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Man held website hostage for $10,000, failed, redirected it to porn, got busted

Enlarge (credit: Richard Lewis)

An Arizona man was sentenced Monday to four years of federal probation after he pled guilty to effectively holding a corporate website hostage and redirecting it to a gay porn site for several days in 2015. The defendant, Tavis Tso, was also ordered to pay over $9,000 in restitution.

According to Tso’s June 2017 plea deal with federal prosecutors, the story began in 2011 when he was working for an unnamed IT company in Phoenix. Tso set up the company’s account with GoDaddy, presumably for domain name and/or hosting services.

Nearly four years later, this company decide to update its contact information on the website and asked Tso for the login information on the GoDaddy account. He lied and told the company he didn’t have the relevant information and couldn’t help them. Then, Tso seemingly decided to expand what otherwise would have been an unremarkable incident.

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Most-wanted criminal arrested after posting Instagram video of himself

Enlarge (credit: Thomas Trutschel/Getty Images)

A Texas outlaw on the Lone Star State's 10 most-wanted list was arrested Tuesday in Los Angeles after he posted a video to Instagram of himself showing off his arsenal of weapons.

Christopher Ricardo Gonzalez, 18, was arrested after Dallas authorities tracked his location to a Los Angeles suburb, where he was taken into custody around 2am with the assistance of a police dog. Texas officials supplied Los Angeles police with the fugitive's GPS coordinates following his Instagram post.

The fugitive, aka Little Chris, is connected to the Bloods and is wanted on suspicion of murder, robbery, and a string of home invasions, the authorities said.

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Author of key Internet freedom law opposes new sex trafficking bill

Sen. Ron Wyden is a critic of SESTA. (credit: Ron Wyden)

The United States Senate is moving toward passage of a bill that would—for the first time—water down a landmark 1996 law that shields website operators from lawsuits and state prosecution for user-generated content. And one of the authors of that 1996 law, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), argued Tuesday that this would be a mistake.

The Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act now has 28 co-sponsors, and the breadth of that support was evident at a Tuesday hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee. The legislation would allow state attorneys general to prosecute websites that are used to promote sex trafficking—something that's currently barred by Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. It would also allow private lawsuits against sites that host sex trafficking ads.

But Wyden argued at Tuesday's hearing that weakening Section 230 would be a mistake. In Wyden's view, Section 230 has been essential for establishing the United States as a global technology leader. It freed Internet startups from worrying about getting sued for hosting user-generated content, Wyden claimed. The section also allows startups to focus their resources on hiring developers and designers instead of lawyers.

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Unwanted ads on Breitbart lead to massive click fraud revelations, Uber claims

Enlarge (credit: Bloomberg / Getty Images News)

Uber has sued an advertising firm, Fetch Media, over allegations that the British firm and its Japanese parent company, Dentsu, fraudulently billed Uber tens of millions of dollars for various fake online ads.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed Monday afternoon in federal court in San Francisco, Uber first realized that something was wrong when, earlier this year, the company began receiving complaints that its ads were appearing on Breitbart, a well-known conservative news website. Uber had specifically requested that its ads not appear on Breitbart at all.

However, when Uber looked into the matter, "the publisher-reported name of the websites and mobile applications where Uber advertisements supposedly appeared did not match the actual URL accessed. For example, one publisher retained by Fetch reported clicks on Uber ads as coming from placements such as 'Magic_Puzzles' and 'Snooker_Champion.'"

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Setback for group seeking “hockey stick” climate scientists’ e-mails

Enlarge / The gloves came off long ago. (credit: John McArthur)

Those prone to rejecting the conclusions of climate science sometimes fixate on weird things. For years, there has been a concerted effort to prove that a specific paleoclimate record—often referred to as “the hockey stick” because of the sharp rise at the end—was somehow fraudulent. It doesn't seem to matter that many other researchers have replicated and advanced those findings. These people seem to feel that all of climate science would come crashing down if you could just dig up a golden e-mail that reveals a dastardly scheme.

The original record was partly the work of Michael E. Mann, now at Penn State, and he has been hounded ever since. There have been a number of attempts to get universities to turn over his e-mails over the years. But last year, an effort targeting one of Mann’s colleagues in Arizona seemed to have finally found success.

A group called the Energy and Environment (E&E) Legal Institute had turned from Mann and instead focused on Malcom Hughes and James Overpeck at the University of Arizona. E&E Legal filed a broad Freedom of Information Act request in 2011, trying to obtain 10 years’ worth of their e-mails with fellow researchers. When the university rejected the request based on legal protections for the data and communications of researchers, E&E Legal sued in 2013. Two years later, the court decided in favor of the University of Arizona.

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