OpenAI Threatens Popular GitHub Project With Lawsuit Over API Use

A GitHub project called GPT4free has received a letter from OpenAI demanding that the repo be shut down within five days or face a lawsuit. Tom’s Hardware reports: Anyone can use ChatGPT for free, but if you want to use GPT4, the latest language model, you have to either pay for ChatGPT Plus, pay for access to OpenAI’s API, or find another site that has incorporated GPT4 into its own free chatbot. There are sites that use OpenAI such as Forefront and, but what if you want to make your own bot and don’t want to pay for the API? A GitHub project called GPT4free allows you to get free access to the GPT4 and GPT3.5 models by funneling those queries through sites like, Quora and CoCalc and giving you back the answers. The project is GitHub’s most popular new repo, getting 14,000 stars this week.

Now, according to Xtekky, the European computer science student who runs the repo, OpenAI has sent a letter demanding that he take the whole thing down within five days or face a lawsuit. I interviewed Xtekky via Telegram, and he said he doesn’t think OpenAI should be targeting him since he isn’t connecting directly to the company’s API, but is instead getting data from other sites that are paying for their own API licenses. If the owners of those sites have a problem with his scripts querying them, they should approach him directly, he posited. […] Even if the original repo is taken down, there’s a great chance that the code — and this method of accessing GPT4 and GPT3.5 — will be published elsewhere by members of the community. Even if GPT4Free had never existed anyone can find ways to use these sites’ APIs if they continue to be unsecured. “Users are sharing and hosting this project everywhere,” he said. “Deletion of my repo will be insignificant.”

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FTC Orders Supplement Maker To Pay $600K In First Case Involving Hijacked Amazon Reviews

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has approved a final consent order in its first-ever enforcement action over a case involving “review hijacking,” or when a marketer steals consumer reviews of another product to boost the sales of its own. TechCrunch reports: In this case, the FTC has ordered supplements retailer The Bountiful Company, the maker of Nature’s Bounty vitamins and other brands, to pay $600,000 for deceiving customers on Amazon where it used a feature to merge the reviews of different products to make some appear to have better ratings and reviews than they otherwise would have had if marketed under their own listings. The case exposes how sellers have been exploiting an Amazon feature that allows sellers to request the creation of “variation” relationships between different products and SKUs. The feature is meant to help marketers and consumers alike as it creates a single detail page on that shows similar products that are different only in narrow, specific ways, the FTC explains — like items that come in a different color, size, quantity or flavor. For instance, a t-shirt may have a dozen SKUs associated with one another because the shirt comes in a wide variety of colors.

For shoppers, it’s helpful to see all the options on one page so you can pick the item that best matches your needs and budget. In the case of supplements, the feature could be used to combine the same products by merging various SKUs featuring different quantities of the item in question, like bottles with 50, 100 or 200 pills, for example. However, The Bountiful Company exploited Amazon’s feature to merge its newer products with older, well-established products which had different formulations, the FTC said. The FTC cited and screenshotted more than a dozen examples from 2020 and 2021 in its original complaint (PDF) against the vitamin and supplement maker, which in 2021 sold its core brands — including Nature’s Bounty and Sundown — to Nestle. As a result of these product merges, consumers who happened across any of the newer products would believe them to be better received than they were in reality, as they were benefiting from the merged ratings and reviews of other, differentiated items.

“Boosting your products by hijacking another product’s ratings or reviews is a relatively new tactic, but is still plain old false advertising,” Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said this February when the consent order was first announced ahead of its public comment period and finalized version. With today’s decision, Bountiful will have to pay the Commission $600,000 as monetary relief for consumers. It’s also prohibited from making similar types of misrepresentations and barred from using “deceptive review tactics that distort what consumers think about its products or services,” the FTC said in a unanimous 4-0 decision.

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Google Defends Auto-Deletion of Chats After US Alleged It Destroyed Evidence

Google defended its use of “history-off chats” for many internal communications, denying the US government’s allegation that it intentionally destroyed evidence needed in an antitrust case. The history-off setting causes messages to be automatically deleted within 24 hours. Ars Technica reports: The US government and 21 states last month asked a court to sanction Google for allegedly using the auto-delete function on chats to destroy evidence and accused Google of falsely telling the government that it suspended its auto-deletion practices on chats subject to a legal hold. Google opposed the motion for sanctions on Friday in a filing (PDF) in US District Court for the District of Columbia. Google said it uses a “tiered approach” for preserving chats. “When there is litigation, Google instructs employees on legal hold not to use messaging apps like Google Chat to discuss the subjects at issue in the litigation and, if they must, to switch their settings to ‘history on’ for chats regarding the subjects at issue in the litigation, so that any such messages are preserved,” the Google filing said.

Google said the government plaintiffs “contend that the Federal Rules specifically mandate that Google should have applied a forced history on setting for all custodians for all chats created while the custodian was on legal hold, regardless of the possible relevance of the message to the litigation.” But federal rules only require “reasonable steps to preserve” information, Google pointed out. “Google’s vast preservation efforts here — and specifically its methodology with respect to history-off chats — were ‘reasonable steps’ under the Rule,” Google argued. Google said the US and state attorneys general “have not been denied access to material information needed to prosecute these cases and they have offered no evidence that Google intentionally destroyed such evidence.” Google also argued that the objections came too late, alleging that the government knew before litigation began “that there was a subset of chats not automatically retained.” “Plaintiffs’ motions are barred at the outset because they were on notice of Google’s approach to chats for years, yet did not object until well after the close of discovery. Those tactics should not be countenanced,” Google told the court.

Google said its November 2019 disclosures in an ESI (Electronically Stored Information) questionnaire “show that the distinction between ‘on-the-record’ and other chats was apparent to anyone who wanted to pursue the matter from the outset of DOJ’s investigation. For instance, the ESI Questionnaire response specifies that chat ‘messages are generally retained for a period of 30 days if they have been marked on-the-record, and potentially longer if on-the-record messages are on legal hold.'” Google also said, “it is no secret how Google’s Chat product operates” because it’s a publicly available product and the Google Chat website explains the history-off feature. The Justice Department’s motion last month said things happened very differently. “Google systematically destroyed an entire category of written communications every 24 hours” for nearly four years, the government motion said, continuing […].

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Biden Won’t Stop a Potential Ban On Importing Apple Watches

Medical device maker AliveCor announced today that President Biden has upheld an International Trade Commission ruling that could result in a potential import ban on the Apple Watch over its EKG feature. The Verge reports: Back in December, the ITC issued a final determination (PDF) that Apple had infringed on AliveCor’s wearable EKG tech. In the ruling, the ITC recommended a limited exclusion order and a cease-and-desist order for Apple Watch models with EKG features. If enforced, that would mean that Apple would no longer be able to import Apple Watch with EKG capabilities into the US for sale. According to Apple spokesperson Hannah Smith, the company will appeal the ITC’s decision to the Federal Circuit.

A veto from Biden would have rendered the issue moot. According to The Hill, while presidents generally don’t interfere with ITC rulings, in 2013, former President Obama vetoed a similar import ban after the ITC ruled that iPhones and iPads infringed on Samsung tech. It’s possible that Apple was hoping for history to repeat itself, as it reportedly amped up lobbying last week ahead of Biden’s decision.
Biden’s decision doesn’t mean every Apple Watch from the Series 4 to the Apple Watch Ultra (excluding both generations of the SE) is about to disappear off shelves. Apple’s Smith told The Verge the ITC’s ruling doesn’t have any real impact at the moment. That’s because the Patent Trial and Appeal Board recently ruled that AliveCor’s EKG tech isn’t actually patentable, and AliveCor would have to win its appeal (PDF) to that ruling for any potential ban to take effect. However, AliveCor isn’t the only medical tech company that’s seeking an import ban on the Apple Watch via the ITC. Masimo also sued Apple for allegedly infringing on five of its pulse oximetry patents. Last month, an ITC judge also ruled in Masimo’s favor and will decide whether a potential import ban is warranted in May. If so, that import ban would impact any Apple Watch with an SpO2 sensor (i.e., the Series 6 or later, excluding the SE.)

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Judge Slaps Sanctions on Seattle for Deleting Thousands of Texts Between Top Officials

A federal judge has levied crippling sanctions against the city of Seattle for deleting thousands of text messages between high-ranking officials, including the former mayor and police chief, during the three-week Capitol Hill Organized Protest — a ruling that will undermine the city’s defense against a lawsuit filed by business owners and residents affected by the high-profile protests. From a report: In a pair of lengthy orders Jan. 13, U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly sent the so-called Hunters Capital lawsuit to trial on two of five claims, dismissing three others. He also ordered the city to pay the attorneys fees for those who showed city leaders destroyed significant evidence about their decision-making during CHOP, including their move to abandon the Police Department’s East Precinct. The judge found significant evidence that the destruction of CHOP evidence was intentional and that officials tried for months to hide the text deletions from opposing attorneys. “The Court finds substantial circumstantial evidence that the city acted with the requisite intent necessary to impose a severe sanction and that the city’s conduct exceeds gross negligence,” he wrote. For that reason, Zilly said that when the case goes to trial he’ll instruct the jury that it may presume the text messages were detrimental to the city’s legal position and that there’s significant circumstantial evidence they were deleted intentionally.

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Judge Signals Jail Time if Bankman-Fried’s Internet Access Is Not Curbed

Sarah Blesener writes via The New York Times: Since his arrest two months ago, Samuel Bankman-Fried, the disgraced cryptocurrency executive, has been physically confined to the Palo Alto home of his parents, under the force of a $250 million bail package. But he has roamed largely unfettered in the wilderness of the internet: conducting interviews, posting narratives, making calls on encrypted apps and using a virtual private network, a web tool that allows users to conceal data and visit websites without detection. Those unrestrained days may soon be over. On Thursday, a federal judge overseeing Mr. Bankman-Fried’s multibillion-dollar fraud case signaled a willingness to jail him for his persistent testing of his confinement’s boundaries, going beyond what prosecutors had asked. “Why am I being asked to turn him loose in this garden of electronic devices?” the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, asked prosecutors, describing the well-wired home of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s parents, both professors at Stanford Law School.

No new conditions were set during Thursday’s hearing, the latest of several hearings, held in federal court in Manhattan, to consider more restrictive bail terms. Judge Kaplan asked both sides to prepare concrete proposals that would limit and monitor Mr. Bankman-Fried’s access to the internet without inhibiting his ability to participate in his defense. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have charged Mr. Bankman-Fried with orchestrating widespread fraud at FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange he founded, accusing him of misappropriating billions of dollars of customers’ money. Prosecutors said he used the funds to finance lavish real estate purchases, political contributions and investments in other companies. After he was charged in December, Mr. Bankman-Fried was released on bail with the requirement that he wear an ankle monitor and stay confined to his parents’ house. […]

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Apple Sued By Stalking Victims Over Alleged AirTag Tracking

schwit1 shares a report from Popular Science: [T]wo women filed a potential class action lawsuit against Apple, alleging the company has ignored critics’ and security experts’ repeated warnings that the company’s AirTag devices are being repeatedly used to stalk and harass people. Both individuals were targets of past abuse from ex-partners and argued in the filing that Apple’s subsequent safeguard solutions remain wholly inadequate for consumers. “With a price point of just $29, it has become the weapon of choice of stalkers and abusers,” reads a portion of the lawsuit, as The New York Times reported […].

Apple first debuted AirTags in April 2021. Within the ensuing eight months, at least 150 police reports from just eight precincts reviewed by Motherboard explicitly mentioned abusers utilizing the tracking devices to stalk and harass women. In the new lawsuit, plaintiffs allege that one woman’s abuser hid the location devices within her car’s wheel well. At the same time, the other woman’s abuser placed one in their child’s backpack following a contentious divorce, according to the suit. Security experts have since cautioned that hundreds more similar situations likely remain unreported or even undetected.

The lawsuit (PDF), published by Ars Technica, cites them as “one of the products that has revolutionized the scope, breadth, and ease of location-based stalking,” arguing that “what separates the AirTag from any competitor product is its unparalleled accuracy, ease of use (it fits seamlessly into Apple’s existing suite of products), and affordability.” The proposed class action lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for owners of iOS or Android devices which have been tracked with an AirTag or are at risk of being stalked. Since AirTags’ introduction last year, at least two murders have occurred directly involving using Apple’s surveillance gadget, according to the lawsuit.

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