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4th Amendment Summary by the EFF

Can you refuse search or not? It would be good to know your rights.
(Image is in the Public Domain)

You can't use rights you don't know about or don't understand. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has posted a summary of your 4th amendment rights to deny the government permission to search you or your belongings (digital or otherwise).

It's good to know what you can and can't do since you should know that even when you've done nothing wrong, you may still get yourself into a lot of trouble if you are careless with your privacy.

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Judge Supresses Report on Voting Machine Insecurity

Evoting
(Image is in the Public Domain)

Just great.

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California First State to Force Fast Food To Post Calorie Totals

California leads the way
(Image is in the Public Domain)

Well I pretty much shot the content for this post out in the title. Well, I guess I'll just say, "Way to go Cali!" and "It's about time".

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RIAA Victim becomes Victor!

Freed from a bogus judgement
(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

The Thomas v. Captiol case was something we all watched with horror as some poor woman was slapped with a fine of $220,000 simply for having downloaded some music. However, that case has recently been overturned due to the fact that the RIAA's argument that merely having copyrighted music available for download is a crime.

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Spore Slapped With Class Action Suit Over Invasive DRM

Gaming
(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.5 [SRC])

It's hardly surprising that there has been a huge backlash against Spore due to the decision to include DRM. I'm a little surprised, but very happy, that someone had the tenacity to file a class action lawsuit against them for it.

In the end, no company has the right to control your game playing to this degree. It's a shame that a game from such a well-renowned company would be smeared and tarnished because their foolish decision to treat their customers like criminals.

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iTunes Update Erases Music Library

Bad apple
(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

A glitch in the newest iTunes software update has caused many people to lose previously purchased music and movies. Though they've fixed the problem and apologized for it, many people are unsatisfied.

"Most of the music I have purchased online from Apple's iTunes Store has been deactivated," wrote Martin of Suisan, Calif. "I have purchased approximately $140 dollars worth of songs and videos from iTunes Store, which currently is worthless due to the fact that iTunes will no longer play any of them."

When you deal with a company that is dead set on controlling everything you do with your legally purchased media, you're best off not using their product. Even if you decide to use iTunes, make sure to strip the DRM off using the Hymn Utility so you can copy or use the music freely.

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“Spore” Dying Under DRM

DRM
(Image is in the Public Domain)

Spore, the long-awaited video game from the creator of Sim-City and the Sims has finally been released, but with a catch. It includes invasive Digital Rights Management (DRM) that has resulted in a movement by gamers to keep the Amazon.com score at the absolute bottom.

I hate to see a good game go down, but no company has the right to try so hard to control how we use our legally purchased software.

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Beware “Brick in a Box”

Brick
(Image is in the Public Domain)

Sometimes when you buy something online or at a major retailer, you'll get it home to find out that it's full of bricks or bathroom tiles instead of the product you expected. Sometimes this is due to shifty warehouse workers and sometimes because a customer buys a product, says it's defective and returns it even though they replaced it with bricks. If the customer service counter doesn't check the box before accepting it, it goes back on the shelf and you get stuck with it.

The store's response to this is generally not going to work in your favor, but there are ways you can make sure you don't end up with the brick.

Read the article for full details, but here are the two main tips they cover that I agree with:

  1. Pay with credit card – This will give you many types of buyer protection automatically like the ability to do a chargeback.
  2. Check the item before you leave the store – Make sure you know what's actually in that box before you walk out. It's much harder for them to make the claim that you put a brick in it inside the store.
  3. Policies aren't laws – Just because a story says "it's policy" doesn't mean you should give up. They often have very bad policies and even some that might be considered illegal. You should fight for what's right regardless of what the store says is "policy".
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Amazon.com Kicking Customers Out of the Store

Amazon
(Image is used under the Pixabay license)

Amazon.com has been closing accounts that have "too high a percentage of returns" or "[ship] to too many different addresses".

I've never liked Amazon.com's policies but this kind of anti-customer activity is even worse than Yahoo. To be fair, there's not much detail on which accounts have been closed and what counts as abuse to them, but this sounds a lot like the customer profiling that Best Buy has been doing.

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Possible Trend: Movies on USB Drives

To the movies!
(Image is in the Public Domain)

Ghostbusters has become the first movie to be distributed on a USB drive. It includes a strong form of DRM that they hope will prevent people from copying it. Whether that proves more effective than the DRM they've tried on DVDs remains to be seen.

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