A tiny device implanted in the brain of epilepsy sufferers has for the fist time been able to predict the onset of seizures, scientists reported on Thursday. The potentially life-saving device works with electrodes that monitor electrical activity on the brain surface, they wrote in The Lancet…
… Read More
While Dotcom’s legal battle in New Zealand focuses on spying efforts and unwarranted seizures, the U.S. federal court still has to decide on Megaupload’s request to dismiss the entire case against the company.
Several months ago Megaupload filed a request to dismiss the indictment against it, until the U.S. Government finds a way to properly serve the company.
According to “Rule 4” of criminal procedure the authorities have to serve a company at an address in the United States. However, since Megaupload is a Hong Kong company, this was and is impossible.
Only by dismissing the case can the court protect Megaupload’s due process rights, the defense argued. However, the Government disagreed and asked the court to deny Megaupload’s motion. Among other things the Government claimed that the federal rules shouldn’t be interpreted so narrowly.
A company should only be served on a U.S. address if they have one, they argued.
Last week a new chapter was added to this standoff and it turned out that, behind the scenes, the Department of Justice is trying to change the law in its favor. In a letter to the Advisory Committee on the Criminal Rules the DoJ made suggestions that would directly influence the Megaupload case.
Among other things the Government asked to “remove the requirement that a copy of the summons be sent to the organization’s last known mailing address within the district or principal place of business within the United States,” and to amend the Rule to “provide the means to serve a summons upon an organization located outside the United States.”
These were the exact issues Megaupload used in its request to dismiss the charges against it, and Megaupload was even cited in the letter as an example of why the law should be improved.
The question is, however, whether the proposed amendments will help or hurt the Government’s case. Megaupload’s defense argues the latter and has now submitted the letter to court, using it as evidence that the authorities knew all along that they were not playing by the rules.
“The Government’s letter is directly relevant to the Court’s consideration of Megaupload’s pending motion to dismiss without prejudice, as it contradicts the Government’s repeated contention that it can validly serve Megaupload—a wholly foreign entity that has never had an office in the United States—without regard for Rule 4’s mailing requirement,” Megaupload’s lawyers write.
Megaupload’s legal team goes on to explain that the letter shows that the Government knew it couldn’t possibly serve the Hong Kong company.
“To the contrary, the Government explicitly acknowledges in the letter that it has a ‘duty’ under the current Rule to mail a copy of the summons to a corporate defendant’s last known address within the district or to its principal place of business elsewhere in the United States.”
“Moreover, by seeking to have the mailing requirement eliminated, the Government implicitly admits it cannot validly serve Megaupload consistent with Rule 4 as currently written,” Megaupload writes.
Adding up the bits and pieces Megaupload’s lawyers argue that the letter proves that there was no legal basis to destroy Megaupload. It therefore asks the court to take the letter into account when it decides on the motion for dismissal.
“The Government’s letter to the Advisory Committee thus confirms what Megaupload has argued all along—that the Government indicted Megaupload, branded it a criminal, froze every penny of its assets, took its servers offline, and inflicted a corporate death penalty, notwithstanding the fact that the Government had no prospect of serving the company in accordance with current law, yet to be amended.”
“Megaupload should not be made to bear the burdens of criminal limbo while the Government seeks to rewrite the Federal Rules to suit its purposes,” the lawyers conclude.
The court now has to decide whether or not Megaupload should be dismissed from the indictment. If that’s the case, Megaupload plans to give users access to the files that were seized, and it will also free up funds for a proper defense.
Source: U.S. Flip-flopping Proves Us Right, Megaupload Tells Court
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Despite the introduction of a new law strengthening the powers of customs officials, the number of seizures of alcohol ordered online has declined dramatically in 2013. … Read More
For a long time, drones – unmanned aircraft – were used only by
the military. Now local law enforcement wants them for police work
such as surveillance and search-and-rescue missions. That in turn
has sparked a fierce debate over the balance between cutting-edge
law enforcement technology and the privacy rights of citizens.
In February, Reason TV covered an Alameda County, California
public protection committee meeting in which ;Sheriff Gregory
Ahern ;announced that he planned on using a laptop-sized
drone (he prefers to call it an “unmanned aerial system”) for
search and rescue. ;“It’s mission specific to search
areas for lost children or elderly or Alzheimer’s patients to
search an area that it would be very difficult for our personnel to
get to,” said Sheriff Ahern.
Residents and civil liberties advocates are skeptical that drone
use would remain so narrowly defined for very long. At the meeting,
Lye ;of the ;American
Civil Liberties Union of Northern California ;took issue
with the sheriff’s submitted
about what the sheriff can and cannot do with drones.
“If the sheriff wants a drone for search and rescue then the
policy should say he can only use it for search and rescue,” said
Lye. “Unfortunately under his policy he can deploy a drone for
search and rescue, but then use the data for untold other purposes.
That is a huge loophole, it’s an exception that swallows the
Lye urged the public protection committee not to approve the
drone until stricter safeguards were in place. She pointed out that
the safeguards were important because the technology will develop
very quickly – and possibly to a point where citizens don’t have
control of their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable
searches and seizures. Indeed, Alameda County could serve as the
baseline for police and sheriff’s departments across the country,
so getting it right there may affect all Americans.
The sheriff plans on applying for permission from the Federal
Aviation Administration to fly aircraft above 400 feet and plans to
pay for the drone with a federal grant. MuckRock.com made a Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) request for the ;grant
made to the Department of Homeland Security in July 2012. The
request revealed that Sheriff Ahern was looking to purchase a drone
equipped with a something called a “Forward Looking
Infrared ;camera.” These thermal-imaging devices detect
radiation given off by heat from people or animals, opening up a
wide variety of concerns.
Criminal law experts such as ;Laurie
Levenson of Loyola Law
School ;say law enforcement hasn’t been given enough legal
guidance on drones yet.
“If you say we’re going to use it for a manhunt, what do you
call a manhunt? If you say you want to use it to find missing
persons, well, how far can you go with that?” says Levenson. She
says that it’s a matter of drawing lines because it’s just too easy
to become Big Brother without them. What happens, for instance, if
police capture evidence of unrelated criminal activity while
searching for a lost toddler? Can they use that to trigger arrests
Timm of the Electronic Frontier
Foundation points out that it is very hard to draw lines with
police because, once police have a certain power, they never want
to give it up.
“Police always seem to want to push the boundaries as far as the
law will take them and sometimes over those boundaries,” says
He points to law enforcement and cell phone data as an example.
The New York Times reported in 2012 that law
enforcement made 1.3 million demands in 2011 of phone companies for
subscriber locations, text messages, and other information. Because
there weren’t strict privacy rules in place when mobile phones
first exploded onto the market, it made it that much easier for law
enforcement to obtain civilian data without search warrants or
users’ approval or even knowing about the requests.
“Generally there is this real friction between technology and
civil liberties and we haven’t really figured out how to deal with
it,” says Levenson. We don’t know how to deal with it because
technology is developing a lot faster than the law can keep up.
Government cameras are everywhere these days and the laws that deal
with them go back to the time of the framers of the Constitution.
“What did they know about drones?” asks Levenson.
About 8 minutes.
Written and produced by Paul Detrick. Camera by Alex Manning,
Zach Weissmueller, Tracy Oppenheimer, and Detrick.
Scroll down for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason TV’s
YouTube Channel to receive automatic updates when new material
For Reason’s coverage of drones, go here. … Read More
With millions of visitors a day KickassTorrents (KAT) is one of the largest torrent sites on the Internet, trailing only behind The Pirate Bay.
This status has put the site on the radar of the U.S. Government and a wide variety of anti-piracy groups.
Last year this unwanted attention resulted in a nationwide ISP blockade in Italy and a week ago several UK ISPs were ordered by the High Court to follow suit.
Today, however, estranged KAT users in Britain can access the site again just fine. A few hours ago KickassTorrents moved from the Kat.ph domain to Ka.tt, rendering the blockades on some ISPs useless, at least for the time being.
“Yes, it’s official and it was kind of unexpected. We changed our domain name from kat.ph to ka.tt [...]. Kat.ph will still be redirecting visitors to ka.tt, so your bookmarks will be fine,” KAT announces.
The statement made by the site doesn’t specify whether recent UK blockades have anything to do with the move to Trinidad and Tobago’s TLD. There are of course other reasons why the torrent site might want to switch domains (see update below).
Earlier this month KAT had its homepage removed from Google. In addition, more than a million KAT pages have been delisted from the search engine following DMCA takedown requests from copyright holders. These pages are no longer blocked on the new domain.
Or perhaps it’s a more pressing matter. It’s not unthinkable that the previous .ph registrar kindly asked KAT to find a new home, perhaps following behind the scenes lobbying efforts from copyright holders.
This is not the first time that KAT has dumped a domain to avoid being censored. Two years ago when domain seizures where in fashion KAT moved its site to the non-U.S. controlled .PH domain as a precaution.
Whatever the reason for the current change, the hundreds of thousands of KAT users who were unable to access the site directly due to the ISP blockades are happy for now.
Update: KAT informs TorrentFreak that the change was indeed made in response to the ISP blockades. Aside from Italy and the UK KAT is also blocked in the United Arab Emirates, and they want to find out how long it takes before the new domain is blocked.
Source: KickassTorrents Circumvents Censors With New Ka.tt Domain
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The Cypriot government has rejected the
European Union’s bailout deal
and has failed to secure aid from the
A brief announcement
from the European Central Bank issued yesterday said that it would
stop providing emergency funds for the Central Bank of Cyprus on
March 25 unless the Cypriot government can reach a bailout deal
with the E.U. and the International Monetary Fund.
The Cypriot government rejected the E.U.’s bailout deal in part
because it required that those with deposits in Cypriot banks
contribute to a bank levy. This understandably made those with
Cypriot accounts concerned and some feared a run on the banks. The
move upset Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, who said that
the move would be akin to something seen
Bolsheviks. Today the Cypriot government is discussing plans
that include guaranteeing deposits of €100,000 ;in accounts
with Laiki, one of the largest banks in Cyprus. Those with more
than of €100,000 in an account with Laiki could potentially see
some of their money seized. From the
As part of the package being discussed Friday, lawmakers were
considering restructuring the country’s second largest bank, Laiki,
which suffered big losses on investments in Greek debt.
A large part of deposits in Laiki above the €100,000 ($129,000)
per depositor that are insured could be confiscated. A banking
official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because the
talks were ongoing, said seizures of 25% to 30% were being
What is remarkable about the situation in Cyprus is that under
the plan originally put forward by the E.U. and the plan being
discussed by the Cypriot government those with savings in Cypriot
banks could see some of their money seized. If a plan is agreed
upon that allows for money to be seized directly from accounts it
will be a worrying precedent to set, despite the fact that taking
money directly from depositors accounts is just a more direct way
of taking money than inflation.
Member of the European Parliament Daniel Hannan has pointed out
that it might be worth remembering another small
island that ran into financial problems a few years ago. … Read More
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), followingBob Offer-Westort’s arrest one of the two officers in questionbegan to scroll through the detainee’s text messages and read themaloud.The plaintiff, a longtime activist in the area, was concerned thatsome of the personal content of these texts would damage hisexisting relationships with local officials.This latest lawsuit highlights the ongoing dispute between privacyadvocates and law enforcement officials.The California SupremeCourt ruled in 2011 that warrantless searches of mobile phones didnot violate the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonablesearches and seizures.California Governor Jerry Brown, in turn, cited thatprecedent when he vetoed legislation which would have requiredpolice to obtain a warrant before searching through the mobilephones of suspects.In the case of Offer-Westort, police began to read through histexts prior to formal booking, and allegedly did so for weeks untilthe phone was returned to him months after the arrest.The ACLU aims to use this latest lawsuit to demonstrate that suchseizure and search violates California’s constitution.Marley Degner, an attorney whose firm is providing pro bonoservices in the case, believes that cellphones are now“virtually home offices that contain personal, professional andfinancial information about their owners and others.”As such, the suit will seek to make the case that warrantlesssearches of cell phones not only violate the rights of thosearrested, but also those of family, friends, co-workers and anyoneelse whose information may be held by the device. No hearing datehas been set thus far for this case.On the federal level, lawmakers from both parties have attempted tointroduce reforms to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of1986 to ensure law enforcement obtain warrants before searchingelectronic communications or location data. Late last year,representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Ted Poe (R-Texas) and SuzanDelBene (D-Wash.) introduced legislation that would have amendedECPA with greater privacy guarantees, though the bill failed toadvance to the Senate. … Read More