Microsoft sued for millions over Windows 10 upgrades

Unhappy Windows 10 users in Illinois are taking Microsoft to court, claiming that problems caused by the Windows 10 upgrade show that it was negligently designed, that Microsoft fraudulently failed to disclose its defects, and that the upgrade is unfit for purpose.

In a break from tradition, Microsoft offered Windows 10 as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and 8.1 for the first year of its release. This unusual offer was matched with a set of increasingly aggressive promotions within Windows itself. In the early days of the upgrade offer, there were even some users reporting that it installed automatically.

Three plaintiffs claim specific harm was caused by the operating system. Stephanie Watson claims that Windows 10 installed without her choosing to accept it. The upgrade destroyed some data, caused such harm that Geek Squad was unable to fully repair the machine, and forced the purchase of a new system.The suit claims that “many” consumers have had their hard drives fail because of the Windows 10 installation, and that the operating system does not check “whether or not the hard drive can withstand the stress of the Windows 10 installation.”

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Activists want to know why feds are searching more devices at the border

A free speech advocacy organization sued the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday, seeking “statistical, policy, and assessment records regarding the government’s searches” of digital devices at the United States border.

The group, the Knight First Amendment Institute based at Columbia University, said on Twitter that the lawsuit came about as a result of recent journalism on the issue.

Ars and other media reported that there has been a rapid uptick in the number of such incidents: February 2017 alone had more border searches of phones, tablets, and computers than all of 2015.

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Uncovered iPad bomb plot blamed for electronics ban on some flights

The US-UK ban on electronic devices larger than a mobile phone for some flights from Africa and the Middle East stems, in part, from the discovery of a terror plot to use an iPad to blow up an airliner.

The Guardian, citing an anonymous “security source,” said Monday that the uncovered plot involved explosives hidden in a fake iPad “that appeared to be as good as the real thing.” The Guardian’s source did not provide other details, like when and where the threat was discovered and who was behind it.

Discovery of the plot confirmed the fears of the intelligence agencies that Islamist groups had found a novel way to smuggle explosives into the cabin area in carry-on luggage after failed attempts with shoe bombs and explosives hidden in underwear. An explosion in a cabin (where a terrorist can position the explosive against a door or window) can have much more impact than one in the hold (where the terrorist has no control over the position of the explosive, which could be in the middle of luggage, away from the skin of the aircraft), given passengers and crew could be sucked out of any subsequent hole.

Security concerns over weaponized electronics on airlines have some merit. For starters, electronics are ubiquitous. And last year, for example, a bomb in a laptop punctured a hole in the passenger area on a Somalia-bound flight.

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Feds: Brooklyn prosecutor forged judges’ signatures to wiretap lover

A former county prosecutor in New York was indicted Monday on federal charges of illegally wiretapping two phones. Tara Lenich is set to be arraigned before a federal magistrate on Monday afternoon in Brooklyn.

Lenich first faced state charges last fall when she was accused of orchestrating the surveillance of an unnamed male police detective and one of Lenich’s own female colleagues, in what the New York Times characterized last year as a “love triangle gone wrong.” The new federal charges likely will supersede those state charges.

In a Monday statement, federal prosecutors allege that for nearly 16 months between June 2015 and November 2016, Lenich created fake judicial orders and forged judge’s signatures to authorize the wiretaps and authorize fraudulent search warrants in order to get texts from the target phones. Specifically, the indictment alleges that Lenich “physically cut a copy of each such judge’s signature from a legitimate document and taped the signature onto the fraudulent documents she had created.”

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House could vote tomorrow to let ISPs sell your Web browsing history

The US House of Representatives could vote tomorrow on whether to eliminate privacy rules that would have forced ISPs to get your consent before selling Web browsing history and app usage history to advertisers. The Senate voted to kill the rules on Thursday, so all that’s left are decisions by the House and President Donald Trump.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) placed the legislation on the schedule for Tuesday. Legislative business is scheduled to begin at noon.

The legislation is S.J. Res. 34, a resolution invoking the Congressional Review Act in order to invalidate the Federal Communications Commission’s privacy rules and prevent the FCC from issuing similar regulations in the future. The Senate vote was 50-48, with Republicans voting to kill the privacy rules and Democrats voting to preserve them.

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AT&T/DirecTV give in to government demands in collusion lawsuit settlement

DirecTV and its owner, AT&T, have promised the US Department of Justice that they will not illegally share information with rival pay-TV providers in order to keep the price of TV channels down.

The DOJ sued DirecTV and AT&T in November 2016, saying the satellite-TV company colluded with competitors during contentious negotiations to broadcast Los Angeles Dodgers games. AT&T initially said that it looked forward to defending itself in court. But yesterday, the company agreed to a settlement “without trial or adjudication of any issue of fact or law.”

The proposed settlement, pending court approval, “will obtain all of the relief sought by the department in its lawsuit,” the DOJ said in its announcement.

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“Pizzagate” DC shooter pleads guilty to weapons-related charges

A North Carolina man pleaded guilty Friday to weapons-related charges for a December episode in which he stormed a Washington, DC pizzeria and fired rounds from a Colt AR-15 assault-style rifle. The incident was a bid to “self-investigate” an unfounded conspiracy theory concerning the restaurant’s basement being the secret headquarters of a nonexistent child sex-trafficking ring whose (again, nonexistant) members included Hillary Clinton and her inner circle.

(credit: Facebook)

No one was injured, but the episode sent Comet Ping Pong employees and patrons running for their lives when Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, walked in with the assault weapon and a .38-caliber Colt revolver. Later, Welch pointed the AR-15 at a restaurant worker before shooting a computer and a lock on a backroom door.

Welch pleaded guilty to two counts. One charge was the interstate transport of firearms. The other was a local count of assault with a dangerous weapon. Welch remains jailed, and he faces up to a seven-year prison term when sentenced later this year. He faced a substantially longer term had he been convicted at trial.

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How ISPs can sell your Web history—and how to stop them

The US Senate yesterday voted to eliminate privacy rules that would have forced ISPs to get your consent before selling Web browsing history and app usage history to advertisers. Within a week, the House of Representatives could follow suit, and the rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission last year would be eliminated by Congress.

So what has changed for Internet users? In one sense, nothing changed this week, because the requirement to obtain customer consent before sharing or selling data is not scheduled to take effect until at least December 4, 2017. ISPs didn’t have to follow the rules yesterday or the day before, and they won’t ever have to follow them if the rules are eliminated.

But the Senate vote is nonetheless one big step toward a major victory for ISPs, one that would give them legal certainty if they continue to make aggressive moves into the advertising market. The Senate vote invoked the Congressional Review Act, which lets Congress eliminate regulations it doesn’t like and prevent the agency from issuing similar regulations in the future. For ISPs, this is better than the FCC undoing its own rules, because it means a future FCC won’t be able to reinstate them.

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