Judge Orders YouTube to Reveal Everyone Who Viewed A Video

“If you’ve ever jokingly wondered if your search or viewing history is going to ‘put you on some kind of list,’ your concern may be more than warranted,” writes Mashable :

In now unsealed court documents reviewed by Forbes, Google was ordered to hand over the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and user activity of Youtube accounts and IP addresses that watched select YouTube videos, part of a larger criminal investigation by federal investigators.

The videos were sent by undercover police to a suspected cryptocurrency launderer… In conversations with the bitcoin trader, investigators sent links to public YouTube tutorials on mapping via drones and augmented reality software, Forbes details. The videos were watched more than 30,000 times, presumably by thousands of users unrelated to the case. YouTube’s parent company Google was ordered by federal investigators to quietly hand over all such viewer data for the period of Jan. 1 to Jan. 8, 2023…

“According to documents viewed by Forbes, a court granted the government’s request for the information,” writes PC Magazine, adding that Google was asked “to not publicize the request.”
The requests are raising alarms for privacy experts who say the requests are unconstitutional and are “transforming search warrants into digital dragnets” by potentially targeting individuals who are not associated with a crime based simply on what they may have watched online.
That quote came from Albert Fox-Cahn, executive director at the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, who elaborates in Forbes’ article. “No one should fear a knock at the door from police simply because of what the YouTube algorithm serves up. I’m horrified that the courts are allowing this.”

Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader schwit1 for sharing the article.

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New Bill Would Let Defendants Inspect Algorithms Used Against Them In Court

Lauren Feiner reports via The Verge: Reps. Mark Takano (D-CA) and Dwight Evans (D-PA) reintroduced the Justice in Forensic Algorithms Act on Thursday, which would allow defendants to access the source code of software used to analyze evidence in their criminal proceedings. It would also require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create testing standards for forensic algorithms, which software used by federal enforcers would need to meet.

The bill would act as a check on unintended outcomes that could be created by using technology to help solve crimes. Academic research has highlighted the ways human bias can be built into software and how facial recognition systems often struggle to differentiate Black faces, in particular. The use of algorithms to make consequential decisions in many different sectors, including both crime-solving and health care, has raised alarms for consumers and advocates as a result of such research.

Takano acknowledged that gaining or hiring the deep expertise needed to analyze the source code might not be possible for every defendant. But requiring NIST to create standards for the tools could at least give them a starting point for understanding whether a program matches the basic standards. Takano introduced previous iterations of the bill in 2019 and 2021, but they were not taken up by a committee.

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NYC Sues Social Media Companies Over Youth Mental Health Crisis

New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced a lawsuit against four of the nation’s largest social media companies, accusing them of fueling a “national youth mental health crisis.” From a report: The lawsuit was filed to hold TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube Accountable for their damaging influence on the mental health of children, Adams said. The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court, alleged the companies intentionally designed their platforms to purposefully manipulate and addict children and teens to social media applications. The lawsuit pointed to the use of algorithms to generate feeds that keep users on the platforms longer and encourage compulsive use.

“Over the past decade, we have seen just how addictive and overwhelming the online world can be, exposing our children to a non-stop stream of harmful content and fueling our national youth mental health crisis,” Adams said. “Our city is built on innovation and technology, but many social media platforms end up endangering our children’s mental health, promoting addiction, and encouraging unsafe behavior.” The lawsuit accused the social media companies of manipulating users by making them feel compelled to respond to one positive action with another positive action.

“These platforms take advantage of reciprocity by, for example, automatically telling the sender when their message was seen or sending notifications when a message was delivered, encouraging teens to return to the platform again and again and perpetuating online engagement and immediate responses,” the lawsuit said. The city is joining hundreds of school districts across the nation in filing litigation to force the tech companies to change their behavior and recover the costs of addressing the public health threat.

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Amazon Hides Cheaper Items With Faster Delivery, Lawsuit Alleges

A class-action lawsuit alleges (PDF) that Amazon manipulates its platform through a biased algorithm to favor the “Buy Box” for items that generate higher fees for Amazon, often leading consumers to overpay for products that could be obtained cheaper and just as quickly from other sellers on the platform. Ars Technica reports: The lawsuit claims that a biased algorithm drives Amazon’s “Buy Box,” which appears on an item’s page and prompts shoppers to “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart.” According to customers suing, nearly 98 percent of Amazon sales are of items featured in the Buy Box, because customers allegedly “reasonably” believe that featured items offer the best deal on the platform.

“But they are often wrong,” the complaint said, claiming that instead, Amazon features items from its own retailers and sellers that participate in Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA), both of which pay Amazon higher fees and gain secret perks like appearing in the Buy Box. “The result is that consumers routinely overpay for items that are available at lower prices from other sellers on Amazonâ”not because consumers don’t care about price, or because they’re making informed purchasing decisions, but because Amazon has chosen to display the offers for which it will earn the highest fees,” the complaint said.

Authorities in the US and the European Union have investigated Amazon’s allegedly anticompetitive Buy Box algorithm, confirming that it’s “favored FBA sellers since at least 2016,” the complaint said. In 2021, Amazon was fined more than $1 billion by the Italian Competition Authority over these unfair practices, and in 2022, the European Commission ordered Amazon to “apply equal treatment to all sellers when deciding what to feature in the Buy Box.” These investigations served as the first public notice that Amazon’s Buy Box couldn’t be trusted, customers suing said. Amazon claimed that the algorithm was fixed in 2020, but so far, Amazon does not appear to have addressed all concerns over its Buy Box algorithm. As of 2023, European regulators have continued pushing Amazon “to take further action to remedy its Buy Box bias in their respective jurisdictions,” the customers’ complaint said.

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Apple Is Settling Chip Secrets Theft Case Against Startup Rivos, Former Employees

In 2022 Apple filed a lawsuit against startup Rivos. The lawsuit said that in one year Rivos had hired more than 40 former Apple employees to work on competing system-on-a-chip technology, according to Reuters, “and that at least two former Apple engineers took gigabytes of confidential information with them to Rivos.”

But Friday Bloomberg reported that the two companies told a judge that they’d “signed an agreement that potentially settles the case.”

“The agreement provides for remediation of Apple confidential information based on a forensic examination of Rivos systems and other activities,” according to the filing in federal court in San Jose, California. “The parties currently are working through that process.”

More details from Engadget:

Apple also accused the defendant of instructing the employees it hired away to steal presentations and other proprietary information for unreleased iPhone chip designs that cost billions of dollars to develop. Rivos countersued Apple last year, accusing the larger company of restricting employees’ ability to work elsewhere and of hindering emerging startups’ growth by using anticompetitive measures.
The court dismissed Apple’s trade secret claims against Rivos in April 2023, though the company was allowed to file a revised complaint. Apple already settled with its six former employees who filed a countersuit against the iPhonemaker along with Rivos after they dropped their claims against each other last month.

Both companies are now requesting the court to put their cases on hold until March 15, when they expect the settlement to be completed.

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Jury Awards Climate Scientist $1 Million In Defamation Lawsuit

“The jury took little time to determine that Michael Mann had been defamed by conservative writers who likened him to a pedophile,” writes longtime Slashdot reader BishopBerkeley in a follow-up to Wednesday’s story. “He has received a $1 million judgment against the writers. This was likely because scrutiny of his data showed no malfeasance or misuse of data, but the ‘conservative’ writers’ accusations continued, nevertheless.” The Associated Press reports: Mann’s research was investigated after his and other scientists’ emails were leaked in 2009 in an incident that brought further scrutiny of the “hockey stick” graph, with skeptics claiming Mann manipulated data. Investigations by Penn State and others found no misuse of data by Mann, but his work continued to draw attacks, particularly from conservatives. “Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except for instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data,” Simberg wrote. Another writer, Mark Steyn, later referenced Simberg’s article in his own piece in National Review, calling Mann’s research “fraudulent.”

The jury in Superior Court of the District of Columbia awarded Mann $1 in compensatory damages from each writer; it also awarded punitive damages of $1,000 from Simberg and $1 million from Steyn. It announced its verdict after four weeks of trial and one day of deliberations. During the trial, Steyn represented himself, but said through his manager Melissa Howes that he would be appealing the $1 million award in punitive damages, saying it would have to face “due process scrutiny.”

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Self-Proclaimed Bitcoin Inventor’s Claim ‘a Brazen Lie,’ London Court Told

In a London court, lawyers for a group supported by the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) argued that Craig Wright’s assertion of being the inventor of bitcoin is “a brazen lie,” challenged by accusations of extensive document forgery to substantiate his claim. Wright’s defense disputes these allegations, maintaining that he has presented definitive proof of his role in creating bitcoin. Reuters reports: Craig Wright says he is the author of a 2008 white paper, the foundational text of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, published in the name “Satoshi Nakamoto”. He argues this means he owns the copyright in the white paper and has intellectual property rights over the bitcoin blockchain. But the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) — whose members include Twitter founder Dorsey’s payments firm Block — is asking London’s High Court to rule that Wright is not Satoshi.

The five-week hearing, at which Wright will give evidence from Tuesday, is the culmination of years of speculation about the true identity of Satoshi. Wright first publicly claimed to be Satoshi in 2016 and has since taken legal action against cryptocurrency developers and exchanges. COPA, however, says Wright has never provided any genuine proof, accusing him of repeatedly forging documents to support his claim, which Wright denies. Wright sat in court as COPA’s lawyer Jonathan Hough said his claim was “a brazen lie, an elaborate false narrative supported by forgery on an industrial scale.” Hough said that “there are elements of Dr Wright’s conduct that stray into farce,” citing his alleged use of ChatGPT to produce forgeries.

But he added: “Dr Wright’s conduct is also deadly serious. On the basis of his dishonest claim to be Satoshi, he has pursued claims he puts at hundreds of billions of dollars, including against numerous private individuals.” Wright’s lawyer Anthony Grabiner, however, argued in court filings that he has produced “clear evidence demonstrating his authorship of the white paper and creation of bitcoin.” Grabiner added that it was “striking” that no one else had publicly claimed to be Satoshi. “If Dr Wright were not Satoshi, the real Satoshi would have been expected to come forward to counter the claim,” he said.

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eBay To Pay $3 Million Penalty For Employees Sending Live Cockroaches, Fetal Pig To Bloggers

E-commerce giant eBay agreed to pay a $3 million penalty for the harassment and stalking of a Massachusetts couple by several of its employees. “The couple, Ina and David Steiner, had been subjected to threats and bizarre deliveries, including live spiders, cockroaches, a funeral wreath and a bloody pig mask in August 2019,” reports CBS News. From the report: Thursday’s fine comes after several eBay employees ran a harassment and intimidation campaign against the Steiners, who publish a news website focusing on players in the e-commerce industry. “eBay engaged in absolutely horrific, criminal conduct. The company’s employees and contractors involved in this campaign put the victims through pure hell, in a petrifying campaign aimed at silencing their reporting and protecting the eBay brand,” Levy said. “We left no stone unturned in our mission to hold accountable every individual who turned the victims’ world upside-down through a never-ending nightmare of menacing and criminal acts.”

The Justice Department criminally charged eBay with two counts of stalking through interstate travel, two counts of stalking through electronic communications services, one count of witness tampering and one count of obstruction of justice. The company agreed to pay $3 million as part of a deferred prosecution agreement. Under the agreement, eBay will be required to retain an independent corporate compliance monitor for three years, officials said, to “ensure that eBay’s senior leadership sets a tone that makes compliance with the law paramount, implements safeguards to prevent future criminal activity, and makes clear to every eBay employee that the idea of terrorizing innocent people and obstructing investigations will not be tolerated,” Levy said.

Former U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said the plan to target the Steiners, which he described as a “campaign of terror,” was hatched in April 2019 at eBay. Devin Wenig, eBay’s CEO at the time, shared a link to a post Ina Steiner had written about his annual pay. The company’s chief communications officer, Steve Wymer, responded: “We are going to crush this lady.” About a month later, Wenig texted: “Take her down.” Prosecutors said Wymer later texted eBay security director Jim Baugh. “I want to see ashes. As long as it takes. Whatever it takes,” Wymer wrote. Investigators said Baugh set up a meeting with security staff and dispatched a team to Boston, about 20 miles from where the Steiners live. “Senior executives at eBay were frustrated with the newsletter’s tone and content, and with the comments posted beneath the newsletter’s articles,” the Department of Justice wrote in its Thursday announcement. Two former eBay security executives were sentenced to prison over the incident.

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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 You.com, 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 You.com, 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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