The Switchboard: Wikipedia slaps PR firm with cease-and-desist over fake entries

November 21, 2013
(Wikimedia Commons)
(Wikimedia Commons)

Published every weekday morning, the Switchboard highlights five tech stories you need to read.

Goodlatte's patent bill advances. "The House Judiciary Committee voted late Wednesday to advance an amended version of a patent reform bill authored by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)," the Hill reports. "The updated Innovation Act includes a last-minute amendment from Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y) that gives courts more clarity when determining when to require the losing party of a lawsuit to pay the winning party’s legal fees."

These companies build the technology used to spy on you. "Among the hundreds of companies listed in the Surveillance Industry Index is Hacking Team, which sells intrusion technology out of Milan, Italy," according to Forbes. "The technology, which bypasses encryption and evades detection by antivirus software and firewalls, is able to monitor cell phone conversations, emails, Skype calls, and even spy on a target through his or her webcam and microphone."

This university is the first in the world to accept Bitcoin for tuition. "The University of Nicosia in Cyprus announced today that it will allow students to pay for tuition fees with Bitcoin, becoming the first accredited university in the world to do so," Geekwire reports. "Starting this spring, Bitcoin will be accepted throughout the entire University of Nicosia system, which includes online programs and affiliated schools."

The underdog Internet providers head to Washington. "Companies that use licensed spectrum — like your cell phone carrier — have pull in Washington, both directly and through trade groups like the CTIA," reports Bloomberg Businessweek. "They need to, because they can’t operate without the licenses that come from the FCC. The WISPs, thus far, have no pull, because all they’ve needed from Washington is unlicensed spectrum, a public good that Washington already provides."

Wikipedia blames Texas PR firm for skewing hundreds of entries. "The Wikimedia Foundation and its lawyers, Cooley LLP, sent a cease-and-desist letter to the company on Tuesday, requesting that Wiki-PR refrain from further editing Wikipedia pages until it complies with the site's terms of service," according to the Verge. "The Wikimedia Foundation launched an investigation into the matter last month, after a report from the Daily Dot exposed widespread sockpuppeting and paid advocacy editing. According to the organization, the entire operation traces back to Wiki-PR, which has also been accused of engaging in "meatpuppetry": a practice whereby users with a fake identity join online discussions to support particular arguments."

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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Andrea Peterson · November 20, 2013