How Big Pharma’s Shadow Regulation Censors the Internet


Americans pay by far the highest prices in the world for most prescription drugs, and of course big pharma would like to keep it that way.

Source: How Big Pharma’s Shadow Regulation Censors the Internet

Australian Electoral Commission Refuses To Allow Researchers To Check E-Voting Software | Techdirt

In Australia, for example, e-voting is being used for the elections to the country’s Senate, but the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has refused to release the relevant software, despite a Senate motion and a freedom of information request. Being able to examine the code is a fundamental requirement, since there is no way of knowing what “black box” e-voting systems are doing with the votes that are entered.

Source: Australian Electoral Commission Refuses To Allow Researchers To Check E-Voting Software | Techdirt

Just Because Australia Won Its Plain Packaging Case Against Philip Morris Doesn’t Mean Corporate Sovereignty Isn’t A Threat | Techdirt

the dismissal of the case on procedural grounds means that we will never get a ruling on the substance of Philip Morris’ claims. As such, the award contributes nothing to the bigger debate about the conflict between investment protection and public policy.

Source: Just Because Australia Won Its Plain Packaging Case Against Philip Morris Doesn’t Mean Corporate Sovereignty Isn’t A Threat | Techdirt

Dotcom: Copyright Charges Not Enough For Extradition – TorrentFreak

As Kim Dotcom’s extradition defense enters its second day, the court has heard that none of the 13 charges against the Megaupload founder are enough to extradite him to the United States. The U.S. is characterizing the alleged offenses as extraditable fraud but Dotcom’s team believes that copyright violations can not be prosecuted as such.

Source: Dotcom: Copyright Charges Not Enough For Extradition – TorrentFreak

Rightscorp Granted Australian Patent to Chase Pirates – TorrentFreak

Rightscorp has been awarded a patent by the Australian Patent Office which should protect it from competitors looking to muscle in on its business model Down Under. The patent protects a system which helps Rightscorp identify repeat infringers, individuals it is now targeting in the United States with settlement demands and lawsuits.

Source: Rightscorp Granted Australian Patent to Chase Pirates – TorrentFreak

Creationist: The Flintstones was an accurate portrayal of Dino-human coexistence

Ken Ham, an Australian young-Earth creationist, says he is on the verge of proving that dinosaurs and humans coexisted only a couple of thousand years ago.

According to a report on news.com.au, Ham – along with a Dr David Menton – declared that he will soon publish “world-changing” evidence disproving that dinosaurs were present on the earth over 65 million years ago.

“It is understood Mr Ham will claim that a bunch of donated Edmontosaurus bones are only a few thousand years old, based on the fact that they still contain remnants of bone marrow,” the Australian news site said.

Soft tissue has been known to survive in fossils in particular circumstances, and those circumstances are also by now well understood.

Despite this, news.com.au notes, the “young Earth creationists quickly claimed [their] discovery as evidence that dinosaur fossils were not millions of years old after all, while established scientists familiar with the study of these bones say that it showed, instead, a misunderstanding about how decay works”.

Last year, a public debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye brought the former enough attention and money to commence building his Ark Encounter, a Noah’s Ark and creationism-inspired theme park in Kentucky, which would compliment his existing Creation Museum.

“Ken Ham routinely dismisses findings of palaeontologists, geologists, and other scientists who look at evidence to determine what Earth must have been like before recorded history,” news.com.au explained. “Mr Ham has asserted that scientists cannot claim to have proof of their theories if they weren’t there at the time to observe those theories in action.”

However, the site continues that “in a new post on the pro-creationism website Answers In Genesis, Ken Ham now asserts that Dr David Menton can indeed look at fossilised dinosaur bones and determine things that happened before either of them was born — as long as it supports his own ideas.”

Link (The Register)

NSA Planned to Hijack Google App Store to Hack Smartphones

The National Security Agency and its closest allies planned to hijack data links to Google and Samsung app stores to infect smartphones with spyware, a top-secret document reveals.

The surveillance project was launched by a joint electronic eavesdropping unit called the Network Tradecraft Advancement Team, which includes spies from each of the countries in the “Five Eyes” alliance — the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia.

The top-secret document, obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, was published Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept. The document outlines a series of tactics that the NSA and its counterparts in the Five Eyes were working on during workshops held in Australia and Canada between November 2011 and February 2012.

The main purpose of the workshops was to find new ways to exploit smartphone technology for surveillance. The agencies used the Internet spying system XKEYSCORE to identify smartphone traffic flowing across Internet cables and then to track down smartphone connections to app marketplace servers operated by Samsung and Google. (Google declined to comment for this story. Samsung said it would not be commenting “at this time.”)

As part of a pilot project codenamed IRRITANT HORN, the agencies were developing a method to hack and hijack phone users’ connections to app stores so that they would be able to send malicious “implants” to targeted devices. The implants could then be used to collect data from the phones without their users noticing.

Previous disclosures from the Snowden files have shown agencies in the Five Eyes alliance designed spyware for iPhones and Android smartphones, enabling them to infect targeted phones and grab emails, texts, web history, call records, videos, photos and other files stored on them. But methods used by the agencies to get the spyware onto phones in the first place have remained unclear.

The newly published document shows how the agencies wanted to “exploit” app store servers — using them to launch so-called “man-in-the-middle” attacks to infect phones with the implants. A man-in-the-middle attack is a technique in which hackers place themselves between computers as they are communicating with each other; it is a tactic sometimes used by criminal hackers to defraud people. In this instance, the method would have allowed the surveillance agencies to modify the content of data packets passing between targeted smartphones and the app servers while an app was being downloaded or updated, inserting spyware that would be covertly sent to the phones.

Link (The Intercept)

Australian ISP Promises Free Lawyers For Targets Of Copyright Trolls

iiNet, the second biggest ISP in Australia, has been a bit of a magnet when it comes to BitTorrent lawsuits. In 2008 they were sued by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) for failing to prevent its subscribers from infringing copyright via Bittorrent, a case it won, as the court found it was not iiNet’s responsibility.

In late 2014, Voltage Pictures – the company behind Oscar winning movie ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ – started proceedings against Australian users it accused of downloading its movie, just as it has in both the US and Canada. The alleged Australian infringements all occurred between 2 April 2014 and 27 May 2014.

iiNet refused to hand over the account details of the 4,726 IP addresses demanded by Voltage, and took it to court, where, in early April, the judges sided with Voltage. However, in a massive blow to Voltage, they required that any letters sent out to people be approved by the court, undermining the key tactic of exaggerating claims in these kinds of cases. Most such cases rely on threatening significant damages at court in order to ‘encourage’ the recipient to settle, but Justice Perram has indicated that the damages could be as low as AU$10 (US$8), although there could be significant court costs as well.

Now iiNet has dealt Voltage another blow, announcing in a blog post:

“If you do receive a letter you may want to get legal advice. iiNet is working with a law firm that has offered to provide pro-bono services for any of our customers”

This would be a major setback to the speculative invoicing model used by Voltage, which relies on the high potential damages, plus the significant cost of defending a case (greater than the settlement demanded) to ensure a steady revenue stream. With the court restricting the intimidating language, and the offer of free legal counsel to defend the cases, it may end up being far more costly for Voltage to pursue claims than they can hope to recoup.

And while iiNet has jumped to the defense of its customers in this way, it may not be alone. The M2 group has also indicated it may provide pro-bono legal assistance in similar cases, although they have refused to commit prior to a court hearing on May 21st when a date for the transfer of customer information will be agreed.

It is not looking like Australia will be a fruitful venue for copyright trolls.

Link (Techdirt)