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May 2018
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GDPR: Fact or Fiction?

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Fact or Fiction About Some Key Aspects of GDPR Unless you've completely unplugged for the last year or two, you've no doubt heard the term GDPR at least a few times (and probably more than a few). As with any new legislation, the General Data Protection Regulation has generated plenty of discussion about the new […]The post GDPR: Fact or Fiction? appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 16-May-2018
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They Always Suck: UK ISP 'For The Children' Filters Block Disney And Educational Websites

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Website blocking is now all the rage across much of the world. The way such website censorship happens is, however, as varied as the countries in which the censoring occurs. While some nations enact laws for internet filtering on all sorts of grounds -- be it porn, extremist content, or political dissent --, other countries have ISPs that proactively do this kind of filtering for their host countries. In many cases, this results in "parental filters" designed to keep harmful content from finding the eyeballs of children. In reality, when Comcast tried this here in America, it managed to block TorrentFreak for some reason.But nobody does collateral site-blocking damage like UK ISPs. The stories about "for the children" and "but...terrorists!" ISP website filtering are legion, but recent reports put any focus by ISPs on the well-being of children in heavy doubt, given the amount of purely innocent children's content that is getting blocked by ISP filters.

What really stood out to us is that some sites which are targeted at kids, or at least useful to them, are blocked too.One prime example is the official UK Disney website, located at disney.co.uk, which is blocked by BT’s Strict filters. That seems a bit cruel. The same is true for disneymoviesanywhere.com, which is not very useful, but certainly doesn’t seem harmful to us either.Apparently, BT doesn’t want children to visit these Disney sites.
One can only imagine the rampage Mickey Mouse went on when he discovered this travesty. But this collateral damage went far beyond the House of Mouse, and across multiple UK ISPs, too. BT and Virgin Media blocked the website for Internet Safety Day, because apparently kids shouldn't be safe on the internet. Kidsandcode.org is also blocked by BT, while Three and Sky are blocking vikingsword.com, a site dedicate to history education.None of this should really be a surprise, of course. Large organizations trying to accurately filter out unwanted content for parents, rather than having parents actually policing their children's online activity, is always going to fall prey to mistakes, laziness, and collateral damage. Always, always, always. What should be immediately apparent to witnesses of this is that if ISPs can't get this right, at least to the degree of not blocking Disney, what hope do legislators have in crafting site-blocking legislation that does this any better?

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posted at: 12:00am on 16-May-2018
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It's Over: The Podcast Patent Troll's Patent is Officially And Completely Dead

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Going back many years now we've written about the company Personal Audio, which built itself up as a patent troll for digital audio. Back in 2011, it won a patent lawsuit against Apple over patents on playlists. In 2013, as podcasting was starting to take off, Personal Audio decided that one of its other patents actually covered podcasting as well and sued some top podcasters while threatening many others. EFF stepped in to use the valuable inter partes review process to seek to invalidate the patent, which worked. Though, in the process the company sought to intimidate EFF donors.While all of this was happening, the company also realized that podcasters don't make any money, and figured out how to dump its lawsuits against individual podcasters... while still going after large companies like CBS.After the Patent Office's appeals board (PTAB) invalidated the patent, Personal Audio went to court to overturn the ruling. Last year, an appeals court rejected that attempt, noting that the PTAB was correct in invalidating the patent. Personal Audio still kept fighting, and asked the Supreme Court to hear it's appeal.Thankfully, on Monday, the Supreme Court denied that request, meaning that Personal Audio's podcasting patent is finally, truly and completely, dead.Still, the fact that this process took about five years and a ton of time in court should demonstrate just what a drag bogus patents can be on the economy and innovation. It also shows just how valuable a bogus patent can be for the trolls that hold them. Even after Personal Audio realized that all the podcasters it was trying to shakedown had little money to hand out, it still fought to the bitter end in trying to keep the patent alive, knowing that it could successfully get larger media companies to pay up. So this is a victory, but also a demonstration of just how broken the patent system is. Personal Audio did nothing to help podcasts become a thing. It did nothing to help podcasts move forward or become popular. Its only contribution to the podcast world was to wreak havoc on a bunch of podcasters, scaring many of them and costing them a ton of money in legal fees. That's all a dead weight loss to the economy, that could have gone into making more and better content.

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posted at: 12:00am on 16-May-2018
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