A game studio that admitted to uploading a rigged copy of its own game to torrent sites informs TF that the positive feedback has been ‘overwhelming’. NoodleCake’s special version of Shooting Stars! features an unbeatable boss as a marketing stunt, a move that’s a million miles better than the anti-piracy schemes of yesteryear.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Monday used last week’s appellate court ruling that NSA bulk collection of call records is illegal to bash his Republican counterpart for wanting to keep it going through 2020.
“My friend, the Majority Leader, keeps talking about extending the program for five and a half years,” Reid said from the floor of the Senate, referencing Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “How can you reauthorize something that’s illegal?” Reid asked. “You can’t. You shouldn’t.”
“Extending an illegal program for five and a half years? That is not sensible,” he said. “What should happen is that we should move forward and do something that is needed here — and that is, do it all over again.”
On Sunday at a speech in Boston, McConnell called the bulk phone call metadata collection program “an important tool to prevent the next terrorist attack,” and said that the U.S. “is better off with an extension of the Patriot Act than not.” Three provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire on June 1, including one that the NSA has claimed justifies the program.
Reid offered an alternative Monday, saying that McConnell should seek to advance the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would end the bulk collection of metadata from domestic phone companies. He pointed out that a version of the bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee in April by a 25 – 2 vote, and predicted that the legislation would be advanced by a full House vote this week.
Reid also painted the bill as an escape hatch for McConnell — and said he would back a revolt that’s being openly planned, should the Senate Majority Leader attempt to move for a clean extension of the Patriot Act. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., have already threatened filibusters.
“This is the only bipartisan, bicameral solution we have today that will end the illegal bulk collection and reform and reauthorize key provisions of FISA,” Reid said.
“Otherwise … I’m not the only one, Mr. President,” he added. “I’m told, walking over here, that the junior senator from Kentucky is not going to let an extension … take place. So why don’t we just go ahead and get it done now.”
Early March, US-based company TCYK LLC began demanding cash from customers of the UK’s second largest ISP, Sky Broadband. In 2014 TCYK monitored BitTorrent swarms for individuals sharing their movies without permission and eventually forced Sky to hand over the alleged file-sharers’ personal details.
Virgin Media customers were targeted by an almost identical wave of letters shortly after, this time sent by well-known copyright troll outfit Mircom. Representing several overseas porn companies, Mircom also want cash to make supposed lawsuits go away.
This week the latter case provided a sinister twist. After TF revealed that Mircom was trying to hide its identity from its domain WHOIS, a reader reported the company to domain registry Nominet. Soon after Mircom.co.uk revealed its true operator to be GoldenEye International, another copyright troll outfit that had featured in previous UK cases. Emails currently being sent to letter recipients also confirm that GoldenEye are handling their claims.
The apparent murkiness of these cases only adds to the anxiety of letter recipients, but today they have some good news. Michael Coyle of Southampton-based Lawdit Solicitors informs TorrentFreak he will give his time for free to defend those accused.
Coyle is one of the most experienced UK-based solicitors in the file-sharing arena. Since 2008 he has spoken with or acted for more than 700 individuals who have received so-called Letters of Claim, including those involved in the infamous ACS:Law case that ended with solicitor Andrew Crossley being severely disciplined.
Coyle says he expected that affair to signal the end of ‘trolling’ in the UK but recent events have sadly proven him wrong.
The FREAK (Factoring RSA Export Keys) flaw allows bad men to exploit those secret intimate moments shared between certain web browsers and HTTPS websites. Just when your copy of Safari begins rubbing the website’s knee and mumbling “you know you want it” in its ear, FREAK allows the hooligan element of the online world to tip-toe unnoticed into the room. By the time Safari has finished sweet-talking the website and is fumbling with its zip before establishing a “safe connection”, the rascals have stolen its johnnies.
The weakness in the connection security at this stage was the result of a governmental directive some 20 years ago that good encryption should not be exported to that dark and dangerous place outside the US known as “the rest of the world” (AKA “terrorists”).
In many cases, security flaws are loopholes left behind due to the complexity of the digital antagonism between trying to enable a thing while preventing that thing. FREAK, on the other hand, was created as a deliberate act of self-sabotage, determined by the Powers That Be in full knowledge of the potential consequences.
Blame politicians for their lack of long-term vision if you like, but this is hardly the point. Politicians come and go and fill their pockets and die: this is what we expect politicians to do and we vote them into office so that they can do it. If there’s any lack of forward-thinking involved, it starts at the ballot box.
But in this instance, lots of people at the time said that relaxing encryption was A Stupid Idea. So the politicians and their advisers knew it was daft and still went ahead.
Consider the Y2K bug or the 2038 bug or whatever. The very fact that these things have names suggests that someone somewhere had the foresight to think about them in advance. They began as oversights and go on to be exploited, and then go on to be fixed.
It strikes me that the IT industry enjoys watching security go titsup time and time again, simply so that it can fix it.
Despite what we already know, not least what we have learnt this FREAK week, someone somewhere is probably still advising the British prime minister that message encryption was invented by Osama bin Laden and should be zero-dark-thirtied at the first opportunity. National security, he is being advised, can only be achieved by criminalising er… security. Duh.
I blame these same advisors for the reckless re-emergence of biometric checks as a form of authentication. Surely it’s obvious to everyone that the fingerprint login on iPhones 6 and iPad Air devices is just a bit of fun, not a serious stab at effective security. Yet RBS and NatWest banks are introducing fingerprint access for accounts via mobile devices, and the scary bit is that they’re not laughing.
Biometrics are bollocks. Some El Reg readers may recollect Steve Jobs years ago demonstrating VoicePrint verification in Mac OS 9: “My name is my password”. It was just a little joke, though: a laugh, a trick to delight the kids. It certainly wasn’t secure.
By the way, if you do remember this short-lived feature, well done: most long-time Mac users have already forgotten this turd of biometric nonsense.
In sci-fi action films, when a retina scan or a fingerprint is required to gain access to the high-security lab of an evil genius, the hero plucks out or hacks off that item from an unsuspecting minion in a lab coat and simply waves the relevant bloodied body part in front of the clichéd scanner thingy. For voice-activation, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a cinematic hero trying to blow though the vocal cords he’d ripped out of the chief scientist’s neck.
Of course, for voice activation, all you’d need to do is to hire a voice actor for your crack team, or invite that bloke down the pub who can do impersonations. Just imagine if James Earl Jones had voice activation on his bank account: you could break into it using a Darth Vader voice-changer from a toy shop.
VPN services have become an important tool to counter the growing threat of Internet surveillance, but unfortunately not all VPNs are as anonymous as one might hope. In fact, some VPN services log users’ IP-addresses and other private info for months. To find out how anonymous VPNs really are, TF asked the leading providers about their logging practices and other privacy sensitive policies.
spyBy now most Internet users are well aware of the fact that pretty much every step they take on the Internet is logged or monitored.
To prevent their IP-addresses from being visible to the rest of the Internet, millions of people have signed up to a VPN service. Using a VPN allows users to use the Internet anonymously and prevent snooping.
Unfortunately, not all VPN services are as anonymous as they claim, as several incidents have shown in the past.
By popular demand we now present the fourth iteration of our VPN services “logging” review. In addition to questions about logging practices, we also asked VPN providers about other privacy sensitive policies, so prospective users can make an informed decision.
You should all read Wil Wheatons memorial of Leonard Nimoy here.
Due to complicated licensing agreements Netflix is only available in a few dozen countries, all of which have a different content library.
The same is true for many other media services such as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Instant Video, and even YouTube.
These regional blockades are a thorn in the side of Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market in the European Commission. In a speech this week he explained why these roadblocks should be abolished.
“Far too often, consumers find themselves redirected to a national website, or blocked. I know this from my own experience. You probably do as well,” Ansip said.
“This is one of many barriers that needs to be removed so that everyone can enjoy the best Europe has to offer online. It is a serious and common barrier, as well as extremely frustrating,” he added.
After years of complaints from mainly Hollywood-affiliated companies and anti-piracy groups, Australia is now having to deal with its online piracy issues.
Faced with deadlock the government ordered ISPs and entertainment companies to find a solution and against a backdrop of failed negotiations, last week telecoms body Communications Alliance published a draft proposal on behalf of its ISP members.
Titled ‘Copyright Notice Scheme Industry Code‘, the document outlined a graduated response “three strikes”-style mechanism to deal with file-sharers. It was put together in concert with rightsholders, so it’s fair to assume Hollywood is somewhat satisfied with the framework.
The same cannot be said about Australia’s leading consumer group, however.
Choice, which has long warned against a file-sharing crackdown, says that current proposals raise the specter of a streamlined conveyor belt of consumers heading towards a notoriously litigious entertainment industry.
“Although an ‘education scheme’ to stop piracy sounds harmless, the proposed Code will actually funnel internet users into court actions where industry can seek unlimited amounts of money for alleged piracy, and provide a way for rights holders to gain access to your internet records and personal details so they can sue you or send you a letter demanding payment,” the group warns this morning.
Highlighting mechanisms already in place in the US, UK and New Zealand, Choice says that the proposals for Australia are the worst of the bunch. ‘Education’, ‘Warning’ and ‘Final’ notices could be followed by rightsholder access to subscriber details alongside threats of legal action and potentially limitless fines.
“The system proposed by the industry purports to be educational, but clearly has a focus on facilitating court actions. There is no limit on the amount of money that a rights holder can seek from the customer,” Choice explains.
Also under fire is consumer access to remedy should they have complaints about notices received in error, for example. While there is a system being proposed, access costs Internet subscribers $25, and even then the adjudication panel is far from impartial.
“If a consumer objects to any notice received, they can lodge a complaint with a largely industry-controlled body. There is no avenue for appeal if the consumer disagrees with the decision made,” Choice complains.
In order to raise awareness of these shortcomings, Choice says it has now implemented its own “three-strikes” program. And the first notice is about to go out.
“CHOICE is concerned that this scheme will funnel consumers into legal action, bypassing ordinary checks and balances. We’re sending an Education Notice to the Minister for Communications to let him know about the dangers of these ‘education’ measures for consumers,” the group says.
The notice to Malcolm Turnbull reads as follows:
You are receiving this Education Notice due to a complaint from the Australian public that it has detected the development of a damaging, industry-run internet policing scheme in your portfolio.This scheme will allow big Hollywood corporations to obtain consumers’ contact details and internet records from Internet Service Providers, based on unproven accusations.
There is no limit to the amount of money that could be sought in court. In the US, a student was recently ordered to pay $675,000 for downloading and sharing 30 songs.
You may not be aware of this anti-consumer scheme. Perhaps somebody else in your household accessed your internet account and provided instructions to your Department without your knowledge.
If you believe this is the case, please forward this notice to the person who may be responsible. If the Government is serious about addressing piracy, it needs to address the real causes of the problem: the fact that Australians pay far too much for content that is often delayed or completely unavailable..
We know that you are a well-educated consumer, so we ask you to step in before it is too late.
This Education Notice is your first warning. If Australian consumers detect further infractions, we reserve the right to take further action.
The warning letter is being “authorized” by the Australian public who are being asked to sign a petition in support of Choice’s position.
After just a few hours online the petition is already close to reaching its initial target but whether it will make any difference remains to be seen. It’s taken so long for the ISPs and Hollywood to agree on any action against piracy, it will take something huge to derail it now.