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Law

Architecture

Irish county makes Passive House construction mandatory

We cover a lot of impressive Passive Houses here at Gizmag, but relatively few are actually built worldwide. Which is why it's exciting that Ireland's Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has reportedly passed a law requiring all new homes in the area be built to the Passive House standard or feature an equivalent performance. Read More

Computers

Courtroom fibs used to develop lie-detecting software

There's a challenge when you're developing new lie-detection software – you can get people to lie for you in a lab setting, but their behaviour won't be the same as it would be in a real-world scenario. In order to see authentic lying behaviour, you need to go somewhere where the stakes for the liars are higher. That's why scientists from the University of Michigan turned to videos of courtroom testimonies.Read More

Medical

Landmark decision? US Supreme Court rules human genes cannot be patented

In what is being ballyhooed as a landmark decision likely to set the course of DNA-based diagnostic and therapeutic medicine for the next several decades, the US Supreme Court unanimously decided on June 13 that human genes are not patentable. Rather than objects invented or discovered, human genes are henceforth to be treated as "naturally occurring phenomena," and hence fail the patentability test under 35 USC 101. As is usual in patent cases, however, the ruling contains delicate shades of meaning.Read More

Jury orders Samsung to pay US$1 billion in damages to Apple

The jury in a landmark intellectual property lawsuit has ruled that Samsung should pay Apple over US$1 billion in damages. After nearly 22 hours of deliberation, the jury found that Samsung willingly infringed upon Apple's patents with a number of its devices. Apple was not found to have infringed upon any of the South Korean firm's patents.Read More

Watered-down U.K. "cookie law" comes into effect, internet barely notices

A new law came into effect in the U.K. this past weekend which requires U.K.-based websites to receive consent from visitors before using cookies to store tracking information about them. Though the law originally called for visitors to explicitly opt-in with the use of a checkbox or similar method, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), an independent privacy watchdog, backpedaled just 48 hours before the law was to come into force and watered down the legislation to allow "implied consent" - in other words, websites can assume users have already consented to the use of cookies.Read More

Telecommunications

Cellphones star in divorce

Cellphones play an obvious role in dating, meet-ups, and generally keeping in touch ... but they also have an increasing role to play in our breaking apart. Data snaffled from smartphones is flourishing as divorce evidence, and on the other side of the ledger, apps exist to help in the process of hanging up marital connections - there are apps to initiate, manage and survive a divorce as well as apps for assessing the costs and scheduling time with kids afterwards.Read More

Telecommunications

Web goes dark in SOPA protest

A number of high profile websites are going dark today to protest the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). The bills are designed to protect intellectual property holders by toughening measures against copyright infringers. Opponents say that aspects of the bill pose grave threats to free speech and internet entrepreneurship, with some high profile webmasters claiming that the bill, if passed, would threaten the very existence of their sites despite not hosting copyright-infringing material directly. Wikipedia, Reddit and Boing Boing are among the sites effectively shutting down today.Read More

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