Friday, November 11, 2005

U.S. Internet wiretapping order set to kick in

Anne Broach writes in C|Net News:

On Monday, the clock starts ticking for broadband and Net-phone providers to make it easier for law enforcement to conduct surveillance on users of their networks.

According to a final order issued by the Federal Communications Commission in late September, all broadband Internet service providers and many Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, companies will have 18 months--until spring 2007--to ensure their systems have backdoors that allow police to eavesdrop on their customers' communications for investigative purposes.

The 59-page order [.pdf] followed years of pressure from the FBI, the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration. It would broaden the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), an 11-year-old wiretapping law that currently applies only to "telecommunications carriers."

The FCC has justified the expansion on the basis of terrorism and homeland security concerns, echoing Bush administration officials who have warned, for example, of the perils of VoIP services in rogue hands.

EU takes swipe at U.S. Internet oversight

A Reuters newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

The European Commission on Friday took a swipe at U.S. oversight of the Internet but offered no concrete alternatives, in advance of an international summit on how the Internet should be run.

A U.N. report has proposed a multinational approach as a more democratic and clearer way of running the Internet.

The controversy centers around the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a California-based non-profit company set up in 1998.

Net2Phone says board to consider IDT offer

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Internet telephone services company Net2Phone Inc. on Friday said an independent committee of its board of directors would consider IDT Corp.'s $2 per share offer for the 60 percent of the company's shares it does not already own.

In a statement, Net2Phone said the committee would advise shareholders of its position on the offer on or before November 25.

U.S. Government Enters BlackBerry Patent Fight

An AP newswire article by Stephanie Stoughton, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

The U.S. government has inserted itself in a high-stakes patent fight over the popular BlackBerry device, saying it wants to make sure federal workers won't be cut off from mobile access to their e-mail.

The Justice Department filed a "statement of interest" earlier this week to explain how the U.S. government, with as many as 200,000 BlackBerry users, could be harmed if a federal judge in Virginia issues an injunction against Research In Motion Ltd. to stop selling the device and accompanying e-mail service.

Toon: Paris -- Still Burning

Click for larger image.

Sony to stop making protected CDs

Robert Lemos writes over on SecurityFocus:

Beleaguered Sony BMG will temporarily suspend the manufacture of copy-protected CDs and re-examine its digital-rights management strategy, the media giant said on Friday.

The company has been widely criticized by consumers, security experts and digital-rights advocates for the surreptitious copy-protection programs that Sony BMG CDs install on consumers' computers. Digital-rights advocates and consumer attorneys are preparing nearly a half dozen legal actions against the music giant.

While the company is re-evaluating its inclusion of the Extended Copy Protection (XCP) technology produced by U.K.-based First 4 Internet, the company stood by its right to protect its music.

Newsweek: Hyped Over Skype

Rana Foroohar and Daniel McGinn write in Newsweek:

In a back alley in London's SoHo district—amid the seedy sex shops, comic-book stores and coffee joints—you'll find the humble headquarters of one of the world's most important telecommunications companies. But it's not easy: only a tiny buzzer marks the door of a converted warehouse. The decor inside—IKEA furniture, a couple of limp potted plants, bike helmets strewn about the reception area—is the same as it was a year ago, when the company was still an obscure start-up.

But the small workspace is more crowded nowadays, jammed with several dozen fleece-clad techies hunched over laptops. Together, they're expanding the reach of the online telephone service known as Skype—a prospect that has the $1 trillion global telecom industry downright terrified.

H5N1 News: Bird flu 'out of control' in Chinese province

Gaia Vince writes in NewScientist:

The Chinese government says the spread of the deadly H5N1 bird flu in one of its provinces is not under control and has warned of a potential disaster there. There have been three fresh outbreaks of the avian virus in the north-eastern province of Liaoning in 24 hours, and a new suspected human infection.

And the Middle East has now seen its first definite case of H5N1 bird flu. The authorities in Kuwait have confirmed that a migratory flamingo found on a beach died of the lethal strain. They say another bird suspected of having the virus had the milder H5N2 strain.

There have been six outbreaks in the past month in China and the government has responded with mass culls of poultry. The most recent outbreaks, which killed about 1100 chickens, prompted the authorities to cull 670,000 poultry in the areas affected, and place 116 people in quarantine.

The outbreaks are being blamed on migratory birds, but the head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization in Beijing said it was possible that they were due to village-to-village spread of the virus.

South Africans must show ID to get mobile phones

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

South Africans must supply proof of identity and address to get a cell phone or SIM card from next month under a new law aimed at fighting the country's notorious rates of crime.

South Africa's biggest cell phone operator Vodacom, joint owned by Telkom and Britain's Vodafone said on Friday that from December 1 all individuals and businesses would have to supply photocopies of identity cards or passports to get a phone or SIM card.

The law would apply to pay-as-you-go customers, who account for the majority of the South African market, as well as contract subscribers.

UK: Tsunami 'hacker' keeps security job

Graeme Wearden and Dan Ilett write in C|Net News:

When Daniel Cuthbert was convicted last month of gaining unauthorized access to a tsunami fund-raising Web site, many people--including the U.K. trial judge--suspected his career in the IT industry was over.

These suspicions were unfounded, though. Cuthbert is hard at work at Corsaire, a U.K. tech security company.

Martin O'Neal, director at Corsaire, confirmed Friday that Cuthbert had actually joined the company before his trial. O'Neal, though, isn't worried that one of his employees is a high-profile breaker of the Computer Misuse Act (CMA).

User Friendly: Veterans Day

Thanks, Illiad.


Click for larger image.

WSIS Internet showdown in Tunis

Declan McCullagh writes in C|Net News:

The United Nations' World Summit on the Information Society began with a high-minded purpose: to bridge the technological gap between richer and poorer nations. But now the WSIS event, which begins Nov. 16 in Tunisia, has transformed into a week-long debate about who should control key portions of the Internet.

Delegates from nations like Iran, China, and Cuba have been clear in what they want: less control by the U.S. government. Instead, they've suggested creation of some sort of cyberbureaucracy---perhaps under the U.N. International Telecommunication Union.

Those arguments have met with a cold shoulder in Washington. The Bush administration said in no uncertain terms in June that it intended to relinquish the United States' unique influence over domain names and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that position. But that doesn't advocate relinquishing total control or creation of a U.N. bureaucracy.

If the U.N. prevails in this international political spat, business groups worry that domain name fees would go up and regulations would increase. If no agreement is reached, there's always the possibility of a bifurcated Internet divided by geographical region.

CNET recently spoke with Ambassador of Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs David Gross, who's leading the U.S. delegation to Tunisia. Gross previously was a telecommunications lawyer and a lobbyist for AirTouch Communications (now part of Vodafone).

Dilbert: Finding a way to double your fee

Click for larger image.

Parents: Online newsgroup helped daughter commit suicide

Thelma Gutierrez and Kim McCabe write on

A bubbly 19-year-old with loving parents and good friends, [Suzanne Gonzales] was also a strong student and earned a science scholarship for college.

But everything changed one spring day two years ago, when Suzanne's parents, Mike and Mary Gonzales, received the following e-mail.

"Dear Mom, Dad, and Jennifer, I will make this short as I know. It will be hard to deal with. If you haven't heard by now, I've passed away," the e-mail read.

Alone in a Florida hotel room, just miles from her college apartment, Suzanne methodically prepared and swallowed a lethal cocktail of potassium cyanide, lay down on the bed and died.

[...] Suzanne's case has an unusual twist. She frequented an Internet newsgroup called called ASH, short for Alt.Suicide.Holiday.

Tin foil hats are/aren’t dangerous

Image source: Engadget

Paul Miller writes over on Engadget:

Well, we’ve got some bad bad news for the paranoid (isn’t it always?): that snazzy collection of tin foil hats you keep for those rare events that draw you from the relative safety of your bunker in Idaho and into the dangerous outdoors, they aren’t doing much good protecting you from the deathly radiation that permeates the air.

In fact, according to some wiz kid at MIT with a $250,000 network analyzer, that tin cap of yours actually tends to amplify certain frequencies that are reserved by the FCC for government use only, meaning their mind control rays have the most effect on the very people who go to the furthest trouble to protect themselves from such trickery. Oh what a world.

The researcher theorizes that the government started this whole helmet craze in the first place, but we’re betting this kid knows where his scholarship money came from, and was commissioned for this phony report to get your guard down. Who you gonna believe?

Money mule recruitment becomes a spam favorite


October saw a massive rise in the volume of spam that seeks to recruit unwitting recipients as traffickers in stolen goods or money launderers, masking their scams as work at home or get rich quick opportunities, according to a new report.

Spammers are increasingly offering employment, either redelivering packages or redistributing payments, according to email security experts ClearSwift.

The first such scam involves accepting delivery of goods paid for with a stolen credit card, then forwarding them further along the chain. The second is a simple money laundering role where the “worker” acts as a so-called money mule, taking money from the fraudsters, washing it through a legitimate bank account and returning it clean, minus a cut, to the criminals.

A black hole ate my twin, but it can't eat me...

The trajectory of speeding star HE 0437-5439 is
shown in this artist's illustration – it had
tangled with something very, very massive.
Image source: New Scientist / ESO

Maggie McKee writes in NewScientist:

A young star has been caught in the act of speeding out of the galaxy – seemingly on the run from a giant black hole that had already swallowed its twin.

Astronomers used the UVES spectrograph on the Very Large Telescope in Chile to spot the young runaway, called HE 0437-5439, in the dark outer reaches of the Milky Way.

The star appears to be 30 million years old and about eight times the mass of the Sun. It drew notice in part because it was found in a vast enclave of ancient stars – most of them billions of years old – that surrounds the disc of the galaxy like a bubble.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Remember and Respect: Veterans Day

You will not be forgotten.

Enlisting Cellphone Signals to Fight Road Gridlock

Matt Richtel writes in The New York Times:

Some states prohibit drivers from talking on hand-held cellphones lest they become distracted, slow down traffic, or worse, cause an accident. Others are finding that cellphones and driving may not be so bad together.

Several state transportation agencies, including those in Maryland and Virginia, are starting to test technology that allows them to monitor traffic by tracking cellphone signals and mapping them against road grids.

Don't forget: Tomorrow is Veteran's Day

I salute every single person who has answered their country's call.

I answered that call, and you can bet, tomorrow,
I will say "Thank you for your service to our country" to any Vet I may meet.

Tomorrow, Thank a Vet.

You are not forgotten.

Microsoft settles suit with S.Korea's Daum

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Microsoft Corp. has agreed to pay South Korea's Daum Communications Corp. $10 million in cash to settle an antitrust suit against the world's largest software maker, the two sides said on Friday.

Daum said it would drop its 2004 lawsuit against Microsoft in South Korea and withdraw its 2001 complaint to South Korea's Fair Trade Commission.

Psycho Alert: Pat Robertson warns Pa. town of 'Evolutionary' disaster

Televangelist Pat Robertson, seen here in a 2000 photo,
tells those who voted against school board members espousing
"intelligent design" not to turn to God in times of trouble.
"You just rejected him from your city," he said Thursday.

Image source: MSNBC / Gene J. Puskar / AP file

A Reuters newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting “intelligent design” and warned them Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck.

Robertson, a former Republican presidential candidate and founder of the influential conservative Christian Broadcasting Network and Christian Coalition, has a long record of similar apocalyptic warnings and provocative statements.

H5N1 News: Bird flu spreads further in Asia

A Reuters newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Three Asian nations reported new outbreaks of bird flu in poultry on Thursday, a day after health experts unveiled a $1 billion global plan to halt the spread of the deadly virus.

China, Vietnam and Thailand said they had more outbreaks as the region heads into the northern winter, when the H5N1 avian flu virus seems to thrive.

Vietnam, where the virus has killed 42 people, will send soldiers and police to help contain avian flu. Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat urged provincial authorities to do more.

H5N1 News: First cases of bird flu detected in Persian Gulf region

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Kuwait has detected two cases of bird flu in fowl, a senior official said Thursday, but it was not clear if the virus strain was the deadly version that has devastated poultry in Asia and has triggered fears of a human pandemic.

The infected birds in Kuwait were the first known cases of the virus in the Persian Gulf region.

H5N1 News: Deadly bird flu strain causes immune 'storm'

A Reuters newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Scientists in Hong Kong say they may have helped explain why the H5N1 bird flu virus kills so many healthy young adults -- it apparently causes a "storm" of immune system chemicals that overwhelms the patient.

They compared samples taken from patients infected with H5N1 to a sample from a patient with ordinary, seasonal H1N1 flu.

The H5N1 virus caused immune system chemicals known as cytokines to rush to infected lung tissue -- evidence of a so-called cytokine storm, an immune system overreaction that can be fatal.

F-Secure: One more Bot trying to hide under Sony DRM

I hate to say "I told you so" but I knew that the flaws in the previous malware efforts would be quickly corrected and re-seeded in the wild.

Katrin writes over on the F-Secure "News from the Lab" Blog:

Soon after the first Bot using Sony rootkit technology was found another one appeared - Breplibot.C.

This new variant fixes some bugs found in the previous Breplibot.B variant. It uses file '$sys$xp.exe' instead of '$sys$drv.exe' when copy to Windows System folder.

RealPlayer and RealOne Player Multiple Buffer Overflow Vulnerabilities


Advisory ID : FrSIRT/ADV-2005-2385
CVE ID : CVE-2005-2629 - CVE-2005-2630
Rated as : Critical
Remotely Exploitable : Yes
Locally Exploitable : Yes
Release Date : 2005-11-10

Technical Description

Multiple vulnerabilities were identified in RealPlayer and RealOne Player, which could be exploited by remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands.

The first issue is due to a stack overflow error when processing a malformed data packet contained in a Real Media file, which could be exploited by remote attackers to compromise a vulnerable system by convincing a user to visit a malicious Web page hosting a specially crafted ".rm" file.

The second vulnerability is due to a heap overflow error in the "DUNZIP32.DLL" library that does not properly handle a malformed RealPlayer skin file, which could be exploited by attackers to execute arbitrary commands by tricking a user into visiting a malicious Web page hosting a specially crafted ".rjs" file.

The third flaw is due to an unspecified stack overflow error when processing malicious skin files, which could be exploited by remote attackers to compromise a vulnerable system.

Affected Products

RealPlayer 10.5 (
RealPlayer 10
RealOne Player v2
RealOne Player v1
RealPlayer 8
RealPlayer Enterprise 1.1
RealPlayer Enterprise 1.2
RealPlayer Enterprise 1.5
RealPlayer Enterprise 1.6
RealPlayer Enterprise 1.7
Mac RealPlayer 10 ( - 331)
Linux RealPlayer 10 (10.0.0 - 5)
Helix Player (10.0.0 - 5)


RealPlayer 10.5 (Windows) patch :

RealPlayer 8, RealOne Player (English), RealOne Player V2, and RealPlayer 10 (Windows) patch :

RealPlayer Enterprise update :

RealPlayer 10 (Mac OS X) update :

RealPlayer 10 (Linux) update :

Helix Player (Linux) update :


France: Internet summit likely to get nowhere

A Reuters newswire article, via C|Net News, reports that:

The United States will not heed requests by the European Union and other countries to accept a multinational approach to running the Internet, a French government official said Thursday.

An international summit next week on how the Internet should be run was likely to end in stalemate, the official said.

'Kill Bill's Browser' Site Aims To Cash In On Google's Bounty

A TechWeb News article by Gregg Keizer, via InformationWeek, reports that:

Four political activists from Massachusetts launched a parody Web site Wednesday dubbed "Kill Bill's Browser" to convince Web users to switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox.

Along the way, they just may make themselves a few bucks by getting people to change browsers.

With a color scheme reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" films, the site features "13 Good Reasons to Switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox." Number 7? "It will make Bill Gates soooooooooo mad." Number 11? "Reduce your weekly family & friends tech support load to 8 hours."

UK: Commercial Keylogger Challenges Anti-Spyware Vendor Sunbelt

Antone Gonsalves writes in TechWeb News:

RetroCoder Ltd. has threatened legal action against Sunbelt Software for listing the U.K. company's commercial keystroke-logging application in its anti-spyware database, reflecting the growing animosity between some software makers and security vendors.

In an email sent Oct. 28 to Sunbelt, RetroCoder demanded that its SpyMon product, which secretly records computer users' keystrokes, be removed from the company's detection list, arguing that Sunbelt was in violation of the European Union's copyright law, as explained in Retrocoder's end user licensing agreement.

SBC management will lead the new AT&T

Stephen Lawson writes in NetworkWorld:

AT&T, the company set to burst forth from the merger of SBC and AT&T , will be led mostly by long-time SBC executives, according to a management lineup announced Thursday.

SBC Chairman and CEO Edward Whitacre Jr. will keep those titles following approval of SBC's $16 billion merger deal with AT&T, which may be finalized later this month.

Justice Dept. proposes tougher copyright laws

Via Reuters.

People who attempt to copy music or movies without permission could face jail time under legislation proposed by the U.S. Justice Department on Thursday.

The bill, outlined by U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at an anti-piracy summit, would widen intellectual-property protections to cover those who try but fail to make illicit copies of music, movies, software or other copyrighted material.

It would also enable investigators to seize assets purchased with profits from the sale of illicit copies, as well as property such as blank CDs that might be used for future copying.

Verizon Wireless: Scrap Network Neutrality

Carlo writes in a great post over on

A Verizon Wireless exec told a House committee hearing on the telecom reform bill that network neutrality provisions shouldn't apply to wireless carriers, because, well, just because, really. The exec contends that wireless operators should "have the right to manage their network and the devices that can be used with that network" -- which sounds like an open-ended way of saying they should be able to decide what content and services people using their network access.

"Network management" will become a euphemism for "content blocking", with financial considerations, not technical ones, driving the decisions. If carriers are going to advertise unlimited service, they need to sell open, unlimited service, not not pretend there aren't capacity constraints, then hide restrictions in fine print and selectively block services that compete with their own.

There's not much point in the operators trying to hide their sentiments, as it's pretty clear they'll go to drastic measures to get what they want. If there were real competition in the market, these types of regulations wouldn't be necessary, because any provider that started blocking applications would get destroyed by consumers. But when there isn't any real competition, the market doesn't do a great job of regulating itself.

Dilbert: "Tell it to my underling!"

Click for larger image.

Three companies shut down on spyware charges

According to the FTC press release:

This case was brought with the invaluable assistance of the Microsoft Corporation, Webroot Software, Inc., and Google Incorporated.

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

A U.S. court shut down three Internet companies for secretly bundling malicious "spyware" with ring tones, music programs and other free high-tech goodies, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Thursday.

The malicious software tracked victims' Internet activity, hijacked their home pages and deluged them with unwanted "pop up" ads, the FTC said.

The assets of Enternet Media Inc. and Conspy & Co. Inc., based in California, and Iwebtunes, based in Ohio, have been frozen pending further court action, the FTC said. The court also ordered all three firms to halt downloads of the software.

Experts at odds over relevance of IPv6

A few years ago, Geoff and I wrote a book on Quality of Service. :-)

Needless to say, he and I see eye-to-eye on most issues involving the Internet...

Dahna McConnachie writes in ComputerWorld Australia:

A significant stumbling block to IPv6 adoption may be the IPv4 loyalists who are keen to keep the protocol in preference to the 'new improved' version.

Geoff Huston, senior Internet research scientist from Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (Apnic), belongs to the IPv4 camp.

"We happen to work in an industry that survives on complexity, address scarcity and insecurity," Geoff Huston, senior Internet research scientist at Apnic, said. "This is where the margins come from, and we are not innovators in this industry any more. We've learnt that optimism doesn't create a business case. All those people disappeared along with the dotcom boom," he said.

Sony DRM CDs infect Macs, too

Via Boing Boing.

Simon sez, "On Macintouch today, Darren Dittrich reports that Sony's DRM software targets Macs too. Digging into the "enhanced" content on the disk, he found a that, when run, shows a license agreement, then asks you for an admin password. On entering this, it installs two kernel extensions, PhoenixNub1.kext and PhoenixNub12.kext."

Note that these aren't the rootkits that infect Windows PCs -- Sony's Mac crippleware comes from a different vendor called Suncomm.

Computer glitch turns 911 calls into headache for dispatchers

Charlie White writes in The (Louisville, KY) Courier-Journal:

A glitch in Louisville's MetroSafe emergency dispatch system clogged all 32 of the city's 911 lines for about two hours last night and forced dispatchers to call back everyone who might have been missed while the lines were jammed, said Chad Carlton, a spokesman for Louisville Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson.

The enhanced 911 system, which is supposed to show dispatchers the telephone numbers and addresses of callers, was still not working late last night. It was showing the phone numbers but not the addresses.

Children's Xmas Letters to Christopher Walken

I love the Internet. ;-)

I give you: Children's Christmas letters to Christopher Walken.


Petitioners want Katrina contracts online

Aliya Sternstein writes in

Proponents of open government are petitioning the Bush administration to post Hurricane Katrina relief work contracts online.

The advocacy group sent an e-mail urging other organizations to sign an e-mail letter asking President Bush to post all Katrina-related spending documents on the Internet and follow Freedom of Information Act guidelines.

The bipartisan list of signatories includes the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Federation of American Scientists,, Mark Tapscott of the Heritage Foundation and several press associations.

The organizers hope to prevent the misuse of taxpayer dollars by disclosing how officials spend public money.

EFF: Want to particpate in Sony lawsuit?

Via The EFF.

If you satisfy the following criteria, we would like to hear from you:

  1. You have a Windows computer;
  2. First 4 Internet's "xcp" copy protection has been installed on your computer from a Sony CD (for more details, see our blog post referenced above or SysInternals blog);
  3. You reside in either California or New York;
  4. You are willing to participate in litigation.

We have not made any final decisions about filing any legal action, but we would like to hear from music fans who have been harmed by the Sony-BMG "rootkit" copy protection technology.

Please contact

India Slashes Telecom Entry and License Fees

Via Red Herring.

India said Thursday it is slashing the entry fee for mobile companies seeking to offer national long-distance telecom services, in a move to spur more growth in what is already the world’s fastest-growing mobile market.

India’s government said the national long-distance fee was being cut to Rs 25 million ($582,000) from Rs 1 billion ($23 million). The same fee now applies for international long-distance services, which had been at Rs 250 million ($5.8 million) before the change.

The government also reduced the annual licence fee for both services to six percent of annual gross revenue from 15 percent. This will add 9 percent to the bottom line of telecom companies in India.

The new rates will be effective January 1, 2006.

Trojan Attacks Microsoft Image Rendering Flaw [MS05-053]

Ryan Naraine writes in eWeek:

Anti-virus vendor Trend Micro Inc. has spotted a Trojan in the wild attacking Windows users via the image rendering flaws patched by Microsoft Corp. two days ago.

The Trojan, identified as TROJ_EMFSPLOIT.A, causes the "explorer.exe" file to crash, causing the taskbar on unpatched Windows machines to disappear.

Vint Cerf Weighs In On House Telecom Bill

Antone Gonsalves writes in TechWeb News:

Vinton Cerf, one of the founders of the Internet, urged on Wednesday a House committee working on major telecommunications legislation to ensure that broadband operators do not "dictate what people can do online."

Cerf's comments were submitted on behalf of his employer, search engine Google Inc., to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Cerf could not attend the meeting, due to his receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday at the White House. Robert Kahn, who with Cerf developed the Internet protocol TCP/IP that forms the foundation of the Internet, also received the award.

Boeing breaks record for longest nonstop commercial flight

A Boeing 777-200LR touches down at London’s Heathrow
airport Thursday, having flown over 11,664 miles from
Hong Kong on the longest nonstop flight by a commercial jet.
Image source: MSNBC / Odd Andersen / AFP - Getty Images.

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

A Boeing Co. jet arrived in London from Hong Kong on Thursday, breaking the record for the longest nonstop flight by a commercial jet.

The 777-200LR Worldliner — one of Boeing’s newest planes — touched down shortly after 1 p.m. (8 a.m. ET) at London’s Heathrow Airport after a journey of more than 13,422 miles. The previous record was set when a Boeing 747-400 flew 10,500 miles from London to Sydney in 1989.

Iridium sees satellite growth in aviation


Iridium Satellite said Wednesday demand for satellite communications continues to grow rapidly in the aeronautical sector.

The company said that the number of aircraft equipped with its satellites has more than doubled over the past 12 months. Iridium said that it has more than 5,000 subscribers in the aviation market.

North America network spending, revenue up


Telecommunications operators in North America have invested more and profited more from wireless networks, a research group said Thursday.

London-based Ovum-RHK, which specializes in the information-technology sector, found in its latest report that in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, North American network operators saw revenue from mobile operations rising 15 percent from a year ago to $30.24 trillion, while capital expenditure increased by 10 percent to $4.83 trillion.

AOL privacy policy permits targeting of users

An AP newswire article by Anick Jesdanun, via The Globe and Mail, reports that:

America On-line Inc. is updating its privacy policy to outlaw a marketing tactic it has already stopped employing and to permit the targeting of ads and content based on what users do on-line.

AOL promises to no longer share names and home addresses with other companies for marketing, formalizing a policy put in place a year ago based on subscriber feedback, spokesman Andrew Weinstein said Wednesday.

But the new policy, which takes effect Thursday, lets AOL track what visitors do at its sites and tailor news, weather and ads based on such tracking. Many of AOL's rivals already serve targeted ads and content, but the company was restricted from doing so under a policy little changed since 1998.

European Group Battles Copy-Protected CDs

An AP newswire article by Elena Spongenberg, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

The music industry should stop criminalizing customers and limiting their freedom in the battle against piracy, a European consumers' group said Thursday.

The emergence of copy-protected CDs — installed with anti-piracy software that limits how many times the CD can be copied — "is the most visible example of this," said Jim Murray of BEUC, an association representing consumer lobbies across Europe.

"Private consumers ... are not criminals and to portray them as such is insulting and counter productive," Murray said.

Bush Gives FCC a GOP Majority

Via Red Herring.

The White House said it will fill an eight-month-old vacancy on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission with Republican regulator Deborah Tate, giving Republicans a 3-2 majority on the panel more than a week after a crucial vote on the future of the telecommunications industry.

President Bush will also nominate Michael Copps, one of the two Democrats on the commission, to serve for the remainder of a five-year term that expires in June 2010.

The commission has operated with four commissioners, two Democrats and two Republicans, since the resignation of former Chairman Michael Powell in March. Ms. Tate's appointment will add a third Republican vote.

Russian Spacecraft Boosts Space Station's Orbit

Backdropped by the blackness of space and Earth’s
horizon, this full view of the International Space Station
was photographed by a crewmember onboard the Space
Shuttle Discovery following the undocking of the two
spacecraft. Discovery pulled away from the complex
at 2:24 a.m. (CDT) on August 6, 2005.
Image source: Science Daily / NASA

Tariq Malik writes in

An unmanned Russian spacecraft docked at the International Space Station (ISS) fired its engines early Thursday, raising the research platform’s orbit in preparation for a cargo shipment next month.

The Russian-built Progress 19 cargo ship berthed at the aft end of the station’s Zvezda service module fired its four thrusters during two successive burns to place the ISS in a nearly circular orbit that reaches 219 statute miles (352 kilometers) above Earth at its highest point, NASA officials said.

The Thursday maneuver marked the second time flight controllers attempted to boost the space station’s orbit. The initial attempt on Oct. 18 EDT failed when the Progress engines unexpectedly cutoff less than two minutes into the first of two planned 12-minute burns.

Sophos develops Sony DRM removal tool

John Leyden writes in The Register:

UK security firm Sophos plans to release a tool which will detect the existence of Sony's DRM copy-protection rootkit on Windows computers, disable it, and prevent it from re-installing.

The move follows the discovery of the first malware (a Trojan called Breplibot) that takes advantage of Sony-BMG's use of rootkit technology in DRM software bundled with its music CDs to mask its presence on infected systems.

Spam from Iraq?

Brian McWilliams writes on The O'Reilly Network:

Back when Saddam Hussein and his sons ran the show, Iraqis shared only a handful of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. That way, the government could better monitor their online activity.

But according to the latest data from the RIPE Network Coordination Centre, Iraq now has thousands of IP addresses allocated to it. (It's still in the process of getting its top-level domain, .IQ, up and running.)

Much of Iraq's burgeoning IP space is as yet undeveloped. Unfortunately, some of it is already being exploited by spammers.

Reporters sans Frontières: Our Position on Internet Governance

Via Reporters sans Frontières.

The second stage of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis from 16 to 18 November will be a showy United Nations event where countries will try to agree on the legal and technical future of the Internet. How the Web is administered and regulated worldwide will be the hottest topic on the agenda.

The United States currently controls the main bodies that run the Internet, including the main one, ICANN, a California-based legal body that assigns domain names worldwide. Virtually every other country criticises this US monopoly as unacceptable.

The reaction is understandable because ICANN’s decisions, though they seem very technical, have direct political repercussions. It can, in theory, block access to country domain names (for example, all the .fr or .cn sites). Money is also an issue because the body that runs the Internet has power to give advantage to some technologies and thus certain firms. The recent hiring by Google of Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf, ICANN’s vice-president, has therefore raised concern.

The situation can certainly be criticised but the proposed remedies seem much worse. China, Cuba and the world’s other most repressive countries want to hand over control of the Internet to an independent supra-national body such as the United Nations. But the UN’s clumsy record on human rights - its Rights Commission was recently chaired by Libya - make the prospect a chilling one.

Do we really want the countries that censor the Internet and throw its users in prison to be in charge of regulating the flow of information on it ? The simple fact of holding of WSIS in Tunisia, whose president and his family control the national media and Internet access with an iron grip, shows that freedom of expression is not seen as a key issue at the Summit.

French Riot Crackdown Involves Bloggers

Bruce Gain writes in Wired News:

French prosecutors shut down several blogs this week and arrested bloggers suspected of inciting violence, as officials moved to squelch riots that have rocked France for more than 10 days.

A prosecuting attorney from Le Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris, who spoke under condition of anonymity, told Wired News that three bloggers and forum visitors allegedly posted messages that violated French criminal statutes governing violent speech. Two of the bloggers, who were arrested earlier this week, could be arraigned under violent speech statutes, the prosecutor said. The blogs in question, he said, were hosted on a French site called Skyblog, which is owned by Skyrock.

Toon: Paris Burning

Click for larger image.

UK: Muslim leaders fight extremism on the road and Web

A Reuters newswire article by Peter Graff, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Coming soon to fight extremism in Britain: the Imam Roadshow and Islam Online.

After years of watching radical Muslim groups teach violence in town meetings and on the Internet, British Muslim leaders announced plans on Thursday to fight back by taking the message of mainstream Islam onto the road and out into cyberspace.

Yahoo! out of the running to buy stake in AOL

A Reuters newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Internet media company Yahoo Inc. has backed out of the running to buy a stake in Time Warner Inc.’s America Online (AOL) Internet unit.

[Yahoo!] denied that the company had made an offer for AOL but confirmed that Yahoo Chief Executive Terry Semel met with Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons in October.

California Sues Sony over DRM Rootkit

Via Reuters.

Record company Sony BMG Music Entertainment has been targeted in a class-action lawsuit in California by consumers claiming their computers have been harmed by anti-piracy software on some Sony BMG CDs.

The claim states that Sony BMG's failed to disclose the true nature of the digital rights management system it uses on its CDs and thousands of computer users have unknowingly infected their computers, according to court documents.

Linux backers form patent-sharing firm

Eric Auchard writes for Reuters:

Three of the world's biggest electronics companies -- IBM, Sony and Philips -- have joined forces with the two largest Linux software distributors to create a company for sharing Linux patents, royalty-free.

The Open Invention Network (OIN), as the new firm unveiled on Thursday is known, could mark a breakthrough in resolving how to protect vendors and customers from patent royalty disputes resulting from freely shared Linux code.

Hackers use Sony DRM software to hide Trojan

Via Reuters.

A computer security firm said on Thursday it had discovered the first virus that uses music publisher Sony BMG's controversial CD copy-protection software to hide on PCs and wreak havoc.

Under a subject line containing the words "Photo approval," a hacker has mass-mailed the so-called Stinx-E trojan virus to British email addresses, said British anti-virus firm Sophos.

When recipients click on an attachment, they install malware, which may tear down the firewall and gives hackers access to a PC. The malware hides by using Sony software that is also hidden -- the software would have been installed on a computer when consumers played Sony's copy-protected music CDs.

However, Mika writes over on the F-Secure "News from the Lab" Blog:

We wouldn't like to say "we told you so" but unfortunately this is one of those times you just have to do it.

We have just analyzed the first malware (Breplibot.b) that is trying to hide on machines that have Sony DRM software installed.

Luckily, the bot has a design flaw. If the Sony DRM rootkit is active (hiding) in the system during infection, the bot will not run at all. Moreover, the bot cannot survive a reboot because of a programming error. In any case, this is a very good example of why software should not use rootkit hiding techniques.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Security Expert Pokes More Holes in Oracle Patch

Oracle's software security reputation takes yet another hit.

Paul F. Roberts writes in eWeek:

A noted computer security expert who has clashed with Oracle Corp. in the past is warning customers that a cumulative security patch from the company may overlook a critical hole that could leave Oracle databases open to remote attack.

David Litchfield of NGSS (Next Generation Security Software Ltd.) posted a warning on the Bugtraq security discussion list Tuesday claiming that Oracle's October CPU (Critical Patch Update) failed to install software components on some Oracle systems.

ICANN Working to Resolve WSIS/U.N. Issue

Jim Wagner writes in

The board of directors at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) wants to hold a special meeting with their governmental members to discuss ways to head off the threat of United Nations (U.N.) intervention.

Vint Cerf, ICANN board chairman stated the board would like to hold a special meeting to discuss the role of Internet governance. He made his request in a letter to Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi, chairman of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), posted to the ICANN Web site [.pdf] Wednesday.

The ICANN community is scheduled to meet in Vancouver, Canada, November 30 - December 4.

H5N1 News: What does avian flu look like? Take a peek....

Image source: Dagens Nyheter

DevL writes over on Slashdot:

Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson has managed to capture images of a H5N1 (bird flu) virus entering and taking control of a cell. While the text is in Swedish, the images speak for themselves.

John Lennon's solo catalog to be offered for download

As long as there is no Rootkit involved. :-)

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

The entire solo catalog of the late rock icon John Lennon will be made available for Internet download for the first time in December, his record label said on Wednesday.

The digital release of Lennon's collection makes him the first former Beatle whose whole body of solo work has been made commercially available on legitimate online music services, EMI Music said.

CDC considers shipping 1918 flu to International Labs

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Federal scientists say they will consider requests to ship the recently recreated 1918 killer flu virus to select U.S. research labs.

There are 300 non-government research labs registered to work with deadly germs like the Spanish flu, which killed millions of people worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will consider requests for samples from those labs “on a case-by-case basis,” CDC spokesman Von Roebuck said Wednesday.

U.S. Telecom Reform Bill Meets Opposition

Grant Gross writes in InfoWorld:

Republican draft legislation that would largely deregulate Internet Protocol-based services such as broadband video favors giant incumbent telecommunications carriers over other competitors, complained some witnesses and lawmakers during a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday.

The staff draft, revised from a bipartisan draft released in September, streamlines video franchising requirements, allowing large telecom carriers such as Verizon Communications Inc. and SBC Communications Inc. to compete with cable television providers without securing franchise agreements from multiple local governments.

Feds consider regulation of quantum computers

Anne Broache and Declan McCullagh write in C|Net News:

Quantum computers don't exist outside the laboratory. But the U.S. government appears to be exploring whether it should be illegal to ship them overseas.

A federal advisory committee met Wednesday to hear an IBM presentation about just how advanced quantum computers have become--with an eye toward evaluating when the technology might be practical enough to merit government regulation.

Cerf, Kahn Honored With Presidential Medal of Freedom

An excerpt of a FDCH e-Media transcript of President Bush's comments, via The Washington Post:

[...] Like Chairman Greenspan, Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn are brilliant men who found great success in their chosen field and have played an extraordinary role in the story of our time. Thirty-two years ago, Dr. Kahn, an engineer, and Dr. Cerf, a computer scientist, figured out how to transmit data between separate computer networks, and to do so quickly, effectively, and routinely. Dr. Kahn called it "internetting." By developing a common digital language for computers across networks, these two men prepared the way for a technological revolution.

NYT Signs Up 135,000 Paying Online Subcriptions

An AP newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

The New York Times Co. said Wednesday it had signed up about 135,000 paying subscribers to its new online service that offers access to Op-Ed columns and other premium content.

The new service, TimesSelect, launched Sept. 19, and is free to home delivery subscribers. Non-subscribers can get access to the service for $49.95 a year or $7.95 every month.

AT&T to upgrade Navy network's Web capabilities

Michael Hardy writes in

AT&T Government Solutions has won a $2.7 million contract to upgrade and expand the Web capabilities of the Naval Network and Space Operations Command, based in Dahlgren, Va. The command is responsible for monitoring the Navy’s command and control communications networks worldwide.

The contract could ultimately be worth $10.3 million if all options are exercised. AT&T and a subcontractor, Enterprise Data Solutions, will develop portals for existing Web sites that will allow users to interact with any of the Navy's command, control, communications and intelligence networks.

Unisys Snags $65M HHS IT Outsourcing Deal

Ethan Butterfield writes in

The Health and Human Services Department has hired Unisys Corp. to guide the department toward IT standardization.

Terms of the three-year, $65 million contract call for Blue Bell, Pa.-based Unisys to support 8,000 HHS employees across eight operating divisions. The contract also has one two-year option worth about $35 million, the company said yesterday in a statement.

Antivirus firms target Sony 'Rootkit'

John Borland writes in C|Net News:

Antivirus companies are releasing tools this week to identify, and in some cases remove, copy protection software contained on recent Sony BMG Music Entertainment CDs. The software has been identified as a potential security risk.

Europe names Galileo trailblazer

Jonathan Amos writes for The BBC:

The in-orbit testing phase of Galileo, Europe's satellite-navigation system, will begin in December.

The first demonstrator spacecraft will fly from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on a Soyuz rocket on the 28th of the month.

The satellite, known as Giove-A, has the critical task of claiming the frequencies allocated to Galileo under international agreements.

To do this, the UK-built spacecraft must generate and transmit a timing and navigation signal by June 2006.

Galileo is Europe's biggest and most expensive space project. It will be independent of the American Global Positioning System (GPS) but interoperable with it.

Analysts expect the new constellation to drive a multi-billion euro industry, creating perhaps 140,000 jobs. on the blink this afternoon?

It appears to be back up at this time, at least from my perspective, but it does still have this message on the main page:

Thanks for stopping by.

We are making updates to our online store. Please come back soon. Use the links below to learn about in-store specials and more. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Parija Bhatnagar writes in CNN/Money:

Electronics retailer Best Buy's online store shut down mid-day Wednesday in what at least one Web site monitoring firm is calling an "unplanned outage."

According to Ken Godskind, vice president of marketing for, displayed a store unavailable page that the AlertSite's system first recognized at 12:36 p.m. ET.

The Web site was still displaying the same store unavailable page at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Microsoft: Problem affecting SUS 1.0 users

Via the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) Blog:

[...] we’ve run across an issue affecting SUS 1.0 that we’re investigating whereby the update can't be deployed. We hope to have a resolution soon on it. WSUS and other deployment tools are unaffected. We’ll post more as soon as we can. Please stand by.

17 Tucson area residents indicted in Internet fraud case

Laurie Lane writes in The Arizona Daily Star:

Seventeen Tucson-area residents were indicted on charges of using stolen credit and debit card numbers and other personal information to steal money from ATMs as part of an international computer-based theft ring.

The group used card numbers and other financial information supplied by people in foreign countries to make counterfeit bank or credit cards and then wired back half the stolen money as payment, officials said in announcing the federal indictments unsealed Monday.

'Your Bio- Weapon is in the Mail'

Peter Aldhous writes in NewScientist:

YOU might think it would be difficult for a terrorist to obtain genes from the smallpox virus, or a similarly vicious pathogen. Well, it's not. Armed with a fake email address, a would-be bioterrorist could probably order the building blocks of a deadly biological weapon online, and receive them by post within weeks.

That's the sobering reality uncovered by a New Scientist investigation into the bioterror risks posed by the booming business of gene synthesis. Dozens of biotech firms now offer to synthesise complete genes from the chemical components of DNA. Yet some are carrying out next to no checks on what they are being asked to make, or by whom. It raises the frightening prospect of terrorists mail-ordering genes for key bioweapon agents such as smallpox, and using them to engineer new and deadly pathogens.

Sony: You don’t reeeeaaaally want to uninstall, do you?

Mark Russinovich writes over on the SysInternals blog:

A few days after I posted my first blog entry on Sony’s rootkit, "Sony and Rootkits: Digital Rights Management Gone Too Far", Sony announced to the press that it was making available a decloaking patch and uninstall capability through its support site.

Note that I said press and not customer. The uninstall process Sony has put in place is on par with mainstream spyware and adware and is the topic of this blog post.

RIM back in court again

A Reuters newswire article, via CNN/Money, reports that:

A federal judge said Wednesday he would review a disputed settlement in the patent infringement case against the maker of the BlackBerry e-mail device but said it was "highly unlikely" that he would delay the case pending a review by the U.S. Patent Office.

District Judge James Spencer told a hearing he would decide whether to go ahead with an injunction against Research in Motion Ltd. after deciding whether a contested $450 million settlement deal with patent holding company NTP Inc. is enforceable.

"I intend to move swiftly in this," Spencer said. "I've spent enough of my life and time on NTP and RIM."

'Gravity tractor' to deflect Earth-bound asteroids

Zeeya Merali writes in NewScientist:

NASA scientists have come up with a surprisingly simple yet effective way to deflect an Earth-bound asteroid – park a large spacecraft close by and let gravity do the work.

Previous suggestions have focused on deflecting an incoming asteroid with nuclear explosions. But NASA experts believe a "gravity tractor" should be able to perform the same feat by creating an invisible towline to tug the rock off its deadly course.

Bush To Nominate FCC Commissioners

Arshad Mohammed writes in The Washington Post:

President Bush plans to nominate Republican Deborah T. Tate and renominate Democrat Michael J. Copps to serve on the Federal Communications Commission, a step that will likely preserve the two parties' balance of power on the FCC and continue to limit Chairman Kevin J. Martin's freedom of action.

A person familiar with the decision said the White House plans to announce Bush's choice of Tate, a Tennessee state regulator, and Copps, who has served as an FCC commissioner since 2001, soon and possibly as early as today.

Bill Gates' Memo Rocks Microsoft

Via Red Herring.

Bill Gates wants to overhaul the way Microsoft approaches the software market, shifting toward online services and the ad-supported model championed by rivals, according to an internal email broadly circulated on Wednesday.

In the email dated October 30, Mr. Gates urged the company to better leverage web-based software and services to make up for missed revenue opportunities realized by competitors such as Google,, and Skype Technologies, which was recently acquired by eBay. The email was disclosed Wednesday in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other media.

“The next sea change is upon us,” wrote Mr. Gates. He predicted the coming “services wave” will be disruptive to the industry.

Independent: Bad idea to let UN muscle in on Internet

Rupert Cornwell writes in The Independent (UK):

[...] it is equally obvious that things cannot go on as they are. Some decision on ICANN's own future must be taken as soon as next year. Either some fig-leaf of international supervision must be devised, or the entire problem will have to be kicked into the long grass - perhaps by the creation of some new bureaucratic forum that would spend years examining the issue while today's arrangements quietly continued. Once upon a time, "benign neglect" was a lousy way for the US to run the dollar. But for the internet that approach has worked just fine.

Lewinsky scandal gets the Webby gong

An AFP newswire article, via Autralian IT, reports that:

THE breaking of the Monica Lewinsky scandal and this year's Live 8 concerts were voted among the most influential internet moments of the past 10 years by organisers of the annual Webby Awards.

But the committee that decides the awards - the self-proclaimed "Oscars of the Internet" - chose the dotcom boom and bust as the most eventful episode over the past decade.

UK: Alleged spammer refuses to disclose location of ill-gotten funds

John Leyden writes in The Register:

Peter Francis-Macrae, the 23-year-old who's allegedly the UK's biggest spammer, has testified that he may have "over stepped the mark" in posing as an approved domain registrar at his trial at Peterborough Crown Court this week. Francis-Macrae faces a variety of charges ranging from threats to kill to fraudulent trading.

Operating from a bedroom in his father's home in the village of of St. Neots, Cambs, Francis-Macrae allegedly made an estimated £1.5m through a series of domain registration scams, promoted using bulk email. He is accused of fraudulently selling unavailable .eu domains among other dubious business practices dating back five years. He's also accused of sending out fraudulent re-registration letters to UK domain owners.

[...] in his testimony Francis-Macrae refused to disclose the location of an estimated £425,000 he'd earned through his domain registration activities. A number of accounts run by Francis-Macrae in the UK have been frozen and thousands in cash were seized when police raided his home but hundreds of thousands remain unaccounted.

Toon: 'Control Your Borders!'

This was just too priceless to pass up.

Click for larger image.

EFF releases list of CDs infected with Sony's rootkit DRM

Via Boing Boing.

[The] EFF has released a list of CDs known to have Sony's deadly rootkit DRM technology. If you were foolish enough to buy one of these CDs and you've since put it in your PC, Sony may have corrupted your computer already. In the future, think twice before buying any Sony music -- what's worth more, your computer, or a CD?

  • Trey Anastasio, Shine (Columbia)
  • Celine Dion, On ne Change Pas (Epic)
  • Neil Diamond, 12 Songs (Columbia)
  • Our Lady Peace, Healthy in Paranoid Times (Columbia)
  • Chris Botti, To Love Again (Columbia)
  • Van Zant, Get Right with the Man (Columbia)
  • Switchfoot, Nothing is Sound (Columbia)
  • The Coral, The Invisible Invasion (Columbia)
  • Acceptance, Phantoms (Columbia)
  • Susie Suh, Susie Suh (Epic)
  • Amerie, Touch (Columbia)
  • Life of Agony, Broken Valley (Epic)
  • Horace Silver Quintet, Silver's Blue (Epic Legacy)
  • Gerry Mulligan, Jeru (Columbia Legacy)
  • Dexter Gordon, Manhattan Symphonie (Columbia Legacy)
  • The Bad Plus, Suspicious Activity (Columbia)
  • The Dead 60s, The Dead 60s (Epic)
  • Dion, The Essential Dion (Columbia Legacy)
  • Natasha Bedingfield, Unwritten (Epic)
  • Ricky Martin, Life (Columbia) (labeled as XCP, but, oddly, our disc had no protection)

Boeing 777 Attempts Record Commercial Flight


A Boeing 777 Worldliner jet took off from Hong Kong in a bid for the the longest-ever flight for a commercial jet, 23 hours to London flying east over North America.

The journey, which began at 10:30pm (1430 GMT), is expected to last about 23 hours and cover more than 20,100 kilometres (12,500 miles), Boeing said.

The company, locked in a bitter battle with European rival Airbus for the lucrative long-haul aviation market, said a demonstration model of the new 777-200LR had headed east rather than the usual western route over Russia.

Last Chance to Support Patriot Act Reform!

Via The EFF.

Tomorrow, House and Senate members will likely be meeting to finalize a bill renewing the USA PATRIOT Act.

We've been fighting to ensure that the extensive powers granted by the original Act are not expanded and that controls are placed on its misuse. The Senate version of the reauthorization bill contains new checks and balances that will curb the worst excesses of the Act; the House version does not. Tomorrow's expected "conference" between selected Senate and House members will decide which becomes law.

This is your last chance to push for the Senate reforms to be included in the final bill, and to call for new controls on "National Security Letters," which the Washington Post reported last week have been widely used to spy on ordinary Americans.

Time is short: please call your representative and senators now. Ask them to urge the conference members to preserve the reforms in the Senate Bill.

Click on the link below to visit EFF's Action Center, where you will find the phone numbers to call and suggestions on what to tell your elected officials. It will take less than five minutes of your day and could make all the difference.

Casio in talks with U.S. wireless carriers

A Reuters newswire article, via CNN, reports that:

Japan's Casio Computer Co. Ltd. is making an overseas push with plans to supply 3G phones to U.S. mobile carriers and a deal to win shelf space for its digital cameras at U.S. electronics retailer Best Buy, Casio President Kazuo Kashio said on Wednesday.

The Best Of: England’s new “Let’s Keep Crime Down” campaign

Image source: Engadget

Ryan Block writes over on Engadget:

So the Home Office crime prevention department in the UK just launched this three year “Let’s Keep Crime Down” campaign with a specific bend on consumer electronics and portables to, um, help reduce crime. So without further ado, may we present our picks for the best of “Let’s Keep Crime Down”...

Ya gotta see 'em. They're a riot. ;-)

User Friendly: 'Call of Duty' Role Reversal


Click for larger image.

Verizon moves to stop customer info theft

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Verizon Wireless said on Wednesday that it received a court injunction to stop a Florida investigative agency from fraudulently obtaining confidential information about its wireless subscribers.

The No. 2 U.S. mobile service said it filed a suit accusing Global Information Group of making thousands of attempts to gather confidential information without authorization and using fraudulent schemes to do so, including impersonating Verizon employees and posing as customers.

Microsoft partners with AP for Online Video

An AP newswire article by Seth Sutel, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Microsoft Corp. is teaming with The Associated Press to offer an advertising-supported online video news network in the first quarter of 2006, the companies announced Wednesday.

Microsoft will supply the technology, video player and advertising support to the network, while AP's broadcast division will provide the video, which will feature about 50 different stories per day. AP, the world's oldest and largest newsgathering organization, originally announced plans to develop the venture after a board meeting in July.

Pa. Voters Ouster Weasel 'Intelligent Design' Advocates

I am happy to see that the residents of Dover, Pennslyvania, have exercised some "intelligent design" of their own, whereas the State Board of Education in Kansas deserves the Weasel Award for "Most Weaseliset Behavior."

A CBS/AP article, via CBS News, reports that:

Voters came down hard Tuesday on Dover, Pa., school board members who ordered a statement on intelligent design read in biology class, ousting eight Republicans and replacing them with Democrats who want the concept stripped from the science curriculum.

The election unfolded amid a landmark federal trial involving the Dover public schools and the question of whether intelligent design promotes the Bible's view of creation. Eight Dover families sued, saying it violates the constitutional separation of church and state.