‘Drone’ That Hit Plane in London May Have Just Been a Plastic Bag

A few days ago it was reported that a drone may have hit a British Airways jet flying out of Heathrow. The transport minister Robert Goodwill has yet to confirm if that’s the case, saying that it could have just been a plastic bag.

The incident is believed to have occurred at around 1,700 ft, over four times the legal limit for people who want to fly their drones in the open air and while the Air Accidents Investigation Branch is investigating the incident alongside the Metropolitan Police there has been little in the way of information released to the public.

Goodwill did respond to comments regarding “geo-fencing”, a technique where drones would be blocked from entering restricted areas by means of having ‘no go zones’ installed on their devices by the manufacturers. Goodwill didn’t show great promise or belief in that option as he said it would be vulnerable to “somebody who could get round the software”.

With people speculating that the plane struck a drone, a thought that has occurred many times before and almost happened on several occasions, Goodwill did say that it “has not been confirmed it was actually a drone”, instead saying that the original story came from a local police force who tweeted the news about a reported drone colliding with a plane. “There was no actual damage to the plane and there’s indeed some speculation that it may have even been a plastic bag or something”, the latest news seems to be that if it was a drone or unmanned electronic device, they don’t even know what it could have been.

Going on to explain the current information, Goodwill explained that “there was no actual damage to the plane and there’s indeed some speculation that it may have even been a plastic bag or something”.

So no confirmed Drone could mean that people are overreacting to what has been a nightmare scenario for many groups for a while now, with incidents involving everything from illegally flying their drones during major events to even crashing into famous landmarks.

Warrant Used To Track Users Through Tor Invalidated

When it was revealed that an NIT (network investigative technique) had been used to track people across Tor, people were worried about just how they had got permission to deploy such a far sweeping piece of computer malware. It would now seem that the warrant issued didn’t give as much power as they wanted as a federal judge has now stated that the warrant should be invalidated because of its reach.

The federal judge in question sits in Massachusetts and stated that a magistrate issuing a warrant in Virginia cannot “authorize the search of a defendant’s computer located in Massachusetts”. This was noted in a 39-page opinion in which William Young stated that while it cannot be done, the Department of Justice and Congress could change the law in future. The end result of the opinion is the conclusion stating:

Based on the foregoing analysis, the Court concludes that the NIT Warrant was issued without jurisdiction and thus was void ab initio. It follows that the resulting search was conducted as though there were no warrant at all. Since warrantless searches are presumptively unreasonable, and the good-faith exception is inapplicable, the evidence must be excluded.

So ultimately the warrant for the NIT over stretched the bounds, something that has now led to a bunch of evidence being made null and void in a case where even Ahmed Ghappour, a law professor at the University of California, realized that the ” DOJ knew full well that the magistrate lacked authority to issue an out-of-district warrant”.

Kanye West Being Sued Over Promises of Tidal Exclusive Album

Kanye West is not a new face when it comes to news and digital issues, with his latest album, the life of Pablo, pirated over half a million times while it was still an exclusive at Tidal. The problem for many was that Kanye had offered the album as an exclusive for Tidal, the online streaming service that he has invested in. The so-called exclusive has now led to Kayne West being sued over promises that it would be a Tidal exclusive album, promises that didn’t last very long.

Justin Baker-Rhett is a fan of musician Kanye West, but he is now at the center of a lawsuit targeted towards both Kanye West and S.Carter Enterprises (SCE), the company that owns the Tidal music streaming service.

The lawsuit alleges that the rapper mislead his fans into buying and supporting the streaming service by falsely promising that his album, the Life of Pablo, would only ever be available on Tidal. A month and a half later the album appeared on both Apple Music and Spotify, leading many to believe that his claims about the album being an exclusive were nothing more than false advertising to boost Tidal’s falling sales figures.

Tidal promises greater control and royalties to those that use it to share their music so it’s hard to see West’s tweet as nothing more than an attempt to get people to buy in and listen to it on the platform before realising that he might not get the following on Tidal, whose subscription numbers are reported to have jumped from 1 million to 3 million following the announcement.

FAA Rule It a Federal Crime to Shoot Down a Drone

Almost a year ago now William H Meredith noticed a drone flying above his property, so with his shotgun, he removed it from the sky. This raised an interesting legal debate, given the drone was above his property at the time it was shot down, was it wrong of him to shoot it down or was the drone user invading his privacy? The FAA have now revealed the answer, saying it is a federal crime to shoot down a drone.

Meredith defended his actions saying that not only was the drone invading his privacy but that of his two daughters in his garden. David Boggs, the drones owner, however, states that he was flying the drone to take pictures of a friend’s house and even sued Meredith for the cost of the drone and then some.

Due to the FAA’s latest drone registry scheme, drones are deemed as aircraft, the same as any manned aircraft in the air. As a result, the FAA responded to a question confirming that shooting down a drone is a federal crime, citing 18 U.S.C. 32 titled Aircraft Sabotage. This escalates to the point where if you are deemed to be interfering with someone who is “engaged in the authorised operation of such aircraft” you could find yourself facing anywhere between five and twenty years in prison.

While no one has yet to be charged for this act, many drones have been shut down and people are now wondering where can you draw the line? Given that specialist task forces are being formed to deal with the threat of drones, both on people and on manned aircraft, is it ever justified to defend yourself from the threat of a drone?

Apple & FBI Heading Back to Congress to Debate Encryption

When Apple and the FBI first appeared in front of congress the debate was if Apple could be ordered to unlock an iPhone, and if so should they then create a method where they could easily access future devices for law enforcement? While the case revolving around the San Bernardino phone is over, with the FBI gaining access with help from an external group, the debate is still far from over with both the FBI and Apple looking to appear before a congressional committee to debate encryption yet again.

The debate over encryption will see several people join the committee as witnesses, including Bruce Sewell (General Counsel, Apple Inc), Amy Hess (Executive Assistance Directory for Science and Technology, FBI) and Amit Yoran (President, RSA Security). Other witnesses include Ron Hickman representing the National Sheriffs Association and two police officers, Captain Charles Cohen and Chief Thomas Galati (Indiana state police and New York City Police respectively). With two university representatives Daniel Weitzner (MIT) and Matthew Blaze (University of Pennsylvania) appearing as well, it would appear that congress want to hear the debate from research, implementation and law enforcements points of views in an attempt to fully understand the debate that is raging on in countries all over the world about privacy vs protection.

With countries all over looking to this court case as an example of how technology has advanced while the law remains unclear, the congressional hearing could have a big impact on companies throughout America. The hearing will take place on April 19th and will be streamed on their site for ease of access.

New York State Introduce The Textalyzer

Most of us know of the breathalyzer, the device that all police officers carry in their cars to check if you’re over the alcoholic tolerance levels whilst driving. The simple device has been in use for decades and helped police officers across the globe arrest drivers that are breaking the law by drinking. Now there seems to be a so-called “textalyzer” device appearing.

The new device will help authorities determine whether someone involved in a road traffic accident was using a mobile device unlawfully, causing them to be distracted whilst driving. The technology is made by a company called Cellbrite, the Israeli firm that was rumored to have assisted the FBI with cracking the iPhone.

Drivers involved in accidents would have to submit their phone to roadside testing from a textalyzer device. The device would then determine if the driver was using a mobile device ahead of a crash. In a bid to get around the Fourth Amendment right to privacy, the textalyzer would not  conversations, contacts, numbers, photos, and application data private. It will solely say whether the phone was in use prior to a motor vehicle mishap. Further analysis, which might require a warrant, could be necessary to determine whether such usage was via hands-free dashboard technology and to confirm the original finding.

Paypal Cancelled Hiring Hundreds of Staff in North Carolina Over New Law

When you vote in a new law, you should be careful just how much it will impact people. PayPal is well aware of this and in light of a new law in North Carolina, PayPal has cancelled the hiring of 400 people in protest a law that has just been passed in the state.

The new law was passed a few weeks ago and saw it discriminate against transgender people, forcing them to follow their “biological sex”. The new bill doesn’t stop there though with it stating that any local laws concerning employee rights and nondiscrimination practises are superseded by the state law alongside the fact that people cannot bring “any civil action” against the state for their new actions and that it is not considered discrimination to limit someone to a bathroom based on their biological sex.

While this law has caught the anger of many people and now PayPal has said enough is enough. CEO Dan Shulman says in a statement from the company that:

“The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture.  As a result, PayPal will not move forward with our planned expansion into Charlotte.”

Not only does Shulman go on to say “everyone deserves to live without fear of discrimination simply for being who they are, becoming an employer in North Carolina, where members of our teams will not have equal rights under the law, is simply untenable”. Furthermore, Shulman states that not only will they now seek a new location for their office but they will “remain committed to working with the LGBT community in North Carolina to overturn this discriminatory legislation”.

PayPal is just one of many companies and even governments and agencies that are taking part in the action to get this law overturned, something that should never have been allowed through in the first place for many. With a large company like PayPal taking action like this and the new law getting the attention of the white house, we can only hope that the law is overturned as soon as possible.

Apple Could Be Fined Millions for Strict iPhone Marketing Contract

Did you ever look at a phone provider catalogue and think, where have I seen that advert before? If the phone in question is an iPhone then you may have noticed its prominent placement in the catalogue along with the near identical adverts in every single catalogue. There is a reason for this other than just marketing, and could get Apple fined up to €48.5 million for their strict iPhone marketing terms.

France’s country competition regulators have launched a complaint regarding Apple’s agreements, stating that they are actually illegal. Part of the terms and conditions is that carriers have to order a minimum number of iPhones, cover the cost of repairs for some of the phones and even pay for the ad’s used (including those used for in-store displays).

If this wasn’t enough Apple gains several legal benefits, such as being able to access and use some of the carriers patents and even use their branding as they see fit. The contract also allows Apple to void the contract without any prior notice, something that would scare anyone selling thousands of euros worth of equipment.

With Apple looking at renewable energy for their facilities, they may want to rethink their strategy when it comes to selling their devices as even if this court case is just in France, other countries may follow suit and start looking at stocking alternative products because of the contract they are being forced to sign.

iPhone Unlocked By Fingerprint Because Of A Warrant From The LAPD

While we were so focused on the Apple Vs FBI court battle that was going on, it would seem that the FBI were up to their usual tricks. I refer to the first known case where a user was made to unlock their iPhone by fingerprint because of a warrant.

The court case was overseen by a Virginia Beach Circuit Court Judge who agreed that David Charles Baust could not be forced to hand over his iPhones passcode. The judge did say he could be compelled to supply his biometric information to unlock the device, though, a measure that seems very similar in its outcome.

The warrant issued allowed an LAPD agent to visit the premises of Baust and a Paytsar Bkchadzhyan and acquire a fingerprint for the purposes of unlocking the iPhone, a trick that can be mimicked with something as simple as Play-Doh. The warrant contains the line “Law enforcement personnel are authorized to depress the fingerprints and/or thumbprints of the person covered by this warrant onto the Touch ID sensor of the Apple iPhone seized… on 25 February”. The inventory of the property taken in the search doesn’t even help narrow down what they searched for, as they state “PAYTSAR BKCHADZHYAN – FINGERPRINT ON IPHONE DEVICE”, a rather ambiguous term when keeping track of something.

The fingerprint didn’t help as after 48 hours of not unlocking your iPhone with touch ID requires that you enter your passcode anyway, a piece of information that the Judge had already ruled out being forced from the suspect.

This could have repercussions, such as in the case where a person from England is being asked to unlock his device over a case that could see him tried in America, where you could be seen as providing evidence against yourself by providing something like your biometric information or passwords. These are all protected in America under the fifth amendment, the right to not incriminate yourself.

Clean Energy Rules Backed by Leading Tech Companies

People like the idea of clean energy, the ability for us to generate more energy than we use all from renewable sources that don’t damage the environment. France requires that new buildings have solar panels or grass on the roofs, and an Indian airport has decided that solar power is the way they want to go. In a move to help further our advances towards clean energy governments are making more and more pushes, this time, it would seem that the clean power plan in America is getting some backing from rather large companies in the technology industry.The Clean Power Plan is designed to cut carbon pollution 32 percent below 2005’s levels, all by the time we reach 2030. With more and more pressure on reducing our CO2 output, coal-fired plants are under increased pressure to become more efficient (same energy, less CO2,

The Clean Power Plan is designed to cut carbon pollution 32 percent below 2005’s levels, all by the time we reach 2030. With more and more pressure on reducing our CO2 output, coal-fired plants are under increased pressure to become more efficient (same energy, less CO2) while also groups and companies are under more pressure to promote and use renewable energy sources like solar or wind farms.

Considering themselves “major purchasers of electricity”, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft have come together and formally backed the Clean Power Plan in the United States Court of Appeals where the act is currently on hold.

With both large tech companies and the Obama administration pushing for this act to go through, it is hard to see how anything supporting renewable energy could be seen as negative but some claim the rules are onerous and overreach the abilities of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Uber CEO Faces Lawsuit Price Fixing Allegations

Uber is a popular app that allows people to act almost like taxi’s for others, with one person pressing a button to request a ride and minutes later a driver arriving to provide the transport at a cost. With the concept of pricing, a key part of the system, Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick may want to be careful as he faces a lawsuit of price fixing allegations relating to the app.

Uber is no stranger to legal troubles, with people in Jakarta staging violent protests over the app and one driver even claiming that a demon convinced him through the app to commit murder, the app has seen its fair time in the spotlight for legal issues. During the recent Metro shutdown in New York Uber decided that it wouldn’t raise prices to more than 3.9 times their normal rate, a kind gesture that could certainly see people put off using the service. A US District court judge in New York has stated that Kalanick must face

A US District court judge, Jed Rakoff, in New York has stated that Kalanick must face the lawsuit that states he conspired with drivers to set the fares the app provides using an algorithm, including its well-known progress of increasing rates during peak hours through its “surge pricing” model.

In his comments, Rakoff states that the plaintiffs had “plausibly alleged a conspiracy” which ultimately drove out rivals for the app. It will be interesting to see how a company as well known as Uber faces charges over something some would call a “feature” within their software while others would claim it takes money from those desperate in times of need, such as those escaping from attacks or when other transport systems are shut down.

FBI Doesn’t Want To Tell How It Tracked People Across The Tor Network

The FBI are known for their digital prowess, although they may require some help when it comes to breaking into an iPhone. One of their most recent successes was the tracking of people using the Tor network, but after a judge ruled that the defendants representatives needed to know how he was identified the FBI has declined to say how they tracked people across the Tor network.

The ruling was provided by the Judge overlooking the case and was provided so that the defendants experts could check that the method used to identify the client was both within the FBI’s authority and also properly identified the client amongst the thousands of users of the Tor network.

The Tor network is a system (also known as the Onion Router) which people can use to hide their true identity by encrypting their traffic and bouncing it around the world in a series of steps. The network is also known for hiding a selection of “secret” websites that can only be accessed from within the network.

The FBI claim that they have already provided enough details for the defence to figure out if they went beyond their authority. FBI Agent Daniel Alfin, states in the court papers filed by the DOJ in the case, as saying “knowing how someone unlocked the front door provides no information about what that person did after entering the house”. While a valid argument, one would also argue that if someone breaks into your house, stealing something from your house and gaining access were both things you need to be made aware, not just one of the two.

Valve Found Guilty of Breaking Australian Consumer Law

Valve is known for creating the popular digital sales platform Steam, which does everything hardware to regular sales on video games. One thing they’ve been keen to improve on for a while has been their refund policy, something which saw the original policy replaced with one that could offer full refunds to people who purchased a game on the platform. The problem is that the original policy wasn’t in place when the court case against Valve was raised, a case which has now ended with Valve being found guilty of breaking Consumer Law in Australia.

In the court case, that was started back in 2014 by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Valve was taken to court because it lacked a refund policy, something that is required by Australian consumer law. In their defence they stated that it doesn’t “officially” conduct business, instead offering a portal to video games through clients.

Overlooking the case, Justice Edelman stated that Valve was doing business in Australia and must, therefore, follow Australian law. This is the first time that the term “goods” has been applied to computer software in Australia, something that is bound to have far-reaching impacts in Australia in regards to their legal statement.

With a hearing set for the 15th April to see how much Valve will have to pay in “relief”, including the likely outcome that they will pay the ACCC’s legal fees, it would seem that initial attempts to resolve this matter and follow the law will still cost the company.

Feds Tell Court Apple Creates Technology To Thwart iPhone Warrants

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently working with the FBI in a legal battle against technology giant Apple. After being told to help unlock an iPhone through a software modification, the company began to argue that they could not be made to bypass their own security features by use of an All Writs Act. The DOJ have now filed fresh claims that specifically say that Apple is creating technology to thwart iPhone warrants.

The Department of Justice filed a brief on Thursday stating that Apple had created technology to render search warrants useless because of a “deliberate marketing decision”. The result of this decision is the current legal battle between the FBI and Apple and the questions being asked in congress regarding privacy vs security.

The brief carries on to that the use of the All Writs Act ensures “that their lawful warrants were not thwarted by third parties like Apple”. The brief continues to say:

Apple deliberately raised technological barriers that now stand between a lawful warrant and an iPhone containing evidence related to the terrorist mass murder of 14 Americans. Apple alone can remove those barriers so that the FBI can search the phone, and it can do so without undue burden. Under those specific circumstances, Apple can be compelled to give aid. That is not lawless tyranny. Rather, it is ordered liberty vindicating the rule of law.

Given that it’s been pointed out by several other people could also hack the iPhone, and while they claim it could be done without undue burden (an argument Apple has used to say that it won’t do it because of the impact it would have on their business), we have already been told that there are hundreds of iPhones in criminal cases which the FBI “could” want to be unlocked. Security experts are already coming out speaking about this latest filing

Security experts are already coming out speaking about this latest information about a topic which seems to escalate with every passing day.

https://twitter.com/JZdziarski/status/708059202107928577?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

https://twitter.com/agcrocker/status/708034792026050561?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Volkswagen’s US Chief “Stepping Down”

Volkswagen (VW) is a well-known car manufacturer, or more recently due to the revelation that their cars had a system in place to produce “lower emissions” if it was tested at the time. The latest in a string of events for the company, the head of the United States branch of the company, Michael Horn, is stepping down.

With the revelation that at least 30 people knew about the illegal practise of fixing text results and the result being that certain cars are having to be pulled from the market before a “fix” can be implemented, losing the head of a branch isn’t a good sign for the company.

It should be noted that Horn isn’t listed in any of the investigations being carried out regarding this matter, and VW is still saying that senior management didn’t know about the software update that would cause it to produce “better” results for emission tests.

Following on from the concept that they could “fix” the cars that were producing illegal amounts of nitrogen oxide (including removing the illegal software update), the chief of California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) stated that it “may not be possible” to actually fix these vehicles.

With more and more cars being pulled and banned from sale due to the illegal software, one can only imagine the impact these vehicles are having both on the company and the environment.

Snowden Speaks Out Regarding FBI’s Claim It Needs Apple To Unlock iPhone

Apple is currently under a lot of pressure from the US government, with the FBI looking to “request” their help in unlocking an iPhone. The problem people find is that the FBI are requesting Apple do something that Apple are not comfortable with, and as a result, have been ordered to do so under a very old and rather vague act. One of the most famous faces regarding the US Governments digital behaviour,  Edward Snowden, has now spoken out regarding the FBI’s claim it needs Apple to unlock the iPhone in question.

Speaking at a Conference via Video chat, Snowden stated the while the FBI say they need Apple’s ‘exclusive technical means’ to unlock the iPhone in question, he believes that claim is nothing more than lies.

The reason he says the FBI’s claim is rubbish is simply because several people have come forward with alternative methods for the FBI to gain access to the phone. It should be noted that Apple has already said they would have handed over the data if the FBI hadn’t tried to reset the iCloud password for the iPhone.

With the alternative methods not being mentioned at the congressional hearing regarding the FBI’s case for bypassing Apple’s security features, it would appear to many that the FBI are looking for a precedent to force companies to unlock their devices, something which they originally stated would not happen (but now appears to be the case).

You can view the conversation on surveillance, democracy and civil society in which Snowden spoke below.

New Bill Prevents Federal Agencies Purchasing Apple Products

Apple is currently in congress talking to and explaining the impact that removing or bypassing protection on their iPhones would have if they followed a court order to do so for the FBI. In what may seem like a childish move a congressman has now introduced a bill that would forbid federal agencies from purchasing Apple products.

In the statement, Representative David Jolly stated the following:

“Taxpayers should not be subsidizing a company that refuses to cooperate in a terror investigation that left 14 Americans dead on American soil,” he said. “Who did the terrorist talk to? Who did he message with? Did he go to a safe house? Is there information on the phone that might prevent a future attack on US soil? Following the horrific events of September 11, 2001, every citizen and every company was willing to do whatever it took to side with law enforcement and defeat terror. It’s time Apple shows that same conviction to further protect our nation today.”

Currently, though the bill may not get passed with America split down the middle on the issue and, even more, people coming out in support of both sides, although Apple seems to have the majority rule with large companies and even ex-agency heads coming forward in their support.

With a man whose wife was lost in the attacks stating his support for Apple, the discussions seem to change with every passing minute as people go from supporting the company to stating that the phone could have infected (and be used to fix) virus’s that it may or may not have on it.

Former Heads of NSA & Homeland Support Apple In Encryption Battle

In its recent arguments against the FBI, Apple has found companies rallying behind its arguments that you can’t force a company to break its own protection without risking others. Even Microsoft have come out saying that forcing Apple to do so would set a dangerous precedent for technology companies everywhere. Their latest support is a little bit different, with the former heads of the NSA and Homeland supporting encryption in this case.

Michael Chertoff was the head of Homeland Security and is one of the people who helped author the Patriot Act. Mike McConnell is the former head of the NSA and both of these people, former professionals within governments security sector, have come forward expressing support for encryption technologies.

In a panel, Chertoff stated that “if we [the people and governments] ask private sector to be in control of security, then we have to allow them to have tools to carry out that mission”. Chertoff then continued to say that trust is the fundamental basis of the “internet economic engine” and that “if we don’t come to an agreement with the majority of the world [around privacy] we could end up with multiple internets and lose the value of an interconnected world”.

McConnell on the other hand, suggested that a reasonable method to address the problem wouldn’t be the public flinging match that the FBI are keen to use to their advantage but instead to form “a legislatively direction commission of leading experts to have an informed dialog with all clearances to make reasonable recommendations”. He suggests that the public and even Congress don’t have the knowledge regarding cyber security matters to make an informed decision and that public opinions and fear could lead to decisions which will do nothing but harm companies government and people alike.

Apple Told All Writs Act Can’t Force Them To Unlock iPhone

Recently Apple has been involved in court battle after court battle, with the largest battle being the San Bernardino case against the FBI. In the case, the FBI are looking to use an 18th-century law, the All Writs Act, to get Apple to create some software  that would let them get passed the passcode. In a similar case, a judge has just made a ruling, something that makes it look like Apple may win their legal battle against the FBI.

In the case, the Drug Enforcement Agency had seized an iPhone and were looking to use the All Writs Act to unlock the iPhone, an iPhone 5. Just like in the San Bernardino case, Apple objected and argued that there are nine cases (now eleven) where the government are looking to gain access to iPhones.

Judge Orenstein looked at previous court decision and found that under the rule of three the All Writs Act couldn’t be applied. One of the rules for applying the All Writs Act was if the person/group had a connection to the case. In this instance, the judge decided that Apple, who are a private party with no connection the criminal activity, couldn’t be made to perform work against their will by the All Writs Act.

Judge Orenstein also warned against the use of the All Writs Act to create a precedent that would mean that companies like Apple would have to fulfill the government wishes, something the FBI are not looking for.

This could be the case Apple need to finally say to the FBI that their rights, and their company, can’t be forced to work for a cause that they have no link to. Given Apple’s response relied heavily on their amendment rights, it will be interesting to see how the FBI responds to this ruling.

Tesla Can Sell Direct-To-Consumers With Indiana Bill Amendment

Tesla is probably the world’s most known electric cars, with everything from everyday vehicles to supercars, all powered by electricity without a drop of petrol in their engines. Tesla is unique though in that they sell directly to customers, skipping out middlemen and offering its models and services without any additional costs. This very practice is the backbone of Tesla’s sales, and it has received criticism in some states in the U.S. where dealers have been less than pleased with the model. In a recent battle with the state of Indiana, Tesla once again comes out on top as they can continue to sell direct-to-consumers.

The recent battle focuses on an amendment to a bill that would make it illegal for any manufacturers to sell cars directly to a consumer, an amendment which has now been removed from the bill in question. Tesla stated that rival company GM, who released an elective vehicle that would complete with the Model 3, pushed the bill through the state legislature, a move that would have effectively crippled Tesla’s current model for selling its cars. A spokesman for GM even stated that they supported the amendment and that “All industry participants should operate under the same rules and requirements on fundamental issues that govern how we sell, service, and market our products”.

Tesla is obviously happy about the removal of the amendment saying that their store at Keystone will “remain open indefinitely”. While happy, you have to argue, who does it benefit other than the resellers and dealers when a company can’t provide you with the equipment directly?

Trial by Combat – As Outdated As You Think?

We’ve all seen the dramas, times when people are insulted by another person or they’ve had some disagreement over actions someone has done. In modern days, this normally involves a few choice words and maybe a small brawl outside, but these can even end up in court, with people claiming financial revenge for their actions. One that is very rarely used, but is seen a lot on TV is trial by combat, but the tradition is all but dead.

Trial by combat was originally created in germanic law, with two people fighting in single combat, the winner being proven right in the eyes of the law and the witnesses. The tradition died off as legal systems relied more on facts and evidence, with it rarely ever invoked because of the “barbaric” nature of it.

Back in 2002, Leon Humphreys challenged the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) to trial by combat. His original charge was to pay a £25 motoring fine for not informing the DVLA about his motorcycle being off the road. The magistrates saw this as a waste of time though and fined him £200 with another £100 in costs; it didn’t quite work out for him.

In 2015, this came before the Staten Island Supreme Court when a layer cited the right in the case where he is being accused of helping a client commit fraud. Richard Luthmann states that trial by combat was never outlawed in New York state or even the United states. Luthmann, a Game of Thrones fan, stated that “They want to be absurd about what they’re trying to do, then I’ll give them back ridiculousness in kind”.

So while an old tradition, you never know who would invoke the right to single combat in order to defend their actions in the eyes of the law and their makers. Something work keeping in mind next time you’re stuck with an odd fine, just be ready to fight if they agree!

Another Near Miss as Drone Flies Close to Jet at Heathrow

Drones are a wonderful piece of technology and the more we advance them the more we can do. I mean, they have created a drone that works both in the air and even underwater. How can we not find uses for drones that can be deployed at sea, both above and below the sea line? The problem being is that a select few are ruining the experience for everybody, with drones being used and damaging everything from the Empire State building to cutting out power for residents in LA.  The most recent in a long stream of incidents is a near encounter when a drone flew within 30 feet of a jet that was landing at Heathrow.

The Airbus A319 was landing at Heathrow Airport in September while it was on approach to land. The pilot reported that it went so close as 25 yards left of the cockpit and only 20 feet above. The incident was reported to the police and classed as a meeting risk category A, the highest risk that two objects meet short of actually colliding. The worrying part is that the drone was flying at 500 feet, while the legal limit for drones in the UK is 400 feet, with anything beyond that being considered controlled airspace.

This isn’t the first time that a drone has almost collided with an airplane, and given the risk to both the crew and passengers of the craft and those on the ground, drone pilots performing these kind of stunts, putting others at risk, are the reason that the FAA has pushed for drone registration in the USA.

Microsoft Supports Apple in FBI Encryption Case

Speaking at a hearing today, Microsoft president and chief legal officer, Brad Smith announced that the company ‘wholeheartedly’ support one of their competitors, Apple in the long-running case between Apple and the FBI.

In case you’ve not heard about the ongoing battle, the FBI have ordered Apple to remove the security blocks that the tech giant has put into place on their devices in order for the FBI to be able to access it.

This has all been sparked by the incident where Farook Malik and his wife, Tashfeen killed 14 people in an attack last year. The FBI want access to the encrypted iPhone as it may have evidence to support the investigation.

Apple spoke at today’s hearing The Verge told us, Smith used an adding machine made in 1912 when the law was passed.

“We do not believe that courts should seek to resolve issues of 21st century technology with a law that was written in the era of the adding machine,”

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook spoke out too, he said that the decision to refuse the FBI was hard, but he feels that it was the correct thing to do.

The FBI has argued that Apple is overstating the security risk to its devices. FBI Director James Comey said Apple had the technical know-how to break into Farook’s device only in a way that did not create a so-called “backdoor” into every Apple device.

The law that has been used in this case is the All Writs act of 1789, of which the Department of Justice has used twice against Apple to open a smartphone. Both cases are still open. The law itself is very brief and broad.

“The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”

The act is one of last resort. All other avenues have to be exhausted before the All Writs Act can be invoked.

Judge Confirms CMU Was Hired to Break Tor by Government

The government is in the news a lot when it comes to technology, especially with Apple going toe to toe with the FBI over gaining access to secure systems. With every country in the world trying to catch up with the constantly changing world of technology, sometimes governments sometimes can try to catch up by trying to break what’s been created. Such was the rumours regarding the FBI hiring Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to break Tor.

Tor is an open network that looks to fight against tracking analysis, just one way of monitoring and identifying people online. Using systems like Tor you are able to hide your identity online, a feature that some governments seem less than keen on letting happen due to the risks that people may use it for less than noble intentions. CMU previously responded saying, well not much at all to be honest, regarding the rumours it would now appear a judge has revealed it all; sorry FBI, looks like it wasn’t you.

It has now been revealed that it was in fact the Department of Defence (DOD) that funded the project. The information comes out as part of a court case against Brian Farrell, one of Silk Road 2.0’s administrators. Once again online privacy is being raised, with the argument that if you are looking to hide your activity you are attempting to create a sense of privacy, something which online tracking would then breach.

With technology and the law going head to head in the court on a daily basis, will the laws and governments of the world ever be in step with the ways that we work every day or will we always be hearing about the constant game of catch up that the law seems to follow currently?

Dentist Tried to out YouTube Critic but Will Instead Pay Legal Fees

We all judge people, and some of us dislike people for something as simple as their job. A popular profession to be hated for being is a dentist, a profession sometimes accredited with just being there for you to inflict pain on your patients. Well in a legal case in Georgia, America a dentist has gone to court to try out a YouTuber who uploaded an investigation into the dentist that was aired by an Atlanta-area television station.

The original indictment was published in 2009 which stated, among other things, that Austin beat several patients. The assault charges, whose victims included children, was dropped as part of a plea deal after pleading guilty to six counts of Medicare fraud. The assault charges relate to when a patient would cry out or moan during a procedure (something we’ve all done when that sharp metal tool stabs into your gums), Gordan Trent Austin would tell the patient to stop making noise, only to reinforce the message if they didn’t obey with a quick strike from a dental instrument.

With the original video released in 2009, it was only back in 2015 that Austin filed a lawsuit in an attempt to sue the Youtuber for defamation, this lawsuit included a subpoena to google to identify the Youtubers identifier. Public Citizen didn’t like this though and filed a motion arguing that not only was there no case for defamation but that the statute of limitations had elapsed, so even if there was it was too late.

The hearing was scheduled to take place on Tuesday but a week before it went to court, Austin’s lawyers agreed to not only drop the case but pay $12,000 in attorneys’ fees to Public Citizen.

We’ve seen a lot of cases like this where someone seems to go to court on the off-chance that they could benefit, among them are a LARPing website being sued for “infringing patents” by importing products and the Onewheel creators who dropped their case against China-based rivals only weeks before it goes to court.

LARPing Company Sued Then Silenced

In the past, there have been cases where people have attempted to use the law to manipulate and control people’s choices. From the recent case of the hoverboard company raided at CES only to then have the case dropped before it appeared at court, we can see that some companies may be using the very same law we rely on to protect us against their competitors. This was something Jordan Gwyther found out the hard way when he opened up the website Larping.org.

Larping, short for live-action role playing, is an event where people dress up to a theme and act out battles or events in character. From a medieval village (with modern day toilets) to a battle scene between elves and knights, larping is enjoyed by hundreds. Gwyther founded larping.org to act as a communications hub for larping fans everywhere, with the ability to talk to other LARPers and find events the site proved popular. Gwyther started to use the site to sell popular items amongst LARPers, such as armour or latex/foam weapons.

In order to sell the foam arrows, Gwyther imports them from a german company, selling them on in the U.S. for just over $2,000. That was until Global Archery, an Indiana-based company who also sell foam arrows under the name Archery tag, decided to sue Gwyther for patent and trademark infringement.

Gwyther went to court only to find that Global Archery bragged about having a $150,000 budget for the litigation, a fund that father of two Gwyther could not match without help. In order to combat the lawsuit, Gwyther started up a GoFundMe campaign titled “Save LARP Archery”. Seems this didn’t go down too well either as Global Archery have now requested that his pleas for help be silenced in the form of a restraining order.

The restraining order states that Gwyther would have to “cease issuing any press releases, advertisements, letters, promotional materials, articles, and oral or other written statements including posts on social media sites such as Gofundme, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, that falsely… imply that this action was initiated and is being prosecuted to interfere with the general public’s ability to engage in live action role playing (LARP)”. The reason for this clause is that in his video for the GoFundMe Campaign, Gwyther explains that if the lawsuit is accepted, foam arrows sold by distributors in the U.S. could be stopped by everyone but resellers of Global Archery’s products.

The end result has been that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has become involved. Known for protecting people;s rights when it comes to the law and technology, the EFF have come forward saying that “the first amendment guarantees that even patent owners are subject to the slings and arrows of public criticism”.

Hoverboard Company Backs Down After Rivals Raided At CES 2016

Trends come and go, from the latest phone to the newest console people often buy and then upgrade their technology a few months later. A few years ago the world was caught in a segway craze, with users riding around work and towns to doing rallies through woodland on the machines, but these were shortly replaced by their handleless “hoverboard” siblings. Sadly as with all crazes and trends, everyone wants a piece of the action. The hoverboard boom has led to more than a few recalls due to dangerous products, and even injuries. With cheap models being created all over the world, a US company decided to fight to protect their product at CES this year, a fight which the Chinese company has now backed out from.

Earlier this year at CES companies was showing off all kinds of technology, but Future Motion had their eye drawn only to one stall. Changzhou First International Trade Co had a stall set up demonstrating their version of Future Motions “hoverboard”. The design features a single wheel located in the middle of the device, as shown in the image above. Future Motion went to court and against no opposition asked the judge to issue a restraining order on the products sales. The hearing lasted a grand total of 7 minutes and at the end, the temporary restraining order was issued resulting in a raid on the booth at CES.

Future Motion has now dropped the case, which was set to be heard on the 19th February. Changzhou isn’t too happy though and is looking to recover the legal fees it’s had to pay to its lawyers. Their lawyer has released a statement saying that the “sole purpose of FM [Future Motion]’s TRO was to deprive its chief competitor Changzhou of its lawful right to display Changzhou’s Trotter product at the Consumer Electronics show (CES)”.

This definitely looks bad for Future Motion, who seem to have dropped the case in the hopes of it all fading away, with their actions seeming to back Changzhou’s evaluation that it was nothing more than a move to block competition.