Alternate fuel cars; file-sharing software; the economy; patients' rights
The Recording Industry Association of America has begun targeting users of the popular shareware Web sites, such as Kazaa and Grokster, suing them for violating copyright protections. What's more, warns the FTC, downloading music, videos, and games may bring you computer viruses or mislabeled pornography, as well as legal trouble. You may also be unwittingly opening access to any personal data stored on your computer.
If you're still willing to use file-sharing softwareor let your kids do itthe FTC has some advice on how to avoid trouble:
Set up file-sharing software carefully to protect personal information, such as medical records or tax returns, on your hard drive;
Consider buying software that can block spyware, which is sometimes piggybacked on file-sharing programs to monitor your browsing habits;
Shut down your Internet connection when you're not online, especially if you have a high-speed broadband service, so your files are less vulnerable. Adjust the controls in the file-sharing program to keep it from automatically opening whenever your turn on your computer;
Update and use anti-virus software regularly, and avoid files with extensions such as .exe, .scr, .lnk, .bat, .vbs, .dll, .bin, and .cmd.
Many Americans are pessimistic about the economy and leery of putting money into the stock market, says a poll by The Conference Board, a nonprofit business research firm. Only 22 percent of those polled in May say they plan to invest in stocks within the next six months, and about 56 percent say the investment climate is bad. Nearly two-thirds don't expect any changes in the economy over the next six months.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has asked the US Supreme Court to review a state law that allows HMO patients to appeal medical decisions to an independent review board. When a health plan, under the guise of determining coverage, makes a decision that encroaches on traditional medical decision-making and impacts treatment, it ought to be held accountable if that decision falls below the recognized standard of care, Abbott argues. Because appeal courts have issued conflicting opinions on whether ERISA pre-empts state laws that regulate these decisions, the state's brief asks the nation's high court to accept the case and clarify the issue.
The case stems from a 1990 incident in which a woman was bitten by what was believed to be a brown recluse spider. Her HMO, on several occasions, delayed approval of treatment recommended by her primary care physician, and her leg eventually had to be amputated. The patient sued in state court, but the HMO had the case removed to federal court, contending that the claims were pre-empted by ERISA.
Sep. 19, 2003;80.