Saturday, February 04, 2006

R.I.P. Grandpa Munster

Via Boing Boing.

Al Lewis, the actor who played Grandpa Munster and later became a political campaigner, TV host, and restauranteur, has died at 95.

Just two years short of his 90th birthday, a ponytailed Lewis ran as the Green Party candidate against incumbent Gov. George Pataki. Lewis campaigned against draconian drug laws and the death penalty, while going to court in a losing battle to have his name appear on the ballot as "Grandpa Al Lewis."

He didn't defeat Pataki, but managed to collect more 52,000 votes.

Postage Is Due for Companies Sending E-Mail

Saul Hansell writes in The New York Times:

Companies will soon have to buy the electronic equivalent of a postage stamp if they want to be certain that their e-mail will be delivered to many of their customers.

America Online and Yahoo, two of the world's largest providers of e-mail accounts, are about to start using a controversial system that gives preferential treatment to messages from companies that pay from 1/4 of a cent to a penny each to have them delivered. The senders must contact only people who have agreed to receive their messages, or risk being blocked entirely.

The Internet companies say that this will help them identify legitimate mail and cut down on junk e-mail, identity-theft scams and other scourges that plague users of their services. The two companies also stand to earn millions of dollars a year from the system if it is widely adopted.

RIAA Suit Defense: ‘No PC’

Via Red Herring.

A home health aide in Brooklyn, New York, has been sued by the Recording Industry Association of America for illegally downloading music files, even though the woman claims she has never used a computer, or even turned one on.

Attorneys for Marie Lindor with the New York City-based firm Beldock Levine & Hoffman sent a letter Thursday to Judge David G. Trager of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York asking for a summary judgment dismissing the RIAA’s complaint, along with attorney fees.

“Ms. Lindor is a home health aide who not only never ‘downloaded, distributed, or made available for distribution’ any files, but has never purchased, used, or even turned on a computer in her life,” wrote Morlan Ty Rogers, an attorney with the firm. Fix

Via Enjoy!

On Capitol Hill, Playing WikiPolitics

Yuki Noguchi writes in The Washington Post:

This is what passes for an extreme makeover in Washington: A summer intern for seven-term Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.) altered the congressman's profile on the Wikipedia Web site to remove an old promise that he would limit his service to four terms.

Someone doctored Sen. Robert C. Byrd's (D-W.Va.) profile on the site to list his age as 180. (He is 88.) An erroneous entry for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) claimed that he "was voted the most annoying senator by his peers in Congress."

Craigslist to Begin Charge Fees on Busy Sections

Mike Musgrove writes in The Washington Post:

Craigslist, the popular Web site where folks from around the world find used sofas, second jobs, cheap housing and new soul mates, is starting to ask for money for a spot on its busiest pages.

This week, it's New York City apartment brokers who are being told that a listing fee is on its way. Later this year, Washington area employers may be asked to cough up some money for an ad on the region's job listings page.

Dallas Getting WiMAX Backhaul Network

A TechWeb News article, by W. Gardner, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Aspen Communications says it has equipped 12 high-rise buildings in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with WiMAX and is offering the wide area solution to wireless broadband service providers.

Aspen said it hopes to have 24 more buildings equipped by the end of year in its deployment of Gigabit Ethernet providing up to 1000 Mbps speeds to ISPs.

Symantec To Wrestle Microsoft In Consumer Security

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

Symantec plans to defend its consumer security turf against inroads by Microsoft with new software delivered over the Internet and sold as a service, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company said Friday.

The new software, for now dubbed "Genesis," will go on the market in September, said Tom Powledge, director of product management. "Genesis will deliver security software as a service, and is our first consumer product designed to be a service from the get-go."

Friday, February 03, 2006

Kama Sutra Worm Shuts Down the City of Milan, Italy

A report via la Rebblica states that roughly 10,000 hosts became infected with the Kama Sutra Worm (a.k.a. BlackWorm), suffered the destructiuve effect today, and effectively shut down the municipality.

(Thanks, Gar!)

Volkswagen Teams With Google on Navigation System

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

Volkswagen AG's American unit on Friday said it is working on a prototype vehicle which features Google Inc.'s satellite mapping software to give drivers a bird's eye view of the road ahead.

The two companies are working with the graphics chipmaker Nvidia Corp. to build an in-car navigation map system and a three-dimensional display so passengers can recognize where they are in relation to the surrounding topography.

Volkswagen of America Inc., working through its Electronics Research Laboratory in Palo Alto, California, in Silicon Valley, is working on other advancements, including automatic personalized information updates for the navigation systems.

White House e-Mails Missing in CIA Name Case

Joel Seidman and Norah O'Donnell write on MSNBC:

A letter from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to the I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby defense team reveals that some White House e-mails from 2003 weren't archived as they should have been.

The year 2003 is significant in the CIA leak investigation. It's the year that CIA operative Valerie Plame's name was allegedly leaked to reporters to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for his failure to buttress administration claims of yellowcake uranium found in Niger, uranium the administration said was earmarked for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, based on forged documents obtained by the Bush White House.

Administration officials went so far as to include a 16-word reference to the purported uranium purchase in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech. But shortly before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the documents on uranium in Niger were found to be fakes, a revelation that undercut some of the administration rationale for going to war.

China's 12 Billion New Year's SMS Messages

A UPI newswire article, via, reports that:

Telecom officials in Beijing forecast 12 billion text messages were sent over the weeklong Chinese New Year holiday.

The estimate was made public by China's Ministry of Information Industry on Jan. 29, the first day of "Year of the Dog" or "Spring Festival" celebrations. The ministry estimate runs until Feb. 4, the end of the official seven-day break.

Figures provided by government body are however only a fraction of the real data service surge going on over a 40-day period before, during and after China's biggest holiday, which has been described as combining the West's Christmas and New Year festivities rolled into one big bash. Fix

Via Enjoy!

Congress Extends Patriot Act Another Five Weeks

Caron Carlson writes on eWeek:

Lawmakers remain at loggerheads in attempting to renew 16 controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act, voting late Feb. 2 to give the provisions a second five-week extension to continue negotiations.

Because of their questionable impact on constitutional rights, Congress gave the 16 provisions a four-year expiration date when it hastily passed the Patriot Act in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The most hotly contested provisions expand the government's powers of search and seizure, including the authority to demand records from businesses simply by stating to a secret court that the records are related to an ongoing investigation of some kind.

Spyware Poses a Significant Threat on The Net


Spyware is alive and well on the Internet. That's the overall message of a new study by University of Washington computer scientists who sampled more than 20 million Internet addresses, looking for the programs that covertly enter the computers of unwitting Web surfers to perform tasks ranging from advertising products to gathering personal information, redirecting Web browsers, or even using a victim's modem to call expensive toll numbers.

They examined sites in a set of popular Web categories, such as game sites, news sites and celebrity-oriented sites. Within these, they found that:

  • More than one in 20 executable files contained piggybacked spyware.
  • On average, one in 62 Internet domains performed drive-by download attacks – a method for forcing spyware on users who simply visit a Web site.
  • Game and celebrity Web sites appeared to pose the greatest risk for piggybacked spyware, while sites that offer pirated software topped the list for drive-by attacks.
  • The density of spyware seemed to drop from spring to fall of last year, but remained "substantial."

The research is being presented today as the opening paper for the 13th Annual Network and Distributed System Security Symposium in San Diego, Calif.

Russian Stock Exchange Downed by Virus

Via The Inquirer.

SOPHOS CLAIMED the Russian Stock Exchange fell foul of a virus earlier this week.

The firm said the unnamed virus infected a net based computer and forced trading to be suspended.

Sophos said the malware everyone was worried about today - the so-called Kama Sutra virus was a "damp squib".

But, said senior consultant Graham Cluley, the one that attacked the Russian Stck Exchange infiltrated the RTS and could have given hackers access to systems.

User Friend;y: More on Patenting Emoticons


Click for larger image.

3Com Takes Controlling Interest in Chinese Joint Venture

Paul Musich writes on eWeek:

3Com Corp. on Feb. 2 announced it has bought controlling interest of its joint Chinese venture with Huawei Technologies.

3Com bought the 2 percent it needed to gain 51 percent control over Huawei-3Com Ltd. (H-3C) joint venture for $28 million, giving it governance rights and control over the board of directors.

NASA Ames Extends Google Deadline

Verne Kopytoff writes on

NASA Ames Research Center has extended the deadline for Google Inc. to present plans for building up to 1 million square feet of office space at Moffett Field. The new time line gives the Mountain View company until May 31 -- three extra months -- to offer more details about its proposed expansion at the former military air base.

Michael Marlaire, director of external relations and development for the research center, said talks have expanded significantly since the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding in September and that more time was needed.

Cellphone Wiretapping Spy Scandal Revealed in Greece

An AP newswire article by Nicholas Paphitis, via The Globe and Mail, reports that:

Mobile phones belonging to top Greek military and government officials — including the Prime Minister — and the U.S. embassy were tapped for nearly a year beginning in the weeks before the 2004 Olympic games, the government said Thursday.

It was not known who was responsible for the taps, which numbered about 100 and included Greek Prime Minister Costas Caramanlis and his wife, and the ministers of foreign affairs, defence, public order and justice. Most of Greece's top military and police officers were also targeted, as were foreign ministry officials and a U.S. embassy number. Also tapped were some journalists and human rights activists.

Sirius, Howard Stern Hit By Pirates

Nick Farrell writes on The Inquirer:

SHOCK JOCK Howard Stern, who has made a fortune insulting people, is being walloped in the pocket by pirates who have been distributing his paid for show for free online.

Stern, who left traditional radio after a US clamp down on real life on public radio and television, moved to digital Sirius Satellite Radio.

Since January 9, when Stern debuted on Sirius, the pirates have been distributing the shows via several online file-sharing networks just hours after Stern releases his show.

Demand Proves Strong For .eu Domains

Phil Muncaster writes in IT Week:

New figures released by .eu domain register Eurid show that applications for the new domain have reached nearly 171,000 across Europe, but with the first sunrise period for the domain due to close next Monday, there has been a luke warm response so far from UK companies.

The UK currently lags behind in fourth place with only 10 percent of applications, according to the Eurid figures, well behind the leader Germany which has 35 percent, but this is fairly true to form, according to Kate Ellis of law firm Eversheds. Subject of Sex Assault Probe

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

Police are investigating whether as many as seven teenage girls have been sexually assaulted by men they met through the popular Web site

The girls, ages 12 to 16, are from Middletown and say they were fondled or had consensual sex with men who turned out to be older than they claimed. None of the incidents appeared to be violent, said Middletown Police Sgt. Bill McKenna.

He said it was difficult to determine the exact number of victims because some girls have been reluctant to disclose that they met their assailants online.

File-Destroying Worm Causes Little Damage

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

A file-destroying computer worm set to activate Friday caused relatively little damage during the business day in Asia and Europe, security experts said.

Hundreds of thousands of computers were believed to be infected, but many companies and individuals had time to clean up their machines this week after security vendors and media outlets warned of the "Kama Sutra" worm.

"It's been pretty quiet," said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer for Finnish security company F-Secure Corp. "We know the word is out there."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Internet jihad: Tackling terror on the Web

A Christian Science Monitor article by James Brandon, via USA Today, reports that:

Charged with running websites hosted in the U.S. that promoted and supported Islamic militancy, Babar Ahmad is still in British custody. He has appealed the extradition order and Britain's High Court will hear the case on Feb. 20.

The proceedings will test the ability of Western governments to put on trial Islamic radicals who use the Internet as a key recruiting and organizational tool.

Connecticut Rules Against Internet Sex Predator

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

Connecticut's highest court has ruled that sexual assault against minors is a crime even when it involves made-up victims, after a detective posed as a 13-year-old girl on the Internet in a police sting operation.

The ruling by the state Supreme Court followed an appeal in March 2005 by defendant John Sorabella, who was found guilty on two counts of attempted second-degree sexual assault against someone he believed to be a 13-year-old girl.

The ruling, released on Wednesday, brings the state up to national standards in protecting minors from online sexual predators, said Scott Berkowitz, president of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, America's largest anti-sexual assault organization.

FCC Wireless Auction to Begin on June 29

A UPI newsbrief, via, reports that:

The Federal Communications Commission will auction advanced wireless service (AWS) licenses for the United States in late June.

The agency this week announced that the auction for space on the AWS and AWS-1 bands would take place June 29, with comments and replies on the proposal due by the end of the month.

"The 1.7 Gigahertz (GHz) to 2.1 GHz auction will enable current wireless operators to augment their existing spectrum assets and expand wireless services," Chris Hardy, vice president and general manager for Comsearch, said recently. "This auction also presents an opportunity for a host of new entrants who may be looking for spectrum to deliver new and emerging wireless technology offerings."

Eavesdropping 101: What Can The NSA Do?

Image source: ACLU
Click for larger image

Via The ACLU.

The recent revelations about illegal eavesdropping on American citizens by the U.S. National Security Agency have raised many questions about just what the agency is doing. Although the facts are just beginning to emerge, information that has come to light about the NSA's activities and capabilities over the years, as well as the recent reporting by the New York Times and others, allows us to discern the outlines of what they are likely doing and how they are doing it.

The NSA is not only the world's largest spy agency (far larger than the CIA, for example), but it possesses the most advanced technology for intercepting communications. We know it has long had the ability to focus powerful surveillance capabilities on particular individuals or communications. But the current scandal has indicated two new and significant elements of the agency's eavesdropping:

  1. The NSA has gained direct access to the telecommunications infrastructure through some of America's largest companies
  2. The agency appears to be not only targeting individuals, but also using broad "data mining" systems that allow them to intercept and evaluate the communications of millions of people within the United States.

Much, much more here.

AMD Hack Points to Widespread Web Forum Flaws, Attacks

Paul F. Roberts writes on eWeek:

Malicious hackers are increasingly targeting security vulnerabilities in open-source software that runs bulletin boards and online forums, according to Internet monitoring firm Netcraft.

The unpatched holes, in open-source software like phpBB, PostNuke, and Mambo are being used to take control of powerful servers for denial of service attacks and phishing scams.

Researcher: WMF Exploit Sold Underground for $4,000

Ryan Naraine writes on eWeek:

Virus hunters combing through the wreckage of the zero-day WMF (Windows Metafile) attacks have found evidence that exploit code was being peddled by Russian hacker groups for $4,000 a pop.

The first sign of an exploit was traced back to the middle of December 2005, a full two weeks before anti-virus vendors started noticing mysterious WMF files rigged with malicious executable code, says Alexander Gostev, a senior virus analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

"One very important aspect of this case is that the vulnerability was first identified by members of the computer underground," Gostev said.

AOL and Goodmail: Two Steps Back for Email

Matt Blumberg writes over on CircleID:

Remember the old email hoax about Hillary Clinton pushing for email taxation? When we first heard AOL’s plans for Goodmail today, we thought maybe the hoax had re-surfaced and a few industry reporters got hooked by it. But alas, this tax plan seems to be true.

AOL has long held the leading standard in email whitelisting. Every email sender who cares about delivery has tried to keep their email reputation high so that they could earn placement on AOL’s coveted Enhanced Whitelist. Now, AOL may be saying that those standards don’t matter as much as a postage stamp when it comes to email delivery.

More here.

USPTO to Reconsider JPEG Patent

Ed Oswald writes on BetaNews:

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office agreed earlier this week to a request by the Public Patent Foundation to review a controversial patent that Forgent Networks has been attempting to enforce through lawsuits with dozens of companies, including Adobe, Microsoft, Apple, Sun, RIM and Google.

Forgent acquired the rights to the JPEG compression patent through a 1997 purchase of Compression Labs, however it did not start asserting its ownership and demanding licensing for the patent until a year ago.

Cell Phone Records Privacy Hubbub Good for Business

Bob Sullivan writes on MSNBC:

All this discussion about private cell phone records being sold to anyone with a checkbook is finally making a difference. At least one company that sells the records says the publicity has been great for business.

"As a result of the recent newscasts on cellular research, we have been completely inundated with orders," a message on read Thursday. "We are getting caught up as quickly as possible, but those placing new orders should expect delays.

The site got prominent mention in Congress on Wednesday, as the House Energy and Commerce Committee debated ways to deal with the problem of cell phone record sales. Witness Rob Douglas, CEO of, showed the site and several others still doing business, and in fact taking advantage of the current publicity.

More here.

The Nation: The End of the Internet?

Jeff Chester writes on

The nation's largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online.

Verizon, Comcast, Bell South and other communications giants are developing strategies that would track and store information on our every move in cyberspace in a vast data-collection and marketing system, the scope of which could rival the National Security Agency. According to white papers now being circulated in the cable, telephone and telecommunications industries, those with the deepest pockets--corporations, special-interest groups and major advertisers--would get preferred treatment. Content from these providers would have first priority on our computer and television screens, while information seen as undesirable, such as peer-to-peer communications, could be relegated to a slow lane or simply shut out.

Under the plans they are considering, all of us--from content providers to individual users--would pay more to surf online, stream videos or even send e-mail. Industry planners are mulling new subscription plans that would further limit the online experience, establishing "platinum," "gold" and "silver" levels of Internet access that would set limits on the number of downloads, media streams or even e-mail messages that could be sent or received.

More here.

Bush Calls for Lifting Cap on Special H-1B Visas

A Reuters newswire article, via The Washington Post, reports that:

President George W. Bush Thursday called on Congress to raise the cap on the so-called H-1B visas that allow companies to fill high tech jobs with foreign workers.

"The problem is, is that Congress has limited the number of H-1B visas," Bush said in a speech.

High-tech businesses have pushed Congress to increase the number of such visas, currently capped at 65,000 per year.

The $200 Billion Broadband Scandal

John Paczkowski writes on Good Morning, Silicon Valley:

The United States is the 19th ranked nation in household broadband connectivity rate, just ahead of Slovenia. Want to know why? Because, contends telecom analyst Bruce Kushnick, the Bell Companies never delivered symmetrical fiber-optic connectivity to millions of Americans though they were paid more than $200 billion to do it.

According to Kushnick's book, "$200 Billion Broadband Scandal", during the buildup to the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act, the major U.S. telcos promised to deliver fiber to 86 million households by 2006 (we're talking about fiber to the home, here). They asked for, and were given, some $200 billion in tax cuts and other incentives to pay for it. But the Bells didn't spend that money on fiber upgrades -- they spent it on long distance, wireless and inferior DSL services.

More here.

Security Update Now Available For Firefox 1.5

Joris Evers writes on C|Net News:

Mozilla on Wednesday released an update for Firefox 1.5 that fixes several security flaws and makes other changes aimed at improving the open-source Web browser.

The update, Firefox version, patches a total of eight security vulnerabilities. One is deemed "critical" by Mozilla, four are rated "moderate" risk, and three are tagged "low" risk. The more serious flaws could let an attacker take over a system running a vulnerable version of Firefox, according to Mozilla's security alerts.

CIA Boss: Outing Domestic Spying Hurt Intelligence


CIA Director Porter Goss said Thursday that the disclosure of President Bush’s eavesdropping-without-warrants program and other once-secret projects had undermined U.S. intelligence-gathering abilities.

“The damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission,” Goss told the Senate Intelligence Committee. He said a federal grand jury should be empaneled to determine “who is leaking this information.”

His testimony came after National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, who directs all intelligence activities, strongly defended the program, calling it crucial for protecting the nation against its most menacing threat.

UK: Mobile Phone Tracking, Girlfriend Stalking, and The Law


A service has launched in the UK which allows you to track any mobile phone around the globe and follow its movements from your own computer. The Guardian ran a feature on it yesterday called 'How I stalked my girlfriend'. It painted a scary picture.

The service is run by World-Tracker, a company based on the Isle of Man. When a mobile number is entered onto the World-Tracker website, a text message is sent to that phone, to ask if the person carrying the phone wishes to be tracked.

If consent is given by reply, World-Tracker will show the location of the mobile phone on a map or as a map reading, using a Google Maps-based interface. The accuracy is between 50 and 500 metres. When the phone moves, the movement can be monitored online whenever the phone is turned on.

Cable Companies Eyeballing Muni Wi-Fi?

Via Red Herring.

Municipal Wi-Fi maker Tropos said it’s in talks with cable companies about using the company’s wide area outdoor Wi-Fi networks, marking a potential turnabout as cable companies have been opposed to these networks as they compete with their already deployed cable broadband networks.

Cable companies will likely be the next service providers to adopt this technology, and eventually even the telcos will be forced to use ubiquitous Wi-Fi said Tropos’ CEO Ron Sege in an interview with on Wednesday.

While Mr. Sege declined to name specific cable companies, he said the cable industry is interested in this technology because it could give them a way to compete on the mobile front. Cell phones with Wi-Fi radios can make VoIP calls over Wi-Fi networks.

Senate Panel Rebuffed on Documents on U.S. Spying

Eric Lichtblau writes in The New York Tims:

The Bush administration is rebuffing requests from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for its classified legal opinions on President Bush's domestic spying program, setting up a confrontation in advance of a hearing scheduled for next week, administration and Congressional officials said Wednesday.

The Justice Department is balking at the request so far, administration officials said, arguing that the legal opinions would add little to the public debate because the administration has already laid out its legal defense at length in several public settings.

But the legality of the program is known to have produced serious concerns within the Justice Department in 2004, at a time when one of the legal opinions was drafted. Democrats say they want to review the internal opinions to assess how legal thinking on the program evolved and whether lawyers in the department saw any concrete limits to the president's powers in fighting terrorism.

Much more here.

RIAA Changing Law Firms?

Ray Beckerman writes on The Recording Industry vs. The People blog:

We have received several reports that the RIAA is changing law firms, from Kansas City, Missouri-based Shook Hardy & Bacon to Denver, Colorado-based Holme Roberts & Owen.

Ray Beckerman, the author of this blog, who is one of the attorneys representing people who have been sued by the RIAA for having internet access accounts which were allegedly used to set up peer to peer file sharing accounts, had this comment:

It remains to be seen what significance there is to this change, other than the RIAA's dissatisfaction with its previous attorneys.

If the RIAA thinks that by changing attorneys it can somehow alter the self destructive nature of this litigation onslaught, it is mistaken.

If, on the other hand, the change in attorneys signals a change in philosophy and tone, and that present lawsuits will be discontinued, and that lawsuits will only be brought where (a) there is clear evidence of an actual copyright infringement by a defendant, and (b) there has been an unsuccessful good faith attempt to obtain a cease and desist agreement, then this will be a positive development.

But if the pit bull tactics of the RIAA's predecessor counsel are continued unabated by the new counsel, this will accomplish nothing except further damage the recording industry, and wreak havoc in people's lives.

Groundhog Day 2006

Click for larger image.

UK Proposal to Police the Web Hits Hurdles

Steve Ranger writes on C|Net News:

Another government tech policy has been defeated by the British House of Lords, with members rejecting plans to give police more power over terrorism-related content on Web sites.

The government's original plans would have allowed police to act after deciding information on the Internet is related to terrorism. But this was changed by the House of Lords so that police would have to ask judges before telling Internet service providers to remove Web pages, according to the BBC.

The government was defeated by 148-147 vote. The bill received a third reading and will now return to the House of Commons.

Pirates: It Takes One to Know One?

An AP newswire article, via Wired News, reports that:

Music executives love to blame illegal downloading for their industry's woes. But, based on the results of a new nationwide poll, they might want to look in the mirror.

Eighty percent of the respondents consider it stealing to download music for free without the copyright holder's permission, and 92 percent say they've never done it, according to the poll conducted for The Associated Press and Rolling Stone magazine.

Meanwhile, three-quarters of music fans say compact discs are too expensive, and 58 percent say music in general is getting worse.

AOL Lands High Speed Net Deal With Charter

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

AOL, the online division of Time Warner Inc., on Thursday said it has landed a deal with cable operator Charter Communications Inc. to offer low-cost, high-speed Internet service.

It is the fourth new deal since last week, when it struck similar agreements with phone companies BellSouth Corp., AT&T Inc. and Qwest Communications International Inc.

Democrats Turn Up The Heat on Domestic Surveillance

Mark Hosenball writes in Newsweek:

It’s a day they’ve been waiting for: on Thursday, Bush administration critics in Congress will get the chance to grill intelligence officials in public about the National Security Agency’s warrantless monitoring of communications between suspected Al Qaeda operatives overseas and people they contact inside the United States.

National Intelligence Director John Negroponte and his principal deputy, Gen. Michael Hayden, are scheduled to appear with several other top intelligence officials at what was supposed to be a routine Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to discuss the intelligence community’s assessment of current threats to the United States, including terrorist attacks and nuclear proliferation.

However, congressional sources say Democrats on the Senate committee plan to use the hearing to grill officials about alleged NSA domestic surveillance. They are particularly interested in questioning Hayden, who before joining Negroponte’s office, served as NSA director. The controversial NSA monitoring program was launched under his command.

More here.

Analog TV Shutdown All But Set For 2009

Marc Perton writes on Engadget:

Mark your calendar for February 17, 2009. That's the date set by Congress, as part of a sweeping budget-cutting bill, that broadcasters will be mandated to shut down their analog broadcasts (both the Senate and broadcasters had previously agreed to the date, so the bill now only awaits the President's signature to become law).

However, if you can't bear to part with that old Philco or Admiral, you won't have to toss it. The government will be setting aside $1.5 billion in subsidies to help consumers get converters to allow older analog sets to receive digital broadcasts.

On Network Neutrality: Is Verizon a Network Hog?

Catherine Yang writes on Businessweek Online:

Last November, Vinton G. Cerf wrote a letter of warning to Congress. The legendary computer scientist, now a vice-president at Google, argued that major telecom companies could take actions to jeopardize the future of the Internet. The phone companies' networks that carry Net traffic around the U.S. are much like the highway system. Cerf wrote that they may begin setting up the equivalent of tollbooths and express lanes, potentially discriminating against the traffic of other companies. Such moves, Cerf warned, "would do great damage to the Internet as we know it."

Now, Cerf and his Net compatriots have new ammunition to back up their fears. Documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission show that Verizon Communications is setting aside a wide lane on its fiber-optic network for delivering its own television service. According to Marvin Sirbu, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University who examined the documents, more than 80% of Verizon's current capacity is earmarked for carrying its service, while all other traffic jostles in the remainder.

More here.

UK: Police Bust £500k Fake DVD Operation

Lester Haines writes on The Register:

Kent police and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) seized 100,000 fake DVDs and arrested three men during an operation yesterday, the BBC reports.

Two Chinese men were arrested in Burnt Oak, north London, and another in Peckham, south of the river. The raids came at the end of "several months of intelligence and evidence gathering" and busted "one of the largest counterfeit DVD operations we have managed to raid", according to FACT.

Forgent Settles Yet Another JPEG Patent Case

Via The Austin Business Journal.

Forgent Networks Inc. has reached another patent license agreement over its JPEG-related patent.

Austin-based Forgent and its Compression Labs subsidiary made the patent license agreement with Eden Prairie, Minn-based Jasc Software Inc.

The patent license agreement covers Forgent's data compression technology data known as the '672 patent, and will dismiss Jasc from Forgent's ongoing '672 patent litigation.

Other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Porn Spammer Faces Five Years Behind Bars

William Eazel writes on SC Magazine Online:

A U.S. individual faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of aiding and abetting the sending of spam containing graphic pornographic images.

Kirk Rogers, 42, of Manhattan Beach, Cal., was charged following complaints that hundreds of thousands of spam messages had been sent promoting adult pornographic websites. He pleaded guilty at a federal court in Phoenix, to one count under the CAN-SPAM Act, and agreed to forfeit money obtained in the commission of the crimes. Rogers faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the offense and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 5.

According to the plea agreement entered at the court, Rogers developed and then managed the computer system used to transmit the spam emails on behalf of Jeffrey A. Kilbride, of Venice, California, and James R. Schaffer, of Paradise Valley, Ariz. According to an earlier indictment, Kilbride and Schaffer conspired to send the spam emails.

Uk: Wanadoo's VoIP Service Falls Over

Tim Richardson writes on The Register:

Wanadoo, which claims to be the UK's largest VoIP outfit with more than 80,000 users, has apologised to punters after its broadband telephony service went on the blink.

Its Wireless & Talk VoIP product went titsup on Tuesday morning resulting in calls from landlines or mobiles being unable to connect to Wanadoo's internet telephony service.

The ISP reports that although the glitch would have hit all punters, the service was back on its feet again yesterday afternoon.

Call for Release of Journalist Li Yuanlong

Via Reporters sans Frontières.

Reporters Without Borders urged the release of journalist Li Yuanlong, who was arrested on 29 September 2005 by members of the security bureau in Guizhou province in south-west China, after posting articles online exposing local people’s wretched living standards.

“We are outraged by this arrest”, said Reporters Without Borders. “This latest censorship proves the Chinese authorities’ unease over escalating social problems.”

The 45-year-old journalist on Bijie Ribao was on his way to work in the town of Bijie when he was picked up by the security bureau. His home, which was already under surveillance before his arrest, was immediately searched.

More here.

User Friendly: Patenting Emoticons?


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PHP Apps A Growing Target for Hackers

Via Netcraft.

Security holes in PHP-based content management and forum apps are an increasingly active front in Internet security, as hackers target unpatched weaknesses. The latest example is Monday's hack of chip maker AMD's customer support forums, in which an older version of Invision Power Board was compromised and used to distribute malware using the Windows Metafile (WMF) exploit.

While Windows flaws like the WMF vulnerability are useful to hackers assembling armies of compromised desktop computers, security holes in PHP applications provide access to more powerful servers hooked directly to high-speed network connections.

Internet criminals have targeted unpatched vulnerabilities in open source CMS apps including phpBB, PostNuke, Mambo, Drupal and others, hoping to build botnets for use in phishing scams and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Compromised web forums hosted more than 600 phishing spoof sites identified by the Netcraft Toolbar Community in 2005 (as noted in our Year in Phishing roundup).

More here.

Newspaper Association Seeks Google's Help in Assisted Suicide

John Paczkowski writes on Good Morning, Silicon Valley:

How ironic is it that I stumbled across a story about a group of newspaper publishers' plans to "challenge the exploitation of content by search engines without fair compensation to copyright owners" on Google News? Pretty damn ironic, especially since Google made no money on that transaction (no ads on Google News, ya know).

But try explaining that to the World Association Of Newspapers (WAN), which apparently longs for the days of the town crier. The WAN is coordinating a campaign to demand compensation from Google and other search engines that aggregate their content. "The search engines are increasingly aiming their strategic efforts at traditional content originators and aggregators like newspaper publishers," WAN President Gavin O'Reilly said in prepared remarks.

More here.

Big Brother in Full Effect at Super Bowl XL

Image source: Engadget

Evan Blass writes over on on Engadget:

For anyone who doubts that we live in a 1984esque society, the high-tech surveillance that is planned for Super Bowl XL this Sunday should prove once and for all that not only has Big Brother arrived, he's moved in, unpacked, and cracked open a beer.

According to super-secret spy gear manufacturer Intrepid Defense & Security Systems, the 5,468 law enforcement agencies monitoring everyone's movements, facial features, and heartbeats will have a new tool at their disposal for the first time at the 'Bowl- live-action 3-D holograms projected inside a box so top secret that this is the only pic we could find.

More here. Fix

Via Enjoy!

Mapping Veins as a Human 'Bar Code'

John Borland writes on C|Net News:

In Memphis, Tenn., a small medical supply company called Luminetx has developed a new method of palm-reading that it hopes will rival fingerprinting or retinal scans as a way to perfectly identify individuals.

The technology is based on an infrared scan of the blood cells running through veins, which is then analyzed by a computer.

Luminetx originally developed the technique as a way to help doctors and nurses find veins in patients needing injections. But now, through a new division called Snowflake Technologies, the company is marketing it to banks, credit card companies and even homeland-security officials as a high-tech biometric identification tool.

Cisco Funds RFID Startup

Via Red Herring.

ThingMagic, a privately held RFID products specialist, said Wednesday it has received additional funding from Cisco Systems and Nicholas Negroponte, the chairman of MIT’s Media Laboratories.

The company did not disclose how much Cisco and Mr. Negroponte invested individually but said the total investment, which also included a line of credit from Silicon Valley Bank, was $6 million.

Microsoft Claims EU Is Holding Back Data

An AP newswire article by Aoife White, via The Washington Post, reports that:

Microsoft Corp. claims that EU regulators are unfairly holding back documents needed to defend itself against antitrust charges, according to a letter its lawyer sent to the European Commission this week.

The dispute creates yet another battleground in an already complicated case.

More here.

Bush Keeps Privacy Posts Vacant

Ryan Singel writes on Wired News:

President Bush has kept top civil liberty and privacy posts unfilled, even as the controversy over White House-ordered eavesdropping on Americans enters its second month.

The powerful Office of the Director of National Intelligence, created by the Intelligence Reform Act, must have a civil liberties protection officer who is charged with ensuring that the "use of technologies sustain, and do not erode, privacy protections," according to the law. But the White House has yet to nominate anyone for the job.

The current DNI is former U.S. ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte. His deputy is ex-National Security Agency chief Gen. Michael Hayden, who, for the last month, has been vigorously defending the NSA eavesdropping program that circumvented federal wiretapping laws.

More here.

Alcatel to Upgrade Mobile Network in Cambodia

An AFP article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

French telecom technology provider Alcatel said it had won a contract to upgrade the network of leading Cambodian mobile phone group CamGSM.

The contract to provide a 3G/UMTS network will enable CamGSM, the biggest group in the south-east Asian country, to provide higher bandwidth and wireless services such as live streaming of mobile television channels, Alcatel said.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

First Reports of BlackWorm Damage Surface

Over on the F-Secure "News from the Lab" Blog, Mikko writes:

The destructive deadline of the Nyxem.E worm is based on the clock of the infected machine. So if you're infected and your clock is not set right, things could start to happen at any time - even though the official activation time is the 3rd of the month. We've already received first reports from users who've had files on their system overwritten by the worm.

When Nyxem activates, it will overwrite all of your DOC/XLS/PPT/ZIP/RAR/PDF/MDB files. This is nasty, as this is done on all mounted drives, ie. any drive that has a drive letter. So it might affect your USB thumb drives, external hard drives and network drives! Also, if you're taking daily automatic backups you might end up backing up the corrupted files over good files.

The number of machines that have been infected by this worm is over 300,000. Many of those have been disinfected already, though. But thousands of computers will get their files overwritten on February 3rd - most of them in India, Turkey and Peru.

The NFL Sacks Comcast

Kurt Badenhausen writes on

While football fans gear up for Sunday's Super Bowl, National Football League executives have been busy with an off-the-field game of their own. The competition ended last Friday night, when the NFL concluded months of negotiations over the broadcast rights to eight of next season's games by deciding to keep them for itself and the league-owned NFL Network.

The decision gives the league a package that begins with a 2006 Thanksgiving Day broadcast and includes seven additional games, which will air on Thursdays or Saturdays for the rest of the regular season. The move means the NFL is passing on an easy short-term gain, as cable giant Comcast was believed to be prepared to pay $400 million for the broadcast rights. Instead, league owners are making a long-term bet that they can turn the NFL Network into a must-have cable channel that will ultimately be worth a fortune.

Historical Landmark: Western Union Abandons Telegrams

Daniel Terdiman writes on the C|Net 'Missing Links' Blog:

The Internet strikes again.

First it mostly did away with brick-and-mortar auction houses. Then newspaper classifieds went the way of the Model-T Ford.

And now, thanks to the ubiquity of e-mail and instant messaging, Western Union is getting out of the telegram business, reports LiveScience.

That's like General Motors getting out of the car business. Or AT&T getting out of the phone business.

Well, in any case, after 145 years, Western Union finally decided its little telegram experiment was a dud.

House Votes to Extend Patriot Act 6 Weeks

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

The House on Wednesday agreed to extend the USA Patriot Act for a month while conservative Republicans and the White House work out changes intended to protect people from government intrusion.

The GOP-controlled House used a voice vote to keep the law in effect until March 10 so negotiators have more time to come up with a deal. The Senate was expected to follow before the law expires on Friday.

Warner Brothers Loses Complaint

Patrick L. Jones writes on CircleID:

Warner Brothers Entertainment, which owns the rights to The Dukes of Hazzard and related characters, including DAISY DUKE, failed in its UDRP case against the registrant of the domain name

The Panelist determined that although WB had common law rights in the DAISY DUKE mark and the registrant lacked rights and legitimate interests in the domain name, WB failed to demonstrate that the registrant had registered and used the domain name in bad faith.

Research: Buggy, Flawed 'ActiveX' Controls Pervasive

Brian Krebs writes on Security Fix:

Microsoft takes its share of lumps from security experts for building software that constantly requires security updates, but dozens of major corporations may also be guilty of piling their own security problems into Windows machines.

New data collected by at least one notable security researcher suggests that as much as 50 percent of all computers powered by Microsoft Windows might contain one or more non-Microsoft components that could allow malicious Web sites to seize control of them.

More here.

Apple Sued Over Hearing Loss in iPod Buyers

An AP newswire article by Dan Goodin, via, reports that:

An owner of Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod music player filed a federal lawsuit against the computer maker, claiming the device causes hearing loss in people who use it.

The portable music players are "inherently defective in design and are not sufficiently adorned with adequate warnings regarding the likelihood of hearing loss," according to the complaint, which seeks class action status. The suit, filed on behalf of John Kiel Patterson of Louisiana on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., seeks compensation for unspecified plaintiffs' damages and upgrades that will make iPods safer.

Apple has sold more than 42 million of the devices since they went on sale in 2001, including 14 million in the fourth quarter last year. The devices can produce sounds of more than 115 decibels, a volume that can damage the hearing of a person exposed to the sound for more than 28 seconds per day, the complaint states.

FBI Agents Back Down When Librarian Refuses to Let Them Seize 30 Computers Without a Warrant

Andrea L. Foster writes in The Chronicle of Higher Eduaction:

An e-mail threat that prompted the evacuation of more than a dozen Brandeis University buildings on January 18 led to an unusual standoff in a public library in Newton, Mass., a few miles from the Brandeis campus.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents tried to seize 30 of the library's computers without a warrant, saying someone had used the library's Internet connection to send the threat to Brandeis. But the library director, Kathy Glick-Weil, told the agents they could not take the machines unless they got a warrant first. Newton's mayor, David Cohen, backed Ms. Glick-Weil up.

User Friendly: More Spam Betterment theory


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UK: Tycoon Charged With Computer Hacking

John Leyden writes on The Register:

Matthew Mellon, the heir to a $11.7bn (£6.6bn) oil and banking fortune, has been charged with a computer hacking offence over his alleged involvement in a snooping, bugging and blackmail ring. Mellon, 41, the estranged husband of Tamara Mellon, the woman behind the Jimmy Choo shoe business, will appear alongside 17 other defendants in court later this month, The Sunday Times reports.

Members of the group were arrested after a year long investigation by the Met Police into a detective agency run by a former policeman. Scotland Yard's probe began after a tip off from BT. The probe unearthed evidence that suspects also broke into NHS computers and stole medical files in order to facilitate blackmail. Investigators said members of the group donned false BT and NTL uniforms in order to gain access to premises where they left bugs.

Microsoft Gets Flooded with IE7 Bug Reports

Tom Sanders writes on

Bug reports and security warnings have started poring in mere hours after Microsoft made a public beta 2 of its forthcoming internet explorer browser available.

Security researcher Tom Ferris exposed a vulnerability in the browser that causes the the application to crash or execute arbitrary code when a user visits a specially crafted website.

Other users reported issues with McAfee anti-virus software. Users are unable to launch the McAfee Security Center. A Microsoft employee on the IEBlog responded that it is caused by stricter URL-scheme handling in the browser and that they are working to repair it.

Boston Globe: Subscriber Credit Data Distributed by Mistake

Robert Gavon writes in The Bloston Globe:

Credit and bank card numbers of as many as 240,000 subscribers of The Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette were inadvertently distributed with bundles of T&G newspapers on Sunday, officials of the newspapers said yesterday.

The confidential information was on the back of paper used in wrapping newspaper bundles for distribution to carriers and retailers. As many as 9,000 bundles of the T&G, wrapped in paper containing subscribers' names and their confidential information, were distributed Sunday to 2,000 retailers and 390 carriers in the Worcester area, said Alfred S. Larkin Jr., spokesman for the Globe.

In addition, routing information for personal checks of 1,100 T&G subscribers also may have been inadvertently released.

I Spy: Black Ops Satellites

Patrick Radden Keefe writes on Wired News:

The observers, who congregate on a Web site called Heavens-Above and a mailing list called SeeSat-L, have amassed an impressive collection of information and expertise. For two decades, they have played a high tech game of hide-and-seek with the US's National Reconnaissance Office, a secretive satellite agency.

By coordinating their efforts, amateur observers in Europe, North America, and South Africa monitor satellites at different phases of their journeys and extrapolate the precise dimensions of their orbits. Astonishingly, despite the hobbyists' modest resources - most observe part-time from their balconies and backyards with equipment available at RadioShack - they are good enough to spot almost anything the NRO, with its estimated $7 billion budget, blasts into space.

Much more here.

EFF Sues AT&T Over U.S. Wiretapping Program

Elizabeth Montalbano writes on InfoWorld:

A civil liberties organization filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T Corp. Tuesday for collaborating with a U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) program to intercept Internet and telephone communications of U.S. citizens without authorization from a court of law.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), based in San Francisco, filed the suit against AT&T for giving the NSA direct access to its databases of communications records, including whom their customers had phoned or sent e-mail to in the past. The suit was filed Tuesday in the United States District Court of the Northern District of California.

EFF is suing the former AT&T Corp. before it merged with SBC Communications Inc. to become AT&T Inc., said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney with the EFF. However, the suit also is intended to protect customers of the new AT&T as it continues to merge the operations of the previously separate companies.

Gates Speaks Out Against Net Censorship

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates hold his notes and smiles while listening
to the Portuguese Prime Minister.

Image source: Yahoo! News / AP

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

Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates said Wednesday that attempts by governments to censor Web site contents were doomed, because banned information can seep out despite official injunctions.

"The ability to really withhold information no longer exists," Gates told a government forum on the Internet.

Gates said his company must comply with legal requirements in the countries where it operates.

Late last year, Microsoft shut down the site of a popular Chinese blogger at Beijing's request. The blog by Zhao Jing, writing under the pen name An Ti, appraised sensitive topics such as China's relations with Taiwan and media freedoms in China.

But the spread of free, private e-mail enabled users to disseminate information anyway, Gates said.

Dilbert: Your Useless College Major

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Verizon Wireless Wins Injunction in Spam Case

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

Verizon Wireless, the No. 2 U.S. mobile phone service, said on Wednesday it had won a permanent injunction to prevent a Florida company from sending unsolicited text messages to its customers phones.

Verizon Wireless said it filed a lawsuit against Passport Holidays of Ormond Beach, Florida in October after 98,000 spam text messages were sent to its customers phones on behalf of Passport, which will pay $10,000 in damages.

Nortel, Huawei Form Joint Venture

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

Nortel Networks Corp. announced Wednesday it is joining hands with a major Chinese competitor, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., in a partnership to develop equipment for broadband connections to homes.

The new company, to be based in Ottawa and majority-owned by Canada's Nortel, will combine Huawei's broadband access products with Nortel's voice and broadband networking technologies.

19 Charged in Alleged Software Piracy Plot

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

A federal grand jury has indicted 19 people on charges they used the Internet to pirate more than $6.5 million worth of copyrighted computer software, games and movies.

The indictment outlines an alleged plot by defendants from nine states, Australia and Barbados to illegally distribute newly released titles, including movies like "The Incredibles" and "The Aviator," and games like "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005."

A grand jury in Chicago returned the indictment late Tuesday following undercover investigations in Chicago, Charlotte, N.C., and San Jose, Calif.

User Friendly: Elimate People, Eliminate Spam


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U.S. Lawmakers Slam Firms Aiding China Censorship

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

U.S. firms are putting profits before principles by helping China censor the Internet, lawmakers said on Wednesday at the start of a congressional debate that could lead to rules on American technology companies operating in repressive states.

The Congressional Human Rights Caucus heard experts tell how technology titans Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. had made the work of 30,000 Chinese Communist cyber-police easier.

Yahoo! to Feature Links to Super Bowl Ads

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

Super Bowl party so much fun you've missed some of those vaunted TV commercials? No worries: Just go online.

Yahoo Inc. will feature on its video home page, at, links to this year's Super Bowl ads, hosted at MTV Networks' There will be a delay from when the ads air but the first of the ads should start appearing before the game ends, said Ethan Fassett, Yahoo's product manager for video search.

U.S. Has Misgivings About BlackBerry Shutdown Plan

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

The U.S. Justice Department urged a federal judge on Wednesday to refrain from any plans to shut the BlackBerry portable e-mail service over patent infringement until the government gets more assurances its users will be exempted.

We believe that there are still a number of serious questions to be answered as to how an injunction can be implemented so as to continue BlackBerry service for governmental and other excepted groups," the Justice Department said in a legal brief filed in federal court.

The department's comments were the second piece of good news on Wednesday for BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. whose shares climbed. Fix

Via Enjoy!

FCC Proposes Fines on AT&T, Alltel Over Privacy

Via Reuters.

U.S. communications regulators on Monday proposed fining AT&T Inc. and Alltel Corp. $100,000 each for failing to properly certify that they have safeguarded their customers' personal call information.

Amid concerns that data brokers may be selling subscriber call records, the Federal Communications Commission said it demanded several carriers submit their most recent certifications proving they had complied with federal regulations requiring them to protect customer data.

Microsoft to Set Rules for Government Blog Complaints

Via Reuters.

Microsoft has pledged to create rules on how it will deal with government complaints about Web sites and blogs hosted by the U.S. software giant.

Following concerns on how Microsoft pulled the blog of a critic of the Chinese government, Microsoft said that in the future it will only block access to diaries on its MSN Internet portal when it is presented with a court order or another legally binding decision.

But the blog will only be banned in that particular country.

AT&T Chief Warns on Internet Costs

Paul Taylor writes on

Ed Whitacre, AT&T’s chairman and chief executive, warned on Monday that internet content providers that wanted to use broadband networks to deliver high-quality services such as movie downloads to their customers would have to pay for the service or face the prospect that new investment in high speed networks “will dry up.”

“We have to figure out who pays for this bigger and bigger IP network,” said Mr Whitacre, who was in New York ahead of AT&T’s annual presentation to investors and analysts on Tuesday. “We have to show a return on our investments.”

“I think the content providers should be paying for the use of the network – obviously not the piece from the customer to the network, which has already been paid for by the customer in Internet access fees – but for accessing the so-called Internet cloud.”

Much more on this controversial issue here.

PayPal to Collect Fees on Deposits

Jim Finkle writes for Reuters:

eBay Inc., the online auction house, will start collecting a fee to manage money deposited in its PayPal Money Market Fund, the company said.

PayPal, an electronic payment service with some 87 million customers in more than 40 countries, sweeps funds that customers keep in their accounts into the money market fund.

FCC to Consider Changes on Call Data Privacy

Jeremy Polofsky writes for Reuters:

U.S. communications regulators plan to review whether tougher protections are needed to safeguard telephone customer information, a privacy watchdog group and sources familiar with the plan said on Tuesday.

The Federal Communications Commission at its February 10 open meeting will likely approve a request by the Electronic Privacy Information Center that asked the agency to consider adopting stricter rules, the sources and an EPIC official said.

The move would come amid pressure to clamp down on companies that offer to obtain and sell telephone subscriber information. State attorneys general, lawmakers, the FCC and Federal Trade Commission are all investigating the practice.

Program Note

I've been really sick the past couple of days, so apologies for the absence. I feel a bit better this evening and may blog a bit -- will definately be back in the mornning.


Monday, January 30, 2006

Mazda Pulls Web-Search 'Switcheroo' With Pontiac

Sharon Silke Carty writes in USA Today:

General Motors' marketing idea looks so hip and so cool: Instead of directing people to their local dealerships for more information at the end of TV commercials, they tell consumers to "Google Pontiac."

Which is great, except Mazda bought the words "Pontiac" and "Pontiac Solstice" as search-engine terms in its advertising efforts around the launch of the redesigned Mazda MX-5 two-seater sports car. So in addition to providing Pontiac ads, a Google search for Pontiac also provides ads that compare MX-5, also known as Miata, with the all-new Solstice.

Mazda says it was hoping to attract the attention of younger buyers who may have been considering Pontiac's brand-new two-seater, a direct rival to MX-5. Both Solstice and the redesigned MX-5 went on sale in August.

Combine 3 Free Tools for a Complete Windows Registry Fix

Via eMail Battles.

Think the Windows operating system is expensive? Wait till you heap on the additional costs for the third party software required to secure it, including virus scanners, spyware checkers and firewall managers.

If you still have something left in your budget, you may want to shell out for registry cleaners... or not, if you can get them for free.

More here.

Deal Places Limits on '.com' Price Hikes

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

VeriSign Inc. must meet certain conditions in order to fully raise fees for ".com" domain names under a new tentative settlement reached with the Internet's main oversight agency.

The new deal also would prevent VeriSign from ultimately passing on to domain name holders separate surcharges that help fund the agency, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN.

The new deal follows months of public input and, ICANN general counsel John Jeffrey said Monday, requires final approval by the boards of both ICANN and VeriSign after another public-comment period.

Dude, You're Getting a Google.

Ben Charny writes on eWeek:

Computer maker Dell said Jan. 30 it has quietly begun testing a new partnership with Internet search provider Google.

For now, some Dell laptops and desktop computers are sold with two Google Inc. search features pre-installed, a Dell spokesman said.

Dell is also putting the paces to a Google-powered Web site that appears to be a hybrid of Dell's online store and Google's personalized Web site.