Tag: department of justice

Anonymous grabs 1.7GB of Department of Justice files

Anonymous has claimed to have grabbed 1.7GB of data from the US Department of Justice, after taking down the Bureau of Justice Statistics website.

The hacktivist collective appeared to have made an announcement via YouTube video called ‘Monday Mail Mayhem’, alongside a download made available on the Pirate Bay.

“Today we are releasing 1.7GB of data that used to belong to the United States Bureau of Justice, until now,” the group said.

The announcement alluded to the contents of the data, though no specific discoveries were highlighted.

“Within the booty you may find lots of shiny things such as internal emails, and the entire database dump,” it said.

The group also took credit for the takedown of the Justice Department site, a claim which has been corroborated since.

“We Lulzed as they took the website down after being owned, clearly showing they were scared of what inevitably happened,” it said. 

It is not the first time that Anonymous has targeted the Justice Department, with another attack earlier this year.

AUO to contest price-fixing guilty verdict

AU Optronics has vowed to challenge the Department of Justice’s verdict after the panel maker was found guilty of price fixing.

The Taiwanese LCD panel manufacturer had been accused of colluding with its competitors in the panel industry to fix prices.

While AUO still contests whether the content of high level meetings taking place in Taiwan should be subject to US laws, the DOJ has declared the firm to be in breach of competition rules. AUO could now be in line for substantial fines in the region of $1 billion.

Two senior employees, HB Chen and Hui Hsiung, were found guilty in the case, though two others, LJ Chen and Hubert Lee, were acquitted.

The firm declared in a response statement that it “intends to appeal the verdict and any fine” once a full decision is made by US courts over the coming months.

In the statement, AUO was keen to express its innocence, claiming that those present at meetings had little authority to actually effect pricing in real life.

A number of firms have been reprimanded over alleged price fixing between 2001 and 2006, with Samsung, LG and others in hot water with US authorities.

Authorities in the EU and Asia have also brought various industry players to task over the so called ‘crystal meetings’.

Such price fixing occurred before the panel industry saw prices dwindle to the extent that many firms are selling for little above material cost, according to analysts.  Many panel firms are currently operating at a loss.

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Department of Justice's watchful eye shuts on Microsoft antitrust

After ten years of government control, a US District Court judge decided that Microsoft is no longer a threat to the technology sector and can be rehabilitated into the real world.

Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson said Vole had “placed an oppressive thumb on the scale of competitive fortune” and ruled that the outfit had to be split up,

Jackson’s break-up order didn’t survive appeal, but Microsoft was saddled with a set of rules to keep it from punishing equipment makers who sold rival products. It also had to give code details to rivals so that they could make software which worked with Windows.

However, the US Department of Justice supervision ends today and Vole is now as free as a bird.

While it is a amusing to think of the mighty Vole humbled before the force of US Justice, the feeling in the IT industry is that the punishments did not do much.

Vinton Cerf, Google’s chief internet evangelist, said the regulation did very little to harm Microsoft.

It was more damaged by the rise of open source, which bought the world Linux, Android, or Chrome and the Chrome OS.

Simon Crosby, the CTO of Citrix told Computer World that open source saved his outfit.

At the time of the antitrust case, the competitive threats from Google-like companies, cloud computing, and smartphones were not even dreamed up.

Microsoft had a huge market share in desktop operating systems and productivity apps, and it controlled the world wide web with Internet Exploder. If the court had known what was going to happen, chances are it would have not needed to be as hard on Microsoft as it was. 

Ex-Cisco employee up for hacking charges

An ex Cisco engineer who previously sued the company has landed himself in court.

Peter Alfred-Adekeye sued his previous employer claiming that it had a monopoly over the industry of servicing and maintaining Cisco products.

He left the company in 2005 to set up two networking companies. His first, Multiven, sued Cisco in December 2008, claiming that it forced owners of products such as routers, switches and firewalls to buy its SMARTnet service contracts in order to get regular software updates and bug fixes.

Mr Alfred-Adekeye claimed that as Cisco only gave updates and bug fixes to SMARTnet customers and not to third parties, the company blocked the way for independent companies from servicing its equipment.

However, he’s now the one in the dock after being charged by the US Department of Justice.

He has been slapped with a huge 97 claims, accusing him of hacking into Cisco computers and using the information for financial and commercial gain. They claim he did this by using a Cisco employee’s user ID and password to download software and access Cisco’s restricted website.

Ironically Mr Alfred-Adekeye was arrested while giving evidence about Cisco.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Vancouver swooped in and banged on the cuffs on May 20, 2010 after the U.S. Department of Justice tipped off Canadian authorities, telling them to look for the Nigerian resident at the hotel he was staying at.

The case has remained top secret until now as US lawmakers have been trying to extradite Alfred-Adekeye.

If he’s found guilty he’ll be thrown into the clink for 10 years as well as being ordered to pay a hefty fine of $250,000.

FBI teams up with Dell for "critical mission"

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has teamed up with Dell for its IT supply and support, with the deal being the largest indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity agreement (ID/IQ) made in the FBI’s history.

The deal is between the FBI and Perot Systems Government Services, a subsidiary of Dell Services. This will be one of 46 companies providing services for the FBI, with Dell fulfilling a valuable IT supply and support requirement.

The value was not revealed, but the FBI’s IT Triple S project, authorised by the Department of Justice, has a cap of $30 billion over an eight year period. It’s therefore likely that Dell will bring in a few hundred million dollars over that duration.

Dell has been working with the FBI for over 15 years, providing IT infrastructure and services for “critical missions” within the intelligence and law enforcement community. These provisions include applications services, business consulting, business process services, IT consulting, and managed cloud and virtualisation services.

HP pays for kickbacks to DoJ but it's not guilty

The major manufacturer of printer ink announced it had reached a settlement with the Feds, but denies it did anything against the law.

Hewlett Packard, in a prepared statement, said that it had resolved an “issue” with the US courts over kick backs connected with contracts it had, er “contracted” with the US government.

A law called the Anti-Kickback Act in America prohibited vendors like HP from marketing arrangements for referrals. It’s all about rebates and the ilk.

Accenture blew the whistle on HP and other vendors. In its prepared statement, HP, now whiter than white, said the agreement meant it would take a hit of two cents on its financial third quarter.

HP “denies engaging in any illegal conduct in connection with these matters. HP has agreed to a settlement with the Department of Justice, without any admission of wrongdoing, in order to resolve the allegations in full.”

So it’s a bit like a verdict in a Scottish court, which has the expression “not proven” but nevertheless HP will shell out some dosh. The DoJ contracts many deals like this. We guess the DoJ behaves a bit like traffic cameras – if HP goes through the speed limit it settles, even though obviously the case is “not proven” and it hasn’t exceeded the “kickback” limit.

So there’s no stain on the cameras. HP shares went up after the announcement.

Third Chi Mei exec jailed by US for LCD panel price fixing

The US Department of Justice has found Taiwanese resident and exec at Chi Mei Optoelectronics Wen-Hung Huang guilty of conspiring, globally, to fix prices of TFT-LCD panels. And he’s being thrown in the nick.

It’s said that Huang along with other mates in the LCD industry had been having sneaky chats with each other, including two others execs at Chi Mei, to try to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing prices. Huang is former sales director at Chi Mei and the DoJ reckons he had been actively engaged in the conspiracy from about the 14th September 2001 all the way up to roughly December 2006.

The scam, which the DoJ has so far charged 18 execs across eight companies for involvement with, has participants meeting and agreeing to charge prices of the TFT-LCD panels at predetermined pricepoints. They also apparently issued price quotations in accordance with the agreements they made and fed each other information on panel sales to make sure they could adhere to the agreements.  So far the DoJ has collected nearly $900 million in fines from the conspirators.

Chi Mei merged with Innolux and TPO Display earlier this year to form Chimei Innolux, now Taiwan’s largest manufacturer of LCD panels.

Huang is the third from Chi Mei to be sent down. He’s been charged with the Sherman Antitrust Act which had been put in place to prevent unlawful monopolies and anticompetitive behaviour. His plea has him agreeing to spend nine months in jail, to pay a $25,000 criminal fine and to help the Department of Justice in cracking down on others involved.

Two other Chi Mei top dogs were busted in April, when they pleaded guilty to price fixing. They were former president of the company Ho Jau-yang and another sales executive, Chu-hsiang Yang.

Hannstar coughs up $30 million for LCD price fixing conspiracy

HannStar Display Corporation, a manufacturer and seller of thin-film transistor-liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panels, has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $30 million criminal fine for its role in a global conspiracy, the Department of Justice said.

The company based in Taipei, Taiwan was hauled up against the courts for fixing the prices of TFT-LCD panels sold globally between September 14, 2001, to January 31, 2006 the Department of Justice has said.

HannStar is charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum fine of $100 million for corporations. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

According to the plea agreement, which is subject to court approval, HannStar has agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing TFT-LCD investigation.

HannStar’s TFT-LCD panels are used in computer monitors and notebooks, televisions, mobile phones, and other electronic devices. By the end of the conspiracy period, the worldwide market for TFT-LCD panels was valued at $70 billion. Companies directly affected by the LCD price-fixing conspiracy are some of the largest computer and television manufacturers in the world, including Apple, Dell, and Hewlett Packard.

Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, said: “The Antitrust Division has thus far charged seven companies and 17 executives as a result of its investigation into the LCD industry, and we are committed to vigorously prosecuting corporations and individuals who engage in this type of price fixing scheme.”

According to the charge, HannStar carried out the conspiracy by agreeing during meetings, conversations, and communications to charge prices of TFT-LCD panels at certain pre-determined levels and issuing price quotations in accordance with the agreements reached. As a part of the conspiracy, HannStar exchanged information on sales of TFT-LCD panels for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to the agreed-upon prices.

Including today’s charge, as a result of this investigation, seven companies have pleaded guilty or have agreed to plead guilty and have been sentenced to pay or have agreed to pay criminal fines totaling more than $890 million. Additionally, 17 executives have been charged to date in the department’s ongoing investigation.

HannStar isn’t the first company to be pulled up for LCD price fixing. In April a sales exec for Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp was jailed in the US for participating in a conspiracy to fix prices of LCD. In March this year Dell also sued  five LCD makers, complaining that they fixed prices for products.

And in January Electrograph Systems Inc  sued Epson, Hitachi, Sharp, Toshiba, Toshiba Matsushita, Sanyo, LG Display, Samsung, AU Optronics, Chi Mei Optoelectronics, CMO Japan, Nexgen Mediatech, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Tatung, Hannstar Display and Mitsui & Co claiming price fixing.

Six DRAM makers write $173 million cheque

Six top DRAM computer memory manufacturers are going to write a $173 million cheque to make the US 33 attorneys general go away with their anti-trust claims.

The settlement resolves a 2006 lawsuit filed by 33 attorneys general who claimed that consumers and state agencies that bought electronics containing DRAM paid higher prices from 1998 to 2002 due to price-fixing.

The six companies named and shamed are Elpida, Hynix, Infineon, Micron, Mosel Vitelic, and NEC.

Apparently the DRAM manufacturer cut production in order to artificially raise prices, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office claimed.

Several companies and executives pleaded guilty to criminal price-fixing actions brought by the US Department of Justice.

Under the deal the defendants in the states’ case have tentatively agreed to pay $173 million to the 33 states and private plaintiffs, and refrain from illegal price-fixing.

Already the the companies agreed to pay nearly $326 million to computer manufacturers that purchased DRAM directly. The European Commission also reached settlements with some of the companies resulting in $410 million in fines.

In 2007,  Samsung settled its case with Washington and other states for $90 million.

It is not over yet. Some outfits claimed that they didn’t do it, they were never there at the time, and it was broken when they got there. Those cases are still pending. 

DoJ to expand Apple anti-trust probe

Despite efforts from the  Apple friendly trade press  to play down the Department of Justice probe into Jobs’ Mob’s  iTunes operations, it is starting to look as if an anti-trust case is almost certain to happen.

Early reports suggested that the DoJ had found “nothing wrong” with what Apple had done, but now the New York Post has found out that the Justice Department’s probe of Apple is set to expand.

The DoJ has contacted a handful of the country’s biggest media and technology companies to get their views on Apple.

For years Apple has cast itself as the little creative company, but more recently it has been dictating terms to industry. The demand that big media abandon Adobe might have been a push too far.

A Hollywood source told the Post that the DoJ is doing outreach. “You can’t dictate terms to the industry. The Adobe thing is just inviting the wrath of everybody.”

Other lines of inquiry focus on a dispute with Amazon and its ability to secure exclusive release deals with the labels.

The DoJ is also asking questions about the terms that Apple lays out for computer programmers who want to develop apps for the iPad.

If the inquiries turn into actual charges it is the sort of problem that Apple does not really want at the moment.

Several media giants are turning their backs on retooling their content to make them iPad friendly, favouring instead to use technology that gives the content as wide an exposure as possible.