U.S. Tally in Online-Crime Sweep: 150 Charged

The Justice Department announced Thursday that more than 150 people had been arrested, charged or convicted in the last three months in a wide-ranging sweep of criminal activity on the Internet.

The cases, involving credit card fraud, corporate espionage and other offenses, are part of what the department called Operation Web Snare. The sweep was conducted by 37 offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 13 divisions of the Postal Inspection Service and other federal and local agencies. Investigators have identified more than 150,000 victims with losses in excess of $215 million. Read all about it. [registration required]

Love of Books permeates librarian’s life

Filed under August memories for Kathy Amrhein is hanging out at the Allegheny Regional Library on the North Side.
To get relief from sweltering summer days, Amrhein and her sister would climb wide marble stairs. Inside, marble pillars and walls created a cooling, cave-like sanctuary. Here, as a young reader, Amrhein learned the joys of rousing tales and soaring facts. Many of her interests have continued into her adult life. Primary among them is her interest in books and libraries. Read more.

California E-Mail Privacy Bill Passes Legislature, Heads to Governor’s Desk

California Senator Debra Bowen’s electronic privacy bill, SB 1841, which requires employers to notify employees before they read their employees e-mails or track Web sites they visit, is heading to the governor’s desk. The measure, backed by consumer and privacy advocates, passed the Senate this week on a 23-11 vote.

Governor Schwarzenegger will have until September 30th to sign, veto, or let it become law without his signature. Read more.

Internet Gives Teenage Bullies Weapons to Wound From Afar

he fight started at school, when some eighth-grade girls stole a pencil case filled with makeup that belonged to a new classmate, Amanda Marcuson, and she reported them.

But it did not end there. As soon as Amanda got home, the instant messages started popping up on her computer screen. She was a tattletale and a liar, they said. Shaken, she typed back, “You stole my stuff!” She was a “stuck-up bitch,” came the instant response in the box on the screen, followed by a series of increasingly ugly epithets.

That evening, Amanda’s mother tore her away from the computer to go to a basketball game with her family. But the barrage of electronic insults did not stop. Like a lot of other teenagers, Amanda has her Internet messages automatically forwarded to her cellphone, and by the end of the game she had received 50, the limit of its capacity. Read more.

Professor Disciplined for Privacy Violation

A Metropolitan (Denver, CO) State College political-science professor has been disciplined in a highly publicized case in which a student accused her of political bias in the classroom.

Metro is punishing tenured professor Oneida J. Meranto for violating a federal student privacy law, not for political bias, a claim student George Culpepper lobbed against her.

The standoff came last winter while the contentious “academic bill of rights” was before the state legislature. The proposal, which was intended to protect students from political bias among professors, did not become law.

The conflict took on a national flare when U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colorado, asked the U.S Department of Education to investigate.

Read more.

Feds Bust File-Sharing Sites

Law enforcement agents have raided five homes and one ISP in what the Department of Justice calls the first federal enforcement action against piracy on peer-to-peer networks.
Agents seized computers, software, and computer equipment in the searches, which took place Wednesday in Texas, New York, and Wisconsin. The action targets illegal distribution of copyright-protected movies, software, games, and music on five P-to-P networks operated by a group known as The Underground Network, the DOJ says in a statement. No charges have been filed. Read all about it.

Microsoft, Time Warner Face Probe of DRM Deals

The European Commission announced Wednesday it will extend an antitrust probe of a move by Microsoft and Time Warner to take control of technology that could help the music and movie industries fight piracy.
Microsoft, Sony, Apple Computer, RealNetworks and IBM are all trying to become dominant suppliers of digital rights management technology, or DRM. The technology is designed to give content publishers a tight grip on how digital music, video and other software can be used.

Spending by U.S. companies on DRM software will grow to $274 million in 2008 from $36 million in 2003, according to Jupiter Research in New York. Read More.

Library Board Issues Ultimatum

Lauri Ann West Library’s branch has a cloudy future. The parent organization put in black and white what it felt was needed to clarify the branch’s future.

“We want to keep it open,” said Fox Chapel (PA) Mayor Harry McLaughlin Jr., a Community Center & Library Association board member. “Things have to be done by them.”

The library board sent the city council a letter requesting the borough help locate an alternate, low-cost site, identify additional grant funding and increase the local municipal money according to an unnamed source.

Unless borough council supports these needs fully, the library likely will pull books and services out of the riverfront town after Dec. 31, the letter said. Read more.