Update: The FBI has issued a press release with more details on the arrests made so far. They name names and list all of the charges.
Update: The FBI has issued a press release with more details on the arrests made so far. They name names and list all of the charges.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked all parties involved in the MegaUpload criminal case to halt any plans to delete or otherwise dispose of data hosted on severs once leased by file-hosting services. With its assets frozen and its operators in jail, MegaUpload is unable to pay for storage of the data.
Federal prosecutors have told the Associated Press that data from MegaUpload could be deleted as soon as Thursday, according to a report in CBS. This is particularly bad news for anyone that was using the service to back up files. Contrary to popular belief MegaUpload was used for other things besides sharing illegal files...
California has launched a new eCrime unit to combat various online crimes. The new law enforcement unit created by California Attorney General Kamala Harris and announced Tuesday, aims take on various "cyber crimes" such as email scams, online fraud, piracy, child pornography, and real-world theft of computer gear by organized crime.
"Today's criminals increasingly use the Internet, smartphones, and other digital devices to victimize people online and offline," Harris said while unveiling the unit in the Silicon Valley city of San Jose.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has some strong language for critics of Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vt.) online piracy bill, the PROTECT IP Act. The group, which represents business interests in the United States (and is considered to be a largely conservative organization), fired back at critics on Friday who painted the bill as an effort backed by Hollywood and not businesses.
Righthaven, the group that was trying to earn a living by suing websites for using the news stories and images of its clients (which included several Las Vegas Newspapers) has found itself on the wrong side of the law this week. The US Marshal for the District of Nevada has been authorized by a federal court to use "reasonable force" to seize the $63,720.80 in cash and/or assets after the company failed to pay a court judgment from August 15 and was late in filing an appeal.
Students studying criminal justice at Fox Valley Technical College (Oshkosh, WI.) will use a first-person simulator game next semester to train for various hypothetical policing scenarios - from domestic disputes to lost children and traffic stops.
"It's a first-person perspective on interacting with a virtual crime scene," said FVTC Vice President for Instruction Chris Matheny. "Students will walk through this virtual environment in order to practice these (law enforcement) skills before applying them, ultimately, in the real world."
Alex Chapman, head of the law firm Sheridans, thinks that a consumer with even a small iota of common sense can distinguish between Mojang’s Scrolls and Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls franchise. Chapman's firm has been retained by Minecraft maker Mojang to deal with Bethesda's trademark lawsuit claiming that "Scrolls" will cause brand confusion among consumers when it comes to their popular RPG franchise "The Elder Scrolls."
The FBI announced that it has arrested a member of LulzSec for his part in a series of computer attacks against "the computer systems of Sony Pictures Entertainment." LulzSec also hacked a number of online games including EVE-Online, and The Escapist, but the FBI only mentioned its most notorious security breach.. The announcement was made jointly by André Birotte Jr., the United States Attorney in Los Angeles; and Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
A new proposal before the City Council of Madison, Wisconsin has some residents and civil rights groups up in arms this week. An effort to collect the personal information of individuals who sell various used items (books, DVD's, music CD's, iPods, games, and more). Under the proposed Madison city ordinance, if someone sells items to a second-hand store they will have to provide personal information and a photo will be entered into a police database. Local business owners, civil rights advocates and the public are not pleased.
Bungie's IT guy, Jeff Fletcher, is an information specialist for the Halo creators during the day, but sometimes he's a gun-toting vigilante, according to this report from Seattle news station KING 5.
Some police in Switzerland hate fun. A Swiss police association has called for a ban on The Darkness II because the game depicts scenes where police are shot at and killed. And in other news, police have also called for the ban of every television crime drama ever made in the entire world.
"Politicians, game producers and sellers have been advised that such games be immediately removed from circulation," read a statement from the Swiss Christian Police Association."
South African newspaper Beeld is reporting that an unnamed man has been arrested for jailbreaking the PlayStation 3 in Parktown, Johannesburg today. This marks the first time someone has been arrested for such a crime in the country. The raid was conducted by the South African Police Service's Commercial Crime Unit, after receiving criminal complaints from the South African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT). Members of the police were assisted by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) Computer Forensics Lab.
Reuters is reporting that the FBI today raided six locations in New York and conducted several searches in California on Tuesday as part of a sweeping investigation of the Internet hacktivist group Anonymous. The targets of the raids in New York included a residence in Brooklyn and five other locations on Long Island. According to the report, these homes were searched for computers and other related equipment suspected of being used by members of the group to commit various cyber crimes.
FBI spokesman Tim Flannelly, said the searches in New York were "in relation to an ongoing investigation" of Anonymous. At least one laptop was removed from one home, but no arrests were made in any of the New York locations. Meanwhile on the other side of the country, FBI agents in California were conducting what they called "law enforcement actions" in the San Francisco Bay Area but did not say if anyone was arrested.
In late March four United States Senators voiced outrage over iPhone and Android apps that alerted users to local DUI stops being conducted by the police. It bothered them so much that the four got together and penned strongly worded letters to the CEO's of both Apple and Google asking them to ban these apps from their respective marketplaces.
Three months later and one company has complied with the wishes of Senators Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.). According to revised app developer guidelines uncovered by Mac Rumors, section 22.8 offers an addendum:
"Apps which contain DUI checkpoints that are not published by law enforcement agencies, or encourage and enable drunk driving, will be rejected."
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has placed a hold on the PROTECT IP Act (S. 968), ensuring that the bill will not make it to the floor of the Senate for a full vote. This news comes from Ars Technica, who also received a lengthy statement from Wyden's staff on the particulars of the Senator's action this week. The bill, which was overwhelmingly approved in committee by both political parties, gives the U.S. government the power to blacklist and isolate web sites allegedly trading in counterfeit or pirated materials.
A similar bill was put on hold by Wyden last year because he said it went too far in dealing with copyright and patent infringement on the Internet. The new bill gives the government the ability to blacklist or shut down a web site it believes is engaging in illegal activity, compel advertisers to sever relationships with accused sites and tell search engines to remove sites from their index.
The UKIE's IP crime unit is the focus of BBC 1's Fake Britain, though you can't watch it in America (it's unavailable in my region, at least - according to the web site). UKIE’s intellectual property crime unit was featured in episode 7 of the show. It focused on illegal copies of games out in the wild, the people that make those copies, and what the UKIE does to fight against it. The show also features interviews with UKIE staff and Miles Jacobson, MD of games developer Sports Interactive.
If you live in the UK and Europe, you can check out the show on the BBC. Here's what UKIE's CEO had to say about the program:
Sony has one more thing to worry about: Congress's Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. The group's chairperson, Representative Mary Bono Mack (R-Ca.) sent a letter to Sony Chairman Kazuo Hirai asking the company to answer a series of questions related to the PlayStation Network security breach. The committee wants a reply to the letter by May 6.
The group of lawmakers want answers to questions about when the security breach occurred, if Sony knew who was responsible for the attack, and when the company notified law enforcement. The letter also asked Sony to explain what it knew about the type of data that was stolen and if it included any credit card information. Sony has been saying publically that it has not been proven that credit card data has been stolen, but it also said that nearly 10 million users might be at risk. A mixed message to be sure.
Kotaku has confirmed that the FBI's cybercrimes unit in San Diego has joined two dozen state attorneys general and possibly the Federal Trade Commission in an investigation of Sony's security breach that exposed millions of users' data to hackers.
"The FBI is aware of the reports concerning the alleged intrusion into the Sony on line game server and we have been in contact with Sony concerning this matter," FBI special agent Darrell Foxworth told Kotaku. "We are presently reviewing the available information in an effort to determine the facts and circumstances concerning this alleged criminal activity."
Attorneys general in 22 states are also looking into the PSN fiasco, demanding answers from Sony and asking the company why it took them o long to warn customers of the potential danger. Kotaku says that the 22 states are sharing information with each other.
The FBI has raided the apartment of two University of Michigan students to investigate what it has called "potentially fraudulent sales or purchases of virtual currency that people use to advance in the popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft." The story comes from Computer World. The FBI thinks the two students are terrorists who are doing "something" in World of Warcraft to further some sort of terrorist plot. It's hard to say what exactly they suspect from the two within Blizzard's virtual world, but they obviously aren't going on a hunch here.
Ars Technica offers a sit-down interview with Daniel Castro, a senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). He is also a co-author of a2009 paper on Internet piracy, which was influential on the development and adoption of the U.S. government's Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) legislation.
In the interview, Castro says that the United States government needs to blacklist and censor web sites that traffic in pirated and counterfeit goods. Further, U.S. credit card companies would be "forbidden" from doing business with any of these blacklisted sites and U.S. advertising networks would not be allowed to advertise in these places.
Here is a choice quote about why COICA is the right way to deal with piracy:
On Christmas Eve 2010 a man in Ashland, Oregon came home to find his home ransacked and robbed. Among the items stolen was a flashy new video game console. While we do not know what kind of console was stolen we do know that police can track it down if it connects to the internet and there is some way to track it based on serial numbers.
The Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force, which deals with cyber crimes and crimes involving electronic devices, contacted the manufacturer. With their help the police were able to track the console down because someone went online with it.
Anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån claim to have helped police arrest a man it claims to be a "major player" in the "warez scene." The man, who is "around 30 years old," was arrested in the small Swedish city of Gävle by local police and agents from Sweden’s anti-piracy unit.
APB’s Henrik Pontén made the announcement yesterday, adding that his organization played a pivotal role in bringing this man in to custody. The police used information collected by the group to bring the man down, though what his name is remains a mystery.
"He is one of the elite pirates," Pontén said. "It is good that the police have a broad focus in their work and can act against the advanced and illegal sources of BitTorrent users."
"It was a major crackdown," said Paul Pintér, Coordinator at the Intellectual Property Crime Department at Stockholm police.
A Saudi national who was arrested for plotting to "blow up" former President George W. Bush's Texas home and other targets in America has been connected ever so slightly to violent video games - particularly the Resident Evil series from Capcom. The 20-year-old chemical engineering student at Lubbock's South Plains College, described by authorities as a "jihadist" plead not guilty to charges last Wednesday in a Texas federal court. The charge was attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. According to an affidavit in the Northern District of Texas, Aldawarsi, who was came to the US in 2008 on a student visa, had allegedly researched how to make a chemical-based, improvised explosive device (IED) online.
The New York Post reports that enjoyed watching game videos from five titles in the Resident Evil series on YouTube - information the paper found while sifting through his blog.
This is good news or bad news depending on your perspective and if you live in Australia: the Federal Court of Australia dismissed a case this week brought by the movie industry about the role of internet service providers in the fight against copyright infringement. This report on Ars Technica details the drama leading up to the court battle. Lawyers for industry argued that ISPs in the country must take action against file-sharers who are accused of infringement by copyright holders. The case was against ISP iiNet, and was an appeal of the original judgment in the matter, which also went against rightsholders. The appeal was heard by a three-judge panel.
Earlier this week Ubisoft announced plans to publish Call of Juarez: The Cartel this summer. Unlike the previous releases in the series, The Cartel is set in the present day and focuses on a "bloody road trip from Los Angeles to Juarez, Mexico."
While the description of this mature rated game may not shock gamers, the modern-day setting combined with the title has rubbed law enforcement officials in south Texas the wrong way. Pointing to gang and drug cartel-related violence that is very real to towns in southern Texas bordering Mexico, Brownsville Police Chief Carlos Garcia says that any game involving organized crime "sets a bad example." More from Garcia:
Police in Georgia are offering open arms to virtual crime fighters, thanks to a new game that lets citizens gun down bank robbers as the mighty law enforcement agency of the former Soviet Union state. The country (not the state known for its delicious peaches, game industry tax credits, and the wonderful city of Atlanta) revealed late last year that it was working on the game, much to the chagrin of critics who thought it was simply a way for the Georgian Interior Ministry to gain favor with citizens and shed a good light on the police force.
The game, which some have described as "violent," lets players jump into the boots of Georgian police as they fight bank robbers. Players engage in "shoot-outs with criminals, high-speed car chases, and hostage-taking scenarios."
The game is also meant to highlight the reforms that the Georgian police force has experienced since 2003.
The FBI has finally set its sights on Anonymous, according to this recent Ars Technica story. The investigation is related to the groups' attacks on various corporations and organizations that it felt had wronged Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange.
The FBI said that it executed more than 40 search warrants across the United States last Thursday. At the same time, British police arrested five men who allegedly participated in the group’s denial of service attacks on various corporations such as Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Amazon in mid-December. Anonymous targeted these companies after they cut off access to WikiLeaks.
ABC News reports that two men have been charged with hacking AT&T's servers and stealing the private information of nearly 120,000 iPad users including such notables as Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and President Obama's former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Some have called the men "Internet trolls" because of the way they allegedly bragged about it online. The security breach occurred during the initial release of Apple's iPad, according to court documents.
The two are 26-year-old Daniel Spitler of San Francisco, and 25-year-old Andrew Auernheimer of Fayetteville, Ark. Both received a charge of fraud and conspiracy to access a computer without authorization. The charges were announced by the U.S. prosecutors office in Newark, N.J.