Edupage, January 06, 2006

  • From: Educational CyberPlayGround <admin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
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  • Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2006 13:19:31 -0500

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***************************************************** Edupage is a service of EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology. *****************************************************

  US-VISIT Wants All 10 Fingers Printed
  Government Keeping Tabs When It Shouldn't
  Microsoft Releases WMF Patch Early
  EEF Seeks Protection for Computer Researchers
  Spammer Hit with $11.2 Billion Fine
  Microsoft Agrees to Close Chinese Blogger's Site

US-VISIT WANTS ALL 10 FINGERS PRINTED Officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have announced a plan to begin requiring visitors to the United States to have all 10 of their fingers to be printed to be admitted to the country. Currently, the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program requires prints of two fingers; the change to 10 will reportedly increase both security and privacy and will decrease the number of visitors who must undergo a second inspection to enter or leave the country. DHS said biometric technology such as fingerprinting is already reliable, but the agency is working with technology vendors to develop products that are more accurate, faster, and more mobile. Federal Computer Week, 5 January 2006

Despite a federal directive forbidding the use of Web-tracking
technologies for federal agencies, recent reports have shown that the
majority of agencies do in fact employ permanent cookies or other tools
that track users. The technologies can be used to identify repeat
visitors to federal Web sites and sometimes to track users' surfing on
nongovernmental sites. Last week, the Associated Press found that the
National Security Agency was using permanent cookies (temporary cookies
are allowed), a practice it has since discontinued. Separately,
reporters at CNET looked at the Web sites of all agencies
listed in the U.S. Government Manual and evaluated what tracking tools
they were using. Results showed dozens of agencies using tools that
appear to contravene the directive, including sites for the military,
cabinet departments, and election commissions. When contacted about the
tracking tools, officials at many agencies reportedly said they were
unaware that their sites used such technologies. Peter Swire, law
professor at Ohio State University, who participated in the drafting of
an earlier Web-tracking policy for the Clinton administration, said,
"It's evidence that privacy is not being taken seriously."
CNET, 5 January 2006

Responding to concerns that the recently disclosed Windows Meta File
(WMF) vulnerability presented serious risk, Microsoft has released a
patch ahead of the company's monthly patch release date. Microsoft
said that testing of the patch was completed early and that there was
"strong customer sentiment that the release should be made available as
soon as possible." Some security experts, warning of the threat posed
by the flaw, had even encouraged users to install a third-party patch
developed by a European programmer. The patch is for Windows 2000,
Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003; although Microsoft had earlier
said the vulnerability also affected Windows 98 and Windows ME, the
company now says those operating systems are not affected by the flaw.
With the release, Microsoft acknowledged that the risk to unpatched
systems is critical, though it said data indicated that the infection
rate from attacks that exploit the weakness was low to moderate so far.
Some security experts offered a different characterization of the
situation, saying they have identified thousands of Web sites that
exploit the flaw.
ZDNet, 5 January 2006

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has called on Sony EMI to
pledge not to pursue prosecution of computer researchers who
investigate the security of the company's products. Last fall, the
company was caught in a public outcry over technology included in music
[See it all here:]
The technology installed itself on users' computers and scanned
them for potentially illegal activities. The company has removed those
tools from CDs, but security researchers believe they have reason to
reverse engineer copy protections on EMI CDs, a practice which would
violate not only the Digital Millennium Copyright Act but also EMI's
end user license agreement. Fred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney
with EFF, said, "When it comes to computer security, it pays to have as
many independent experts kick the tires as possible, and that can only
happen if EMI assures those experts that they won't be sued for their
Internet News, 5 January 2006

A court has slapped a Florida spammer with an $11.2 billion fine,
setting a new precedent for fines against spammers, though the ruling
is unlikely to have much effect on the volume of spam. Internet service
provider CIS Internet Services, which provides Internet service to
parts of Iowa and Illinois, had sued James McCalla for sending more
than 28 million e-mail solicitations that fraudulently used the CIS
domain as the return address. In addition to the fine, McCalla is
forbidden from accessing the Internet for three years. Robert Kramer
III, owner of CIS, welcomed the ruling, calling it the "economic death
penalty," though he acknowledged that he does not expect to receive any
of the money awarded. John Mozena, co-founder and vice president of the
Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail, said this and other
rulings against spammers have not had a significant effect on the total
volume of spam, which he estimated continues to be about two-thirds of
all e-mail traffic. What is needed, he argued, rather than current
laws, which only forbid deceptive or fraudulent spam, is a prohibition
against all spam.
Wired News, 5 January 2006,69966-0.html

Following a formal request from Chinese officials, Microsoft has shut
down the blog of a high-profile Chinese journalist. China is well known
for censoring public speech it considers critical of the government,
and Microsoft's actions are not the first in which non-Chinese
companies have complied with Chinese authorities. Officials from
Microsoft noted that if their services are to be available in China,
the company must comply with local laws. As Brooke Richardson, a group
product manager for MSN said, "We think it's better to be there with
our services than not be there." Last year Yahoo was faulted by some
for cooperating with Chinese officials, and it too stated then that a
requirement of continuing operation in the country is to conform to
local laws and regulations. Rebecca MacKinnon, a fellow at the Berkman
Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, expressed
concerns on her blog about Microsoft's action. "Can we be sure," she
said, "they won't do the same thing in response to potentially illegal
demands by an overzealous government agency in our own country?"
New York Times, 6 January 2006 (registration req'd)

NET CENSORSHIP - Educational CyberPlayGround
censorware vs. privacy & anonymity, filters,
Cyber Patrol , Net Nanny, Resources, Reports,
Tools, Lists, and Full Text Documents

  High Court Passes on UT E-Mail Case
  U.K. Scrutinizes IT in Schools
  Legal Downloads Surge After Christmas

HIGH COURT PASSES ON UT E-MAIL CASE The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a case involving the University of Texas (UT) and White Buffalo Ventures, which operates a dating Web site focused on UT students. In 2003, UT officials blocked 59,000 e-mails from, saying that they violated the university's antispam policy. According to officials at the school, the overall volume of spam messages was crippling the institution's servers, and the administration had also received complaints specifically about the e-mails. White Buffalo Ventures had ignored a cease-and-desist letter, prompting the university to block all of its messages. White Buffalo took UT to court, said that its messages complied with all provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act, and argued that the federal law should take precedence over any UT policy. In August, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that argument, saying that the university was within its rights to block the e-mails. Wired News, 9 January 2006,69981-0.html

The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA)
has initiated two reviews of IT in British schools. The first focuses
on Microsoft, specifically its licensing models, to see if the current
state of affairs provides acceptable return on investments. According
to Owen Lynch, chief executive of BECTA, extra attention should be paid
to situations in which a single vendor controls a significant portion
of the market, in order to guarantee that "schools and colleges have
access to a range of products and services which represent good value
for money." BECTA will look at licensing arrangements with the software
giant and consider the costs of being locked in to ongoing contracts
with the company. In its other report, BECTA will investigate issues of
interoperability between computer systems at educational institutions
and those at students' homes. The review will consider ways in which
students can have access to similar applications at home and at school,
and it will look at compatibility problems when students must use
different applications at home.
The Register, 9 January 2006

************************************************************* MUSIC MAKES YOU SMARTER <> Are you interested in the research that shows how music education can make your smarter? Find all the relevant websites that help teachers integrate the internet into their music classroom. *************************************************************

Sales of music tracks online surged over the holidays, indicating what
might be new baseline levels for the market. During the Christmas week,
9.5 million tracks were downloaded from legal online music services, a
new record for single-week sales. The following week, that number
jumped to nearly 20 million tracks, triple the number sold during the
same week a year earlier. Analysts attribute much of the gain to the
ballooning number of portable MP3 players in the hands of consumers and
to strong sales of gift cards. For the year, legal downloads rose 147
percent to 142.6 million. Although a drop always follows the holiday
spike, analysts said the holiday numbers could indicate a market that
will grow to perhaps 750 million or 1 billion tracks in 2006. Such
numbers still pale compared to downloads on P2P services, which are
estimated at 250 million per week, but experts say the upswing in legal
downloads signals a changing tide for online music.
CNET, 8 January 2006

How much do you understand about what you can download
and use in the classroom. Do you know what fair use is?
Find out the issues, ethics and procedures
File Sharing is Not Theft

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