh, is DAC.

After arriving in Istanbul, the couple had boarded a connecting flight. It was only after seeing the route map of the flight’s progress, which showed the plane over the Middle East, that they realised the error.

“When the flight attendant said we were heading to Dhaka, we believed that this was how you pronounced ‘Dakar’ with a Turkish accent," Ms Valdivieso said.

When they arrived in Bangladesh, the pair informed Turkish Airlines about the mistake, and tried to arrange a transfer to Senegal.

According to reports, the airline insisted on tracking down the recording of the initial booking before acknowledging the error and installing the couple on flights to West Africa, 12 hours after their arrival in Bangladesh. Their baggage arrived in Senegal two days after they did.

The incident happened in December last year, but has only just been reported after the couple’s long battle to obtain compensation.

"I have called them [Turkish Airlines] every Friday for the past four months," said Ms Valdivieso. "They told me each time that they will review my case and get back to me. But they never do."

"We are very, very sorry that this happened," a Turkish Airlines spokeswoman said. The couple have since been offered two free economy-class tickets to anywhere on the airline’s flight network.

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Big Brother?

Posted by Boghound on May 18, 2013


US President Planning Online Wiretapping Law

As you know, the British Labour Government will surely go down in history for its extensive use of CCTV cameras, but in the meanwhile, Barack Obama can become known for his online wiretapping laws.

Media reports say that Barack Obama is going to end the long-running debate over online snooping with a legislation allowing law-enforcement agencies tapping into many types of online communications.

Everyone understands that bringing in this law will surely have political, technical and legal obstacles. Indeed, if Obama gets it through it would really represent a sea change in American culture. Industry experts point out that if he succeeds, the FBI and other agencies will have a right to snoop on voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) services like Skype and real-time chats.

Apparently, it would end a regime where the FBI has difficultly snooping but is able to eavesdrop on traditional telephone calls. Of course, tech firms hate the idea, which would likely face stiff opposition in Congress. At the moment, spooks can ask the courts to wiretap almost anything, but only traditional telecommunications carriers are demanded to make it easy.

The law in question – Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act – doesn’t apply to any of Microsoft’s services, for example. This includes Skype, as it doesn’t class Microsoft as a traditional telecommunications carrier.

Thus, Obama’s new legislation would encompass VoIP, chat and any other online communication services. However, it is still unclear how tech companies could be compelled to help the authorities unscramble encrypted communications, apart from providing access. Actually, Obama’s proposed legislation is a slightly watered down version of what the Federal Bureau of Investigation wants. The FBI had called for a blanket requirement that ISPs provide authorized officials the same kind of sweeping, turn-key access to their networks that phone companies do.

However, tech firms, civil libertarians and some government officials claimed that it was impractical for smaller firms and such back doors can present serious security risks. Some of the critics insist that the fact the President would end up pushing the legislation will make him the punching bag for every American citizen who is already worried about their government.

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What’s In A Name?

Posted by Boghound on May 14, 2013


Apple Called Outdated iPhone “Vintage”

A new marketing spin from Apple can be seen as an insult to the intelligence of the American nation. Now Apple is peddling a phone it has dubbed “obsolete” in the rest of the world as “vintage” in the United States.

Media reports reveal that starting 11 June, the original iPhone 2G model will gain “obsolete” status – in other words, the device won’t any longer be serviceable in the Apple care centers. According to press reports, the “obsolete” status for the iPhone model will apply in Canada, Asia, Europe, Japan and Latin America.

This wasn’t a great surprise for many – after all, the Apple 2G is really outdated – but for some reason the company doesn’t want to admit that in the United States. Instead, the first-generation mobile device will be given “vintage” status – may be in the hope that the terminally dumb will suddenly want to buy it. Moreover, they will even be given limited support to do so: currently running iOS 1.0, the iPhone can be upgraded to iOS 3.1.3, but couldn’t manage anything more advanced than that.

The critics point out that only Apple could take the word “vintage” (normally applied to fine wines and cheese) and stick it on something the rest of the world called obsolete. The most amusing thing is that the company clearly understands that the rest of the world isn’t so dumb to fall for the marketing scam. Therefore, Apple isn’t even trying it on in nations where its customers are a little more discerning.

In the meanwhile, Apple is also rendering many other technological gadgets “obsolete” – for example, the 17-inch and 20-inch iMac G5, the late 2005 Mac mini, and the 15-inch and 17-inch versions of the Apple PowerBook G4. Among the list of retired devices you can also find the mid-2007 iMac, Mac Pro, late-2007 iMac, Xserve and AirPort Express Base Station. However, none of these gadgets are considered “vintage” – instead, some of them should probably be labeled “fire hazard”.

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The U.S. Rules?…Yeh Right!

Posted by Boghound on May 9, 2013


Spain Removed from Watch List, Ukraine under Scrutiny

The Office of the United States Trade Representative has recently released its 2013 report, known as the “Special 301”. There, Ukraine found itself at the top of the notorious list, marked as a “Priority Foreign Country”.

In the meanwhile, Spain and Bulgaria managed to make it out of the “Special 301”, but they aren’t off the hook completely, because the United States Trade Representative will keep conducting reviews on both of them. The “Special 301” also reveals that Canada’s grade has been modified, from “Priority Watch List” to “Watch List.”

The report noted that a year ago, the United States welcomed the passage of the Copyright Modernization Act. The latter, among other things, was created to implement Canada’s obligations under the WIPO Internet Treaties, as well as to address the challenges of copyright piracy. A few months ago, Canada also implemented the Combating Counterfeit Products Act in order to strengthen IPR enforcement. The latter included provisions which would provide ex officio authority to the local customs officials to seize pirated and counterfeit goods at the border.

Along with Canada, Israel, Egypt, Mexico, and Brazil also made it to the “Watch List”, while such countries as Algeria, Argentina, China, Chile, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, and Venezuela had less luck and were all tagged under the “Priority Watch List.” In addition, the report says that obtaining effective enforcement of IPR in China is still its central challenge. The matter is that more than 90% of the revenue generated by American movies in China is represented by box office revenues, compared to 25-30% in the US. This difference is explained by widespread piracy of films in the Internet and on optical discs.

Finally, the American government discovered that some trends are blossoming – for example, the “emergence of Media Box piracy, whereby “boxes”, usually having capability to play high definition content, are loaded with lots of pirated works. Such boxes may be sold with preloaded content, while later offering to upload new content for a relatively low fee. Of course, the entertainment industry was quick to respond – it pointed out that Ukraine and Thailand still need better copyright laws and congratulated Spain for a job well done.

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Never Satisfied?

Posted by Boghound on May 4, 2013


 

Viacom Lost Piracy Case against YouTube

All efforts of the entertainment industry to accuse YouTube were undermined by the legal system of the United States. For a long time Viacom had been hoping it would manage to squeeze a billion dollars from the streaming service, accusing it of allowing pirated content on the website.

However, thus far it hasn’t succeeded – media reports say that the plaintiffs had previously convinced the Second Circuit to remand the case to the district court in order to determine some factual points that related to specific videos. The matter is that the company’s cunning plan came unstuck after district judge resolved everything in favor of Google’ YouTube, once again dismissing the case.

This lawsuit is crucial, because the judge has come to a decision that YouTube didn’t have knowledge or awareness of unauthorized activity, nor was it engaged in “willful blindness” towards any specific violation. The judge also pointed out that YouTube didn’t encourage its users to commit copyright violation or otherwise interact with its users and participate in any infringement.

As a result, the judge has told Viacom and other members of the entertainment industry that the DMCA actually means that there is an element of safe haven protection in such cases as YouTube’s one.

The $1 billion lawsuit died back in 2007, right after Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion. In the case, Viacom essentially argued that the streaming service was knowingly allowing copyrighted content to be uploaded to the website. In response, YouTube explained that it was just a platform where Internet users could add content, and that the service would take down any video that the copyright owners asked.

Three years ago, a judge ruled in favor of the streaming service, granting a summary motion to dismiss the lawsuit. However, an appeals court then reversed the ruling, sending the case back to court. Now the judge again came to a conclusion that YouTube was protected by the DMCA safe harbor provision.

Despite recent cooperation of Viacom and YouTube, it looks like Viacom isn’t giving up yet. Viacom has issued a statement to say that it will appeal the court ruling, claiming that the decision ignores the opinions of the higher courts and completely disregards the rights of content creators. Viacom wants a jury to weigh up the facts of this case and take into account the “overwhelming evidence” that the streaming service willfully infringed copyright.

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Second Thoughts?

Posted by Boghound on May 2, 2013


Microsoft May Backtrack on Its Touch Obsession

The suspicions of the industry observers are that Microsoft might have realized that the reason users don’t want to move to Windows 8 is because of its inconvenient interface. When the software giant introduced Windows 8, it for some reason believed that in the middle of a recession, the users would splash out on an expensive touch screen. Therefore, in order to make sure they adopted this, Microsoft got rid of the classic start screen and forced people to search through mobile tiles. However, it now seems that the company didn’t acknowledge that people may simply say “no” to the new OS. As a result, Windows 8 is not selling well at all.

The industry experts say that Windows Blue, also referred to as Windows 8.1, may backtrack on some of those stupid Microsoft novices. The rumors are that the upcoming update may bring the Start button back to the Windows desktop and provide people with the ability to bypass the Start screen entirely at boot.

Microsoft is currently still unsure about introducing the changes, but at least it is considering this option – this is a good sign anyway. If Microsoft kills both the Start button and disables the boot-to-desktop option by default in the next major Windows update, it will make absolute sense. The experts point out that businesses afraid of retraining costs or user backlash tend to purchase Windows 8 with a Windows 7 interface. There are more barriers to sale – for example, the fact that most people believe they need a touch screen to use Windows 8. In the meanwhile, Windows Blue is expected to come out later in 2013. Industry observers say that a public preview should arrive in or around June.

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