Obama Would Veto ‘Anti-Net Neutrality Bill”

The power to veto something is a strong one, and many governments have the power in place for specific reasons. Though rarely used it can often be what makes or breaks a law or new piece of legislation. In this case, the White House has stated that it would veto the ‘No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act’ on the grounds that it is very anti-net neutrality.

H.R. 2666 would appear at first glance to support the concept of net neutrality, with its author Adam Kinzinger, the republican representative for Illinois, saying that regulating broadband rates would create “significant uncertainty for ISPs” while also discouraging “investment and unique pricing structures or service plans”.

The sly part of the new bill, which the Electronic frontier foundation spotted, was that the FCC would have to stop summoning companies to explain a new trend of data exception schemes. These schemes like the T-mobile binge service, see companies making deals with certain providers and then not counting their content towards your data usage. Unlimited videos from certain sites? Sure, but videos on every site will be throttled.

In the White Houses letter, they state that the bill “would restrict the FCC’s ability to take enforcement actions to protect consumers on issues where the FCC has received numerous consumer complaints.” The White House then continues to say that the bill would also cause issues in the future as it ” could limit the Commission’s ability to address new practices and adapt its rules for a dynamic, fast-changing online marketplace”.

The letter finishes by saying that “if the President were presented with H.R. 2666, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”.

WordPress Enables Free HTTPS Connections to Custom Domains

WordPress is a free, open source content management system, typically used for blogs and quick makeshift websites. While it’s nice to have your own content, you want to make sure that its safe and secure, something which the “Lets Encrypt” project hopes to improve upon, a project that WordPress have now joined.

The Lets Encrypt Project announced on March 9th that it would soon take on a new name as it transitioned to its new home at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) a group specialising in the law, security and technology.

WordPress has now announced that it has joined the program, offering the green lock symbol everyone loves to see when travelling through the internet, with any custom domains (those that don’t have .wordpress.com in their address) now gaining the benefits of the free SSL certificate issues by the program automatically with little to no effort on their owners behalf. You can find the steps to give your website access to HTTPS certificates here, giving everyone the benefit of free and reinforced security for their websites.

Not only is it free but you get a more secure connection for minimal effort, something that has been hard to do for website up until now. What is not to like about this program? Especially those with WordPress blogs.

EFF Seek Fees For Patent Case Over Online Photo Contests

We’ve all seen the competitions you can enter online, ranging from entering a competition on a forum to having to create and upload a piece of work. A common type of online contest is where you upload pictures, but be warned, some people may own patents to the entire concept of online contests.

Ruth Taylor is a Pennsylvania-based photographer who often runs photo contests on her website, BytePhoto. Along comes Garfum.com, a video website owned by New Jersey’s Michael Garofalo, who claimed that the competitions run on the site infringe on US Patent No. 8,209,618. The patent refers to the ability to create user accounts, upload content, organise the content and have users vote on the content, all rather vague terms given the digital age.

Initially requesting $50,000 in the lawsuit, Garofalo’s lawyers reduced this to $5,000 and then $2,500 later on. In an attempt to defend herself Taylor got in touch with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a group that deals with electronic rights, who took up the case pro-bono. Filing a motion to dismiss the case the EFF claimed that it should be thrown out of court under the Alice Corp precedent, a precedent that claims just because something is done via software the patent needs to cover something more than an abstract idea.

Garfum dropped the case before it went to court, however, the EFF didn’t end it there, filing a motion to seek attorneys’ fees for the case. EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer stated, “the idea that you could patent an abstract idea, find innocent enthusiasts online and demand settlement money—and then slink away once challenged and before the court issues a ruling—goes against any sense of fair play”.

The total cost to cover the fees would come close to $30,000, with even more added because of the latest motion. Something that could soon become a reality sooner than expected with US Chief District Judge Jerome Simandle stating in an opinion that due to their “unreasonable” behaviour during the case, Garfum should end up paying the fees.

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”.

T-Mobiles Binge On Service Throttles Connections To Video Sites

T-Mobile recently announced a new service in which customers would be allowed to stream unlimited video without it counting against their data limits. The problem being, those videos can only come from select partners. Now it looks like agreeing to this new service slows down every other video you wish to see.

The new service, Binge on, would provide users with unlimited access to Hulu, HBO Now and SlingTV, while T-mobile also stated they would double the data limits for their current plans but if you sign up to the new service, don’t expect a new smooth connection on other sites. The result of signing up to the new service is that you will find your connections throttled to other sites and even downloading videos will be slowed down and showed at a much lower quality (thanks to many sites automatically downgrading your quality so that you can keep watching without the show being interrupted).

This news comes courtesy of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) who reported that all connections were throttled, regardless of where they come from. The results of this can be seen in the graph below that was produced by the electronic frontier foundation.

When it comes to getting answers though it hasn’t been a good time. John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, didn’t take too kindly to being asked by the EFF is the service alters the video stream or just limits its bandwidth. His response was the video posted on twitter below, please be aware that it does contain bad language.

Tweets since have said that it is not a personal mission against EFF and that Legere is aware of who the EFF are, but claims that they are using this as an opportunity to spearhead a campaign about a different topic. The topic he refers to is Net Neutrality, a principle that many declare is a founding principle of the internet and that can be summed up as “no single bit of information on the internet is more important than another”. Net Neutrality means that throttling some data at the expense of others, or even creating fast lanes for certain services, goes against what many believe to be the fairest and the only way the internet can continue to work.

Some have taken this news badly, some with some humour. While you can turn the service off, remember that you automatically are opted in, so if you use Youtube or other streaming sites a lot, remember to look into disabling it.

Images courtesy of EFF and Android Police.

Hammer Comes Down on the Podcasting Patent Troll Personal Audio

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) just invalidated claims made by Personal Audio, the long time podcast patent troll. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) led the fight against the troll and prevailed this week after years of struggle in the podcasting field.

Personal Audio was making claims that its failed 1990 cassettes-by-mail outfit was the same thing as episodic podcasts. In 2013, the company began contacting podcasts and demanding licensing fees, including Adam Corolla and major tv networks. The EFF launched the Save Podcasting campaign that was backed by contributors to help fight against Personal Audio. The EFF was able to show in petitions that the company did not invent anything new before they filed the patent application and that podcasting had been going on for years before. We have yet to see if those podcasters who paid up will be paid back by the patent troll. Hopefully this is just the start of the fall of patent trolls; only time will only tell.

Source: BoingBoing

New CISPA Regulations Could Classify Netflix as a “Cybersecurity Threat”

It appears that a new cybersecurity bill currently going through the Senate is considered too ‘broad’ and would grant ISPs the liberty to limit streaming services’ delivery to customers, having Netflix given as an example.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Protection Act of 2014, which has been rallied against twice already, is said to deliver a backdoor for ISPs to destroy net neutrality, something that they have sought for a long time. Until now, the Federal Communications Commission has been the judge when it comes to net neutrality, having set ground rules in order to keep ISPs from limiting content on the Internet.

However, the bill in question appears to describe that “countermeasures” can be employed against “cybersecurity threats”, giving no specific definition to what type of information is included and can be considered a “cybersecurity threat”. This would give ISPs an ace up their sleeves, which would help them jumping over a lot of FCC rules.

“A ‘threat,’ according to the bill, is anything that makes information unavailable or less available. So, high-bandwidth uses of some types of information make other types of information that go along the same pipe less available,” Greg Nojeim, a lawyer with the Center for Democracy and Technology, stated. “A company could, as a cybersecurity countermeasure, slow down Netflix in order to make other data going across its pipes more available to users.”

A letter has been sent to Dianne Feinstein, the bill’s sponsor, having the CDT, EFF, American Civil Liberties Union and other civil liberties groups stating that the bill “arbitrarily harms average internet users”. The letter also points out that previous cybersecurity legislation considered by the Senate had some net neutrality protections defined, something that the current bill lacks.

The unsettlement caused by the bill has been said to postpone it for now, having it sent back to the Intelligence Committee for further discussions. There has been no word on any decisions regarding the bill so far.

Thank you Motherboard for providing us with this information

Microsoft Says “NO” to FBI Request Regarding Customer Data

Microsoft reportedly revealed to the public that its privacy policy has priority and it is not willing to make any exceptions. Such is the case where the company allegedly received a letter from the FBI, a so-called National Security Letter or NSL, stating to release some confidential information about one of Microsoft’s enterprise clients.

For those who are unaware, an NSL comes with a ‘gagging order’, meaning that Microsoft could not reveal the existence of the letter to the customer at hand. However, Microsoft does have some pretty strong policies guarding customer data, emphasised in winning top marks at the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s ‘Who Has Your Back’ report.

“EFF believes that National Security Letters (NSLs) – secretive FBI orders for user data accompanied by a gag provision – are a violation of the Constitution,” the EFF stated. “We think it is vital that companies are as forthcoming as legally allowable about these national security requests to help shed light on government abuses of contested surveillance powers.” they added.

The letter has been withdrawn prior to Microsoft filing a challenge to the order in Seattle’s Federal Court. However, this is not a win for Microsoft and even though the FBI will not comment or confirm the accusations, the secret service will still get the information through lawful means rather than just ‘asking nicely’ for it.

Furthermore, by backing off, the FBI has also avoided a high-profile court case at a rather inconvenient time. Having an open court ‘war’ with a well-resourced company such as Microsoft would have consumed both time and resources from both parties and could have also ended with Microsoft winning the ‘battle’, having the FBI to blame by using unconstitutional methods of acquiring private customer information.

Thank you Forbes for providing us with this information

Lavabit Encryption Key Ruling By U.S Government Is Unconstitutional State Attorneys

When the FBI demanded that Lavabit hand over the site’s SSL keys so they could access all user data the site owner Ladar Levison refused to cooperate and faced legal action as a result. Since the shut down of Lavabit support for it has grown and the Electronic Frontier Foundation offered legal support from their legal defence team. The government’s use of subpoenas to try and compromise the encrypted email service has been described as an unreasonable response, one EFF attorney described it as “This is like trying to hit a nail with a wrecking ball.”

EFF attorneys suggest the U.S government’s actions towards the encrypted Lavabit email service set a dangerous precedent that violates the U.S constitution:

“By forcing Lavabit to turn over its private keys, the government not only disrupted the security model on which the Internet depends, it also violated the Fourth Amendment.”

The Lavabit saga will no doubt rage on as Lavabit and its backers continue to fight the U.S government through the legal system. Lavabit’s legal defense fund has already successfully manage to raise $99,309 at the time of writing and that will no doubt grow further as more people put their support behind the important precedent this case sets.

Image courtesy of Lavabit

Restore The Fourth Plan New Protest For October 26th

If you live in the USA and are worried about your online privacy and data protection rights then chances are that you’ve already heard of the civil activist movement Restore the Fourth. The Restore the Fourth movement has already teamed up with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Demand Progress, Free Press, Fight for the Future and many other big name organisations. The group are now planning a brand new mass protest which is to take place on October 26th.

What’s so special about October 26th? Well that date marks the anniversary of the Patriot Act – the controversial piece of legislation that essentially legitimises the mass surveillance infrastructure that the NSA have been legally allowed to build. Details of the event can be seen right here. The event will take place in the Capital, Washington DC, and the group is looking to make a stand to the government and congress showing them that people aren’t happy with the government persistently abusing the fourth amendment.

If you live in the USA and value your privacy then this could be something worth attending.

Image courtesy of Restore the Fourth

Humble Weekly Sale: Klei Entertainment – Week of June 27th

Klei Entertainment has joined the rankings of other great developers and the Humble Bundle Weekly Sale. Klei Entertainment has brought us several games over the years, unfortunately it seems as if they will only be hosting three of their games for the weeks bundle.

These three divine games include Shank 2, Shank and Eets. This is a “Pay what you want” event, meaning, pay as much or as little as you want, I like to give you a little rubbing, making sure that you do know that this is for charity! Though if you pay at least one dollar you will receive a Steam key. All three of these games are DRM-Free and are available for Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems.

Humble Bundle primarily supports two charities, one Child’s Play which helps bring video games, and other fun to sick children in hospitals. The other awesome charity is the Electronic Frontier Foundation which stands up for our digital rights, fighting off Uncle Sam at every chance they get, standing up for the little man who may or may not be able to protect himself from the grasps of the evil dictatorship of the governments telling us what we can and can’t do on the internet.

A little bit about these games.

Shank 2 is a 2D side-scrolling brawler, where you fight with an array of weapons, which feels almost comic book like in its design. Soundtrack included!

Shank, just like its predecessor only it is the FIRST! Bringing both a solo campaign and a full co-op story. The soundtrack is included!

Eets is a 2D puzzle game, with over 100 puzzles, unfortunately the soundtrack does not come with the game.

Raise the bar, and challenge your friends to donate more than you! If you were to purchase these games seperately they retail for $9.99 each for a grand total of $29.97.

Humble Android Bundle 6 Now Available

Humble Bundle has been non-stop recently, bringing us one bundle after another. Bringing us their 6th Android Bundle, giving us the opportunity to get 6 games for one low price, games for Android, Windows, Mac and Linux as well as a bonus game and soundtracks too! If you were to purchase these games separately you would spend around $95, with this bundle you are able to pick how much you pay, either paying as little as possible, or aiming for the stars and keep your name on the “Top Contributors” list.

This bundle brings us DRM Free games

  • Aquaria
  • Fractal: Make Blooms Not War
  • Organ Trail: Director’s Cut
  • Stealth Bastard Deluxe
  • Pulse: Volume One

Beating the average will give you 2 additional games

  • Frozen Synapse
  • Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars – Director’s Cut

With this bundle you will get soundtracks for all of the games.

“All of these games are DRM-free and ready to go for many Android devices as well as Windows, Mac, and Linux! With a purchase of $1 or more, users will also receive keys to optionally redeem the games on Steam. Linux users can also retrieve many of the games in the Ubuntu Software Center as well!”

If you love this bundle you will love this weeks “Weekly Bundle” only available for one more day! Which offers us five awesome games from 11 Bit Studios.

Image from HumbleBundle.com

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UPDATE: The Humble Indie Bundle 8

Last week I published an article about Humble Bundles eight installment of their Indie Bundle. Where, you were able to get 7 great games for one low price.
The bundle includes 5 games, and you get to pay what you want. If you pay at least one dollar you will get steam codes for these five games.
  • Little Inferno
  • Awesomenauts *Plus exclusive chicken skin*
  • Capsized
  • Thomas Was Alone
  • Dear Esther
  •  And all five soundtracks

If you beat the average currently $5.60 you will get 6 additional games as well as 5 more soundtracks!

  • Hotline Miami
  • Proteus
  • Tiny and Big in Grandpa’s Leftovers
  • Intrusion 2
  • English Country Tune
  • Oil Rush *plus map pack*
  • And five more select soundtracks!

If you have already purchased this Humble Bundle, and you beat the average the newly added games will already be added to your list of games purchases, and you will be able to get the Steam redeemable codes via their website.

Remember this Humble Bundle, as all bundles offered by Humble Bundle allow you to donate to two awesome charities including EFF Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as Child’s Play Charity.

If you are really into supporting independent game developers, like to donate to charity, or you love Humble Bundle, you can customize where your money goes in the payment field.

Some try to duke it out with Markus @Notch Persson, creator of MineCraft, but I don’t know how many are willing to beat his donation of $5,000.

If you’re interested in this deal and many more like them check out www.humblebundle.com

The Humble Indie Bundle 8 Out Now

Are you an Indie game fan? Are you familiar with HumbleBundle.com? If not you might want to check it out. Humble Bundle releases some really interesting bundles, they are releasing their 8th installment of their “Indie Bundle” The Humble Indie Bundle GR(8)EAT.

This Humble Bundle will be available for 2 weeks (14 Days), bringing us some great titles. Five of the games they are bringing us with this bundle are making their LINUX DEBUTS, Awesomenauts, Capsized, Dear Esther, Little Inferno, and Thomas Was Alone. You will also get the soundtracks to these games!

Beat the average and you will get two bonus games Hotline Miami, and Proteus as well as the soundtrack for Proteus.

As with all Humble Bundles you get to Pay what you want, meaning you may anywhere from .01 to as much as you want and you get the games. If you pay $1 or more you get Steam keys to all the games that offer.

All of the games are DRM Free, these games don’t have Digital Rights Management.

All of the games Cross Platform, Windows, Macintosh, and Linux.

Not only do you get to “Pay What You Want” you also get to decide how you pay. You can pay a certain amount to thedevelopers, charity, or you can give a Humble Tip to Humble Bundle.

If you like to donate to charity you will get to decide to donate to both Electronic Frontier Foundation or Childs Play, two great charities.

With many ways to pay, you can’t go wrong, PayPal, Amazon, Google, and Bitcoin, you are set to pay whatever way you like.

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