Desperate John Deere tractor owners are downloading illegal Ukrainian firmware hacks to get the crops in

John Deere is notorious for arguing that farmers who buy its tractors actually "license" them because Deere still owns the copyright to the tractors' software; in 2015, the US Copyright Office affirmed that farmers were allowed to jailbreak their tractors to effect repairs and modifications. Read the rest

Forced-pregnancy scam that masqueraded as abortion clinics won't account for $1M in Pennsylvania tax-dollars

Real Alternatives organizes and funds the notorious, deceptive anti-abortion centers ("crisis pregnancy centers") that pretend to be abortion clinics, luring in women who wish to terminate their pregnancies with deceptive advertising and then lying to them about abortion procedures in an effort to coerce them into carrying their fetuses to term; they got $30,000,000 from the state of Pennsylvania and are now suing the state over an audit that was triggered by nearly $1M worth of unaccounted-for state funding. Read the rest

What creepy stuff will your ISP do once the FCC allows them to spy on your internet usage?

Senate Republicans have introduced a bill to ensure that the FCC won't be able to prevent your ISP from spying on your internet usage and selling your private information. What does that mean in practice? Read the rest

If Google wins its trade secrets suit against Uber, it could tank Uber

Google is suing Uber, alleging that the company recruited a former Google exec who had secretly offered to give them access to trade-secrets from Google's self-driving car project. Read the rest

Donald Trump, Jr is a patent-troll and his biggest client now does business with the US government

Oklahoma's Anyware Mobile Solutions was founded in 1997 to make PDA software, but after its sales collapsed, it changed its name to Macrosolve and devoted itself to suing people for violating a farcical patent that they said covered filling in questionnaires using an app. Read the rest

Privately run immigration detention is so violent that prisoners beg to be kept in solitary

With Obama's federal government reducing the role of private prisons in the incarceration of Americans, companies like Corrections Corporation of America (now known as Corecivic) and GAO aggressively moved into providing detention facilities for people awaiting deportation, like the 2,000,000+ people deported under the Obama administrations. Read the rest

America's spooks want Congress to extend massive spying powers but still won't answer Congress's basic questions

Two of the NSA's mass surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden are Prism (which give the NSA "bulk data" access to the servers of Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others) and Upstream (through which the NSA taps the internet's fiber optic backbones). Both are possible because of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which expires this year. Read the rest

Uber's "sharing economy" is really the "taking economy"

U Washington robot-law scholar Ryan Calo (previously) writes, "Technology ethnographer Alex Rosenblat and I have a new paper arguing that the Uber Greyball program, whereby Uber serves a fake version of the app to police, is part of a broader pattern of participant manipulation. Uber uses Greyball-like tools against drivers and consumers as well." Read the rest

Chris Christie's Port Authority boss blackmailed United into scheduling a flight to bring him to his weekend place

Former NJ Port Authority Chairman David Samson -- a "staunch ally" of Chris Christie -- got United to schedule an extra, largely empty Friday night flight from Newark airport to Columbia, SC, where he had his weekend place (the flight returned early Monday in time for him to go back to the office). A court has now accepted his guilty plea for accepting bribes and sentenced him to one year of house arrest and four years of probation. Read the rest

Uber uses data-mining to identify and block riders who may be cops, investigators or regulators

Greyball is Uber's codename for a program that tries to predict which new signups are secretly cops, regulators or investigators who could make trouble for the company, deployed in "Boston, Paris and Las Vegas, and in countries like Australia, China and South Korea" where the company was fighting with the authorities. Read the rest

Reply All covers DRM and the W3C

In the latest episode of Reply All, a fantastic tech podcast, the hosts and producers discuss the situation with DRM, the future of the web, and the W3C -- a piece I've been working on them with for a year now. Read the rest

Wells Fargo: preventing the customers we ripped off from suing us is doing them a favor

Wells Fargo admits that its employees opened more than 2,000,000 fake accounts in order to run up fraudulent charges against its customers (employees who balked at committing fraud were fired and blacklisted for life from the banking industry); it also says that the customers it stole from can't sue the company because fake account paperwork bearing their forged signatures includes a promise to enter into binding arbitration rather than suing. Read the rest

The US Patent Office just (in 2017!) awarded IBM a patent over out-of-office email

On January 17, 2017 -- yes, 2017 -- the USPTO granted Patent 9,547,842 to IBM: "Out-of-office electronic mail messaging system." Read the rest

Lawsuit forces DoJ to admit that Obama administration sneakily killed transparency bill

The Freedom of the Press Foundation's lawsuit against the DoJ has resulted in the release of documents showing that a bill with that was nearly unanimously supported in Congress and the Senate was killed by behind-the-scene lobbying by the Department of Justice, which feared that they would lose the ability to arbitrarily reject Freedom of Information Act requests if the bill passed. Read the rest

Hereditary Samsung chieftain arrested for bribing disgraced president's "Shamanic" cult leader

Lee Jae-yong is nominally "vice-chairman" of Samsung, but his father, Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, is considered to be a mere figurehead, with Lee Jae-yong as the true boss of the company. Read the rest

Cyberarms dealer's weapons used against Mexican soda-tax activists

NSO is an Israel cyberarms dealer, which buys or researches vulnerabilities in software and then weaponizes them; claiming that these cyberweapons will only be used by democratic governments and their police forces to attacks serious criminals and terrorists -- a claim repeated by its competitors, such as Italy's Hacking Team and Gamma Group. Read the rest

Utah's Jason Chaffetz meets the Resistance: protesters chant "DO YOUR JOB" at his town hall

Jason Chaffetz is a Republican lawmaker who led the Benghazi and Clinton email witch-hunts in his capacity on the Congressional Oversight Committee; when he returned to Utah for a town hall meeting, he was met by thousands of angry constituents who chanted "do your job" and called on him to investigate Trump's many irregularities, from foreign interference with the election results to his refusal to release his tax returns to his many conflicts of interest. Read the rest

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