Posts belonging to Category Legal News

Critic: Customers should reject Comcast throttling deal

By Grant Gross – April 15, 2010 08:39 PM ET

IDG News Service – Comcast customers should reject a proposed settlement in a lawsuit filed against the broadband provider for throttling some Internet traffic, a critic of the company said Thursday.

The proposed settlement, announced last December, doesn’t make sense, especially after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled this month that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission didn’t have the authority to enforce its net neutrality principles on Comcast, said Robb Topolski, a veteran networking engineer who discovered Comcast’s network management practices back in 2007.

“If people reject the settlement, they are freed from the restrictions of this settlement and can sue independently or join any other action,” Topolski said in an e-mail. “If enough people reject the settlement, it sends a strong message that the class of people that this settlement was intended to represent are dissatisfied.”

A Comcast spokeswoman declined to comment on Topolski’s blog post.

Topolski has criticized the settlement previously, but the appeals court ruling against the FCC now means there’s no regulatory agency to enforce net neutrality rules against broadband providers selectively throttling network traffic, he said.

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FCC pushes forward with broadband agenda

April 8, 2010 2:42 PM PDT – by Marguerite Reardon

The Federal Communications Commission is moving forward with its National Broadband Plan despite an appeals court decision earlier this week that called into question the agency’s authority over regulating the Internet.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on Thursday issued a statement that said the court’s decision “does not change our broadband policy goals, or the ultimate authority of the FCC to act to achieve those goals.  The court did not question the FCC’s goals; it merely invalidated one technical, legal mechanism for broadband policy chosen by prior commissions.”

The agency plans to start addressing items from its plan as soon as its next open meeting on April 21. The first two items to be considered are reforms to the Universal Service Fund as well as an examination of competition in the cable set-top box market.

Read Marquerite Reardon’s full article at

Court: FCC has no power to regulate Net neutrality

by Declan McCullaghn – April 6, 2010 8:15 AM PDT

The Federal Communications Commission does not have the legal authority to slap Net neutrality regulations on Internet providers, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

A three-judge panel in Washington, D.C., unanimously tossed out the FCC’s August 2008 cease and desist order against Comcast, which had taken measures to slow BitTorrent transfers before voluntarily ending them earlier that year.

Because the FCC “has failed to tie its assertion” of regulatory authority to an actual law enacted by Congress, the agency does not have the power to regulate an Internet provider’s network management practices, wrote Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Tuesday’s decision could doom one of the signature initiatives of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat. Last October, Genachowski announced plans to begin drafting a formal set of Net neutrality rules–even though Congress has not given the agency permission to do so. That push is opposed by Verizon and other broadband providers.

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Microsoft request for patent suit review is nixed

By JESSICA MINTZ, AP Technology Writer – Thu Apr 1, 8:54 pm ET

SEATTLE – A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected Microsoft Corp.’s request to review a $290 million patent ruling involving the software maker’s popular word processing program.

Microsoft had asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for a review by its full roster of judges. In December, a three-judge panel from that court had upheld a lower court ruling that Microsoft infringed on patents held by i4i Inc., a Canadian software company.

Toronto-based i4i sued Microsoft in U.S. District Court in Tyler, Texas, in 2007, saying it owned the technology behind a tool used in Microsoft Word. The technology in question gives Word users an improved way to edit XML, which is computer code that tells the program how to interpret and display a document’s contents.

Read the full post at Yahoo! News

FCC begins rollout of national broadband policies

By Cecilia Kang | March 31, 2010; 3:19 PM ET

FCC begins rollout of national broadband policies

Roll up your sleeves. Now the hard work begins.

The Federal Communications Commission will begin the long process of creating regulations out of its national broadband plan, starting with a half-dozen policy inquiries and proposed rules to be announced at its April 21 meeting.

Of the dozens of recommendations offered to Congress on March 17, they’ve decided to start with: USF reform, mobile data roaming, set-top-box reform and cybersecurity. The agency has said it would roll out more than 40 policy proposals from its plan.

That includes a proposal to reform the Universal Service Fund, a phone service subsidy. The proposal will add broadband services to the $8 billion annual fund.

Read more at the Washington Post’s Post Tech blog

Google, Microsoft Push Feds to Fix Privacy Laws

By Ryan Singel March 30, 2010 4:38 pm

A coalition of the net’s biggest online service providers, including Google and Microsoft, are joining with the top internet rights groups to demand Congress modernize the nation’s privacy laws.

Among the reforms pushed by the so-called Digital Due Process coalition is a requirement that law enforcement get warrants from a judge when they want to force companies to turn over your e-mails, documents and location data. But despite issuing a clarion call to change privacy laws, none of the companies that are pushing citizens to store more and more sensitive information online announced any change to their own practices.

The coalition announced its four principles in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. The group says they’ve briefed the White House, the FBI and Congress on the proposed changes and expect hearings this year. Congress isn’t expected to act before 2011, because of a crowded legislative agenda.

Changes in technology dictate the need to update the nation’s electronic privacy law, known as the 1986 Electronic Communications Protection Act, according to Jim Dempsey of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

US concerned by Australian Internet filter plan

 By ROD McGUIRK, Associated Press Writer

CANBERRA, Australia – The United States has raised concerns with Australia about the impact of a proposed Internet filter that would place restrictions on Web content, an official said Monday.

The concerns of Australia’s most important security ally further undermine plans that would make Australia one of the strictest Internet regulators among the world’s democracies.

“Our main message of course is that we remain committed to advancing the free flow of information which we view as vital to economic prosperity and preserving open societies globally,” a U.S. State Department spokesman Michael Tran told The Associated Press by telephone from Washington.

Tran declined to say when or at what level the U.S. State Department raised its concerns with Australia and declined to detail those concerns.

“We don’t discuss the details of specific diplomatic exchanges, but I can say that in the context of that ongoing relationship, we have raised our concerns on this matter with Australian officials,” he added.

Internet giants Google and Yahoo have condemned the proposal as a heavy-handed measure that could restrict access to legal information.

Read more at Yahoo! News

Data stolen from firm that handles student loans in Virginia

By Martin Weil

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Personal data on 3.3 million people have been stolen from the company that guarantees student loans in Virginia and two other states, authorities said.

The theft occurred last weekend at the headquarters in St. Paul, Minn, of ECMC, which has been the designated federal student loan guaranty agency in Virginia since 1996. The nonprofit company also guarantees loans in Oregon and Connecticut.

Information that was taken included names, addresses, birth dates and social security numbers, ECMC said Friday in a news release. It said no bank or other financial account information was taken.

Read the full article at The Washington Post

Big-time hacker from Miami sentenced in 3rd case

By BOB SALSBERG, Associated Press Writer – Fri Mar 26, 7:06 pm ET

BOSTON – For the second time in as many days, a computer hacker accused of one of the largest-ever thefts of credit and debit card numbers stood before a federal judge and apologized for his actions.

“I have violated the sanctity of millions of individuals around the United States,” said Albert Gonzalez, in pleading for lenience. “I’m guilty of the crimes … I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

Federal Judge Douglas Woodlock sentenced Gonzalez to 20 years and a day in prison, but ordered that the term run concurrently with a 20-year term Gonzalez received from a different judge Thursday in two related cases.

The concurrent sentence means the 28-year-old Miami man, a one-time federal informant, will not serve any significant additional prison time.

Woodlock said he believed the sentence was sufficient to deliver a message of deterrence to other technologically-gifted individuals from pursuing similar crimes.

“You’re in your mid-20s. You’re going to be in your mid-40s when you get out,” the judge said to Gonzalez. “That’s a tremendous loss.”

Read more at Yahoo! News

Suspected Twitter infiltrator: ‘I’m a nice hacker’

By ANGELA DOLAND The Associated Press
Thursday, March 25, 2010; 5:56 PM

PARIS — He’s unemployed and isn’t much of a computer expert. The Frenchman accused of infiltrating Twitter and peeping at the accounts of President Barack Obama and singers Britney Spears and Lily Allen says he wanted to reveal just how vulnerable online data systems are to break-ins – and he says he didn’t mean any harm.

“I’m a nice hacker,” suspect Francois Cousteix told France 3 television Thursday, a day after he was released from police questioning, adding that his goal was to warn Internet users about data security.

“Hacker Croll,” as he was known online, is accused of breaking into Twitter administrators’ accounts and copying confidential data – as well as peeping at Obama’s and the singers’ accounts, though he didn’t have access to sensitive information about them, a French prosecutor said.

Read more at the Washington Post