Saturday, May 20, 2006

21 May 1980: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back Opens in Theaters


Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back" official theatrical release poster. Copyright Lucasfilm Ltd. 1980.
Image source: Wikipedia.

Via Wikipedia.

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is a 1980 science fantasy film created by George Lucas and directed by his colleague Irvin Kershner. It was the second film to be released in Lucas' six-film Star Wars saga, but it is the fifth film by chronology of events. Among fans it is sometimes referred to as TESB or simply Empire.

The film is about three valiant heroes of the Rebel Alliance — Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia — as they are pursued by the evil, implacable Darth Vader and the forces of the Galactic Empire. In Han's unreliable starship, the Millennium Falcon, he and Leia are chased across the galaxy by the Empire. Meanwhile, Luke learns about The Force from Yoda, a wise Jedi Master. This leads to a desperate confrontation with Darth Vader, where Luke must face his destiny.

More here.

Argentina: Reporter's e-Mail Exchanged With Judge Stolen

Via Reporters sans Frontières.

Reporters Without Borders today condemned a case of electronic theft and spying on reporter Daniel Santoro of the Clarín daily newspaper, which reported on 11 May that his entire exchange of e-mail messages with judge Daniel Rafecas about a drug trafficking case the judge is handling was stolen and copied to the lawyer of one of the defendants.

The so-called “Viñas Blancas” case concerns an alleged attempt by two Serbian citizens to smuggle 171 kg of cocaine to Europe. Copies of all the e-mails between Santoro and the judge somehow landed on the desk of Juan Manuel Ubeira, the lawyer acting for one of the two Serbs. The oldest dates back to 1 March, four days before Clarín ran its first report by Santoro on the case, which focused on the lavish marriage of one the defendants in a hotel.

More here.

Defence Tech: Experimental Dragon Skin Flexible Body Armor Fails Army Testing

Image source: Defense Tech

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

The Army’s struggle to find a new, more flexible body armor was dealt a setback Friday when high-tech vests called Dragon Skin failed to pass military testing, a senior defense official said.

After three days of testing this week, the Army determined the body armor does not meet military specifications, said the official, who would not specify which tests the armor failed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the results have not yet been released.

The Army paid about $170,000 to buy 30 sets of the armor for the testing.

More here.

Go Daddy Going Public, Files for IPO

Brett Fausett scoops.

Hackers Foul 'Ugliest Dog' Competition

A Monterey County Hearld article, via, reports that:

Poor Pee Wee Martini.

The 2-year-old Chinese Crested/Japanese Chin mix was leading in the online World's Ugliest Dog Contest, a canine version of the People's Choice Awards for the funny-looking critters.

Then computer hackers broke into the Sonoma-Marin Fair Web site and erased 40,000 votes for Pee Wee and stole 30,000 from an Italian greyhound named Victoria while they were at it.

That put Lucille Bald -- a purebred Chinese Crested from Florida -- in the lead until fair officials noticed the vote theft.

More here.

Congress Agrees to Raise Broadcast-Indecency Fines

Frank Ahrens writes in The Washington Post:

More than two years after proclaiming outrage over Janet Jackson's briefly exposed breast during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, both houses of Congress have passed legislation that would significantly increase indecency fines for television and radio broadcasters.

On Thursday night, the Senate unanimously approved a bill that would increase from $32,500 to $325,000 the maximum fine that the Federal Communications Commission could impose for violating its standards for decency. The House previously passed a version that would raise the maximum fine to $500,000.

More here.

U.S. Renews ICANN Oversight Contract

Arshad Mohammed writes in The Washington Post:

The Bush administration plans to renew its exclusive contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the U.S.-based nonprofit group that oversees key technical matters governing how computers communicate over the Internet.

The intention to give ICANN a sole-source contract, disclosed on a federal government contracting Web site Thursday, reflects the Commerce Department's belief that the group, based in Marina del Rey, Calif., is the only entity capable of the unglamorous but necessary responsibility of managing the Internet's basic plumbing.

More here.

Gapingvoid: Master of My Own Destiny, etc.

Via Enjoy!

MSN Phisher Sentenced to 21 Months

Thomas Claburn writes on InformationWeek:

Microsoft’s first civil phishing case concluded today with a win. MSN phisher Jayson Harris, 23, of Davenport, Iowa, received a 21 month sentence.

In late December last year, Harris pled guilty to fraud and wire fraud in connection with a phishing scheme designed to dupe MSN customers. On those two counts, he faced maximum sentences of 10 years and 20 years respectively.

As part of his plea agreement, Harris admitted to sending E-mail to MSN customers in an effort to trick them into visiting a fake MSN Web site set up to capture credit card numbers and other personal information.

More here.

Civil War-Era Fort Up for Sale on eBay

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

A Civil War-era fort is for sale on eBay. Fort Montgomery, built in 1844, was manned during the war but never saw any action.

"This is the first time it's been formally for sale," said Victor Podd of Boca Raton, Fla., whose family has owned the fort for 23 years.

The limestone fort sits on a Lake Champlain island in northern New York and is connected to the mainland by a 700-foot causeway. The full package offered on the auction Web site includes 6,900 feet of lake frontage and 279 acres on the adjacent mainland.

As of Saturday, the top bid for the property was $1 million.

More here.

Ericsson Bids for U.S.-Mexico Border Surveillance Contract

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

Ericsson, the world's biggest supplier of mobile telecommunication systems, is to bid for a contract to set up a 2.1 billion euro (2.7 billion dollar) surveillance system on the US-Mexico border.

The Swedish daily Dagens Industri said Ericsson would head up a consortium of mainly US companies to bid for the system, which has caused controversy in the United States.

Other members of the consortium include Computer Science Corporation, L3 and Flour, a report said Saturday.

It will be in competition with such major US players as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing.

More here.

Friday, May 19, 2006

20 May 1570: Cartographer Abraham Ortelius Issues the First Modern Atlas


The Theatrum Orbis Terrarum inspired a six volume work entitled Civitates orbis terrarum edited by Georg Braun and illustrated by Frans Hogenberg with the assistance of Ortelius himself.
Image source: Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia.

Abraham Ortelius (Abraham Ortel) (April 2, 1527 - June 28, 1598) was a cartographer and geographer, generally recognised as the creator of the first modern atlas. He was born in Antwerp in what is now Belgium. A member of the influential Ortelius family of Augsburg, he traveled extensively in Europe. He is specifically known to have traveled throughout the Seventeen Provinces; south and west Germany (e.g., 1560, 1575–1576); France (1559-1560); England and Ireland (1576), and Italy (1578, and perhaps twice or thrice between 1550 and 1558).

Beginning as a map-engraver, in 1547 he entered the Antwerp guild of St Luke as afsetter van Karten. His early career is that of a businessman, and most of his journeys before 1560 are for commercial purposes (such as his yearly visits to the Frankfurt book and print fair). In 1560, however, when travelling with Mercator to Trier, Lorraine and Poitiers, he seems to have been attracted, largely by Mercator’s influence, towards the career of a scientific geographer; in particular he now devoted himself, at his friend’s suggestion, to the compilation of that atlas, or Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World), by which he became famous.

More here.

Runner-up: Considering the hype surrounding the release of the blockbuster movie, The Da Vinci Code: 20 May 325 C.E., The First Council of Nicaea – the first Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church – is held. The Council of Nicaea was historically significant because it was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom.

Toon: The Da Vinci Code

Click for larger image.

Australia: Work Ban on Mobile Towers Due to Cancer Fears

Lisa MacNamara writes on Australian IT:

Electrical workers have been barred from working near mobile phone towers, fearing links between emissions and a cancer cluster at a Melbourne office building.

The ban imposed by the Electrical Trades Union in Victoria, comes as RMIT University staff await the outcome of tests on radiofrequency emissions from two Telstra phone towers on the roof of the business faculty in Bourke Street. Seven employees, who all worked on the top two floors of the building, have developed brain tumours since 1999.

While many experts have insisted that no evidence exists of a link between mobile phones, mobile phone towers and cancer, the union likened the issue to asbestos, where the dangers of the material became apparent years later.

More here.

FCC to Delay AWS Auction Until August

Jeffrey Silva writes on RCR Wireless News:

The Federal Communications Commission abruptly delayed the advanced wireless services auction until Aug. 9, saying applicants needed more time to prepare for the government’s sale of 1,122 wireless licenses.

The FCC was to have begun the AWS auction June 29, but intense controversy over revisions to small-business, or designated-entity, rules forced the agency to change course. But the FCC’s action, which establishes a new AWS short-form application filing window from June 5 through June 19, is unlikely to prevent the agency from being hauled into court and the AWS auction from further disruption and uncertainty.

More here.

911 Dispatcher Misuses Database, Kills Ex-Girlfriend

This is a horrible, horrible abuse of privilege.

Declan McCullagh writes on C|Net News:

In October 2003, Michael Michalski worked for Allegheny County, Pa., as an emergency dispatcher. He began running searches on the internal computer network and databases to locate his former girlfriend, Gretchen Ferderbar, and her current boyfriend, Mark Phillips.

A supervisor, Daniel Nussbaum, became aware of Michalski's misuse of government databases and placed him on a deferred suspension that was to begin a week later, on Oct. 27.

Because he still had access to the databases before his suspension began, Michalski continued to gain unauthorized access to personal information about Phillips. Specifically, he looked up Phillips' motor vehicle and license plate registrations in an effort to track and locate Phillips.

Then, while on suspension, Michalski phoned his co-workers at the call center, who allegedly helped him continue the database lookups even though they were aware it was for an illicit purpose.

More here.

Net Nutrality Field in Congress Gets Crowded

Anne Broache writes on C|Net News:

U.S. senators have unveiled their latest effort at legislating Net neutrality principles, marking the second such proposal this week and the sixth this year.

Called the "Internet Freedom Preservation Act," the bill was introduced on Friday by Maine Republican Olympia Snowe and North Dakota Democrat Sen. Byron Dorgan and enjoys support from six other Democrats. The nine-page measure [.pdf] contains a detailed list of obligations for all broadband service providers.

Specifically, they would generally not be allowed to "block, interfere with, discriminate against, impair or degrade" access to content or to prevent users from attaching devices of their choosing to the network. Network operators would also be barred from making special deals with content providers to ensure speedier delivery or improved quality of service and would be required to offer all Internet material on an "equivalent" basis.

The bill won immediate praise from the chorus of Net neutrality advocates, which includes consumer groups and a large number of Internet companies.

More here.

Austin Groups Files Class-Action Lawsuit Against AT&T

An AP newswire article, via News8Austin, reports that:

A group of plaintiffs have sued AT&T in federal court Friday over the release of customer phone records to the National Security Agency.

Last week, USA Today reported that AT&T and other phone companies complied with a security agency request for millions of customer phone records after the Sept. 11 attacks.

A spokesman said the San Antonio-based company does not allow wiretapping without a court order and has not given customer information to government agencies without legal authorization.

The class-action lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court. It seeks $1,000 for each disclosure of a call record and $100 per day per violation.

Plaintiffs include Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project and attorney Richard Grigg, who says he uses his AT&T mobile phone to communicate with other lawyers about his client at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

More here.

Telco TV Is Coming. So What?

Via Red Herring.

“Big Ed,” AT&T’s lanky CEO, has been busy. Not only has Mr. Whitacre been under a hailstorm over his comments that content providers like Google should pay extra fees for bandwidth, but now the government’s phone-spying news has come up, with AT&T a prime target for public scrutiny.

Given the circumstances, it might not be the best time for the carrier to launch its much-touted TV services. Then again, the $44-billion telecom operator, the largest in the United States, is no stranger to controversy in its 80-year-old lifetime.

On Friday, AT&T said that starting June, it would extend its IP-based video services to 15 to 20 markets by the end of this year. The push comes after the San Antonio-based company—the new AT&T is the old SBC—launched a video trial in December 2005 on its home turf.

And AT&T isn’t the only telco to take the video plunge. Verizon is already pushing its video services in 50 communities in seven states, according to spokesperson Bob Elek. Verizon announced Friday it was making its video service available to 60,000 Tampa, Florida, residents. But how many of those will actually subscribe is another question, and that’s a major distinction.

More here.

Austin Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting Girl He Met on

Tony Plohetski writes in The Austin American-Statesman:

Austin police have arrested a 19-year-old man who has been accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl he met through her online web page on

Pete I. Solis has been charged with sexual assault of a child, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

More here.

Ted Turner Bids Time Warner 'Adieu'

Ted Turner

An AP newswire article by Harry R. Weber, via, reports that:

Ted Turner was uncharacteristically understated Friday as he departed Time Warner Inc., the media conglomerate that swallowed his cable network company and slowly sidelined him as a mover and shaker in the businesses that he helped to create.

The CNN founder told Time Warner shareholders at their annual meeting he regrets not being able to do more for them.

More here.

Two U.S. Men Get Jail Time for Music Piracy

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

Two people who admitted being part of a ring that distributed illegal copies of music on the Internet before its commercial release were sentenced to prison terms of between six and 15 months.

The US Justice Department said three people had pleaded guilty to involvement in piracy groups responsible for millions of dollars of illegal distribution of copyrighted movies, software, games and music on the Internet.

George Hayes, 31, who admitted criminal copyright infringement in a pre-release group called "Chromance," or "CHR," was sentenced to 15 months in prison by US District Judge Leonie Brinkema in Alexandria, Virginia, according to officials.

Separately, Judge Claude Hilton sentenced Aaron Jones, 30, to six months in prison and six months' home confinement. The judge also sentenced Derek Borchardt, 22, to six months' home confinement.

Jones and Borchardt each pleaded guilty to a single felony count of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement for their involvement in the pre-release music group "Apocalypse Crew," or "APC."

Another alleged APC member, Matthew Howard, 24, will be sentenced next week.

More here.

Toon: Intelligence Community Reorganization

Click for larger image.

With Katrina Behind It, Louisiana Tackles Next Big Problem: Video Games

Nate Anderson cleverly writes over on ARS Technica:

The Louisiana legislature looks set to pass a law banning the sales of certain violent video games to minors. Beating up a middle-aged man with a pipe will still be legal.

The [violent video game] measure was certainly popular with legislators; it passed 102-0.

More here.

Money Power vs. The NSA ? Not So Fast...

A UPI newswire article, via, reports that:

Outraged that some telecom companies are selling out their customers to the government? Then vote with your wallet, or so argues one activist group. But the seemingly good idea may be rather difficult to follow through., a California-based Democratic advocacy group that encourages people to buy from businesses that support workers' rights, environmental standards and corporate transparency, pointed out to its proponents that keeping accounts with AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon would be ill-advised if subscribers are concerned about maintaining their privacy from the government.

While AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon have all denied reports that they have abided by the National Security Agency's request to provide calling data of millions of subscribers, many still believe that all three have gone out of their way to work together with the government, rather than protect their clients' interests.

In fact, of the four major U.S. carriers, only Qwest reportedly flatly refused to comply with the NSA's request and refused to hand over the information. Still, changing telephone carriers is not as easy as switching from Coca-Cola to Pepsi, as phone users simply may not have much choice when it comes to avoiding carriers that have allegedly cooperated with the NSA.

For instance, Qwest only serves those in a 14-state region from Arizona north to Wyoming and east to Minnesota. So those on the east and west coasts cannot subscribe to the carrier even if they wanted to.

More here.

Quote of the Day: Carlo @

"It's sort of funny how when it comes to things like net neutrality and line sharing, Kevin Martin and his cohorts at the FCC keep their hands out and spout a less-regulation-is-better-regulation mantra, but when it comes to things like wiretapping and 'indecent' broadcasting, they've got no problem using the heavy hand of regulation to intervene."

- Carlo, over on, commenting on how the FCC Chairman Kevin Martin says he does not like regulation, but yet seems to have no problem with regulatrion when it suits him politically.

DNA Verifies Columbus’ Remains in Spain

Painting of Christopher Columbus.
The painting Virgen de los Navegantes (in the Sala de los Almirantes, Royal Alcazar, Seville). A painting by Alejo Fernández between 1505 and 1536. It is the only state sponsored portrait of the First Admiral of the Indias called Don Cristoval Colon known today as Christopher Columbus in English.
Image source: Wikipedia. Photo by historian Manuel Rosa. More info at the Unmasking Columbus website.

Remains in Spain Lie Mainly on the... oh, nevermind.

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Scientists said Friday they have confirmed that at least some of Christopher Columbus’ remains were buried inside a Spanish cathedral, a discovery that could help end a century-old debate over the explorer’s final resting place.

DNA samples from 500-year-old bone slivers could contradict the Dominican Republic’s competing claim that the explorer was laid to rest in the New World, said Marcial Castro, a Spanish historian and teacher who devised the study that began in 2002.

More here.

Toon: Hayden Hearings

Click for larger image.

e-Mail Attacks Target Unpatched Word Hole

Paul Roberts writes on InfoWorld:

Antivirus companies and the SANS Internet Storm Center (ISC) issued a warning Friday about sophisticated e-mail attacks that are using a previously unknown hole in Microsoft Word to infiltrate corporate networks.

On Friday, Symantec raised its Internet threat rating, citing confirmation of attacks using an unknown hole in Microsoft Word were being used to compromise computers on the Internet. The warning came as monitors at ISC detailed "limited targeted attacks," originating from China and Taiwan, against an unnamed company that used Word attachments to install Trojan horse programs on corporate networks.

More here.

Update: From the F-Secure "News from the Lab" blog:

Internet Storm Center reported about a new zero-day Word vulnerbility being used. We have received a sample, and it indeed is a document attempts to exploit a vulnerability in Word, in order to drop and execute a binary file that downloads a backdoor.

Both the shellcode used in the exploit as well as the binary part in the document are encoded, in order to hide them.

More details about the backdoor is available at the W32/Ginwui.A.

California Court Certifies Class Action vs. VeriSign

Sean Michael Kerner writes on

A California Superior Court judge has given the green light to a class action suite against VeriSign regarding the registrar's SSL security certificates.

More than 400,000 plaintiff are seeking $500 each in restitution, bringing the company's potential liability to $200 million.

The class action suit revolves around an allegation that VeriSign mislead buyers of its Secure Site Pro SSL certificates.

More here.

For, Downtime is Better Than Advertizing

Tony Smith writes on Reg Hardware:

What's the best way of boosting your share of the music download market? For Russian song supplier, three days' downtime appears to be the best bet, it seems. According to online traffic data, the website's share of the internet audience more than doubled as news of its possible demise broke.

Data derived from Alexa Toolbar users' web viewing habits for the last three months shows reached, on average, 600 out of every million internet users. Jump forward to the period 13-16 May, and the reach figure leaps to 800 and then almost 1300.

More here.

Congress: Terrorists Could Spot Undercover Air Marshals

Brian Ross and Rhonda Schwartz report on ABC News' "The Blotter":

A draft investigative report by the House Judiciary Committee, obtained by ABC News, finds that terrorists could easily spot undercover federal air marshals because of airport boarding policies Homeland Security has "been oblivious to" or refused to change.

Current and former air marshals tell ABC News their own bosses are responsible for blowing their cover.

A three-month undercover investigation found five separate places at airports where air marshals are required to identify themselves in front of waiting passengers.

More here.

Defense Tech: Winning (And Losing) The First Wired War

Image source: Defense Tech

Via Defense Tech.

This war in Iraq was launched on a theory: That, with the right communication and reconnaissance gear, American armed forces would be quicksilver-fast and supremely lethal. A country could be conquered with only a fraction of the soldiers needed in the past.

During the initial invasion in March 2003, this idea of "network-centric warfare" worked more or less as promised -- even though most of the frontline troops weren't wired up. It was enough that the commanders were connected.

But now, more than three years into the Iraq conflict, the network is still largely incomplete. Local command centers have a torrent of information pouring in. But, for soldiers and marines on the ground, this war isn't any more wired that the last one.

"There is a connectivity gap," a draft Army War College report notes. "Information is not reaching the lowest levels."

More here.

'xxx' TLD Registry Sues U.S. Government

Kieren McCarthy writes on The Register:

The company behind the unsuccessful bid for a new .xxx domain for internet pornography, ICM Registry, has embarked on a legal fight-back.

ICM will file a suit against the United States Department of Commerce in the Washington district of Columbia later today, in order to gain access to information withheld by the department in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made back in October 2005.

That information will provide the "extra evidence that provides the irrefutable proof" that the United States government intervened in the issue to prevent .xxx going ahead, ICM Registry head Stuart Lawley told us. If true, it would also contradict public statements made by the Department of Commerce (DoC) that it "plays no role" in the day-to-day running of the internet.

More here.

10 Rules That All Bosses Should Live By

Thanks to Mike Yamamoto over on the C|Net News Blogma Blog for pointing this out.

Pamela Slim lists 10 principles to live by for all employers out there on her Escape from Cubicle Nation blog:

I am writing to you as a newly minted rebel. My main purpose in life is to take your best, your brightest, most creative, hard-working and passionate employees and sneak them out the hallways of your large corporation so that they are free of the yoke of lethargy, oppression and resentment:

  1. Don't spend millions of dollars to try and change your culture.
  2. Stop running your company like the mafia.
  3. Spend a moment walking around the halls of your company and look at your employees.
  4. Teach people how to get rich like you.
  5. Don't ask for your employees' input if you are not going to listen to it.
  6. Don't train people until you know what problem you are solving.
  7. Ditch the PowerPoint when you have town hall meetings.
  8. Focus on the work people do, not how or when they do it.
  9. Watch the burnout.
  10. Forbid people to work while they are on vacation.

Explainations and details on each principle can be found here.


How Bush Destroyed the CIA

Sidney Blumenthal writes on AlterNet:

The moment that the destruction of the Central Intelligence Agency began can be pinpointed to a time, a place and even a memo. On Aug. 6, 2001, CIA director George Tenet presented to President Bush his presidential daily briefing, a startling document titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." Bush did nothing, asked for no further briefings on the issue, and returned to cutting brush at his Crawford, Texas, compound.

In Bush's denial of responsibility after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the search for scapegoats inevitably focused on the lapse in intelligence and therefore on the CIA, though it was the FBI whose egregious incompetence permitted the plotters to escape apprehension. Bush's intent to invade Iraq set up the battle royal that followed.

More here.

User Friendly: Going Over Vendor Falls


Click for larger image.

Businessweek: Meet The Hackers

Via Businessweek Online.

Dimitry Ivanovich Golubov doesn't look like an arch criminal. A baby-faced 22-year-old Ukrainian, he is described by his lawyer as an unassuming part-time student at Mechnikov University in Odessa.

But when the Ukrainian police arrested him last July for his involvement in credit-card fraud, U.S. law enforcement officials hailed it as a big break in their fight against cybercrime. Subsequently, in January, 2006, the U.S. Attorney's office for the Central District of California charged Golubov with a number of cybercrimes, including credit-card fraud. An affidavit by a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation states that Golubov held the title of "Godfather" for "an international ring of computer hackers and Internet fraudsters that has...trafficked in millions of stolen credit card numbers and financial information."

U.S. Postal Inspection Service senior investigator Gregory S. Crabb, who worked with Ukrainian authorities on their case, says Golubov and others controlled the numbers, names, and security codes attached to credit cards. Low-level criminals would use that to load up fake cards and withdraw cash from automated teller machines or buy merchandise. "Golubov was known as the go-to guy," says Crabb.

But last December, Golubov's story took a bizarre twist. Two Ukrainian politicians, including Vladimir Demekhin, deputy chairman of the Energy Committee of the Ukrainian Parliament, vouched for Golubov's character in court.

More here.

Skype URL Handling File Disclosure Vulnerability

"Moderatly Critical"

Via Secunia.

A vulnerability has been reported in Skype, which can be exploited by malicious people to bypass certain security restrictions and potentially disclose certain sensitive information.

The vulnerability is cause due to an error within the parsing of the parameters passed by the URI handler. This can be exploited to initiate the transfer of a file from one Skype user to another via a specially crafted Skype URL without requiring the sender to explicitly consent the action.

Successful exploitation requires that the user follows a malicious Skype URL and that the recipient has previously authorised the sender.

The vulnerability has been reported in the following versions of Skype for Windows.

  • Release 2.0.*.104 and prior
  • Release 2.5.*.0 through 2.5.*.78

Update to the fixed versions.

Skype for Windows 2.0:
Update to release 2.0.*.105 or later.

Skype for Windows 2.5:
Update to release 2.5.*.79 or later.

Provided and/or discovered by:
The vendor credits Brett Moore of Ltd.

Original Advisory:

More here.

EU Promotes Continent-Wide Censorship

Mark Ballard writes on The Register:

EU media commissioner Viviane Reding yesterday defended proposals for continent-wide censorship laws to control the Internet, telephone communications and radio broadcasts, while bringing television regulators under the same set of rules.

She told a press conference her aim was to protect children and prevent the incitement of hatred, reported Reuters news agency. The plan would see rules governing television broadcasts replicated to regulate other media.

She said there had been agreement at a meeting of European Union culture ministers that content that "goes too far" and "destroys our society" should be blocked. They wanted to see content that conformed with "basic societal values".

The rules would promote an internal market for media firms who currently faced a smorgasbord of rules in different countries. It had "nothing to do with free speech" she said.

No, it has everything to do with spoon-feeding your contituents pablum.

More here.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Vonage Faces User Complaints As IPO Looms

Shawn Young and Li Yuan write in The Wall Street Journal:

Vonage, one of the leading providers of Internet phone service, continues to be bedeviled by service problems as it plans to move forward with its $494 million initial public offering, which could come as soon as next week. Message boards and consumer forums are filled with complaints of poor sound quality, dropped calls and other glitches.

Customers who try to leave are complaining of bureaucratic hassles and snafus, particularly when they seek to switch services and take their numbers with them. Ironically, Vonage has long complained that local phone giants drag their feet in releasing the phone numbers of customers who want to leave.

More here.

19 May 1925: Happy Birthday, Malcolm X


Malcolm X

Via Wikipedia.

Malcolm X, (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965), born Malcolm Little, also known as Detroit Red, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, and Omowale was a National Spokesman for the Nation of Islam and an African American Muslim Leader. He was also founder of the Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity.

During his life, Malcolm went from being a promising young student to a street-wise Boston hoodlum to one of the most prominent black nationalist leaders in the United States to a martyr of Islam. As a militant leader, Malcolm X advocated black pride, economic self-reliance, and identity politics. He ultimately rose to become a world renowned African American/Pan-Africanist and human rights activist.

Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City on February 21, 1965 on the first day of National Brotherhood Week.

More here.

Symantec Files Lawsuit Against Microsoft

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

Security software maker Symantec Corp. accused Microsoft Corp. in a federal lawsuit Thursday of misappropriating its intellectual property and breach of contract.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction to stop Microsoft from selling the next version of its Windows operating system, due out to consumers next year, until the technology is removed. It was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

The dispute is over a technology that allows operating systems to handle large amounts of data.

More here.

ISP Customer Record Retention Plan On Hold

Declan McCullagh writes on C|Net News:

A prominent Republican in the U.S. Congress has backed away from plans to rewrite Internet privacy rules by requiring that logs of Americans' online activities be stored.

Wisconsin Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said through a representative this week that he will not be introducing that legislation after all.

The statement came after CNET reported on Tuesday that Sensenbrenner wanted to require Internet service providers to track what their users were doing so police might more easily "conduct criminal investigations," including inquiries into cases involving child exploitation and pornography. The concept is generally called data retention.

More here.

U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Named in FBI Contract Probe

Brian Ross and Len Tepper report on ABC News' "The Blotter":

The Air Force's highest-ranking officer, General T. Michael Moseley, and his predecessor, Gen. John Jumper, are the subjects of an FBI investigation into the handling of a $49.9 million dollar contract for the Air Force Thunderbirds, the air demonstration squadron.

Law enforcement officials tell ABC News the FBI is investigating allegations the two Air Force generals helped to steer the Thunderbird contract to a friend, retired Air Force Gen. Hal Hornburg.

Six months after leaving the military, Gen. Hornburg, whose command included the Thunderbirds, became a partner in the company that won the contract.

More here.

U.S. State Deptartment to Limit Chinese Computer Use

Talk about your conspiracy theories...

A Reuters newswire article, via eWeek, reports that:

The U.S. State Department, reacting to security concerns after its purchase of computers from a Chinese company, will not use the equipment for classified information, an aide to Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf said Thursday.

In March, the State Department said it had purchased a batch of computers from China's Lenovo Group Ltd.

At the time, Michael Wessel, a member of the congressionally created U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said the purchase should be investigated, especially if codes embedded into the computers could be remotely activated.

More here.

AOL to Launch Custom Domain Service

Ed OSwald writes on BetaNews:

AOL has plans to offer a custom domain service, BetaNews has learned. The offering, called AOL MYeAddress, will begin as a beta test later Thursday, with an official launch coming this summer.

Users would be able to select a custom domain to use in place of their regular address. From there, the user could link up to six additional screen names to use the new domain. The service would only be open to AOL subscribers, and the screen names could be across multiple accounts, an AOL spokesperson told BetaNews.

More here.

BellSouth Wants Retraction of NSA Story

Nate Mook writes on BetaNews:

BellSouth, which has been facing immense pressure from customers and Congress following a report in USA Today that claimed it provided call records on millions of Americans to the National Security Agency, is now asking for the newspaper to retract its story. In a faxed letter, BellSouth said it sought an immediate correction of "unsubstantiated statements."

BellSouth and Verizon earlier this week denied sharing any information on domestic calls with the NSA, but refused to specify what relationship was in place with the agency. AT&T, meanwhile, stated publicly that it does not share customer information without a court order, but did not specifically deny USA Today's claims. USA Today has not yet responded to BellSouth's letter.

More here.

The Biggest Hacking Incident in Web-Hosting History?

Roberto Preatoni writes on Zone-H News:

Yesterday the Turkish cracker going by the handle "Iskorpitx", succesfully hacked 21,549 websites in one shot and defaced (on a secondary page) all of them with a message showing the Turkish flag (with AtaTurk face on it) and reporting:




iscorpitx, marque du monde, présente ses salutations à tout le monde. "

Iskorpitx controversial defacing activity started back in year 2003 being the first Turkish defacer ever. His defacing frenzy led him soon to reach the "incredible" number of more than 117,000 hacked websites some of them being even government websites of his own country.

In this last incident, it is not clear at which level the intrusion was performed (root or webserver) as the fact that all the 21,549 websites got defaced on a secondary page ( it is not indicative given the particular Iskorpitx's modus operandi that sees all of his hacks performed creating a subpage, regardless the authorization level achieved on the attacked servers.

More here.

Caller ID Spoofing Hearing Today

Kevin Poulsen writes over on 27B Stroke 6:

This morning the House Energy and Commerce Telecom Subcommittee held a hearing on the "Truth in Caller ID Act of 2006."

The bill would make it illegal for anyone but law enforcement agencies "to cause any caller identification service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information." The FCC would be in charge of enforcement, and it could levy fines against violators.

More here.

VeriSign Launches Free OpenID Server Software

Nate Anderson writes over on ARS Technica:

Unfortunately, although we can put a man on the moon, we can't seem to develop any sort of single sign-on mechanism that will make online identity a less frightening concept.

VeriSign is the latest company to take a crack at the problem, but they are doing so in a very limited way. VeriSign's new Personal Identity Provider (PIP) attempts to capitalize on the growing support for OpenID by hosting a server of their own, but it's not a replacement solution for sign-ons at e-commerce sites and financial institutions. Instead, the goal is to start with sites that have less at stake—blogs, photo-sharing sites, and wikis.

More here.

Fortinet Scoops Up CoSine Intellectual Property

Terry Sweeney writes on Dark Reading:

Fortinet Inc. has acquired the intellectual property for the virtualized firewall/VPN platform of beleaguered vendor CoSine Communications for an undisclosed sum, according to sources familiar with the deal.

CoSine's technology, widely described as ahead of its time, was supposed to give carriers and service providers a way to offer managed security services and VPNs within the WAN cloud. But analysts said demand for such capabilities only began to emerge in the last few quarters, well after CoSine's 1998 debut, its 2001 IPO, and its abortive attempts to find a suitor in the interim.

More here.

IPv6 Conference, IPv6 Hype, IPv6 Yawn

As always, whenever there is a conference surrounding some specific segment of the technology space, there's always enough accompanying hype to fill a garbage scowl.

The worst offender in this regard is anything involving IPv6 -- running a close second is the VON crowd.

And this, in the wake of evidence that IPv4 is sustainable well into the future, and there is very little interest out there to justify singing so loudly the praises of IPv6.

Also, it doesn't help to have IPv6 evangelists such as Mr. Lightman [below] saying such disingenious things about something that is really nothing more than a larger address space.

Matthew Weigelt writes on

Nearing its limit, IPv4 use will peak in 2010 as IPv6 takes over and the United States must act now, an Internet industry leader predicted today.

“We are going to kill IPv4,” said Alex Lightman, chief executive officer of and chairman of the Federal IPv6 Summit in Reston, Va. The summit is already under way.

Lightman compared IPv4 with a black-and-white television in an era of high-definition, color televisions.

More hype here.

Political Toon: Troops on the Border

Click for larger image.

Battlefield Tech: Laser 'Optical Incapacitators' Issued to U.S. Troops in Iraq

A Reuters newswire article, via CNN, reports that:

The U.S. military has given troops in Iraq a laser device to temporarily blind drivers who ignore warnings at vehicle checkpoints, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

Army Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman, defended its use as legal and said the devices were intended to prevent civilians from being shot.

"There have been numerous incidents that tragically have resulted in civilian deaths" in which drivers approaching U.S. military checkpoints have failed to heed warnings from troops, who in some cases have opened fire, he said.

The U.S. military is fitting some M-4 rifles used by U.S. forces in Iraq with a tube-shaped device that is about 10 1/2 inches (27 cm) long that shines a laser beam. Venable stressed that the devices do not cause permanent blindness.

More here. We Really Listen to Your Problems!


Q: Where did I leave my keys?
A: Inside pocket of your gray jacket (it's hanging in the front closet).

Q: What should I get my wife for her birthday?
A: Blue sundress from Calypso, size 12. Also note that she likes to have her toes licked.

Q: Is now a good time to buy Google?
A: Unfortunately, due to strict federal laws NSA cannot provide stock tips.

Q: Can I substitute margarine for butter in my Toll House cookie recipe?
A: We know that you've been smoking pot.

Q: What should I have for dinner?
A: You've been eating a lot of Chinese and pizza -- how about some Turkish?

Have a question? Ask!


Microsoft Details Vista Requirements

Nate Mook writes on BetaNews:

With Windows Vista Beta 2 set to make its public debut at WinHEC next week, Microsoft on Thursday finally detailed the hardware specifications required to run the new operating system. The Redmond company also launched a "Get Ready" program to help consumers prepare for the upgrade.

Claiming that Windows Vista is the first operating system to scale based on the capabilities of the computer it's running on, Microsoft has broken down hardware requirements into two categories: Vista Capable PCs and Vista Premium Ready PCs.

"Capable" systems will largely cover current systems running Windows XP, and serve as the bare minimum for upgrading to Windows Vista. PCs that fall under this category must have an 800MHz or faster processor and 512MB of RAM. A DirectX 9 capable video card is also required, and a 20GB hard drive.

More here.

U.S. Intel Focused on Obtaining Long-Distance Phone Data

Matt Richtel and Ken Belson write in The New York Times:

Government efforts to obtain data from the nation's largest phone companies for a national security database appear to have focused on long-distance carriers, not local ones, statements by company officials indicate.

The statements have come in the week since USA Today reported that the National Security Agency had collected local and long-distance phone records on tens of millions of Americans from Verizon, BellSouth and AT&T in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The responses by the companies suggest that the agency, in an effort to find patterns that could identify terrorists, sought records from major long-distance providers like the former MCI (now part of Verizon), AT&T and Qwest, but did not ask for data on local calls.

Technical experts said long-distance calling records could yield information not only on the companies' own long-distance customers, but also on traffic that the carriers connect on behalf of others, including some calls placed on cellphones or on Internet voice connections.

More here.

Verizon Wireless Gets Exclusivity on Motorola Q

The Moto Q
Image source: Engadget

Via RCR Wireless News.

Verizon Wireless plans to be the exclusive provider of Motorola Inc.’s Q smart phone.

Although the carrier has not said when it plans to begin selling the phone, Motorola chief executive officer Ed Zander recently said the device likely would become available in the coming weeks, according to reports.

Verizon Wireless did not say who much the Q would cost, but it likely will sell for several hundred dollars.

More here.

'.mobi' TLD Opens Up for Registrars

Via RCR Wireless News.

Mobile Top Level Domain Ltd., the driving force behind the mobile Internet domain extension .mobi, said the .mobi suffix will be available through 16 domain name registrars.

The company said certain mobile industry associations will be able to register their Web site address as a .mobi domain starting May 22, followed by trademark holders on June 12 and individuals on Aug. 28.

The Ireland-based firm is a joint venture founded by Microsoft Corp., Nokia Corp. and Vodafone Group plc. Other investors include L.M. Ericsson, the GSM Association, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and T-Mobile.


Diebold Dumps Deloitte Outsourcing Contract

Michael Cooney writes in NetworkWorld:

Maybe it's not exactly life imitating art, but it's as close as you can come in the outsourcing world. Diebold this week dumped its outsourcing contract with Deloitte Consulting to bring those IT functions back in house.

The ironic part was that in April 2005, Deloitte issued results of a study that found few organizations had realized the benefits they expected and many were bringing outsourced projects back in-house.

In fact, the survey of 25 large organizations with a combined $50 billion in outsourcing contracts found that 70% have had negative experiences with outsourcing projects and are now taking a more cautious approach. One in four companies has brought outsourced functions back in-house and nearly half have failed to see the cost savings they anticipated as a result of outsourcing.

More here.

Poker Rootkit Is Hackers' Ace Up Their Sleeve

Carlo writes over on

A programmer hired by an online poker tools site snuck a trojan into an application he was hired to develop, unleashing a rootkit on users' machines that could then be used to steal their passwords to online casinos and poker sites.

An anti-virus company says the rootkit is particularly malicious because the hacker could take a victim's money without making it look stolen -- by using the passwords to log on to a poker site, then playing very badly against players controlled by the hacker. The victims are then left with little recourse, since it looks like they just lost their money during normal play.

Most are also hesitant to get the authorities involved, given the questionable legality of and souring attitude towards online gambling. While most online poker "hacks" involve using bots or players cooperating against the rest of the table, this is a modern twist on an old scam: targeting people who will be afraid to report being the victims of theft.

More here.

Security Fix: When Spyware Performs as Advertised

Brian Krebs writes on Security Fix:

A few words of caution to any Myspace users out there considering "free" software designed to let you spy on unsuspecting others online: Be sure to read the fine print when a product like this says "free," and don't be surprised if the software is used to spy on you.

Take, for instance, the latest scam being passed around like a digital disease on MySpace: a message advertising software that promises users the ability to track who is viewing their profile pages. This thing, brought to my attention by the folks at Fortinet, arrives as a Myspace bulletin (bulletins allow Myspace users to send messages to all of their "friends" simultaneously) and directs users to visit, which claims the visitor can download the software after clicking on an icon that automatically posts the same bulletin to their friends.

More here.

Microsoft Buys Secure VPN Specialist

Joris Evers writes on C|Net News:

Microsoft on Thursday said it has agreed to acquire Whale Communications, a specialist in secure remote access and Web application firewalls.

The takeover is meant broaden Microsoft's security offerings and give its customers more options in providing secure access to their networks from more locations and devices, Microsoft said in a statement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Whale, based in Fort Lee, N.J., makes technology including Secure Socket Layer Virtual Private Network (VPN) software and appliances, which let businesses give secure remote access to their networks. Rivals in the space include Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, Aventail, and Citrix Systems.

More here.

Hardware Firms Oppose Net Neutrality Laws

Declan McCullagh writes on C|Net News:

The political debate in Washington over the concept known as Net neutrality just became a lot more complicated.

Some of the largest hardware makers in the world, including 3M, Cisco, Corning and Qualcomm, sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday firmly opposing new laws mandating Net neutrality--the concept that broadband providers must never favor some Web sites or Internet services over others.

That view directly conflicts with what many software and Internet companies have been saying for the last few months. Led by, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, those companies have been spending millions of dollars to lobby for stiff new laws prohibiting broadband providers from rolling out two-tier networks.

More here.

UK: Government Sets Target Date for Blocking Child Porn

Marl Ballard writes on The Register:

The government has given internet service providers until 2008 to block all access to websites containing illegal images of child abuse listed by the Internet Watch Foundation.

In a Parliamentary written answer on 15 May, Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said progress had been made, but hinted that if the last paedophile services were not snuffed out of circulation soon the government might take steps itself to block people accessing them.

More here.

UK: Microsoft Keelhauls £3.5m Software Pirate

Robert Jaques writes on

Microsoft reported today that it has nabbed a UK-based software pirate who it estimates has made over £1m from selling bogus copies of Office and Windows.

The software giant said that William Ling has ceased trading after selling unlicensed Microsoft software valued at more than £3.5m over the past five years.

Ling, the proprietor of Oyster Computers, was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in February 2003 and his premises in New Malden were searched after Microsoft received an anonymous telephone call from a member of the public.

More here.

Vendor Interoperability Reported Between Quantum Crypto Systems

John E. Dunn writes on TechWorld:

NEC and Mitsubishi Electric have claimed another important breakthrough in the use of quantum principles to secure computer communications - they’ve managed to interconnect cryptographic systems from different vendors for the first time.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science were able to verify that the two systems were functioning correctly by conducting an eavesdropping experiment.

As is a certainty in any properly working quantum cryptographic system, the eavesdropping was successfully detected. Data was also passed over a distance of 200 kilometres at an unspecified data rate.

More here.

Community Tech: Skype Gets Harder to Block

Nancy Gohring writes on InfoWorld:

The larger Skype's user base grows, the less likely it is that telecommunications operators or regulators will successfully block the VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service, said the head of Skype's European operations, during an interview at the VON Europe conference in Stockholm.

An experience in Brazil makes a good example, said James Bilefield, general manager of Skype in Europe. About a year ago, one of the largest telecom operators in Brazil blocked Skype. The reaction from Skype users was so strong that after a week, the operator relented. "The community has the power to change things," he said.

More here.

NSA Killed System That Sifted Phone Data Legally

Siobhan Gorman writes in The Baltimore Sun:

The National Security Agency developed a pilot program in the late 1990s that would have enabled it to gather and analyze massive amounts of communications data without running afoul of privacy laws. But after the Sept. 11 attacks, it shelved the project -- not because it failed to work -- but because of bureaucratic infighting and a sudden White House expansion of the agency's surveillance powers, according to several intelligence officials.

The agency opted instead to adopt only one component of the program, which produced a far less capable and rigorous program. It remains the backbone of the NSA's warrantless surveillance efforts, tracking domestic and overseas communications from a vast databank of information, and monitoring selected calls.

Four intelligence officials knowledgeable about the program agreed to discuss it with The Sun only if granted anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The program the NSA rejected, called ThinThread, was developed to handle greater volumes of information, partly in expectation of threats surrounding the millennium celebrations.

More here.

British Legislation to Compel Encryption Key Disclosure

Tom Espiner writes on C|Net News:

The British government is preparing to give its police the authority to force organizations and individuals to disclose encryption keys, a move that has outraged some security and civil-rights experts.

The powers are contained within Part 3 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. The RIP Act, also known as RIPA, was introduced in 2000, but the government has held back from bringing Part 3 into effect. Now, more than five years after the original act was passed, the Home Office is seeking to exercise the powers within Part 3.

More here.

Telco Hand-Off of Call Data to Israeli Company?

This is an interesting twist. And the first I've heard of this possible link.

The plot thickens?

Eric Umansky writes over on his blog, where he oft-times thinks aloud about matters of national security:

Administration officials have acknowledged that the government, as the NYT puts it, has "access to records of most telephone calls in the United States." So what's up with Verizon and BellSouth denying USA Today's report that they've turned over the records?

The NYT' s suggestion: The spooks are tracking only long-distance calls, and Verizon and BellSouth hand those calls off to other providers, such as, say, AT&T, which is the one company named that has stayed mum.

Meanwhile my friend Mr. Cook just emailed me flagging another potential explanation, which he noticed on Fox News. (Why Cook is watching Fox News is a different mystery.) Anyway, here's the transcript snippet he emailed me:

[Correspondent Brian] WILSON: Then there is this, Brit. FOX News has learned that BellSouth subcontracts with an Israeli company known as Amdocs to handle its billing, as do several other U.S. phone companies. In 2001, U.S. intelligence officials were on record as saying that the information that Amdocs handled was so valuable that a great deal could be learned if sophisticated data-mining techniques were used against that information -- Brit?

HUME: OK, Brian. Thank you.

More here.

Who is this Amdocs?

Or is this some ploy by Fox News to divert attention away from the telcos?

The 9/11 Story That Got Away

Rory O'Connor and William Scott Malone write on AlterNet:

On Oct. 12, 2000, the guided missile destroyer USS Cole pulled into harbor for refueling in Aden, Yemen. Less than two hours later, suicide bombers Ibrahim al-Thawr and Abdullah al-Misawa approached the ship's port side in a small inflatable craft laden with explosives and blew a 40-by-40-foot gash in it, killing 17 sailors and injuring 39 others. The attack on the Cole, organized and carried out by Osama bin Laden's Al Qaida terrorist group, was a seminal but still murky and largely misunderstood event in America's ongoing "Long War."

Two weeks prior, military analysts associated with an experimental intelligence program known as ABLE DANGER had warned top officials of the existence of an active Al Qaida cell in Aden, Yemen. And two days before the attack, they had conveyed "actionable intelligence" of possible terrorist activity in and around the port of Aden to Gen. Pete Schoomaker, then commander in chief of the U.S. Special Operation Command (SOCOM).

The same information was also conveyed to a top intelligence officer at the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), headed by the newly appointed Gen. Tommy Franks. As CENTCOM commander, Franks oversaw all U.S. armed forces operations in a 25-country region that included Yemen, as well as the Fifth Fleet, to which the Cole was tasked. It remains unclear what action, if any, top officials at SOCOM and CENTCOM took in response to the ABLE DANGER warnings about planned Al Qaida activities in Aden harbor.

None of the officials involved has ever spoken about the pre-attack warnings, and a post-attack forensic analysis of the episode remains highly classified and off-limits within the bowels of the Pentagon.

More here.

Bruce Schneier: The Eternal Value of Privacy

Bruce Schneier writes on Wired News:

The most common retort against privacy advocates -- by those in favor of ID checks, cameras, databases, data mining and other wholesale surveillance measures -- is this line: "If you aren't doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?"

Some clever answers: "If I'm not doing anything wrong, then you have no cause to watch me." "Because the government gets to define what's wrong, and they keep changing the definition." "Because you might do something wrong with my information." My problem with quips like these -- as right as they are -- is that they accept the premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong. It's not. Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.

Two proverbs say it best: Quis custodiet custodes ipsos? ("Who watches the watchers?") and "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

More here.

Did Verizon Block U.S. E-Mail?

John Gartner writes on Wired News:

Class-action attorneys suing Verizon over mass e-mail-blocking incidents are seeking to postpone a settlement agreement in order to investigate what they say are new facts in the case.

Verizon, which blocked e-mails emanating from parts of Europe and Asia en masse between October 2004 and May 2005 (as first reported by Wired News), has agreed to pay damages and change its e-mail-filtering policies. But plaintiffs' attorney Michael Boni of Kohn, Swift & Graf said new information that Verizon may have also blocked domestic e-mails could delay finalizing the settlement agreement.

More here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

18 May 1998: U.S. DoJ Files Antitrust Case Against Microsoft


Brian Valentine, Senior Vice President, Windows Core Operating System Division and Kevin Johnson, Group Vice President, Worldwide Sales, Marketing and Services announce Windows Vista at the Microsoft Global Business Conference (MGB) in Atlanta, Ga., on Thursday, July 21, 2005.
Image source: Microsoft Corp.

Via Wikipedia.

United States v. Microsoft 87 F. Supp. 2d 30 (D.D.C. 2000) was a court case filed against Microsoft Corporation on May 18, 1998 by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and twenty U.S. states. Joel I. Klein was the lead prosecutor.

The plaintiffs alleged that Microsoft abused monopoly power in its handling of operating system sales and web browser sales. The issue central to the case was whether Microsoft was allowed to bundle its flagship Internet Explorer (IE) web browser software with its Microsoft Windows operating system. Bundling them together is alleged to have been responsible for Microsoft's victory in the browser wars as every Windows user had a copy of Internet Explorer.

It was further alleged that this unfairly restricted the market for competing web browsers (such as Netscape Navigator) that were slow to download over a modem or had to be purchased at a store. Underlying these disputes were questions over whether Microsoft altered or manipulated its application programming interfaces (APIs) to favor Internet Explorer over third party web browsers, Microsoft's conduct in forming restrictive licensing agreements with OEM computer manufacturers, and Microsoft's intent in its course of conduct.

Microsoft stated that the merging of Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer was the result of innovation and competition, and that the two were now the same product and were inextricably linked together and that consumers were now getting all the benefits of IE for free.

Those who opposed Microsoft's position countered that the browser was still a distinct and separate product which didn't need to be tied to the operating system, since a separate version of Internet Explorer was available for Mac OS. They also asserted that IE was not really free, because its development and marketing costs may have kept the price of Windows higher than it might otherwise have been.

The case was tried before U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. The DOJ was initially represented by David Boies.

Way to much more here.