More from the Lower Merion School District.

A couple of days ago word hit the newswires that a high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had been using the laptops issued to its students to spy on them. Word's gotten around (no surprise there), and the BBC was the first to throw the 'potentially undressed minors' flag (and rightly so, in this case). The district has claimed that the spycam feature of the monitoring software was only for the purpose of recovering lost or stolen laptops and says that they deactivated the software remotely. If you've been paying attention to this story I don't have to tell you that …

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High school issues laptops, uses them to spy on students.

An article hit Boing Boing today that raised the hackles on the back of my neck as I read it. The Lower Merion School District just outside of Philadelphia received a grant a couple of years back for laptop computers to issue to its students to use as part of their coursework. In November of last year, the parents of student Blake Robbins received a disciplinary notice pertaining to something unspecified (referred to as "improper behavior") in the affidavit. The disciplinary notice was accompanied by a photograph of Blake while he was at home. The laptops issued by Lower Merion …

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Company's bank accounts cleaned out; bank sues company.

Late last year, the bank account of an outfit in Texas called Hillary Machinery, Inc. was siphoned to the tune of $800kus after their online banking credentials were compromised. The bank they did business with, PlainsCapital, required customers to supply a username and passphrase and then enter a single-use passphrase e-mailed to a certain address a few minutes later to complete the authentication process. Investigation showed that IP addresses roughly corresponding to networks in Italy and Romania were used to initiate the transfer of funds to bank accounts in the Russian Federation and Eastern Europe. From this evidence, it seems …

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Legal battles over unwarranted search and seizure at the borders are spinning up.

For a couple of years now the Customs and Border Patrol of the United States has had the legal authority to confiscate the laptops of people entering the country to perform forensic analysis on an indefinite basis. If you don't give them your laptop (or you refuse to give them the passphrases to decrypt your data) they can and will send you back or incarcerate you, even if you're an American citizen. They also have standing orders to seize any and all data storage media you're transporting (including USB keys, cameras, cellular phones, MP3 players, and disks) for duplication and …

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Judge rules that Torrentspy destroyed evidence.

The BitTorrent tracker search engine Torrentspy, which has been coming under fire increasingly in the past few months has taken a shot broadside, leaving the future of the site uncertain. A federal judge in the state of California ruled that the admins of the site lied under oath and destroyed evidence demanded by the MPAA for their prosecution. It was asserted that the admins of the forum also run by the search engine edited posts to conceal the subject matter and set up hidden forums for the discussion of privacy once it became clear that they were under scrutiny. The …

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White House staff ordered to follow national archival law.

The Bush regime has been notorious from the beginning for violating a basic federal law, the Presidential Records Act of 1978 (44 USC 2201-2207), which states that all presidential correspondence and communications must be permanently archived. Bush is interesting in that he is the first president to outright ignore e-mail from his constituents, which caused a minor scandal until American Idol hit the airwaves back in the early years of this decade. At any rate, this matter keeps popping up like a bad penny, most notably White House staff members using GOP e-mail servers to avoid the archival of their …

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Torrentspy ordered to turn over the contents of the RAM of its servers.

If you've been following the saga of Torrentspy, then you know that the Motion Picture Association of America has been trying to force the website's admins to start logging all of the activity on their site so that the MPAA can then subpoena the records and track down people who've been illegally downloading pirated movies. Per the prediction of the time, Torrentspy started blocking all access attempts that originate from the United States rather than a) shut down, or b) have to turn on web server logging. Well, things have gotten more interesting in the case because the magistrate of …

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Google APIs, movie remakes, and explosions.

It seems that Google has changed its mind about one of their more famous open projects, namely, allowing web developers to use the SOAP protocol to pull data from their network. They've quietly killed the Search SOAP project and pulled the developers' kit from the website. Here's the thing: Google's SOAP API is used to teach developers how to integrate other sites' functionality into their own. You might say that it's the gold standard, about which many books have been written (well, all of them, actually). An open source project called EvilAPI has arisen to provide continued accessbut it's anyone's …

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BitTorrent users beware - your favorite tracker might start tracking YOU.

Earlier this week, Torrentspy, one of the largest BitTorrent tracker search engines on the Net made a startling announcement: They were ordered by the district court of California to start logging access information from users to make it easier to hunt them down. The judge presiding over the case, however, decided to grant the people who run Torrentspy some time before enforcing this order to give them an opportunity to file an appeal, which had to be in by 12 June 2007. As it turns out, they're being sued by the MPAA because they're making it easier for people to …

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The RIAA sues people about as accurately as Stormtroopers can shoot.

The RIAA, in its effort to sue everyone and everything it can on the face of the planet because it thinks they've been pirating music has filed suit against a retiree who is paralysed on the left side of his body, nevermind the fact that he is probably unable to use a computer because he is medically disabled. John Paladuk is also largely unable to speak due to the stroke which paralysed him.

On top of that, his sole means of income is his disability check.