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Archive for September 25th, 2012

Odds and Ends

Posted by rjbiii on September 25, 2012

I just don’t get why people do this:

Seven rent-to-own companies and a software maker are settling charges with the Federal Trade Commission that rental computers illegally used spyware that took “pictures of children, individuals not fully clothed, and couples engaged in sexual activities.”

As per the course, the FTC slapped the hand of DesignerWare of North East Pennsylvania and the rent-to-own companies. The settlement, announced Tuesday, only requires them to halt using their spy tools, which has been employed on as many as 420,000 rentals.

The software, known as Detective Mode, didn’t just secretly turn on webcams. It “can log the keystrokes of the computer user, take screen shots of the computer user’s activities on the computer, and photograph anyone within view of the computer’s webcam. Detective Mode secretly gathers this information and transmits it to DesignerWare, who then transmits it to the rent-to-own store from which the computer was rented, unbeknownst to the individual using the computer,” according to the complaint.

Hard for me to imagine the attitudes of the minds behind junk like this.

Real robot-cars: probably safer than the human drivers I see everyday

At a signing ceremony at the Google headquarters on Tuesday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law state legislation that officially makes the Golden State the second in the nation to legalize and regulate autonomous cars.

Google, of course, has already developed a fleet of a dozen cars (mostly modified Toyota Priuses) and has already logged over 300,000 miles of autonomous driving on state roads.

The new law obliges the California Department of Motor Vehicles to draft regulations for autonomous vehicles by January 1, 2015.

Hey!  Someone finally realized that police might not need unfettered access to everyone’s email:

A new bill introduced today in the US House of Representatives seeks to require warrants before police can trawl through your e-mail or track your cell phone, reports CNET. The legislation is backed by several technology companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter. But given the government’s history with privacy bills, it faces a high chance of getting blocked by the Department of Justice.

The bill was introduced by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and would require officers to get a warrant before accessing e-mail or location information. Access to these data types is a notorious gray area in US courts.

Once again…yes, social media IS discoverable:

The dispute quickly started focusing on the discoverability of information on Nicole’s Facebook page. TRW had perused Nicole’s public-facing Facebook profile and had found material undercutting her claims of injury. According to TRW, such material depicted Nicole playing sports, dancing, consuming alcohol, partying, enjoying personal relationships, and offering to share medication with others. Based on these findings, TRW requested all material—public and private—from Nicole’s Facebook page. In response, Nicole objected and produced only redacted copies of her Facebook account history and a limited number of photographs. TRW moved to compel a full production.

The court granted TRW’s request, ordering Nicole to send TRW all recent information from her Facebook account. Noting, however, that litigation does not permit “a complete and open public display of Plaintiff’s life,” the court required TRW to keep the information confidential and provide a list identifying the material TRW believed to be discoverable. The court also set forth a procedure by which Nicole could challenge the discoverability of specific material.

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