Stop the war between privacy and security – EU data watchdog

Security and privacy are not mutually exclusive says Europe’s privacy watchdog – and people should stop saying they are.

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Giovanni Buttarelli, told a Brussels conference he was concerned that “the objective of cyber-security may be misused to justify measures which weaken protection of [data protection] rights.”

“Cyber-security must not become an excuse for disproportionate processing of personal data. Let’s not forget that when the European Court of Justice (ECJ) last year found the Data Retention Directive to be invalid, one of the reasons was concern about the inadequacy of the data security provisions in the directive,” he continued.

Although some commentators interpreted the ECJ ruling to mean that data must be stored within national borders, Buttarelli disagreed.

“Physical location is not the determining factor in security. Rather, it is degree of control, accountability and responsibility which data controllers demonstrate when processing personal information. They must take full responsibility for all the measures they implement, regardless of the technology they use. Responsibility must not vanish in the clouds,” said the newly appointed EDPS.

Negotiations on a new Data Protection Regulation are currently underway and Buttarelli says that accountability should not be sacrificed in the inevitable compromise.

“One tool for reinforcing accountability is the introduction of a general data breach notification obligation, which will force controllers take the necessary organisational and procedural measures,” he said, pinning his colours to at least one legislative mast.

Link (The Register)

US Marshal Shuts Down Citizen Recording By Grabbing Phone And Smashing It On The Ground

There’s a message being sent by this “tactical gear” and it says that these Marshals think they’re a military detachment and everyone around them not clearly labeled as law enforcement is the “enemy” — including anyone with a camera.

Now, it’s pretty well established that citizens have the right to film law enforcement officers while in public places. There are exceptions, of course, but none of those appear to be in play here.

What does appear to be in play is the mental exception far too many law enforcement officers feel they can deploy whenever they’d rather not be “watched.” According to an interview with Beatriz Paez, whose filming was “interrupted” by the US Marshal (and fortunately filmed by yet another person from across the street), the officers first turned their backs to her (which is fine) and then proceeded to keep moving towards her to block off her view.

When this more subtle intimidation failed to deter Paez, the US Marshal simply stormed up to her, grabbed her phone, smashed it to the ground and finally, kicked the shattered device back to her.

I guess she can be thankful he didn’t demand she hand over the phone as evidence. Although, if he had deployed that BS tactic, he’d just look stupid rather than abusive and potentially dangerous — a person armed to the teeth who can’t control his impulses.

Link (Techdirt)

ROCA LABS public records

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m just gonna leave these right here for any of the people out there who have felt the victimizing thwack of Roca Labs’ censorious sting. You see, Roca Labs is very very very upset if you say anything bad about them.

So upset that they file legal claims and bar complaints to try and shut you up if you dare speak out.

Meanwhile, feast your eyes on this stuff.

This Roca Labs user got sick from the product (Roca User got sick)

Here is a complaint about their deceptive trade practices (Deceptive trade practices)

Here is another Roca Labs user who got sick and complained about their trade practices (Sick and trade)

Here is a report from an FDA Special Agent documenting a consumer report about Roca Labs’ product allegedly being packaged in a garage with cockroaches on the floor, with no gloves or protective gear (spcial agent)

If you’re being sued by Roca Labs (or if you’re handing cases or complaints against them) please enjoy these documents with my compliments.

I can see why they might have very hurt feelings.

Link (The Legal Satyricon)

ICANN wants total control of DNS while breaking its own bylaws to block .africa probe

ICANN broke its own bylaws – and acted in a way “fundamentally inconsistent” with its role as the world’s DNS overlord – while restricting efforts to make itself more accountable to netizens.

That striking judgment comes this month from an independent review team at the International Centre For Dispute Resolution (ICDR). The panel said ICANN’s moves to shield two top officials from questioning in a row over the .africa top-level domain “deprives the accountability and review process set out in the bylaws of any meaning.”

DotConnectAfrica (DCA) wanted to run the .africa registry, but it was blocked from doing so by ICANN’s committee of government representatives. DCA has been tussling with ICANN ever since to get the decision overturned, which is why it wants to quiz the two officials – ICANN board member, Cherine Chalaby, and the former head of its Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), Heather Dryden.

(This follows a similar ruling this time last year: in May 2014, ICANN was criticized by the independent team for failing to create a standing committee to hear complaints, again in breach of its own bylaws. And just last month, in a separate case, ICANN was slammed by the ICDR for restricting its ability to provide anything approaching an independent review of the domain-name overlord.)

This time, the ICDR panel has clearly had enough: it has demanded Chalaby and Dryden appear before them next month in Washington DC to answer questions. If they fail to appear, the panel has warned that it will “draw the necessary inferences and reach appropriate conclusions regarding that witness’s declaration.”

ICANN – which wants to completely take over the heart of the world’s DNS from the US government – said it will not send the two to the hearing, scheduled for May 22 and 23, and that any evidence would have to be submitted in advance in writing. In doing so, it quoted from its own bylaws – written by ICANN’s lawyers – to back its position.

(Those handy bylaws were unilaterally written by ICANN staff in response to an earlier review hearing that the organization lost. In that case, back in 2010, ICANN’s decision to block .xxx was challenged, and the DNS overlord was defeated after two of its senior officers were quizzed by an independent panel. Best not let that happen again, eh?)

Link (The Register)

Verizon tells customer he needs 75Mbps for smoother Netflix video

Netflix performance on FiOS Internet service has been solid ever since Netflix paid Verizon for a direct connection to its network.

Even Verizon’s basic 25Mbps fiber service should be plenty for Netflix, which streams in standard quality at 3Mbps and HD at 5Mbps. But Verizon sales reps told one customer that his 50Mbps service won’t provide the smoothest Netflix experience available. For that, he needs to upgrade to 75Mbps.

In a blog post titled “Verizon Falsely Promising Better Quality Netflix Streaming With Faster, More Expensive Internet Tier,” streaming video industry analyst Day Rayburn wrote yesterday that multiple Verizon sales reps gave him this pitch.

Link (Ars Technica)

Court Orders UK ISPs to Block Popcorn Time Sites

Following a series of blocking orders issued by the High Court, UK Internet providers Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin, BT and EE are currently required to restrict access to many of the world’s largest torrent sites and streaming portals.

More than 100 websites have been blocked in recent years and today the court issued the first injunction against domains that offer no direct links, but only software.

The order, obtained today by Hollywood’s Motion Picture Association, targets five popular Popcorn Time forks:,,, and

In his order Judge Birss notes that the Popcorm Time software has little to no legal use. Instead, he mentions that it’s mostly used to download and stream pirated movies and TV-shows.

“It is manifest that the Popcorn Time application is used in order to watch pirated content on the internet and indeed it is also manifest that that is its purpose. No-one really uses Popcorn Time in order to watch lawfully available content,” Judge Birss writes.

“The point of Popcorn Time is to infringe copyright. The Popcorn Time application has no legitimate purpose,” he adds.

Link (TorrentFreak)

Demonoid Blocks Adblock Users – Fair or Fail?

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, or the so the saying goes. Nevertheless, every day millions of people use online services such as Google without paying a penny. It’s a situation the Internet generation has become very accustomed to.

For millions of BitTorrent users, things move to the next level. After using any of the thousands of available torrent sites for free, content such as music, movies, TV shows, software and games flood into homes around the world, without cash directly forming part of any transaction.

Of course, none of these mechanisms are truly free and for most public torrent sites it is advertising that provides the fuel to keep things running smoothly. While torrent site users don’t usually pay for access directly, by being a viewer of torrent site advertising and therefore a potential consumer, a convenient business arrangement allows ‘free’ access to ‘free’ content.

Unless you’re a user of the semi-private tracker Demonoid, that is.

In recent days Demonoid, once one of the most popular sites on the Internet, implemented new terms of access. If users don’t wish to contribute to revenue streams by viewing embedded advertising, they are now completely barred from the site.

Link (TorrentFreak)

Media Sues to Get Letters from Top Officials in Support of Petraeus

A coalition of news organizations that includes The Intercept filed a suit today demanding the release of information about the sentencing of former CIA director and retired general David Petraeus, who last week pleaded guilty to mishandling classified materials.

Petraeus, who admitted to giving secret information to his former mistress and biographer, Paula Broadwell, was sentenced on a misdemeanor charge to two years probation and was fined $100,000.

More than 30 people, including high-level government and military officials, reportedly filed letters of support for Petraeus ahead of his sentencing. “The letters paint a portrait of a man considered among the finest military leaders of his generation who also has committed a grave but very uncharacteristic error in judgment,” U.S. Magistrate Judge David Keesler said at the sentencing.

But those letters, and the sentencing memorandum filed by Petraeus’s lawyers, remain under seal in a federal court in the Western District of North Carolina. The Intercept’s parent company, First Look Media, is joining The New York Times, Bloomberg, the Associated Press, The Washington Post and other media in suing to have them released. (Here’s the motion and a memo laying out the news organization’s arguments.)

“Given the attention the case has received, we think it’s important for the public to see the arguments that Petraeus made for leniency, and the people who wrote letters in support of him,” said Hannah Bloch-Wehba, a fellow with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which is coordinating the lawsuit. Bloch-Wehba said that in other leak cases, sentencing memoranda have been public, but that thanks to a rule particular to the North Carolina court, Petraeus’s escaped scrutiny.

Petraeus’s monetary punishment — which was more than double what his lawyers and prosecutors had agreed on but still amounts to less than he reportedly charges for speaking engagements — stands in contrast to the stiff penalties sought for other recent leakers. The Intercept has noted that the Justice Department appears to have a “two-tier justice system” for punishing leakers, wherein senior officials accused of mishandling classified information have tended to get off with far lighter consequences than lower-level leakers.

Indeed, last week the government asked for 19 to 24 years for former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling, who was convicted in January of giving classified information about the CIA’s efforts against Iran’s nuclear program to New York Times reporter James Risen. Sterling’s lawyers have pointed to the Petraeus deal in asking for leniency, saying the court “cannot turn a blind eye to the positions the government has taken in similar cases.”

Link (The Intercept)

Copyright Runs Amok in Comic Case

Well, here we go again. In this circumstance, we have an infringement case involving Marvel Comics — and comic books, almost by design, use common ideas and themes all the time. In a recent complaint, we have essentially a claim based on the “three point landing”. See Horizon Comics Prod. v. Marvel Ent., LLC, No. 15-11684 (Mass. Apr. 23, 2015).

Horizon Comics, owned by the Lai brothers who also happen to be employees of Marvel, asserts that Marvel’s reinvention of the Iron Man character in its 2013-2015 theatrical releases infringes upon and undermines their copyright in characters from the Horizon comic Radix, originally released in 2001. Horizon claims that Marvel, without permission, took its (grey, mind you) fully armored suits and fitted them for the new Iron Man (red and gold) look, as “ the comic typically depicted Iron Man wearing simple spandex-like attire and minimal armor.” Id. at 11. Horizon further contends that it claims copyright on the three point landing. Perhaps in the future they would narrow this to the three-point landing specifically while wearing armor and leaning on their left hand , though that certainly wouldn’t be original enough either. In any case Horizon seeks redress against Marvel’s theft of the “fully mechanized suit of body armor” and the three-point landing depicted in the Iron Man Movie Poster.

Neither mechanized body armor nor the three-point landing are new to the comic world. For armor, characters of note may include Master Chief from Halo, Batman, Transformers, and perhaps the Pacific Rim comic release that coincided with the movie in 2013. Horizon seeking to profiteer here would mean that they could, I suppose, seek redress against DC for Superman’s occasional adaptation of the pose, or other places in the Anime realm including characters from Kuogane Pukapuka Tai and Naruto (which has been around since 1997). Although one may think to consider that three-point landings of note include Black Widow and Spiderman, both Marvel characters begs the question does Marvel favor the three-point stance, and did this fancy come about after Lais’ involvement?

Either way, the three-point stance and the armored wardrobe cannot so simply be claimed by the Lai brothers. We should reflect on this as an example of how not to use our lawyering super powers to crush the comic realm into copyright compliance. Copyright indeed should, though it doesn’t always, cover creative and novel characters in comics, books, and movies, though we must draw the line at common tropes used to further artistic invention.

The Three Point Landing is such a cliché at this point that I hardly think it could be deemed copyrightable. See, e.g., Herzog v. Castle Rock Entertainment, 193 F.3d 1241 (11th Cir. 1999) (holding that plaintiff failed to establish substantial similarity between two films portraying detectives investigating murder in small town. The court reasoned “scenes a faire, ‘sequences of events which necessarily follow from a common theme,’ are not protectable.”)

Link (The Legal Satyricon)