11/19/2005

Ex-Microsoft Worker Sentenced for Theft

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A federal judge sentenced a former Microsoft Corp. employee on Friday to four years in prison for illegally selling millions of dollars of company software.

Finn W. Contini, 37, of Redmond, pleaded guilty in January to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and four counts of money laundering.

He admitted ordering 2,700 pieces of software worth about $7 million through Microsoft’s internal ordering program, which he then sold for a personal profit of $2.3 million.

Prosecutors argued that Contini recruited others to take part in the scheme.

Three other employees were sentenced earlier this year. Robert Howdeshell, 40 of Puyallup, was sentenced to two years and three months in prison. Alyson Clark, 38, of Normandy Park, and Christine Hendrickson, 34, of Bothell, each got five months in prison and five months of home confinement

In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge John Coughenour ordered Contini serve three years of supervised release and pay $7.1 million in restitution.

Spyware, SPY BLOCK Act approved by Senate

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation reported the Software Principles Yielding Better Levels of Consumer Knowledge Act or the 鈥淪PY BLOCK Act,鈥? by unanimous consent. The bill would outlaw a number of activities that are associated with spyware and strengthen the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)鈥檚 enforcement authority.

The SPY BLOCK Act targets three main consumer harms: taking control of a user鈥檚 computer, software that triggers advertising out of context with the use of the computer, and undisclosed collection of personal information.

The bill identifies a series of unfair and deceptive practices, which include computer hijacking, spam zombies, endless loop pop-up advertisements, and fraudulent and false installation. In addition, the SPY BLOCK Act outlaws modem hijacking, which allows spyware companies to charge overseas phone calls to victims, and denial of service attacks, which coordinate computers to attack government and other webpages.

The substitute prohibits personal information collection when the collection is not 鈥渃learly and conspicuously disclosed鈥? or advertised as part of the software鈥檚 purpose. If sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers or account numbers, is being collected, then a notice and consent regime is required. In addition, users must be able to uninstall any software that collects personal information.

Source: technologynewsdaily.com

Skype to make U.S. retail debut

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Net telephone service Skype Technologies is set to make its first appearance in a U.S. retail store.

The Luxembourg-based Net telephony company, founded by the people behind the Kazaa peer-to-peer service, is expected to announce on Monday that it has struck a partnership with consumer electronics chain RadioShack.
Skype Starter Kit More than 3,000 RadioShack locations nationwide on Monday will begin offering the Skype Starter Kit, which includes the software that enables a customer to use Skype’s free computer-to-computer telephone service, a headset and 30 minutes of Skype’s premium service, with which a user can call a landline or cell phone, company executives said.

Source: News.com

Sony offers new CDs, MP3s for recalled discs

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Sony BMG Music Entertainment released details Friday on a virtually unprecedented CD recall program that will allow music buyers to exchange recently purchased CDs with copy protection for new discs and MP3s.

The company is responding to widespread security worries over copy protection technology contained on 52 albums released over the last year. When put in a Windows-based computer’s CD player, the discs install antipiracy technology on a hard drive that exposes the PC to the risk of viruses and other hacker attacks.

Sony said on Friday that customers who have purchased any of the affected CDs can mail the discs back to the company using instructions found on the record label’s Web site. Once they have sent in the discs, customers will also be provided with a link to download MP3s of the songs on the album.

Source: News.com

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