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Microsoft to fight 419 Scammers?

Nigeria enlists Microsoft to fight spam scammers
Andy McCue, ZDNet News 2005-10-14

Microsoft is planning to work with the Nigerian government to help track down and prosecute criminals involved in e-mail scams and other Internet-based fraud originating from the African country.
The 419 problem is very difficult to frame now that it has expanded from cafe surfers in Nigeria to Asian (and some say even Middle Eastern) cafes.

Wholesale criminal charges?

UPDATE: “Sony BMG Music Entertainment offering $7.50 and a free album download” not $7 as I had reported below.

How does Sony get away with infecting millions and receiving only a $7 fine? Anyone (and by that I mean people not corporate entities) else would receive jail time for attacking 15 million PCs.

“I have yet to see a rootkit which did not raise security concerns, and am skeptical that there can be legitimate use of technologies that hide files from the user in an effort to thwart user control of their own computer,” says Kurt Opsahl, staff attorney at EFF.

Cyberlaw: Transmitting Ideas

Technical means, such as filters, have been used to try to make the net safe for kids. How effective have they been? Let’s look at the history via a cyberlaw reading list. This is a list meant for those who are not law students.


Latest on Internet Censorship (via google)

Report: China leads in Internet censorship
TMCnet – May 4, 2006
(UPI Top Stories Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)China leads the list of nations that censor Internet communications and limit Web access, a Paris-based free …
Chinese Premier Defends Country’s Internet Censorship
All Headline News – Apr 28, 2006
Beijing, China (AHN) – Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is defending his country’s censorship of the Internet, saying it was necessary to safeguard “national …

Zittrain, Brazil and other random musings


“The GNOME Brazilian Hit Squad jumped on me for my comment of last night that Orkut doesn’t get used. I knew that Brazilians love Orkut, and Johan told me that there is a group in Orkut that has 1.1 million members. GNOME went through an Orkut phase, which lasted… what, about two weeks? So it wasn’t much of an experience. In contrast, as far as I can tell, my soon-to-be-peers in law school use facebook a lot- the Columbia Law School ‘09 group has been very active, even though it has only existed for a week. I assume this must be the kind of experience that Orkut users in Brazil have, but I’ve never seen it in any social networking tool I’ve used. What I should have said, then, was that I’ve never used a social software web service that is really used by my friends or peers. Looking forward to the learning experience.”

Read More at the blog

Blog Spammer Identity

“Brian Adams” d/b/a Blue Diamond Enterprises
378 Dunbar Knoll
St. Paul, MN 55115


MPAA caught abetting criminal activity?

In what is obviously being denied up and down by MPAA spokesmen, a suit filed in CA alleges that the industry group paid $15,000 for a hacker to dig up information about TorrentSpy. This included email correspondence and financial information. The offical court document (PDF) alleges an illegal wiretap, appropriation of trade secrets, and aiding and abetting criminial activity. I will reserve judgement until I see proof however the idea isn’t really all that suprising. If one looks at the activities of RIAA henchmen (like mediaEnforcers and BayTSP) we see what amounts to DOS (file pollution) and entrapment. One of the vexing questions that I’m sure I would need three years of legal training to answer is at what point do these self appointed “enforcers” bear resemblence to actual police? I ask because I read (somewhere) that in cases where groups like this are acting on behalf of law enforcement (LE) or even acting as LE then they are bound by the same rules. This came up in a recent discussion on the Free Culture (Harvard Chapter) mailing list. Entrapment is only a criminal defense and not a civil one. So RIAA henchmen could possibly setup “honeypots” to catch “pirates” downloading songs and then attack with their “settlement centers”. If LE tried this it would of course be completely illegal. Similiarly, LE and government agencies are well known for their use of hacking to “sneak and peek” an alleged criminal’s computer to obtain information for case building. This sounds like what is being alleged here. MPAA representatives employed a hacker and private investigators to dig up as much information as possible against their new legal adversaries.
An amusing quote from the MPAA spokes person, “These claims (by Torrentspy) are false,” Kori Bernards, the MPAA’s vice president of corporate communications, said in an e-mail to CNET “Torrentspy is trying to obscure the facts to hide the fact that they are facilitating thievery. We are confident that our lawsuit against them will be successful because the law is on our side.”
I won’t comment on the double talk or the fact that Kori is blatently shifting topics from the allegation of MPAA’s wrong doing to a different case all together. I will comment on the last bit of that sentence. The law is “on [thier] side” because of decades of successful lobbying on the part of the MPAA and other industry groups. That does not mean Morality or Justice is on their side. I think it’s an interesting distinction she didn’t mean to point out.
After a little more Googling I found this older article where the MPAA was caught pirating a movie submitted to them for classification (they run the rating system). Ironically we have Kori crying foul over the very same tactics the MPAA is being alleged to have commited!
from the article…
A lawyer for the MPAA justified the organization’s apparent hypocrisy by saying that Dick had invaded the privacy of some MPAA staffers, which justified the MPAA’s actions.

“We made a copy of Kirby’s movie because it had implications for our employees,” said Kori Bernards, the MPAA’s vice president for corporate communications. She said Dick spied on the members of the MPAA’s Classification and Rating Administration, including going through their garbage…”

// for hosting this image

Google Sued, Settles

My email inbox just informed me that I can be part of a class action lawsuit against what seems to be a slowly evil-ified Google. Let’s see what happend.

Plaintiffs Lane’s Gifts and Collectibles and Max Caulfield d/b/a Caulfield Investigations allege 
that Google breached its contracts with class members, unjustly enriched itself, and engaged in 
a civil conspiracy by failing to adequately detect and stop “click fraud” or other invalid or 
improper clicks on online advertisements.  Google denies plaintiffs’ allegations and contends 
that all payments that it has received from class members for online advertising were legally 
and properly charged, and that it has neither breached its contracts with class members nor 
violated any other law through the actions alleged in the case.  The Court has not made a 
determination whether plaintiffs’ or Google’s contentions are correct. 

Interesting. I need more time to think about the ramifications here. Consider this a Johnny on the spot type report for now. At first I thought this was spam until I noticed that the same message was repeated in over 8 languages. Seemed a little *too* advanced for spam.
The Legal notice has been attached so you can read it.

Updates: I haven’t figured out how to link my uploaded notice to this post. I was glancing at the notice while on break from my econ studies and found this table of my “rights”. I’m a little disturbed at the default action of “Do Nothing” which was my initial inclination. Doing nothing means I’m automatically accepting of this suit and implicitly part of the “class” represented. It means that I am not allowed to engage in litagation with Google going forward with regard to this subject matter.

Do Nothing
You will automatically be eligible to submit a claim form for Google advertising credits and will give up your ability to sue Google over the subject matter of this case.

Exclude Yourself
You will not be able to submit a claim form for Google advertising credits. This is the only option that allows you to bring or participate in another lawsuit against Google about the subject matter of this case.

Write to the Court and parties about why you don’t like the settlement.

Towards a unified music format

Ironically we have had one for years now called MP3…
After a small fit of google-stalking myself for fun I found a post from a cyberlaw class I took last year

Internet & Society ’05: Harvard Extension School

The first sales doctrine is essential if we are to keep a fair 
balance between artists and public access.[1]   What the music 
industry fails to recognize in the beauty of the P2P model is the 
“Great Agora” of the many to many conversation.[2]  In 
that conversation many users will become vehicles of 
advertisement for bands and movies alike. They put all the 
incentive into the hands of the software middlemen (Apple, 
Real, Microsoft, etc) and not their most powerful ally, the end 
user.  In the current model if the consumer sells a song 
she is in violation of copyright.  For her to do the right thing, 
suggest purchase from a retailer or online medium, 
she receives no incentive.   

Extending the first sales doctrine to their digital media 
purchase will endow value to the files and make consumers less 
likely to “give away” what they could rightfully sell.  
The end users will take more responsibilities to ensure that the 
copyright is not infringed upon because now they hold
 a stake in the proper sale as well.  Software middlemen (Apple, 
Real Media, Microsoft, et al) may use the Digital Millenium 
Copyright Act as a shield that prevents consumers from 
transferring their ownership of a song to another person.  
This move to empower reselling will directly affect their 
revenues and create a necessity for interoperability 
between their codecs (e.g. iTunes AAC, Rhapsody RM, Windows WMA)  

DIGITAL NETWORKS by R. Anthony Reese 
[2] From Consumers to Users: Shifting the 
Deeper Structures of Regulation Toward 
Sustainable Commons and User 
Access by Yochai Benkler*

I thought I saw some hope in France and their new DRM bill but they backed down. “state-sponsored piracy” (Apple’s term) is more aptly described as “state mandated interoperability” which I am firmly in support of at the moment. Even though I finally broke down and bought an iPod I will never use iTunes until my federally assured right to resell my legal purchase is restored.

Badware- Jessica Simpson Screensaver

The good folks at have released some interesting new reports about the current crop of spyware. Team Taylor Made’s Jessica Simpson Screensaver does a little more then entertain you while your computer is idle. It disables your AV, redirects your URLs, and even has a stealth dialer to rack up charges to your phone bill!

There is some interesting research going on here and it will become more interesting when they begin looking at some of the crackz/warez web sites which install lots of fun things via IE holes.