Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kentucky seeks to block Internet gaming, seize domain names

Kentucky is working to force 141 Internet gaming sites to block access to Kentucky users, or to relinquish control of their domain names. The state alleges, among other things, that online gaming drains the state of money by undermining horse racing, a key state tourism industry. Following a hearing, a district judge ordered the domain names be transferred to the state. The sites will be able to object to the transfers.

See, "Kentucky attempts to seize gambling site domains," cnet, September 26, 2008, at

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Virginia anti-spam law unconstitutional

First Amendment guarantees reversed the conviction of Jeremy Janes, the first person in the U.S. convicted of a felony for sending unsolicited bulk e-mail. He was sending 10 million emails per day from his North Carolina home, via an AOL server in Virginia. The Virginia Supreme Court held that its state anti-spam law violates free speech because it does not just restrict commercial e-mail -- it prohibits the anonymous transmission of all unsolicited bulk e-mails, including those containing political, religious or other speech protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

See, "Virginia: Spam Law Struck Down on Grounds of Free Speech," New York Times, Sept. 12, 2008, at

Confusion reigns as US government e-records disappear

While US federal law requires retention of electronic records, including email, government employees don't appear to understand their obligations. Widespread violations of federal record-keeping requirements have been uncovered. Many employees do not seem to understand what a record is, "much less how it must be preserved,” says Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group.

See, "In Digital Age, Federal Files Blip Into Oblivion," New York Times, Sept. 12, 2008, at

Friday, September 12, 2008

Guilty of massive U.S. credit-card number theft

A defendant pled guilty to the theft of more than 40 million credit-card numbers from U.S. retailers. Damon Patrick Toey was charged along 10 other men in 5 countries with wireless interception of retailers' data transmissions and use of "sniffer" programs to steal credit card numbers as they were being swiped at cash registers. The case is the largest identity fraud theft prosecuted in the U.S.

See, "Hacker Pleads Guilty In TJX Security Breach," Wall St. Journal, Sept. 12, 2008, at

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Search engine sinks UAL stock

Stock in the parent of United Airlines sank from nearly $12.50 a share to $3, before trading was halted, after Google's news service surfaced an apparently new story about a bankrutcy filing by the airline. Google's search engine picked up the story from a new link on the website of a South Florida newspaper. The underlying article, published by the Chicago Tribune in December 2002, did not carry a date.

According to the Wall St. Journal,

"The damage was exacerbated by the growing use on Wall Street of automated programs that trigger stock trades without any human interaction. The so-called algorithmic trading mechanisms, which buy and sell stocks based on news headlines and earnings data, were responsible for roughly a quarter of New York Stock Exchange trades in the last week of August.
Investors said simple human scrutiny would have indicated the UAL story was old, but computerized trading systems don't make such determinations."

See, "UAL Story Blame Is Placed on Computer," Sept. 10, 2008, at

Monday, September 8, 2008

London Stock Exchange trading system fails

A “connectivity issue” halted trading on the London Stock Exchange for the longest period in over eight years, “amid a day of frenzied trading as dealers responded to [the previous] night's rescue by the US Government of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

See, "London halts trading after shares surge on US bailout," Times Online, Sept. 8, 2008, at

Space Station computer worms

A computer virus has been found in laptops used by astronauts on board the International Space Station. Known as W32.Gammima.AG, the virus spreads through removable storage devices and monitors keystrokes and seeks online gaming passwords.

See, “Stowaway computer virus sent into orbit,” The Times Online, Aug. 28, 2008, at