California is trying to push through legislation that would require social networks to make changes to their privacy policies, and Facebook wants nothing to do with it. Called the Social Networking Privacy Act (SB 242), this new bill would require Facebook and other social networking sites make users set up their privacy settings as part of the registration process rather than after they become members. So what has Facebook all in a tizzy?
Here we go again. For the umpteenth time, a politician is attaching himself to the controversial subject of videogames causing real-life violence. This time it's Caliornia congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto, CA) who wants to pass a bill that would slap a health warning label to "all videogames with an Electronics Software Ratings Board rating of Teen or higher," GamePolitics.com reports. Here's what the label would say:
"WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent videogames and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior."
Baca elaborated his stance saying, "The videogame industry has a responsibility to parents, families, and to consumers -- to inform them of the potentially damaging content that is often found in their products. They have repeatedly failed to live up to this responsibility. Meanwhile research continues to show a proven link between playing violent games and increased aggression in young people. American families deserve to know the truth about these potentially dangerous products."
The bill has the backing of Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), who likened the warning label to those those found on cigarette boxes.
"Just as we warn smokers of the health consequences of tobacco, we should warn parents -- and children -- about the growing scientific evidence demonstrating a relationship between violent videogames and violent behavior," Wolf said. "As a parent and grandparent, I think it is important people know everything they can about the extremely violent nature of some of these games."
This isn't a new topic by any means, nor is it cut and dry. In fact, one recent study by Dr. Christopher Ferguson and his research team from Texas A&M International University concluded that exposure to violence in videogames and television isn't able to predict aggressive behavior, but depressive symptoms can.
Hit the jump and cast your vote. Should games carry warning labels?
Jerry Brown, California's newly elected governor, issued a "massive cell phone cutback for state employees" in which 48,000 government paid cell phones are to be collected and turned in.
"It is difficult for me to believe that 40 percent of all state employees must be equipped with taxpayer-funded cell phones," the Governor said. "Some state employees, including department and agency executives who are required to be in touch 24 hours a day and seven days a week, may need cell phones, but the current number of phones out there is astounding."
Brown's goal is to cut the number of cell phones in half by June 1, though he wants to be careful and avoid early termination penalties that might offset the monthly savings.
"Because of contract obligations, it is possible that we may not be able to eliminate all 48,000 cell phones by June 1, but it is also conceivable that we can do it earlier -- and this is my hope," Brown said.
Brown estimates that the cell phone cutback will save at least $20 million a year.
California's highest court leaned on old U.S. Supreme Court cases to rule that police can confiscate a cell phone from a suspect right after he's arrested and sift through text messages looking for evidence, and do so without first obtaining a warrant, the Ventura County Star reports.
The ruling came as part of a Fourth Amendment decision involving the 2007 arrest of a Thousand Oaks man who wound up arrested after buying ecstasy from a police informant. Text messages on the suspect's cell phone implicated him of the crime.
Jay Leiderman, the criminal lawyer representing who represented the suspect, described the decision as "weak" and "scary" because it cited older U.S. Supreme Court cases that don't have anything to do with today's technology.
"This type of thing opens up the doors for Big Brother to come flying in," he said.
The decision relied on a pair of cases from the early 1970s, one which involved the search of a suspect's clothing and another involving the search of small physical containers, like a crumpled cigarette package.
GMAC earlier this year surveyed about 5,000 motorists across the country with 20 test questions taken from various state driving tests, and for the second year in a row, California boasted more bad drivers than 47 other states. If we're to take this survey as accurate, then it's fair to say that California motorists have enough to worry about as it is, so why throw more distractions into the mix?
The answer is simple: money. Facing a $19 billion deficit, the California Legislature is kicking around a bill that would allow the state to begin researching what all would be involved with using electronic license plates for vehicles. The way it would work is when a vehicle is stopped for more than four seconds, the license plate would show digital ads or emergency messages, like Amber Alerts.
"We're just trying to find creative ways of generating additional revenues," said Curren Price, who authored the bill. "It's an exciting marriage of technology with need, and an opportunity to keep California in the forefront."
A company called Smart Plate has already begun developing the new plates, though is holding off on the production stage while the bill is debated. Smart Plate's chief executive M. Conrad Jordan insists that "the idea is not to turn a motorist's vehicle into a mobile billboard, but rather create a platform for motorists to show their support for existing good working organizations."
Sticklers for journalistic propriety have always frowned upon checkbook journalism, which is far more rampant now thanks to the internet. Thankfully for checkbook journalists though, their critics can do little more than protest. But buying a story is one thing, and flouting the law in doing so a totally different affair.
Last week, when Gizmodo proudly flaunted what it claimed to be a misplaced prototype of the next iPhone, it prompted many to question the legality of the way in which the phone was acquired – the blog’s editors avowedly paid $5000 for the misplaced phone. Under state law, a finder of goods who can determine the owner of lost property is under legal obligation to return it to its original owner, and the failure to do so makes him guilty of theft.
It has now emerged that cops investigating the matter raided Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's house on Friday and confiscated four computers and two servers. According to Jason Chen, cops bust into his house in his absence and were busy scouring the place for evidence when he and his wife arrived from dinner at around 9:45PM. The cops were carrying a search warrant issued by the Superior Court of the County of San Mateo, California.
Gawker Media COO Gaby Darbyshire believes that the search warrant against Gizmodo's editor contravened section 1524(g) of the California Penal Code, which states that “a publisher, editor, reporter, or other person connected with or employed upon a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication” can not be forced to make any disclosures with regards to the source of any information obtained by them in their official capacity.
The “Proposition 8” trial is underway in a federal court in San Francisco. The stakes are pretty high as the court sets about on determining the constitutionality of Proposition 8, which prohibits same-sex marriages in California. It came into effect after voters gave it their nod during last fall's elections.
The video of the trial was going to be uploaded onto YouTube after U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's approval, but the U.S Supreme Court today shot down the entire plan. However, the current ban on YouTube broadcast of the trial will only be in effect until Wednesday. This clearly implies that the Supreme Court will make a final decision after having thoroughly weighed the pros and cons of allowing such a broadcast.
Class action lawsuits lately seem a dime-a-dozen. Someone, on behalf of a nebulously defined ‘harmed class’ is suing a manufacturer because diagonal screen sizes or hard drive capacities are misleading. The goal seems reasonable: rectifying a wrong done to a group of similarly situated people. But the end result seems little more than the manufacturer getting off the hook, a big pay day for a law firm, and the harmed class getting little more than a pat on the head.
Take for example Microsoft’s price-fixing case in Wisconsin. Microsoft was ordered to cough up $234 million to Wisconsin consumers and businesses, according to the settlement. The distribution was in the form of vouchers, with values dependent upon what Microsoft products were purchased. For example, if you had bought a copy of Office you’d get a voucher for $23.
Except, of course, the vouchers are redeemable only for Microsoft products. It would seem that purchasers got nothing of real value from the deal, while Microsoft made off like a bandit. You’d either buy more Microsoft product, for which you were over-charged in the first place, or round-file the voucher, saving Microsoft any expense, save the printing.
How useful are such settlements? No word is yet in on redemption in Wisconsin, but in a similar deal in California, where $1 billion in vouchers were distributed, fewer than one million of the 14 million vouchers were redeemed.
But, law firms don’t get vouchers for their work. They get cold, hard cash. In the Wisconsin case a Court of Appeals recently upheld a lower court’s order that Microsoft pay the law firm, Zelle, Hofmann, Voebel & Mason LLP, $5.6 million for their work in defending the interests of the harmed class. Not a bad payday, considering how their clients made out.
California residents are already banned from holding cell phones while driving, and starting January 1, 2009, sunny state motorists will officially be disallowed to text message while driving. A first violation will result in a $20 fine, with each subsequent offense costing $50.
"Banning electronic text messaging while driving will keep drivers' hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, making our roadways a safer place for all Californians," said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It remains to be seen how much effect the new ban will have on text messaging motorists, but it should come as no surprise if a high number tickets get written. According to Tom Marshall, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol, there have already been 19,753 citations issued for holding cell phones since the law went into effect on July 1, 2008, less than three months ago.
The videogame trade body ridiculed Californian legislators, in a press release, for prodigally using taxpayer’s money for such preposterous litigations, especially at a time when the state is faced with a humungous $15 billion budget gap. The state of California is currently pursuing an appeal against the Federal court’s decision, and so, California might receive another hefty bill if its appeal fails.