Saturday, December 20, 2008

RIAA Stops Massive Piracy Lawsuits

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the RIAA is shifting its strategy against people who illegally upload and download copyright protected music online. Instead of threatening individuals with lawsuits and demands of cash settlements, the RIAA will partner up with internet service providers to try and stop people from sharing copyrighted music. Instead of sending letters to ISPs demanding the identity of illegal file sharers and then sueing those customers, the RIAA will let the ISP know when one of it's customers is making copyrighted music available online. The ISP will then send the customer a communication asking them to cease making those files available. If they do not comply, the ISP may slow down, or even cut off internet service to the offender. The RIAA will still sue people who continue to upload and share large amounts of copyrighted material, but they are going to be much more selective about it than they have been for the past five years.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Heads Up Internet Explorer Users

If you use Internet Explorer for your web browsing, you may want to switch to Firefox for a little while. According to published reports, there is a serious security flaw that has been exploited in Internet Explorer. The security flaw can make a user's computer vulnerable to being hijacked. This can happen when the user is tricked into clicking on to a website that contains some malicious code. When the user clicks on a link to the site, they may inadvertently allow hackers to take over their system without even knowing it. Internet security software company, Trend Micro, reports that as many as 10,000 websites have been compromised since last week. Microsoft released some work arounds for the problem which includes changing the security settings in your browser to "high". In order to change your security settings in Explorer, you need to go to the tools section of the menu bar and choose internet options. This should help to limit any attacks on the computer. You could also switch to a different browser including, Firefox or Google's new browser, Chrome, while Microsoft fixes the problem.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cyber Safety Resource Spotlights!

Teachers are always looking for more resources to teach cybersafety in their classroom. We haven't posted a new CyberSafety Resource spotlight in a while, so here are a few new ones and some oldies but goodies! is a resource we have mentioned before, but has gone through a redesign since we last posted it. This site has a number of links to other cybersafety websites and lessons that teachers can use in their classroom. The front page of the site lists the top 8 Cyber Security Practices with links to explanations and resources for each. An excellent resource for all!

Project Safe Childhood

From the US Department of Justice comes project safe childhood. Project Safe Childhood is a national public awareness campaign designed to warn parents about the possible dangers their children may face from online predators. They have released some video PSA's in both English and Spanish that outline those dangers. The main message from these videos to parents is that The site also contains some links to other cybersafety resources.
is another resource we have linked to before. They offer a free internet safety curriculum for teachers to use in their classrooms. They have also recently redesigned their site and have updated their safety lessons to reflect the current internet safety research, including a new cyberbullying package of lessons and activities. They offer free K-12 curriculum covering five units of internet safety. The lessons are aligned to the NETS standards for students which were updated in 2007.

NetFamily News

I know I have showcased this resource before, and it is a link on the BPS cybersafety website, but I can't stress enough how great a resource it is for learning about current issues of internet safety and the impact of technology use on children. Ann Collier, does a fantastic job of finding articles and resources to share with caregivers and educators about internet safety. Every time I visit the site, or receive her e-newsletter, there is something valuable I learn from it. This site is a must read.

PBS Frontline - Growing Up Online

If you haven't seen this documentary on PBS already, then you can catch it online from the PBS website. In Growing Up Online, FRONTLINE takes viewers inside the very public private worlds that kids are creating online, raising important questions about how the Internet is transforming childhood. The website includes a teachers guide to use with students.

BPS CyberSafety Website

Of course, there is the Boston Public School's CyberSafety Campaign which features the BPS CyberSafety Heroes. You can download materials from the site and listen to the cybersafety rap song. All the materials on the site were created by high school students from the Boston Public Schools. If you are interested in learning more about the materials or receiving a copy of any of the materials such as the BPS internet safety movie or comic book, please click here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Three High Profile Internet Safety Cases

Conviction in Megan Meier Case

There has been a conviction in the closely watched cyberbullying trial of Lori Drew. You can read about the Lori Drew case in an earlier post in this blog. The synopsis of the story is that a young girl named Meghan Meier committed suicide after being duped on MySpace by a former friend and her mother. Megan had a falling out with her friend, so her former friend and her friend's mother, Lori, and another woman created a fake profile on MySpace to trick Megan. They created a boy named Josh who befriended Megan and then abruptly ended their relationship. Megan, who was already battling depression, committed suicide shortly after the incident. Lori Drew was convicted on three misdemeanor counts of identity fraud.

The conviction, if it stands, could have far-reaching implications for all kinds of websites on the internet. While the act of the Drew family is considered "cyberbullying", Lori Drew wasn't actually convicted of cyberbullying. The conviction is for computer fraud and stems from her breaking the agreement of the terms of service from MySpace for misrepresenting her identity. One of the defenses' main arguments is that Lori Drew checked the Terms of Service box when she created the MySpace account, but never actually read the terms of service and therefore didn't know what she was doing is illegal. There is also an interesting article in which the forewoman of the jury from the case states that the majority of jurors wanted to convict Lori Drew on felony charges.

Julie Amero Spyware Case is Closed

You may remember the case of Julie Amero. She was the substitute teacher who was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison for endangering minors in 2004. Prosecutors argued that Amero had put students at risk by exposing them to pornographic images that were popping up on a classroom computer. After reading about the case, some computer security professionals came to Julie's defense, saying that she was a victim of Spyware on a poorly configured computer. Amero was granted a new trial and recently decided to settle out of court. She pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct and has had her teaching credentials revoked. You can read an interview with Amero about the entire incident from Computerworld.

Harvard Law Professor takes on the RIAA

Well known Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson has decided to take on the way the Recording Industry prosecutes college students for illegaly downloading music. The RIAA will usually send a letter to the college student asking for between $3000 - $5000 and an assurance that the illegal downloading will stop. If they do not comply, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. At least one judge is finding that these students and their families do not have lawyers and do not know their full legal rights, and therefore pay the settlement. Nesson and his law students contend that the RIAA is using civil litigation to punish alleged criminal activity, which in their view is unconstitutional. It should be very interesting to see how this case pans out.