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March 13, 2010

NYC taxi drivers caught defrauding thousands of passengers

Joe. My. God.: NYC Taxi Drivers In Massive Fraud Basically there is a switch on their toll box that allows them to add $5 or so if they are going out-of-borough, but many drivers have been caught using it all the time.
The drivers’ scheme, the commission said, involved 1.8 million rides and cost passengers an average of $4 to $5 extra per trip. The drivers, officials said, flipped switches on their meters that kicked in the higher rates, costing New York City riders a total of $8.3 million. The 1.8 million fares represent a tiny fraction of a total 360 million trips over the 26-month period in question. Agency officials said, however, that they were alarmed enough that they immediately ordered the companies that manufacture the meters to create a system to alert riders when the higher rates are being charged. That is likely to be done through the digital screens facing the back seats of the cabs. The commission said it began an inquiry after investigators, responding to a rider’s complaint, determined that a cab driver from Brooklyn, Wasim Khalid Cheema, had overcharged 574 passengers in just one month last year. Mr. Cheema’s license has been revoked. He could not be reached for comment. The commission then used GPS data, collected in every cab, to review millions of trips in New York City and found a huge number in which the out-of-city rates had improperly been charged, officials said.

March 12, 2010

Formspring operators arrested for data phishing (UPDATED)

The Associated Press:LA-based "Formspring.me" service to reveal identities of anonymous users UPDATE: The story of Formspring being a hoax looks itself to be a hoax. Big thanks to our own Alan for pointing this out. Formspring.me was an anonymous service where you could submit questions to people. A ton of people used it and shared some personal, some stupid, and some douchey comments. Except it's *not* anonymous. Instead it's an elaborate April Fool's Day prank that will reveal the identities and Facebook accounts of everyone who participated, revealing their doucheness and secrets for all the world to see. So is it a cautionary tale about anonymity on the internet, or just a dick move?
LOS ANGELES — Twelve administrators of the website Formspring.me, including CEO Mark Baxter were arrested on Monday for data phishing and misleading the public, when the site was revealed to be a "social experiment," which will culminate in the automatic revealing of users' private data on April 1, 2010. Baxter, 28, was sentenced in Van Nuys Superior Court for the creation of said website, which allows users to "send and receive anonymous questions, and learn more about people you find interesting by following their answers." Over 2 million people have used the site to communicate anonymously with other users since its creation in 2009. "We allow users to sign up for an account and ask questions anonymously, but we still store their data next to the question. For legal purposes," said Baxter, in a January interview.

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March 11, 2010

Mississippi high school would rather cancel prom than let lesbians attend

Miss. prom canceled after lesbian's date request - USATODAY.com
JACKSON, Miss. — A Mississippi county school board announced Wednesday it would cancel its upcoming prom after a gay student petitioned to bring a same-sex date to the event. "Due to the distractions to the educational process caused by recent events, the Itawamba County School District has decided to not host a prom at Itawamba Agricultural High School this year," school board members said in a statement. Constance McMillen, an 18-year-old senior at Itawamba, recently challenged a school policy prohibiting her from bringing her girlfriend as her date to the April 2 prom. McMillen, who is a lesbian, and the Mississippi chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union urged school officials to reverse the policy both on McMillen's choice of date and attire. She also wanted to wear a tuxedo to the dance.