Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

Rosenberg on Carrier IQ

Remember a couple of weeks ago, when the news over Carrier IQ was that they sent meaningless cease and desist orders and threatened legal action against a guy who was researching their software? The EFF stepped in to defend free speech and liberty pretty much like Superman, except their underwear goes inside their pants. It was kind of a feel-good moment for everyone. Then came the horror stories about what this software was doing, and on how many millions of phones it was installed.

140 million installs? It knows what I’m texting and to whom? The world went crazy enough when Apple was just logging the location of cell towers on my iPhone. Now that you’re telling me that Carrier IQ knows what web sites I’m on, we can pretty much expect western civilization to collapse immediately. Somebody start the lawsuits!

All hope is not lost, however. Security researcher Dan Rosenberg is here with some good news:

Since the beginning of the media frenzy over CarrierIQ, I have repeatedly stated that based on my knowledge of the software, claims that keystrokes, SMS bodies, email bodies, and other data of this nature are being collected are erroneous. I have also stated that to satisfy users, it’s important that there be increased visibility into what data is actually being collected on these devices. This post represents my findings on how CarrierIQ works, and what data it is capable of collecting.

The rest of his post is actually pretty reassuring. They’re collecting a lot of metrics, and there are some surprising ones, but the contents of your dirty text messages are safe. Which is good, because mine are pretty dirty.

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This Is Admissible :(

Jim Dedman, posting from Abnormal Use, points us to Jim Dedman, posting from the North Carolina Law Blog, asking if emoticons can beat the hearsay rule:

Carole Gailor of Raleigh, North Carolina recently spoke at a North Carolina Bar Association conference on the rules of evidence as applied to electronically generated information. […] Ms. Gailor noted that an emoticon might, in fact, assist in the analysis of whether a digital piece of evidence is admissible.

As a preliminary matter, we could turn to Wikipedia or Urban Dictionary or the like to find a formal definition of the term “emoticon.” But that’s not really necessary, is it? But everyone knows that they are the little smiley or frowny faces – or sometimes far more complex textual graphics – utilized by writers on the Internet to convey all sorts of present emotions.

But why bother with a lay definition? A number of courts have already tackled the term.

This is a fun little read; I had no idea 26 court cases have used the word emoticon. Presumably, a court wouldn’t bother to use the word unless the case turned on it.

The rest of the article is a fun thought exercise on why your texting should be as dour as possible. Seriously! :)

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Now That's Just Odd

Karl Smith, via Matthew Yglesias:

Yesterday, Toyota announced that they’re going to start exporting U.S.-built Camrys from Georgetown, Kentucky to South Korea.

As a side note, this is what a functioning market does when you have spent beyond your means or you’re not as rich as you thought you were.

You produce things that get to be consumed by other people. You don’t shutter factories and send your workers home to eat Cheetos and watch the Real Housewives.

I guess the real question is how big a tax break we need to give millionaires for them to consider buying Camrys.

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Feature Imperfect

The new Galaxy Nexus S is one of those straight-from-the-source-code Android phones. You know, the ones that show off what Android could be if OEMs spent less time deciding whether to bundle NASCAR or Blockbuster apps (before deciding to bundle both) on your phone. Or if they spent less time trying to lock down the bootloader to prevent you from loading custom ROMs to delete those apps. Android’s “open” in the sense that the OEMs get to screw it up as badly as they like before handing it to a consumer.

So, Google likes to sell demo phones that shame their OEM buddies once in a while. The brand new Galaxy Nexus S comes with the brand new Android, and Google’s showing off a ton of new features. One of them is Google Wallet, which lets users pay for things in a store by tapping their phone on the cash register. It’s definitely one of those “oh my god we live in Jetsons time” moments. I bet we’re all doing it in like five years, but for the time being, it’s just crazy futuristic. I’m looking forward to this feature making its way into other phones.

But it probably won’t, because Verizon just blocked it from working on their network. This might not have anything to do with Verizon’s competing and identical feature, called ISIS. Bloomberg News says

the move comes amid intensifying competition between services that let consumers pay for goods with mobile phones. Verizon Wireless and partners AT&T; Inc. and T-Mobile USA plan to invest more than $100 million in a joint venture called Isis, which competes with the Google service, people with knowledge of the project said in August.

Boy, I bet Google’s really glad they’ve got such a firm understanding of the value of Net Neutrality with Verizon. Just imagine the sorts of troubling things that Verizon could do if they were allowed to run about unchecked!

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XXX Domains Are Here!

I never thought I would see the day when pornography would be on the internet. From The Verge:

Following a couple of months of pre-sales, adult-industry-centric .xxx domains will go on general sale at 11:00AM ET / 9:00AM PT / 4:00PM GMT today. ICM reports that over 50,000 .xxx domains have been pre-registered, with around 100,000 more names up for grabs from the general sale.

The Verge also reported on the lawsuit between porn industry giants and the registrar for the new .xxx domains. While the cost of a regular .com domain is just about $10 a year, and registrars have many registries to work with, the .xxx domain has a single registry. That’s kind of steep, I guess, but I’m sure they wouldn’t take advantage of the–

$60 dollars a domain? And GoDaddy is charging $99 to registrants? Wow, no wonder they’re upset. Fortunately, my new domain, extremelynakedpeople.xxx, is not taken. Unfortunately, it’s going to take me a while to find enough change in the couch cushions to pay the $99 registration fee. Heck, for that price, I could pay for BarelyLegally.com for the next decade.

So when do you think the first pornography will start being uploaded to the internet? That’s going to be kind of a weird adjustment.

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Google Books: A Settlement

James Grimmelmann has published a paper on the whole Google Books saga. It’s called The Elephantine Google Books Settlement, and it’s available in PDF form now. He describes it thusly:

It’s an attempt to boil down the settlement into a single clear concept that makes sense of the whole thing: the settlement used an opt-out class action to bind copyright owners (including the owners of orphan works) to future uses of their books by a single defendant. This is not a piece of close legal analysis; instead, it’s an attempt at a big picture view of the legal issues raised by the settlement.

The abstract and related articles are available at his website. If you haven’t kept up with this stuff, this is a very accessible and enjoyable way to make yourself an authority on the matter. You’ll be the hit of your next cocktail party!

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