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Abstract ideas, laws of nature, and mathematical formulas can't be patented under US law, and both Google and Verizon want the US Supreme Court to better define the bounds of that legal tenet as it applies to Internet technologies. Google and Verizon recently filed a joint amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief in the case of WildTangent v. Ultramercial, asking America's highest court to formally clarify that an unpatentable abstract idea, such as a method of advertising, can't magically become patentable subject matter by simply implementing it over the Internet. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has also filed an amicus brief in the case similarly asking the court to assign understandable boundaries to patentable subject matter.

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As Bruce Schneier spent the past decade watching the growing rash of phishers, malware attacks, and identity theft, a new Internet threat has emerged that poses even greater risks, the security expert said.

Unlike the security risks posed by criminals, the threat from government regulation and data hoarders such as Apple and Google are more insidious because they threaten to alter the fabric of the Internet itself. They're also different from traditional Internet threats because the perpetrators are shielded in a cloak of legitimacy. As a result, many people don't recognize that their personal information or fortunes are more susceptible to these new forces than they ever were to the Russian Business Network or other Internet gangsters.

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