e dot dot dot
a mostly about the Internet blog by

August 2019
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
       


White House Suspends Another Reporter's Press Pass, Once Again, Raising 1st Amendment Concerns

Furnished content.


As you'll recall, last year, the White House tried to remove CNN reporter Jim Acosta's press pass over a silly made up controversy claiming that he had "assaulted" an intern in trying to hold onto the microphone while the intern had tried to pull it away. CNN sued and a court sided with them in blocking the White House's action. Soon after, the White House released new rules, that we mentioned left them open to future 1st Amendment challenges.Well, here we are. On Friday, the White House removed Playboy reporter Brian Karem's press pass, claiming it was about some sort of weird yelling match Karem had with ex-Trump official Sebastian Gorka at Trump's silly social media troll summit back in July. Karem immediately said he'd sue over the removal and his attorney Ted Boutrous has sent a series of letters to White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham over the last few weeks. The opening of the first one lays everything out pretty nicely.

We write on behalf of our client, Brian Karem, who serves as the White House correspondent for Playboy, in response to your August 2, 2019 letter informing of your "preliminary decision" to suspend his hard pass for 30 days, supposedly "due to [his] conduct at the press event in the Rose Garden on July 11, 2019," and giving him one business day to submit a response before you "make a final decision on the matter." We object to this arbitrary and unfair procedure threatening to deprive Mr. Karem of his constitutionally protected liberty and property interests in his hard pass, which would flatly violate the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause and the principles established by the D.C. Circuit's decision in Sherrill v. Knight, 569 F.2d 124 (D.C. Cir. 1977) and many other cases. Your invocation of the Rose Garden event weeks after it occurred and without any notice whatsoever that you were considering taking action against Mr. Karem is the opposite of due process, and is clearly pretext for punishing Mr. Karem based on his viewpoint and the content of his reporting on President Trump.
It's the "arbitrary and unfair procedure" part of the above quote that is most important. The White House can't just cook up reasons to remove someone if the real reason is they don't like his reporting (as was the case with Acosta).In a later letter, Boutrous points out that Grisham herself has admitted to not following any basic due process, as required by the 1st Amendment:
Your email of last night revealed that you failed to conduct a reasonable investigation before reaching your preliminary decision. Among other deficiencies, you admit that you did not speak to a single witness. You did not speak to Sebastian Gorka, Jim Hanson, or any of the other individuals who are seen on video taunting and/or threatening Mr. Karem. You did not speak to any of the journalists who were standing alongside Mr. Karem in the press pen and observed firsthand what happened. Nor did you speak to Mr. Karem himself, despite his efforts to speak with you. In fact, you claimed you lack evidence that Mr. Karem made any attempt to speak with you. Enclosed with this letter are emails reflecting his efforts.You have also elected to ignore publicly-available evidence that Mr. Gorka has trumpeted his confrontation with Mr. Karem, bragging that he took on the "fake news industrial complex," as well as evidence that the President himself viewed the events as humorous. All of this information is highly relevant to your decision, yet you have deliberately chosen to ignore it.
After suggesting that Gorka was the one who initiated and escalated the confrontation, while Karem was the one who sought to de-escalate it, Boutrous also notes the following:
The President himself has used far stronger language and imagery. Among other things, he has tweeted an image of himself wrestling a CNN icon to the ground, and stated that a congressman who body-slammed a reporter is "my kind of guy." He has also urged his supporters to "knock the hell" out of protestors at his rallies, and remarked about one protestor, "I'd like to punch him in the face." If the President's statements cannot reasonably be understood as endorsing or inciting violence, the White House cannot possibly deem Mr. Karem's offer to "go outside and have a long talk" as over the line.
None of this seemed to matter. In the official suspension notice, Grisham insists that Karem's comment to go outside and have a conversation was obviously a threatening statement.It seems likely that Karem will now sue and we'll get yet another court to weigh in on the process by which the President (any President, not just this one...) can remove press passes.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 21-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Intra-Family Trademark Violence: SR Sues JR For Using His Own Name In Law Firm Marketing

Furnished content.


With the chief hurdle for infringement in trademark law being potential public confusion as to the source of a good or service, we sometimes toss that standard around as a blanket sort of thing. And, in trademark law, it kind of is just that binary. But the combination of the protectionist view of trademark law taking hold in America and the unfortunate habit of many people attempting to trademark their own names in one fashion or another, I wonder if the law might need to be updated in some ways. For example, we've seen several instances of intra-family trademark spats that arise from a person or business looking to trademark or simply use their own names. Any system of trademark enforcement that results in broadly disallowing someone to use their own name in the marketplace feels like a clear step too far, if only from a common sense perspective.Yet it keeps happening. The latest iteration of this involves a lawyer, George Sink Sr., suing his own son, George Sink Jr., for using his own name for his law firm and marketing material. The court overseeing the matter just this week issued a restraining order barring George Jr. from using his own name to advertise his firm.

A Fourth Circuit judge issued a temporary restraining order that stops Sink Jr. from using the family name to advertise his personal injury firm on its website, in email, and on social media.“George Sink Jr. is of course not barred from practicing law under his birth name, but in advertising for his legal services he must do more to differentiate between him and plaintiff,” writes Judge David Norton. “The mere fact that it is George Sink Jr.’s given name does not automatically shield him from allegations of infringement.”The court documents note the similarities in the advertisements Sink’s son was using and said customers might and in some cases did get confused about which Sink law firm they were dealing coordinating with. “The logos that each party uses on their respective law firm websites, the name GEORGE SINK is more prominent than the auxiliary words,” writes Norton.
Again, perhaps this all legally correct. But that sure feels like an indication that there is a problem with the law, not with a person using his or her own name in their business' name. And the fact that this sort of dispute incorporates an inter-family squabble makes this all the more bizarre. George Jr. apparently worked for his father's firm some time ago and practiced there as George Jr. His firm handles a different type of law than his father. But now that his son has opened up his own firm using the uncreative name George Sr. gave him, it's a legal matter.
In the suit, Sink Sr. says the company name is "famous" around South Carolina and Georgia. He also notes in the document that the business' name is trademarked, and by using a similar name, his son is committing trademark infringement and creating unfair competition. According to the lawsuit, Sink Jr.'s firm was hurting his father’s online reviews and prominence on search websites.In the lawsuit, Sink Sr. alleges that his son has always preferred the nickname "Ted," and by going by the same name as his father, he is confusing customers.
George Sr. sure seems fun. Regardless, I can't think of any reason why a bit more nuance couldn't be inputted into existing trademark law. All this really screams for is a provision in the law that would allow someone to use their birth-name so long as there was no other attempt to create confusion with another entity holding a similar mark.That...just doesn't seem too hard to do.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 21-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Twitter And Facebook Removing Chinese Disinfo Campaigns Shows That, Contrary To Popular Opinion, They Do Moderate Against Disinfo

Furnished content.


Leaving aside the ridiculous and ignorant suggestions from some that no internet platforms should moderate anything, many, many people seem to believe (incorrectly) that the various internet companies refuse to moderate anything because it goes against their bottom lines. We've heard this from a number of politicians -- especially among those seeking to change Section 230, arguing (again, incorrectly) that because of Section 230 there's somehow no incentive to moderate content on their platforms.This is wrong on multiple levels. There is tremendous business, political, moral, and social pressure to moderate content on these platforms. When they get it wrong, they get criticized. They can lose users. And (importantly) they can lose advertisers, partners, customers and investors. There is demand for "healthy" platforms, and it's Section 230 that allows them to experiment and moderate accordingly. That's why it's notable to me that both Twitter and Facebook announced the removal of what appears to be a coordinated attempt to abuse both platforms to push disinformation against protesters in Hong Kong. Here's Facebook's announcement:

Today, we removed seven Pages, three Groups and five Facebook accounts involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior as part of a small network that originated in China and focused on Hong Kong. The individuals behind this campaign engaged in a number of deceptive tactics, including the use of fake accounts some of which had been already disabled by our automated systems to manage Pages posing as news organizations, post in Groups, disseminate their content, and also drive people to off-platform news sites. They frequently posted about local political news and issues including topics like the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government.
And here's Twitter's announcement:
This disclosure consists of 936 accounts originating from within the People's Republic of China (PRC). Overall, these accounts were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground. Based on our intensive investigations, we have reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation. Specifically, we identified large clusters of accounts behaving in a coordinated manner to amplify messages related to the Hong Kong protests.As Twitter is blocked in PRC, many of these accounts accessed Twitter using VPNs. However, some accounts accessed Twitter from specific unblocked IP addresses originating in mainland China. The accounts we are sharing today represent the most active portions of this campaign; a larger, spammy network of approximately 200,000 accounts many created following our initial suspensions were proactively suspended before they were substantially active on the service.
Despite common perception, both companies have put a lot of effort into discovering and stopping these kinds of efforts. Of course, none of it will be perfect, because content moderation at scale is impossible to do well. Mistakes of both false positives and false negatives are inevitable. But, if anyone thinks that modifying Section 230 will magically make companies better at this, they're not paying attention. Adding more liability to companies over their moderation choices won't make these efforts any better or any easier -- they might just bog the companies down in lawsuits.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 20-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



THE Ohio State University Applies For THE Stupidest Trademark In THE World

Furnished content.


We've talked ongoing about how ridiculous and aggressive many universities are becoming on trademark matters. Now colleges and universities do many, many annoying things, but their tendency towards trademark bullying certainly ranks up there near the top of the list. Not as high, of course, as Ohio State's neverending insistence that everyone call it "THE Ohio State University." The school likes to point out that the "the" (sigh) is actually part of the school's legal name, when the reality is that the school is simply being haughty and pedantic.Well, now these two worlds are colliding in what might just be the dumbest trademark application I've ever seen. You'll never guess what single word OSU wants to trademark.

Application No. 88571984, filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, was discovered and publicized Tuesday by Josh Gerben, a prominent trademark lawyer in Washington. The application seeks a trademark on the single word "THE" for use on T-shirts and baseball caps and hats.  For years, the university's demand that it be called "THE Ohio State University" has rankled sports fans and journalists, who've called it "pompous and stupid," "ridiculous" and "arrogant."Partisans, including the university, point out that "the" is part of its name under state law. And Chris Davey, a spokesman for the university, told The Columbus Dispatch on Tuesday that it's important to "vigorously protect the university's brand and trademarks."
This, simply, is absurd. Trademark law is written in such a way to be wide open for abuse, but even this is a bridge further than the law will allow. Trademarks require original identifiers that indicate the source of a good or service and the bar for approval by the Trademark Office goes up the shorter and less original the identifier is. The idea that someone might apply for a trademark on the single most commonly used determiner in the English language is the sort of thing reserved for jokes in our comments section. But THE Ohio State University went ahead and did it anyway.Other schools took notice, of course, and some of them are having fun at OSU's expense.
Michigan getting a trademark on the word "of" makes every bit as sense as OSU's application. Fortunately, despite all of the madness we see from the USPTO on a frequent basis, nobody seems to think this application is going to be approved.
Gerben predicted on Tuesday that Ohio State was "likely to receive an initial refusal of the application."For a trademark to be registered for a brand of clothing, the trademark "must be used in a trademarked fashion," he said on Twitter. "In other words, it has to be used on tagging or labeling for the products. In this case, just putting the word 'the' on the front of a hat or on the front of a shirt is not sufficient trademark use," he said.
That careful analysis is almost certainly correct, but I much prefer to simply point out that this is all very, very crazy and be done with it.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 20-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



This Week In Techdirt History: August 11th - 17th

Furnished content.


Five Years AgoThe fight for government transparency continued this week in 2014, with a judge giving the DOJ until the end of the month to submit a declassified FISA court opinion explaining the justifications for Section 215, the exposure of regular fraud and abuse by patent examiners that the USPTO tried to hide from the Inspector General, and new revelations from Ed Snowden including the fact that Syria's 2012 internet outage was the result of an NSA hack gone wrong, and that the agency abused its internet metadata program just like every other program. But the biggest battle was for the CIA torture report, which the intelligence community began warning would "inflame anti-US passions" in the Middle East if it was released.Ten Years AgoThis week in 2009, there was an earlier story of USPTO misbehavior in the form of bilking people out of money. The Encyclopedia Britannica yet again lost in an attempt to abuse a patent that it claimed covered basic GPS functionality, one judge blocked sales of Microsoft Word over patent infringement (in a ruling that had no hope of sticking) while another banned Real from selling RealDVD (sadly not so simple), and yet another overturned the ruling that allowed DVD jukeboxes. While the DOJ was defending the $80,000/song award in the Jammie Thomas lawsuit, a poet who tried to sue Oprah Winfrey for the even-more-insane sum of a trillion dollars saw his lawsuit thrown out — while another author was trying a similar approach to cash in on the success of Twilight.Fifteen Years AgoThis week in 2004, the number one culprit on the EFF's list of bogus patents was being wielded against universities and just about everyone else who streamed any kind of content online, while Microsoft was keeping the wheel turning with a newly granted patent on storing then automatically uploading data, and we talked about how innovation and IP hoarding don't mix. Meanwhile, Google was ramping up for its IPO (after giving some stock to Yahoo to settle outstanding legal disputes) and worrying its emails might be filtered as spam, while smaller investors tried to figure out if they could get in on the action and other companies quietly delayed their own IPOs to avoid getting lost in the Google hype.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here


posted at: 12:00am on 18-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Embrace Fans: How One Mystery Modder Has Kept System Shock 2 Playable

Furnished content.


There's this weird thing in the video game industry in terms of how the industry reacts to fans doing things with their games. On one side, you have publishers that strictly control what fans can do with their games, even going the legal threat route at times. Other publishers are more permissive with game IP and are then shocked at what fans manage to do with their games. Still other publishers proactively create tools within their games to allow fans to create wildly cool productions within the games and then celebrate those fans. And, of course, there are fans manipulating properties such as original soundtracks to create new music as an homage to the original score.There is a wide spectrum of what fans want to do to express their fandom with video games, in other words, and also a spectrum of ways publishers respond to these dedicated fans. The original Doom, for instance, was created nearly three decades ago, but an active modding community has kept the game relevant by building on that original work. In the case of System Shock 2, however, it turns out the game originally released in 1999 is essentially only playable on modern machines due to the dedication of one single mystery fan.

After developer Looking Glass Studios closed in 2000, the game wound up in ownership limbo. For a time, it languished without updates. Getting it to run on more modern machines increasingly became a massive hassle. Then, in 2012, a fan released an unofficial update that took aim at those issues with almost cyborg-like laser precision. To this day, nobody knows the identity of the fan who released this update.The mystery savior of System Shock 2 goes by the online handle “Le Corbeau.” In 2012, according to a feature over at Rock Paper Shotgun, they first posted their revolutionary patch to the game, titled “NewDark,” on a French Thief fan forum. Nobody’s entirely sure how this fan pulled off an update of this magnitude, but it likely involved building upon an incomplete version of the game’s source code that leaked in 2010.
The effect of the patch was that people could actually play the game again. Strangely, at no point has Le Corbeau sought any credit for his or her work. Nobody to date knows who this person is. But, because of their dedication and, my assumption, fandom, System Shock 2 is not only still relevant, but now on sale on Steam once more. That's because Nightdive Studios got the rights to System Shock 2 and promptly inserted Le Corbeau's patch into a re-release. Far from being upset about this, Le Corbeau has continued to patch the game.Nightdive even tried to get the modder involved, but to no avail.
Nightdive, having found System Shock 2's actual source code in Looking Glass founder Paul Neurath’s closet, is now making its own improvements to System Shock 2, as well as a remake of the first System Shock and an all-new System Shock game. Despite all this, the studio—like perplexed but grateful fans—has no idea who Le Corbeau actually is. CEO Stephen Kick told RPS that he’s tried to reach out in hopes of collaborating over the years, but hasn’t had any success yet. “They have done an amazing job, but at some point those efforts will collide with our own as we wish to improve the original title,” said Kick.
If that last bit in some way signals some animosity towards the modder on the part of Nightdive, this story is going to have a massively infuriating ending. Because the fact is that Le Cordeau's efforts directly kept System Shock 2 relevant and available for fans to enjoy, which in turn kept the market open and ready to accept re-releases of the game and new iterations of it.Regardless, sure, let game companies claim that fans being fans is some threat to their business if they like, so long as everyone realizes how silly that is.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 17-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Appeals Court Gives Gov't One More Chance To Lock Up Men For Producing An 'Illegal' Drug Its Own Chemist Said Wasn't Illegal

Furnished content.


How many chances does the government get to try to convict a couple of people for selling a drug analogue the DEA's own chemist said wasn't "substantially similar" to any controlled substance? Apparently the government will get at least one more swing at the plate, having batted .500 during its first two tries.In 2012, the DEA raided Zencense, a business owned by Charles Ritchie and Benjamin Galecki. They were charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substance analogues. The "spice" made by Zencense used XLR-11 and UR-144 as active ingredients. The government claimed these were analogues of JWH-018, which is a controlled substance.The defendants argued that their spice was not an analogue of a controlled substance. If true, this sunk the government's case, because the conspiracy charges relied on the "knowing" distribution of illegal drug analogues.The government claimed XLR-11 and UR-144 were pretty much the same thing and pretty much identical to JWH-018. This testimony was undercut by one of the DEA's own chemists, who had stated in other prosecutions that UR-144 was not an analogue of JWH-018. Not only that, but the chemist's professional opinion on this subject was freely available online, as part of a handout on litigating synthetic drug cases.The defendants hoped to have the chemist testify on the differences between these substances, which would likely have resulted in them being found innocent of the conspiracy charges. The trial court denied this request, resulting in the defendants' first appeal.On appeal, the Fourth Circuit sided with the defendants, finding the government could not claim the chemist's testimony was "privileged" -- not when it had relied on it in other prosecutions. It sent the case back down to the district court to reconsider the admissibility of this exculpatory evidence.The case is now back in the Fourth Circuit Appeals Court, thanks to the lower court deciding once again that this testimony isn't relevant and would have had no effect on the outcome of the case. That the outcome was one mistrial and one hung jury (one that was un-hung with an Allen charge) seems to have escaped the attention of the court.The Appeals Court [PDF] wants to make sure this doesn't happen again. The lower court looked at the testimony that directly contradicted the assertions made by the government and shrugged.

On remand, the district court concluded that Dr. Berrier’s testimony was not material to Defendants’ case because it would have been “merely cumulative” to testimony from Defendants’ two other expert chemists. Ritchie III, 2018 WL 4693811, at *4. The district court determined that those chemists used the same methods and came to the same conclusion as Dr. Berrier, and that his “position at the DEA would not provide any new relevant information” to the jury. Id. The court accordingly held that Dr. Berrier’s exclusion from the trial did not violate Defendants’ Sixth Amendment compulsory process rights.
But it wouldn't be merely "cumulative." Yes, the defendants brought in their own expert witnesses but their opinions were pretty much nullified by statements the government's lawyers made during cross-examination.
Barred from questioning Dr. Berrier, Defendants relied on the expert testimony of two chemistry professors, Drs. Croatt and Dudley, who gave the same opinion that Dr. Berrier would have given—an opinion that contradicted Dr. Trecki’s. During cross-examination, the Government questioned Defendants’ “hired guns” about the compensation they received for testifying. In convicting Defendants, the jury ultimately rejected Drs. Croatt and Dudley’s expert opinion about XLR-11 and JWH-018.
The lower court claimed testimony from a DEA chemist about the non-similarity of the contested substances "would not have altered the trial's outcome." Nothing could be further from the truth, the Appeals Court explains.
[W]e disagree with the district court’s analysis of the “not merely cumulative” component, as we conclude that Dr. Berrier’s testimony was qualitatively different from the testimony of the other defense witnesses. In stark contrast to Drs. Croatt and Dudley, Dr. Berrier was not paid outside his DEA employment to form his opinion about XLR11’s chemical similarity to JWH-018. Nor would Defendants have paid him to testify at trial. Consequently, the Government could not have impeached Dr. Berrier in front of the jury for having a pecuniary motive for testifying. Dr. Berrier’s inability to be impeached on that ground made his testimony unique and particularly relevant, not cumulative.[...]Also unlike Drs. Croatt and Dudley, Dr. Berrier could have rebutted the testimony of Dr. Trecki, the Government’s DEA expert, with his own knowledge of the DEA’s processes and analyses. His expert testimony, which diverged from Dr. Trecki’s, could have shown the jury that the DEA’s own scientists could not agree on the substantial similarity of the chemicals at issue. Drs. Croatt and Dudley could not have provided that type of rebuttal testimony.
The testimony is material, not cumulative. And the error in disallowing it was far from "harmless." As the Appeals Court points out, the DEA expert's testimony would have introduced a significant amount of reasonable doubt -- enough to turn a hung jury into an exoneration.Unfortunately, this means the defendants have to go through all of this again. Their convictions have been vacated but the government will get a third chance to put them behind bars. The government is failing forward and it's facing people who don't have the luxury of taxpayer-funded, inexhaustible resources.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 17-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Nintendo Hates You: Company DMCAs Over 100 Videos Celebrating Nintendo Game Music

Furnished content.


Our posts on famed gaming giant Nintendo will likely give you the impression that the company has a very strange distaste for its own fans. Your brain will probably try to convince you that this doesn't make any sense, since Nintendo fans are what makes Nintendo money. Your brain is wrong. Nintendo has demonstrated over and over again that if forced to choose between maximum control over its intellectual property and allowing fans to do fan-things, it will choose control every single time.YouTube in particular tends to find itself in Nintendo's crosshairs, what with the site being the natural place for fans of Nintendo to share Nintendo-y things with other fans. It's worth noting again that, on matters of copyright at least, there's really no reason why Nintendo must issue takedowns for anything that even barely could be seen as infringing on its IP. Such is the case with the recent spate of takedowns the company issued against a YouTube channel which had the singular purpose of celebrating Nintendo game music.

“Game over,” the YouTube channel GilvaSunner, which has over 300,000 subscribers, wrote on Twitter yesterday. They also shared a screenshot of an email inbox displaying dozens of copyright claims against videos of music ranging from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’s “Hyrule Field” to “Mega Man 2 Medley” from Super Smash Bros. 3DS.This morning, GilvaSunner shared another bevy of copyright claims, this time against videos featuring music from Fire Emblem: Awakening. “115 videos in total blocked so far,” GilvaSunner wrote. “They started manually with the most viewed content on the channel, and are now going through the playlists one by one I guess.”
Here's where the lack of sense in these protectionist actions really shines through. Nintendo makes money by having dedicated fans purchase Nintendo consoles and games for its systems. Fans become dedicated through their love of a game and the nostalgia they might have for a particular property. The soundtracks of games can play a huge part in that, of course. In other words, YouTube posts of Nintendo music, while technically infringing, mostly function to supercharge the fandom of Nintendo properties.Which is why so many gaming companies do nothing to impede this expression of fandom. And Nintendo doesn't have to either. It can, certainly, and it has, but it doesn't have to. It only does so because the company appears to view protectionism as some kind of default setting.Why? Because, while fans love Nintendo, Nintendo doesn't share that same love for its fans.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 16-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Kenyan Government Risks Squandering The Long-Term Potential Of Mobile Transactions In The Hope Of A Little Extra Tax Revenue

Furnished content.


Back in October last year, Techdirt wrote about some unfortunate developments taking place in the African digital world. Governments across the continent are bringing in levies and taxes on Internet use, making it more expensive and thus harder for ordinary people to access the Internet at a time when the digital ecosystem in Africa is starting to take off in a big way. In February of this year, we reported on some evidence that the social media tax in Uganda was indeed causing fewer people there to use the Internet, and for the total value of mobile transactions to drop. Quartz Africa has a post about a new report from Brookings on the steep rise in taxes on mobiles and data in Kenya, and the harms it is likely to cause. Here's how things have gone from bad to worse:

In June 2009, the Kenyan government, recognizing the importance of enhancing access to mobile telephony, exempted mobile handsets from the VAT. This move increased the affordability of the handsets and made possible the more than 200 percent increase in handset purchases and a 50 percent to 70 percent increase in penetration rates (Strusani and Solomon, 2011). In turn, the use of mobile phones and related services such as mobile money deepened, and Kenya's total mobile subscribers almost doubled from 17.4 million in June 2009 to 29.8 million by March 2013. Then, the VAT Act 2013 paved the way for the taxation of previously exempted goods such as mobile phones, computer hardware, and software. Now, mobile phone users in Kenya had to pay a 16 percent VAT [Value-Added Tax] on the purchase of a mobile handset in addition to the 10 percent excise tax on airtime, which had been introduced earlier in financial year (FY) 2002/03.Further, in FY 2013/14, the government introduced an excise tax on retail financial transactions at a rate of 10 percent. The Finance Act 2018 then increased the excise tax on money transfer services by banks from 10 percent to 20 percent, on telephone services (airtime) from 10 percent to 15 percent, and introduced a 15 percent excise tax on internet data services and fixed line telephone services.
The report notes the many benefits of promoting mobile payments -- things like serving as an economic driver, and encouraging savings and credit. Particularly important for developing countries is the how mobile-based services increase financial inclusion, providing access to banking for even the poorest sectors of society, which can help to reduce overall levels of poverty.The authors of the study point out that the tendency of taxes to operate on a Laffer curve means that as rates increase, tax revenue from mobiles and data use may decline at some point, making such moves self-defeating. Moreover, if people start to turn back to cash to avoid increased costs of mobile payments, the benefits of digital transactions are lost, including the ability for governments to track and tax transactions more easily, leading to further revenue losses. The report concludes:
The tax policy and design of taxes on retail electronic transactions as well as bank transactions has the potential to reverse the gains that technology has pushed Kenya to the frontier of electronic payments and financial inclusion and back to cash preference and financial exclusion for low-income earners.
The same applies to other African nations that think taxing mobile services is an easy way to raise a little extra revenue. As this new report emphasizes, they may find that that they inflict considerable harm on their digital economies for very little financial benefit.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter, Diaspora, or Mastodon.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 16-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



You're Not Helping: ESPN Delays 'Apex Legends' Broadcast After 2 Mass Shootings

Furnished content.


Of all the battles we wage here, my personal frustration probably peaks on the topic of video games and real world violence. The amount of calories spent even having this discussion should go down as some kind of complete human failure. Study after study, never mind the input from actual law enforcement professionals, has demonstrated that the political talking points on violent games are complete bunk. I used to be fond of saying that the science on this topic was unsettled. At this point, the science is quite clear.Which means what we really need for that science to take hold with the public and end this stupid debate is to stop signaling that the debate isn't over. But when ESPN, with all of its popularity, decides to suspend a broadcast for an Apex Legends tournament because of the recent mass shootings, it's doing the opposite.

This weekend’s planned airing of the EXP Apex Legends Invitational at X Games tournament on ESPN2 has been postponed by the network, “out of respect for the victims and all those impacted in the immediate aftermath of the shootings.”The broadcast is meant to show highlights from the Apex Legends tournament that was held at X Games in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on August 2. Originally scheduled to air on ESPN2 this weekend, the show has been postponed for two months.
On the one hand, look, sure this sounds fine. And it's almost certain that somebody somewhere would have raised hell at ESPN about putting on a video game tournament that includes violent gaming shortly after a tragedy. But the job of society is to tell those people that they're crazy, not bend the knee to them. One single movie announced it was pulling its release following the shootings and this too is absolutely not helping. Plenty other upcoming releases that feature violent imagery are going off as planned. No word of TV networks delaying the release of any episodes over concerns that they contain violence. Not a single book release has been rescheduled, music video delayed, nor comic book axed over any of this. So why is this different?Because video games. The scapegoating has gone on for so long that it's become etched into our psyches and only a conscious uncoupling is going to change that.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 15-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Giant Copyright Troll, Malibu Media, Sued By Investors

Furnished content.


We've written a bunch of stories about Malibu Media, a copyright trolling operation. The company's founders, Colette Pelissier and Brigham Feld, like to claim that they're purveyors of "classy" pornography under the X-Art brand, but their business seems almost entirely focused on trolling practices. And its embrace of copyright trolling has resulted in some significant problems for the company over the years, as judges have very much caught on to the company's long history of sketchy practices.Apparently those sketchy practices may go beyond its copyright trolling, as two of Malibu Media's investors are now suing the company, claiming that they lent the company money when it was short on cash, in exchange for 50% of its "net recovery" from the trolling operations, and a "50% interest" in the copyright of the porn X-Art created. So, how'd that work out?

In 2018 alone, continues the complaint, Malibu Media's litigation stampede generated over $2.8 million.But the plaintiffs say they haven't seen any of the money and can't get an accounting. They further allege, "On information and belief, Defendants are shuttling assets and interests out of Malibu Media and into more obscure entities, including the shell entity holding companies: Click Here, Colette Holdings, Colette Properties, Colette Production, Inc., Colette Productions LLC, and/or Zo Digital."
Ah, shell companies and moving cash around. It appears that Malibu Media took all the wrong lessons from Prenda Law. Perhaps they'll find themselves in the same place in the end.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 15-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Brewery In Wales Changes Name Of 2 Beers After Fight With Hugo Boss

Furnished content.


For some time now we've discussed in a series of posts the trademark fallout that has hit the craft brewing industry. With the explosion of this industry throughout the world, the once-congenial attitude breweries had towards intellectual property concerns has slipped away, replaced by both aggression when it comes to protecting IP and the threat of aggressive action from those outside the industry, given the amount of money being made in brewing. It's been sad to see and it has frankly led to some of the silliest IP disputes I've ever seen.As in any other industry, however, the truly frustrating stories when it comes to trademark disputes in the brewing business involve those outside the industry initiating conflict where it doesn't belong. The most recent example of this is Boss Brewing having to change the name of a couple of its beers after being bullied by Hugo Boss, the upscale clothier.

As reported by Wales Online, Boss Brewing, which was founded in 2014, received a cease and desist letter from high-end fashion retailer Hugo Boss after applying to trademark its brand.According to records published by the Intellectual Property Office, two Boss Brewing trademarks were taken out in October 2018 in a process which usually costs around £300. However, the brewer was instead required to pay almost £10,000 in legal fees during a four-month battle.Co-owner of the business, Sarah John, told Wales Online that Hugo Boss was “adamant they wanted to stop the name” from being trademarked. The company told John that it owned the Boss trademark in most of the world, but that it did not own rights to it in relation to alcohol.
Again, trademark law is typically designed to keep the public from being confused as to the source of a good or service. The opposition and cease and desist notice from Hugo Boss apparently views the public as being unable to distinguish a maker of beer and a maker of clothing. Where perhaps I could see Hugo Boss having some issue with any apparel merchandise the brewer might have with the "Boss" name -- and even that would be a stretch -- taking issue with the name of the brewery or its beers seems remarkably silly.But trademark bullying works, especially when the bully has much more money than its victim.
A compromise was eventually reached, whereby Boss Brewing was required to change the name of two of its beers. Boss Black, a 5% ABV stout, has become Boss Brewing Black, and Boss Boss, a 7.4% ABV double IPA, is now Boss Bossy.The brewer is also forbidden from selling its branded clothing, which include hats and t-shirts.John added: “We’ve got pallet loads of Boss Black which we are going to have to go through and change the labels of, which will be of great expense and time for a small brewery. This has been a horrible experience, and so stressful. We have worked so hard to create all of this and what should have been a simple process ended up making us question whether everything was going to be OK going forward in the future and whether we were going to lose everything."
And for what? To ensure the public isn't confused with the famous Hugo Boss line of clothing and a tiny Welsh brewery? It's enough to make one need a drink.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 14-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Top University Of California Scientists Tell Elsevier They'll No Longer Work On Elsevier Journals

Furnished content.


Last week we highlighted the ongoing dispute between academic publishing giant Elsevier and the University of California (UC) system. Earlier this year, UC cancelled its contract with Elsevier, after the publishing giant -- which gets nearly all of its content and labor for free, but charges insane prices for what is often publicly funded research -- refused to lower prices or to work with the UC system on moving to an open access approach. Last week, we covered how Elsevier had emailed a bunch of UC folks with what appeared to be outright lies about the status of negotiations between the two organizations, and UC hit back with some facts to debunk Elsevier.Perhaps Elsevier is getting antsy because a bunch of UC scientists have sent an open letter to Elsevier, saying they will no longer do editorial work for any Elsevier publications until this dispute gets worked out.

Among the signatories of the letter are Jennifer Doudna, co-inventor of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology, and Elizabeth Backburn, co-recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Once again, we're left wondering what value Elsevier even provides to the overall ecosystem any more. It doesn't fund the research. It hands off most reviewing and editing tasks to other academics. And yet, it gets to (a) keep the copyright on the research and (b) charge absolutely ridiculous sums to universities which feel they "must" have access to these publications. And, this is in the age of the internet when "publishing" is literally a button on a webpage. Why does Elsevier even still exist?

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 14-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



DC Opposes Trademark Application For 'Algorithmic Justice League' For Some Reason

Furnished content.


DC Comics, the company behind some of our most beloved superheroes, has built a reputation for itself for playing the supervillain when it comes to intellectual property disputes. Chiefly at issue tends to be trademark law, which DC views as some kind of overarching right for it to not allow any other entity to hold a trademark that even remotely overlaps with its own established marks. DC has taken this to absurd levels, opposing trademark applications that couldn't possibly be confused with its own properties, even as many of its marks are very, very well known.This continues to the present. Most recently, DC has decided to oppose the trademark application for a group founded by MIT's Joy Buolamwini to spotlight the negative consequences of certain technologies, which she dubbed The Algorithmic Justice League.

Buolamwini filed in 2017 for a US trademark on Algorithmic Justice League, saying she had used the name for more than a year on projects that “promote awareness of and combat bias in algorithms as used in artificial intelligence.” In June, DC lawyers filed to oppose the registration.DC claims consumers may confuse the group’s work on AI algorithms with its superhero collective Justice League, founded in 1960 by Wonder Woman and six others. “Such false assumptions will cause injury and harm,” the company’s filing says. It cites 10 trademarks related to the Justice League that mostly predate Buolamwini’s application, covering such uses as comic books, movies, mouse pads, and "adhesive plastic bandages for skin wounds."
DC's own citations point to the absurdity in all of this. Namely that none of the marks held by DC remotely bleed into the work that Buolamwini is doing. The closest you could get would be the view that some members of the public might see her as a superhero in her own right, attempting to head off the dangers of AI and algorithms. Other than that, it's difficult to see where the public is going to be confused between superheroes and this kind of technological research.DC, as it typically does, goes to great lengths to point out that its marks are super-famous and therefore deserving of expanded protection.
Fictional beings capable of flight or freakish strength might seem hard to confuse with the real-world work of Buolamwini—whose abilities appear to be 100 percent human. To draw attention to the potential harms of AI technology she has written code, published academic research, and presented her findings in a TED talk, congressional testimony, and spoken word poetry.Yet DC is a powerful foe, standing on reasonable legal ground. “The more famous the mark, the broader the protection,” says Alan Fisch, an intellectual property lawyer with the firm Fisch Sigler.
Labeling this as reasonable is probably a stretch. Famous or not, there are limits to the expanded protections available to well known trademarks. And, I would argue, DC's Justice League marks are certainly different than its truly famous marks. Had, for instance, this group been called the Algorithmic Supermen, we might be having a slightly different conversation. But the deviation in the markets and the name chosen don't lend themselves to claims of potential confusion.But DC's going to DC, I suppose. It would just be nice to see the company play superhero instead of villain for once.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 13-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



If You Lament The State Of Politics Today, Lament The Loss Of Aereo

Furnished content.


Disclaimer: I did a teeny bit of legal work on a teeny part of Aereo's defense against the litigation onslaught seeking to obliterate it. But that's not why I think the Supreme Court's decision enabling that obliteration was terrible. On the contrary, it's why I wanted to work on the defense at all, because it was always apparent that trying to use copyright to crush Aereo was a terrible idea that would have terrible consequences. And time has, of course, born this prediction out.It had never made sense why all these TV stations would be suing Aereo in the first place. After all, isn't the thing that TV stations always want a larger viewership? With a larger viewership they can charge more for ads and make more money. So a service that helps them get that larger viewership (and at no cost to themselves) seems like something they should actually be glad to have. In any case, it was certainly quite odd to see them resent something that helped connect them with bigger audiences beyond what their broadcast signal could manage.And it made even less sense for a public television station like WNET to be part of any of these lawsuits. Commercial profit was never supposed to be its goal. Instead, pledge drive after pledge drive has always begged the public for the funds necessary to show its programming. Yet there it was, now trying to eradicate a service that helped people actually watch that programming. Which necessarily prompts the question of why anyone should ever bother to give money to WNET ever again if it was so bound and determined to limit the number of people who could benefit from it.Anyway, while the fight against Aereo made no sense, and the US Supreme Court decision killing it made even less, the result is that today we live in a world without it, where the reach and influence of local TV stations has effectively been damned to the geographical limits of their signal strength. And this pointless and artificial limitation has had a cost.Because think about what has been happening in recent elections: results end up hyper-localized, with impenetrable divisions between red and blue states, urban and rural regions, large markets and small, etc. At least in the story of the country mouse and city mouse they both got to visit each other and learn what each other's lives were like. But thanks to the Supreme Court, now it is so much harder for Americans everywhere to learn about what life is like outside the areas where they live.Aereo helped build connections between these places by overcoming the barriers imposed by distance. Instead of people only being able to see the broadcasts they could receive on their own antennas, it gave them a window into other communities by allowing them to essentially rent antennas in these other places and experience the broadcasts aimed for people there. Certainly if they'd rented an entire house in these other places there would have been no issue with them using its antenna to watch these broadcasts. So it hardly follows that it should be illegal if they simply saved the enormous expense of moving to that other place and instead only rented the antenna. (Which, despite the Supreme Court's technical misunderstanding about what Aereo did, is exactly what Aereo - and, for the past year or so, now Locast - actually did.)Especially not when, as described above, it would have been good for those stations. And especially not when it also would have been good for the nation. It does us no good to remain little regional enclaves unable to find common ground between each other. Sharing in each other's broadcast media would go a long way to bridging those geographically-enforced cultural gaps. Indeed, it would seem to vindicate the very goals of copyright, to promote the progress of arts and sciences, to ensure that local insight could be efficiently exchanged among these regions. Instead, however, the Supreme Court, in its decision to contort copyright law to effectively ban Aereo, doubled-down on the physical restrictions curtailing that exchange with artificial legal barriers that can only serve to enforce the effects of that distance upon the national electorate. And our democracy has been paying the price for this decision ever since.Perhaps things can be different with Locast. While too new to have been able to have had as much impact on national political culture as a mature service would have had by now, since last year it has tried to thread the confusing needle the Supreme Court set out for these sorts of antenna-rental services. As the courts now stand to review the legal questions they raise again, one can only hope the courts better understand this time around the public interest in knowledge exchange that's at stake, which copyright law is supposed to advance, not smother.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here


posted at: 12:00am on 13-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



This Week In Techdirt History: August 4th - 10th

Furnished content.


Five Years AgoThis week in 2014, while President Obama was defending the CIA's increasingly exposed use of torture on the basis that they had a "tough job", James Clapper was defending the redactions in the torture report and calling them "minimal" — but Senators were calling it "incomprehensible", because even 15% redaction can hide all the critical details.Meanwhile, comic artist Randy Queen was giving a crash course in DMCA abuse, using takedowns to censor blogs that were critical of his work, then claiming that posts criticizing this were defamatory, then doubling down yet again by trying to DMCA the posts about his DMCA abuse.Ten Years AgoThis week in 2009, a Washington Post writer started an online journalism dust-up when he complained about Gawker "ripping off" his reporting with a blog post discussing and heavily linking to one of his articles. Other bloggers quickly pointed out that, in fact, the mainstream press "rips off" bloggers constantly, spurring more people to dig in and illustrate the entitlement mentality driving big media's complaints about blogs, and finally the suggestion that perhaps they should run their own blogs about their own reporting if they are so upset. Amidst this, the Associated Press was still digging in on their plan to DRM the news, with their text licensing calculator that would gladly charge you for any text whether it came from the AP or not, and ironically leveraging Creative Commons licensing language for their ill-fated DRM tech. We suggested the agency would be better off finding other services to offer newspapers, while competitor Reuters stepped up defended linking, excerpting and sharing.Also this week in 2009, we published a long rebuttal to the RIAA's factually-challenged boasts about the Joel Tenenbaum verdict.Fifteen Years AgoThis week in 2004, long before Joel Tenenbaum, we were wondering why the RIAA gets to hold parents responsible for their kids' downloading. The US was using trade negotiations to export the DMCA and software patents to Australia, as it likes to do, Hollywood succeeded in driving a DVD backup software company out of business, and for no particular reason the FCC happily voted that VoIP systems should be required to have wiretap backdoors for law enforcement — a fitting week for Tim Wu to write a post exploring how different regulatory schemes create a "copyright gap" that impacts the telephony and content industries in vastly different ways. We also got an important appeals court ruling that found websites devoted to criticizing companies are not commercial speech and thus do not constitute trademark infringement.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here


posted at: 12:00am on 11-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Unsealed Warrants Show SFPD Officer Told Judges He Was Targeting A Journalist, But Judges Approved Them Anyway

Furnished content.


Three of the five warrants the San Francisco Police Department obtained to search journalist/stringer Bryan Carmody's home, office, and phones have been tossed by the judges who issued them.The initial warrant, issued in February by Judge Rochelle East was the first be declared invalid. Judge East said the warrant application was misleading, omitting information that would have made it clear Carmody was a journalist and protected by the state's shield law. This warrant -- seeking access to phone call and text message records -- has been tossed. Since everything else in the Carmody investigation stems from this illegal search, the rest of the warrants are destined for the dustbin.Judge East's findings have led to two more judges tossing warrants they issued. It also has led -- at least in Judge Victor Hwang's case -- to the judge possibly reading the warrant for the first time. This statement from David Snyder of the First Amendment Coalition says the warrant Judge Hwang tossed contained information about Carmody that made it clear the SFPD was targeting a journalist.

The search warrant application unsealed today shows, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the San Francisco Police Department knew Bryan Carmody is a journalist before they sought a search warrant for his office — and that they provided ample evidence of that fact to the San Francisco judge that authorized the unlawful search of his office.
The warrant [PDF] contains passages that indicate Carmody is in the journalism business. SFPD Sgt. Joseph Obidi dances around it a bit but ultimately delivers enough information that an attentive judge would have rejected this attempt to bypass the state's shield law.The swearing officer notes that Carmody "is not currently employed at any of the news organizations" that published the leaked death report. But there are other passages in the affidavit's narrative that point towards Carmody's occupation.
Sgt. Watts asked Mr. Carmody if the [officers] that [leaked a copy of a death report to him] profited financially, he stated no. Sgt. Watts asked him if he profited financially, he responded by saying that he profits financially from every story he covers.
And, more explicitly:
It is my belief that Mr. Carmody still has the original copy of the police report in order to further his financial profits by selling it to other interested parties or news outlets at the time. I also believe Mr. Carmody kept the original copy the report as part of his portfolio/records of news stories he has participated in to keep track of his achievements. [...] I believe it is reasonable that someone who makes a career out of producing/selling hot news stories would keep a copy of that as part of his resume.
The affidavit also makes reference to the warrant obtained from another judge to search Carmody's residence. If so, Judge Gail Dekreon likely saw the same narrative and assertions, and yet still gave the SFPD permission to search a journalist's home. As Synder points out, this is unacceptable.
[T]hese statements represent a massive failure by both SFPD and the judiciary to recognize and safeguard the Constitutionally protected rights of Bryan Carmody and, by extension all journalists.
All the warrants will ultimately be tossed because every one of them is predicated on an invalid warrant and an illegal search of Carmody's phone records. But these should have been rejected by the judges who initially reviewed them, shutting down the SFPD's attempt to circumvent the state's shield law. The judicial branch's powers aren't just curative or restorative. They're also supposed to be preventative. Here they failed, leading to multiple rights violations that never should have been allowed to happen.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:01am on 10-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Comcast Wireless Joins Verizon In Charging You More For HD Video

Furnished content.


One of the more subtle assaults on net neutrality has been the slow but steady introduction of arbitrary, often unnecessary restrictions mobile carriers will then charge you to get around. Sprint, for example, has toyed with plans that throttle all video, music, and games unless you pay extra. Verizon has also banned 4K video from its network unless you pay more for 5G (which isn't widely available). The company also now throttles all video on its "unlimited" data plans, charging consumers even more if they want to view content in HD as the originating service intended.Comcast has now followed Verizon's lead, and its new wireless service will also now ban HD videoon its unlimited data plans unless you pony up an adidtional $20 per month. The company technically began throttling all video to 480p on its wireless network a week ago, but only just last week announced that users would now be charged more if they actually wanted to watch video in HD:

"Xfinity Mobile's unlimited data plan costs $45 per line per month, but video streams are generally limited to 480p resolution. Comcast yesterday announced a new $20-per-month HD Pass "for an upgrade to HD video resolution on Unlimited lines (720p on phone and 1080p on tablets)." That raises the monthly price to $65."
The problem with these efforts begins with the fact that Americans already pay some of the highest prices for 4G mobile data in the developed world. In exchange, they get mobile 4G broadband service that ranks somewhere around 30th worldwide in terms of speed. Studies also show that US wireless provider video quality is similarly some of the worst in the developed world due to many of the nickel-and-diming, erroneous restrictions being placed on mobile lines.The other problem with these kinds of plans is one of precedent. Once you open the door to letting giant telecom companies impose arbitrary barriers you'll then have to pay extra to get around, you open the door to all manner of additional, problematic efforts (especially with the recent neutering of FCC authority and net neutrality). Want your games to work as intended? Pay us more. Want your music streaming to be free of arbitrary restrictions? Pay us more. Want to use Netflix instead of a telecom's TV services? Pay us more.One way to help minimize these issues is to stop mindlessly signing off on competition-eroding megamergers that only act to reduce any incentive to genuinely compete on price. Instead of direct competition, wireless carriers adore saddling their plans with so many bizarre restrictions and caveats that direct pricing comparisons are often impossible for the average user. Frightened by what they don't understand, these users are then incentivized to buy the most expensive plan in order to avoid overage fees or other restrictions. It's a pricing funnel designed with one thing in mind: upselling you to a more expensive plan.Another answer to this growing problem is for carriers to finally stop marketing clearly limited plans as "unlimited." For fifteen years or so US mobile carriers have marketed "unlimited" data plans with an ocean of very real, very confusing limits. Comcast's unlimited data plan, for example, throttles users back to DSL speeds (1.5Mbps download/750kbps upload) after 20 gigabytes of monthly use. Despite getting government wrist slaps for the better part of 15 years this practice has only accelerated, the number of caveats have grown, and it's a wonder Americans have any idea what kind of connection they're actually buying.Enter the death of net neutrality rules, which not only prohibited many of the more elaborate, heavy handed nickel-and-diming efforts by mobile carriers, but mandated that wireless carriers be entirely clear about what kind of mobile connection you're buying. Wary of the rules being restored due to the state AG and Mozilla lawsuit against the FCC, many mobile carriers are trying to behave. But should the states and Mozilla lose their bid to restore the rules, this entire problem is going to get exponentially worse in relatively short order.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:01am on 10-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Oops: Japan Anti-Piracy Proposals Probably Violate Its Constitution

Furnished content.


For over a year now, we've been discussing a worrying trend in Japan, where the government is looking to severely ramp up its anti-piracy efforts. The worry lies in the implications of these various proposed programs, including the censorship of internet sites supposedly used for piracy, the criminalization of pirating content, and how all of this is going to impact the public. One of the largest barriers to doing any of these expansions to copyright law is the Japanese constitution and legislation, which are fairly restrictive on matters of both censorship and the invasion of privacy. How the government thought it was going to route around those provisions is anyone's guess.But it seems there is confidence that it can do so, as every new proposal coming out looks to in some way violate Japan's constitution. The latest involves putting a system in place that would delivery popup warnings to anyone visiting a site that is deemed to be a "pirate site."

Additional proposals suggested that Internet users could be confronted with popup warnings when they visit pirate sites, either as an alternative to blocking, a deterrent, or to help people differentiate them from legal offerings. However, that plan is being viewed as a potential invasion of privacy too. A report compiled this week by an expert panel with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has concluded that such popup warnings could infringe citizens’ right to secrecy of communications.Asahi reports that in order to make this kind of system work, Internet service providers would first need to obtain consent from their subscribers so that monitoring their attempts to access certain sites would remain legal. The publication says that after the panel sought opinions from the public on the proposal, it was “bombarded by emails” sent by people calling for the plan to be rejected on privacy grounds.
That this does represent an invasion of privacy not allowed by Japanese law and the constitution is a fairly straight forward conclusion. Is it an invasion of privacy for the government to monitor the internet usage of its citizens? Yes, as Japan's legal system has already concluded. Can the government serve popup warnings to citizens for visiting certain websites without monitoring what sites they visit? No, it obviously cannot. Where the ambiguity is in any of this is beyond me.And so it seems the government is pushing ISPs to be their privacy-invading intermediaries.
Nevertheless, some ISPs have agreed to begin trialing a popup warning system during the fall, in order to assess its effectiveness. That will mean them first having to explain to their users that they wish to monitor their online behavior and then obtain legal permission to do so.Given a choice between being monitored by their ISP or not, it seems unlikely that many Internet users – if they actually understand the proposition – will willingly have someone watch over their communications.
Gee, let's see. So, the only way this all complies with Japanese law is if the ISPs do the monitoring of sites to serve popup warnings about piracy, but to do so requires the expressed opt-in permission of the very people who are supposedly visiting piracy sites? Dear Mr. Pirate: would you consent to having us monitor your internet usage and warn you when you're doing pirate-y things?This is obviously absurd and I expect the plan to be rejected. It would be much better for the entertainment industries pushing these proposals to be transparent in what they really want: a change to the Japanese constitution and law to allow the government and/or private interests to invade the privacy of all citizens, just because they think it will allow them to make a bit more coin without having to adapt to the modern digital world. Although, put that way, it's hard to see how that flies with the Japanese public either.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 09-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Consumer Reports Finds Numerous Home Routers Lack Even Basic Security Protections

Furnished content.


For years now many hardware vendors have failed utterly to implement even basic security protections on most consumer-grade routers. D-Link, for example, just settled with the FTC after being sued for shipping routers with numerous vulnerabilities and default username/password combinations, despite advertising its products as "easy to secure" and replete with "advanced network security." Asus was similarly dinged by the FTC for shipping gear with numerous flaws and easily-guessed default username and password combinations.As such, it's not too surprising to see a new Consumer Reports study that found that a large number of mainstream residential routers lack even rudimentary security protections. 11 of the 26 major router brands examined by the organization came with flimsy password protection. 20 of the routers let users only change the password, but not the username of web-based router management clients. 20 of the routers also failed to protect users from repeated failed password login attempts, now commonplace on most apps, phones, and other services.Two thirds of the routers tested came with UDP enabled by default:

"Unless you have a device or some software that specifically asks for it, it's smart to turn this off, because UPnP has a history of serious security vulnerabilities. But our recent survey found that most people who buy a router don't adjust the settings, and even fewer may think to turn off UPnP."
Many attacks are made easier thanks to Luddite users. But there's a universe of steps these vendors could be taking that would make a dramatic impact, such as requiring that users change the default username and password before they're able to actually use the router. But, just like the security and privacy apathy seen in the IOT space, many vendors don't want to spend the money necessary to fix older gear, or even implement meaningful improvements in new kit. As a result, much of this gear is easily hijacked and integrated into botnets within minutes of being connected to the internet. Hardware vendors don't care as they've already made a sale, and consumers often lack the technical know-how to even know they've been compromised.As Consumer Reports notes, given the router's integral role in everything done in your home, it remains fairly dumbfounding that we're still collectively begging router manufacturers to give a damn:
"Routers are a critical part of our homes, says Robert Richter, who oversees security and privacy testing for Consumer Reports. They are the conduit through which all of your data travels, so it's crucial that we look closely at how they handle security. We hope both consumers and the industry pay close attention to our findings."
Of course if you've checked in with the dumpster fire that is security and privacy standards in the IOT space, shoddy routers are just one small part of a much broader problem. To that end Consumer Reports has done some really stellar work trying to create an open standards system that can be used to include security and privacy vulnerabilities in product reviews, helping to steer consumers away from buying gear from vendors who pretty clearly couldn't give a damn about consumer security and privacy.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 09-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Another Day, Another Company Leaving Sensitive User Data Exposed Publicly On The Amazon Cloud

Furnished content.


What is it about companies leaving consumer data publicly exposed on an Amazon cloud server? Verizon made headlines after one of its customer service vendors left the personal data of around 6 million consumers just sitting on an Amazon server without adequate password protection. A GOP data analytics firm was also recently soundly ridiculed after it left the personal data of around 198 million citizens (read: most of you) similarly just sitting on an Amazon server without protection. Time Warner Cable also recently left 4 million user records sitting in an openly-accessible Amazon bucket.You'd think that after all of this press attention fixated on a fairly basic (but massive) screw up, that companies would stop doing this. But you'd be wrong.The latest company to fail at fundamental security practices is California's Bank of Cardiff, which managed to leave millions of phone recordings made by employees -- you guessed it -- in an unsecured Amazon cloud bucket open wide to the general internet. Many of the phone recordings exposed include bank employees talking with customers about sensitive financial transactions:

"Many of the calls appear to be Bank of Cardiff employees phoning up individuals the bank has discussed loans with, or attempting to offer them one. One call includes a potential customer discussing their plans for obtaining financing either from Bank of Cardiff or a competitor. In another, an employee contacts a company focused on industrial equipment; Motherboard identified the company because of its hold music which includes the firm's website. The company did not respond to a request for comment. In a third call, an employee contacted a company about a business loan."
Yeah, whoops-a-daisy. The practice by lazy and/or incompetent companies has basically made a career for folks like UpGuard cyber risk analyst Chris Vickery, who has spent the better part of the last few years searching and exposing companies that can't be bothered to secure their cloud accounts. But again, it's absolutely incredible given the media exposure of this basic gaffe that every company on the planet hasn't done an audit to make sure their brand isn't the next one in lights for security incompetence.Bank of Cardiff has yet to issue a public statement on the exposure, but it did finally lock down access to the data trove once journalists and security researchers (once again) did their jobs for them.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 08-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Microsoft Nabs Russian Hackers Exploiting Flimsy IOT Security

Furnished content.


Week after week we've documented how internet of things devices are being built with both privacy and security as a distant afterthought, resulting in everything from your television to your refrigerator creating both new attack vectors and wonderful new surveillance opportunities for hackers and state actors. And CIA leaks have indeed confirmed that "smart" TVs and other devices with embedded microphones make for wonderful surveillance tools.So it's not too surprising to see Microsoft's Security Response Center proclaim this week that it has caught Russian hacking group Strontium" (aka Fancy Bear and APT28) using poorly secured printers, VoIP phones, and video decoders to gain access to sensitive networks. As is usually the case, Microsoft found that once these devices' security was bypassed (often an easy feat given there's sometimes little to no security measures in place), they were able to use them as a beach head to gain broader access to the networks they were connected to:

"After gaining access to each of the IoT devices, the actor ran tcpdump to sniff network traffic on local subnets. They were also seen enumerating administrative groups to attempt further exploitation. As the actor moved from one device to another, they would drop a simple shell script to establish persistence on the network which allowed extended access to continue hunting. Analysis of network traffic showed the devices were also communicating with an external command and control (C2) server."
In at least two instances, the hacks were only made possible thanks to hardware shipping with default username and password logins, something that has frequently plagued residential routers as well. Just as unsurprising as the hack was Microsoft's warning that this is a problem that's only going to get worse, regardless of the government or organization pulling the strings:
"While much of the industry focuses on the threats of hardware implants, we can see in this example that adversaries are happy to exploit simpler configuration and security issues to achieve their objectives, the report noted. These simple attacks taking advantage of weak device management are likely to expand as more IoT devices are deployed in corporate environments."
As security researchers like Bruce Schneier have long noted, there's some severe market failure driving this dysfunction. Companies don't want to spend money on security and privacy standards as they connect everything under the sun to the internet, and by the time vulnerabilities are discovered, they're off to selling the next big thing. Because the devices often don't provide insight into what they're doing, consumers routinely have no idea what the device is even doing on the network. And by the time vulnerabilities are addressed, consumers are off to buy the next big thing (with equally terrible security holes).Year after year after year, we're connecting millions upon millions of devices to home and business networks with paper-mache grade security. And while there's some fleeting efforts to address the problem (like incorporating flaws into product reviews), it's still not something folks are taking seriously enough. And while such proclamations are often dismissed as hyperbole, it's something folks like Schneier predict isn't likely to change until these vulnerabilities result in some notable human casualties.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 08-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



AT&T Hopes A Confusing Rebranding Will Help Its Muddled Video Plans Make Sense

Furnished content.


Despite spending more than $150 billion on mergers intended to help it dominate the video space, AT&T's video ambitions are falling flat. The company just posted a loss of more than 778,000 "traditional" video subscribers last quarter (satellite TV, IPTV), but also lost another 168,000 subscribers at its DirecTV Now streaming service. The reason? The company's acquisitions of DirecTV ($67 billion) and Time Warner ($86 billion) saddled it with so much debt, the company was forced to raise rates. This, in turn, helped drive AT&T's customers to the exits.Despite its voracious appetite for M&A, it's not entirely clear the company knows what to do from here. The same week it announced record subscriber losses, AT&T proclaimed it would be engaged in a rebranding that will kill off the DirecTV brand. AT&T's DirecTV Now streaming video service will now be, quite creatively, named just AT&T TV Now:

"AT&T is eliminating the DirecTV Now brand name it uses for its struggling Internet-based TV service. DirecTV Now will become "AT&T TV Now" later this summer, AT&T announced today. DirecTV Now (the future "AT&T TV Now") offers a bundle of linear TV channels, similar to traditional cable or satellite services, and AT&T said its core offering won't be changed."
The problem, as some were quick to point out, is that AT&T, Time Warner, and HBO all now offer video via an immensely confusing array of options. There's HBO Go, HBO's streaming service for those with cable. There's HBO Now, HBO's streaming service for those without cable. There's AT&T's Watch TV, which is a live, discounted bundle of 35 channels. There's also AT&T TV, which is delivered over IPTV. Then there's AT&T TV Now, which is a rebranded version of DirecTV Now, its on demand streaming option. There's also HBO Max, AT&T's new streaming platform slated for next year. Not confusing at all, right?
Both AT&T and Verizon desperately want to topple Google and Facebook in the video advertising space, but there remains little indication that lumbering, government-pampered monopolies have the flexibility to actually accomplish that goal. Verizon's Go90 streaming video service, you'll recall, was supposed to dominate the Millennial video space, but wound up being scrapped after nobody gave much of a damn.It's frankly hard for pampered monopolies to seriously compete because, with the exception of some tepid, non-price competition in wireless, actual hard-nosed competition is alien phrenology to them. As are innovation, disruption, and quick adaptation. Companies like AT&T and Verizon have spent thirty years responding to competition by lobbying government to make life hell for their competitors at every turn. And because giants like AT&T all but own numerous federal and state lawmakers, that's routinely been pretty easy. That's not going to work in a streaming space where actual competition is starting to explode.In a sector where many traditional cable operators have only doubled down on the same dumb behavior that drives cord cutting in the first place, AT&T at least had the courage to offer its own streaming alternative. Many companies are so terrified of accelerating the cord cutting losses to traditional video revenue, they refuse to offering compelling, more flexible, and cheaper alternatives. AT&T deserves credit for taking risk, even if the path forward should have been fairly obvious.That said, it's not entirely clear AT&T knows what it's doing. In addition to a scattered brand presence and endless price hikes, the company seems fixated on turning HBO from a boutique channel filled with popular, higher-quality risk taking, to a an outlet that craps out shorter form content en masse. This shift in focus to quantity over quality isn't likely to help in the way AT&T execs seem to think it will. And while the death of net neutrality and AT&T's domination of broadband will certainly help AT&T tilt the playing field here and there, even that may not be enough to keep AT&T relevant in the streaming wars to come.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 07-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Have You Heard? If You Spread 'Hurtful' Rumors In China, You'll Be Thrown Off The Internet For Years

Furnished content.


The Chinese authorities really don't like rumors being spread. Back in 2012, Techdirt reported on a "five strikes and you're out" plan for throwing rumormongers off social media for 48 hours. That obviously didn't work too well, since in 2013 a tougher line was introduced: three years in prison if you get 500 retweets of a "hurtful" rumor. But even that doesn't seem to have achieved its aim, judging by this post on Caixin Live about yet another law aimed at stamping out rumors:

A draft regulation released for public comment on July 22 by the Cyberspace Administration of China proposes restricting the internet access of users and providers of online information services that "fabricate, publish, or spread information that violates public morality, business ethics, or good faith" or deliberately provide technological assistance to those who do so.
Blacklisted individuals would be forbidden from using the Web or online services for three years. They would also be restricted from working in the Internet industry for that period. Depending on "whether the individual rectifies their behavior and prevents their disinformation from spreading further", that term could be reduced, or extended by up to three more years.This isn't the only recent initiative to stamp out those hurtful messages. Last year, a platform called "Piyao" -- which means " to refute a rumor" -- was launched. It is a Web site and mobile app, and designed to spot "untrue rumors" with the help of AI and members of the public, who can report any bad stuff they've come across. According to Reuters, a promotional video released at the launch of the site warned:
Rumours violate individual rights; rumours create social panic; rumours cause fluctuations in the stock markets; rumours impact normal business operations; rumours blatantly attack revolutionary martyrs.
Terrible things, these rumors. Pity they seem a perennial part of the online world -- however much the Chinese authorities might try to eradicate them.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter, Diaspora, or Mastodon.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 07-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



St. Louis County Pays Woman $750,000 After Cops Perform A No-Knock Raid, Kill Her Dog... All Over Unpaid Utility Bills

Furnished content.


Here's where we are in the development of the American police state: no-knock raids over code violations.

Angela Zorich says she remembers the April day in 2014 like it was yesterday.“I saw them and they're just pouring in, they're covered head to toe, they got helmets, they're like military style," said Zorich.Her life forever changed after she says the St. Louis County Police Department’s SWAT team came with a no-knock warrant for an unpaid gas bill."Why is this cop able to call in a SWAT team because I didn't have gas service at my house?" said Zorich.
The taxpayers of St. Louis County are now out $750,000 because the local boys thought the best way to address a "problem property" complaint was to talk themselves into feeling reasonably afraid and head in guns blazing.The officers knew Zorich possessed at least one pit bull. But this alone wasn't enough to justify the no-knock raid. Nor the murder of the dog. Officers claimed the dog charged them, necessitating the killing of the family pet. But testimony during the trial exposed this for the lie it was. The dog was shot in the back, six feet away from the nearest officer who, let's remember, was wearing tactical gear.That wasn't the only lie. The St. Louis PD also apparently misled the judge about the level of danger they might be facing.
[Attorney Jerome J.] Dobson says the lead officer fabricated a story to a judge and fellow SWAT members, leading them to believe Zorich’s sons were highly violent, to get the no-knock warrant issued.Dobson says that warrant was executed just two hours after it was signed."No evidence was going to be destroyed, you're not going to flush the gas meter down the toilet," said Dobson.
From the details of the case, it appears the St. Louis PD may not have even have had judicial permission to serve a no-knock warrant. The SWAT team had a warrant but it was the SWAT team leader who arbitrarily decided the team could bypass the Constitutional niceties of knock-and-announce. All this to serve an administrative warrant -- not a criminal warrant -- to search for evidence of violations of County ordinances.
Upon obtaining the Warrant, Rinck contacted Pfanstiel, a Tactical Operations Unit ("TAC") supervisor, and requested he execute the Warrant. Approximately one hour after obtaining the Warrant, Rink met Pfanstiel and other TAC officers at a park close to Plaintiff's house. Rinck informed the TAC officers that residents of Plaintiff's home had histories of violent behavior, including numerous assaults and one armed robbery, and that someone inside Plaintiff's house had slammed the door and shouted "fuck you" at him several days earlier. Rinck also told the officers about the many complaints the police department received about Plaintiff's dogs, including a report that her pit bull attacked another dog. Rinck did not mention the telephone conversation that he and Plaintiff had the previous day.Because Fumagalli was the "team leader" and Zavorka was the "point person," they reviewed the Warrant and drove by Plaintiff's property with Rinck in preparation for execution of the Warrant. Fumagalli created a plan for execution of the Warrant. Pfanstiel approved Fumagalli's plan and decided the TAC team would perform a no-knock entry.
That's not how that's supposed to work. No-knock warrants need to be issued by judges who can view the sworn statements justifying this kind of entry. This decision was made after the warrant -- a regular warrant -- had already been obtained. And this decision was unilateral -- subject zero impartial review.And that's why the county is now paying Zorich for killing her dog during this raid over an unpaid gas bill. This case was headed to trial and the County has decided taxpayers should pay for the violations committed by their public servants, rather than let these public servants be held individually responsible for their terrible decisions and actions.
In support of his position that deployment of a TAC team to execute the Warrant was justified because there was an immediate threat to officer safety, Rinck cites Holland. There, the Tenth Circuit held that the decision to deploy a SWAT team to execute search and misdemeanor arrest warrants at a 60-acre compound was reasonable because the owner and several other residents had histories of violence, officers suspected there would be firearms present, and the SWAT team's "goal was to effect the arrest and search warrant quickly, without injury, and to preserve evidence." 268 F.3d at 1190-91.The instant case is inapposite. The SWAT team in Holland was deployed to arrest a criminal suspect and seize evidence of an assault. Here, the TAC officers' intended to gain entry and secure Plaintiff's house to enable Rinck and the housing inspectors to inspect Plaintiff's property for housing code violations, none of which were characterized as emergent. Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, Rinck determined, in the absence of any exigency and without allowing Plaintiff a reasonable opportunity to consent to an inspection, that it would be appropriate for the TAC unit to execute the Warrant within hours of obtaining it. Based on these facts, a reasonable jury could find that Rinck's conduct deprived Plaintiff of her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
I'm sure most of us believe everyone should pay their bills. But do we believe it hard enough to send 10 armed officers through the front door of someone who isn't keeping their gas bill current? I doubt that. And I doubt any jury would either.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 06-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Cisco Shells Out $8.6 Million For Selling The Government Easily Hackable Tech

Furnished content.


Not keen on competing with cheaper Chinese hardware, Cisco has long lobbied the US government to hamstring Chinese competitors like Huawei for lax security practices. At the beginning of this decade as Huawei began to make inroads into US markets, Cisco could frequently be found trying to gin up lawmaker angst on this subject for obvious, financial gain. And while Huawei (like most telecom giants) certainly does dumb and unethical things, it's fairly obvious that at least a portion of our recent hyperventilation over (so far unproven) allegations that Huawei spies on Americans is good old fashioned protectionism.Fast forward to this week, when new reports suggested that Cisco should have spent a little more time worrying about its own products. The company was required to pay the government $8.6 million after it was found the company routinely sold the government hackable video cameras, then did nothing to secure the devices once they were in the wild. For years. The vulnerable gear, exposed by a Cisco whistleblower, was sold to a variety of hospitals, airports, schools, state governments and federal agencies.And while news of the scandal was buried underneath the other, more notable privacy and security scandals of the day, the flaws were not what you'd call modest:

"Hackers could use the flaw not just to spy on video footage but to turn surveillance cameras on and off, delete footage and even potentially compromise other connected physical security systems such as alarms or locks all without being detected, said Hamsa Mahendranathan, an attorney at Constantine Cannon, which represented the whistleblower James Glenn."
Cisco states that there's no evidence that these vulnerabilities were exploited, though that seems like an impossible claim to make given the scope of the impacted products, many of which aren't even still in circulation. Glenn suggested the vulnerabilities were "trivial" to exploit. He also noted that despite being aware of the issue, Cisco left the cameras unfixed for four years, opening to liability given its contractor relationship to government:
"Glenn, during his work at a Cisco subcontractor called NetDesign over the course of 2008, sent the company detailed reports revealing that anyone with a moderate grasp of network security could exploit this software, but he never got a response, his attorneys said. Glenn was fired by NetDesign in 2009, his attorneys said. They are not alleging that dismissal was in retaliation for pointing out the flaw. He filed the whistleblower lawsuit two years later."
The settlement (astonishingly) marks the first time in US history that a government contractor has been forced to pay out under a federal whistleblower law for failing to have adequate cybersecurity protections, though it's unlikely to be the last. After the Washington Post broke the story, the New York Times found that the settlement will be doled out to an array of US government agencies, including FEMA, Homeland Security, the Secret Service, and all four branches of the military.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 06-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



This Week In Techdirt History: July 28th - August 3rd

Furnished content.


Five Years AgoThis week in 2014 was one of significant events around the CIA. First, it was reported that the agency was intercepting confidential whistleblower communications sent to the Senate, which led to angry denials followed in short order by an admission and apology — while also revealing that the spying on the Senate went even further than the report showed. At the same time as all this, the CIA torture report was winding its way towards release. Some leaked details revealed that State Department officials knew about the torture and were instructed not to tell their bosses, and then the White House passed on its redacted version to the Senate — leading Dianne Feinstein to ask why so much of the report was redacted and delay its release. Then, at the end of the week, President Obama addressed the issue with the disturbingly casual statement that "we tortured some folks".Ten Years AgoThis week in 2009, there was no surprise when the court rejected Joel Tenenbaum's highly questionable fair use defense for file sharing, capping off the general trainwreck of his defense, and ending with Tenenbaum being ordered to pay $22,500 per song, for a total of $675,000. Meanwhile, the Associated Press was sick enough of people mocking its plans to DRM the news that it said it's done talking about fair use, though perhaps a more important question was whether the AP was still relevant at all. This was somewhat mirrored in Barnes & Noble's bizarre response to questions about why it put DRM on public domain books.Also this week in 2009: Taser dropped its misguided lawsuit against Second Life, we saw what appears to be the first defamation lawsuit over a tweet, and Apple was fighting to prevent a DMCA exception for jailbreaking iPhones — not a great look in the same week it blocked Google Voice from the iPhone and sparked an FCC investigation.Fifteen Years AgoFive years earlier in 2004, before the iPhone existed (but with people including us already using the term to describe a hypothetical device we all suspected was coming), Apple made news by putting a slimmed down version of iTunes on a Motorola phone, though we couldn't help but wonder if carriers would kill it due to their own walled-garden mentality. Not that Apple would deserve much sympathy since, that same week, RealNetworks engineered a way for people to put their Real music onto iPods only for Apple to act indignant and accuse them of "adopting the tactics and ethics of a hacker". Meanwhile, Google was moving towards its hotly anticipated IPO when it got hit by the MyDoom virus and taken offline for several hours (which may have only served to make people realize just how much they use it).

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here


posted at: 12:00am on 04-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Philippines Lawmaker Introduces 'Fake News' Bill That Would Allow The National Police To Literally Police Speech

Furnished content.


Fake news laws are so hot right now. Any government with an authoritarian bent is getting in on the action, stepping up domestic surveillance while trampling remaining speech protections -- all in the name of "protecting" people from a concept they can't clearly define.It's not just the places you expect. Sure, we may like to think this sort of opportunistic lawmaking may be relegated to places like Vietnam and Singapore, where governments have continually expressed their interest in deterring criticism of governments and kings and their shitty laws. But even our own President spends a great deal of time talking about "fake news" and the need to prevent journalists from criticizing the guy sitting in the Oval Office. And France's government is looking at adding this to its long list of speech restrictions, even if only at "election time."The latest country to add a speech-squashing, government-expanding "fake news" bill to its roster of bad ideas is the Philippines. The proposal doesn't use the terminology du jour, but "fake news" by any other name is still "fake news." Here's the immediate effect the "Anti-False Content Act" would have on the country's population.

Introduced by Senator Vicente Sotto III, the bill strikes at the heart of Internet freedom, regulating if not outright policing the content of cyberspace in the Philippines. It mandates stiff prison terms and fines ranging from PHP 200,000 to PHP 2,000,000 against individuals who “create and/or publish” false and misleading content in social media sites, blogs and websites, as well as the “intermediaries” or platforms which carry the content, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Citizens are welcome to report "false content" to the government, which adds this to the tool chests of hecklers seeking a veto or online brigades wanting to put the color of law behind their deplatforming efforts. It's "see something, say something" for the internet, which is going to turn out to be just as useless as any other iteration of "report your friends and neighbors" programs.If citizens don't step up, the government can initiate the complaint process itself. The three agencies authorized to do this are the Department of Justice, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the National Police. Not scary at all. If any of these entities think the public needs protecting, it can start hunting down "false content" purveyors and extracting fines from social media companies. The law affects everyone, not just users of major social media platforms. Individual blogs can be targeted, as can the nation's news agencies.Rather than allow more speech to act as a corrective measure, legislators want to limit speech further, ensuring the only speech remaining will be government-approved. This is bad enough, but the agencies allowed to make these judgment calls on questionable posts/publications are among the worst to be entrusted with the literal policing of speech.
The harm that false information can inflict is undeniable. But there is far greater harm in authorizing government agencies to decide what is fake or factual news, false or accurate conclusions, correct or mistaken findings. Assigning agencies who deal with criminality and violations of law guarantees a most limited scope for the arbitration of truth.
If passed, another government will have succeeded in converting buzzwords to authoritarian power moves. The world needs less of this, but it's the rarest of governments that can see an opportunity to expand its power without acting on it.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 03-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Authors Take Copyright So Seriously They Hides Jokes In Their Copyright Notices

Furnished content.


Were you to hear from the lobbying groups for the major book publishers on the topic of copyright, their answers are generally to push for longer terms, stricter anti-piracy measures, and the most draconian reading of copyright law possible. Groups like The Authors Guild have been firm in their stances that copyright is the only thing that keeps authors in any kind of business, so important is it to their livelihoods. One would think, therefore, that all authors of books would likewise take copyright very, very seriously.Fortunately, for those of us that appreciate irreverent humor, not so much.

When my first couple novels came out, I lobbied to add some kind of notation about "fair use" and "limitations and exceptions to copyright" on the copyright notice page and was told not even to try because legal would never allow even the slightest variance from the boilerplate; apparently Steve Stack is better connected than I am, because his book 21st Century Dodos, has a copyright notice that is full of whimsy and gags, as Rebecca discovered and documented.
The entire thread is a fun read, and we'll get to other authors that do this sort of thing in a moment, but the whole thing kicks off with Stack's copyright notice on one of his books.
In case you can't read that or click through to the tweet, the bottom photos are of Stack's copyright notices. They are mostly boilerplate, save for these fun exceptions:
Steve Stack asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work, and woe betide anyone who suggests otherwiseA catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library, whatever that means
The other image is more of the same, except too long for me to type out entirely. That said, to get an idea of its flavor, it includes lines such as "No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, cookie jar or spare room... Unless you want to write the whole thing out in green crayon, in which case feel free." and "This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, carried across the country by relay, fired into space, turned upside down, eaten... On pain of death."You get the idea. That idea being that it doesn't seem like the author is taking copyright all that seriously. And he's not alone, as it turns out. Down the thread, another tweet points out that author Dave Eggers has a habit for this sort of thing as well.
Again, read the whole thing, but the opening paragraph is tasty enough that I will quote it below in case you cannot see it.
First published 2000 by Simon & Schuster, New York, a division of a larger and more powerful company called Viacom Inc., which is wealthier and more populous than eighteen of the fifty states of America, all of Central America, and all of the former Soviet Republic combined and tripled. That said, no matter how big such companies are, and how many things they own, or how much money they have or make or control, their influence over the daily lives and hearts of individuals, and thus, like ninety-nine percent of what is done by official people in cities like Washington, or Moscow, of Sao Paulo or Auckland, their effect on the short, fraught lives of human beings who limp around and sleep and dream of flying through bloodstreams, who love the smell of rubber cement and think of space travel while having intercourse, is very very small, and so hardly worth worrying about.Copyright © David (Dave) Eggers 2000Height: 5'11"; Weight: 170; Eyes: blue; Hair: Brown; Hands: chubbier than one would expect; Allergies: only to dander; Place on sexual-orientation scale, with one being perfectly straight, and 10 being perfectly gay: 3
It goes on from there.Now, none of this is to suggest that these authors have any dislike of copyright law. In fact, I scoured the internet for comments either might have made on the subject of copyright and couldn't find a thing. Which sort of leaves the literary graffiti both left in their books' copyright notices as their only comment on the topic at all.And, while it cannot be said that this defacing of their own rights is dismissive of those rights entirely, it certainly does suggest both that these authors don't take the subject quite as seriously as groups like The Authors Guild and that they have a fantastic sense of humor.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 03-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Malaysia Looks To Prosecute Homeowners Where Accused Streaming Piracy Occurs

Furnished content.


Back in the early days of filesharing clients and bittorrent being the focus of industry anti-piracy efforts, it was rare but not unheard of for end users to be targeted with lawsuits and criminal prosecution for copyright infringement. With the piracy ecosystem largely moving off of those kinds of filesharing platforms and more into a realm in which end users instead simply stream infringing material over the wire, rather than downloading it directly to their own machines, the focus on the consumer of pirated material has fallen by the wayside. Instead, the focus is now on the infringing sites that offer those streaming materials to the public. This makes a great deal of sense, actually, as the average user plausibly can claim ignorance as to the illicit nature of streamed material, combined with the simple fact that, unlike bittorrent technology, streaming material doesn't simultaneously offer it up to others as well.Again, this makes sense.Well, someone should reach out to the Malaysian government, because its new plans to fight piracy occurring with the aid of in-house Android boxes includes a strategy to prosecute any homeowner where such a device used for infringement exists.

There are many strategies available but the government in Malaysia is currently considering something unheard of anywhere on the planet. While it hasn’t shied away from ordering ISPs to block pirate sites, it now wants to hit consumers of content too, specifically those using Android-style set-top boxes.The mission of the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) is sometimes compared to that of the MPAA in the US. Unlike the MPAA, however, FINAS is a government department within the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia. Its chairman, Datuk Hans Isaac, says that it’s time to hold the public accountable for piracy.“I’m putting a paper together to propose that the owner of the house is responsible for the use of illegal Android TV boxes,” he said at the Fast Track 2019 Creative Digital Economy Forum in Cyberjaya.
This plan should raise the eyebrows for several reasons. The whole thing looks a bit like the strategy used by copyright trolls, where IP addresses are used to identify infringers, except that IP addresses make for shitty evidence as to who is actually infringing. After all, the account holder of an internet service isn't the only individual who might use that service. The same goes with homeownership, except more so (more on that in a moment). If IP addresses are bad at determining who actually infringed on a copyright, home-ownership records must represent a step further back from actual evidence.And the government isn't even trying to pretend that its plans will make good on catching the party actually infringing copyright.
In the United States, Europe and elsewhere it’s not uncommon for copyright trolls to blame Internet subscribers (often the homeowner) for Internet piracy. However, it seems that FINAS wants to take things a whole lot further by placing the responsibility for piracy on those who may be innocent and/or completely absent.“It doesn’t matter if the person is renting the house to another person who bought the device,” the FINAS chairman clarified.
This can be paraphrased as: "We're not actually all that concerned if we catch the infringing party. We mostly just want someone to blame for all of this, so we'll settle for whoever owns the abode, whether they live there or not." The potential that this new plan will ensnare innocent parties is nearly 100%. It's also going to be absolute hell for the real estate rental market. That sound you hear is a thousand Malaysian real estate lawyers scrambling to revise lease agreements for their customers.Open for discussion is exactly how effective all of this will be anyway.
Norman believes that when tackling the problem, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) should consider restricting Internet access to those who utilize pirate services.Again, it remains unclear how the government could determine who these people are. The main problem cited isn’t easily-trackable BitTorrent users but those who frequent streaming sites, portals, and other services.
Which is why the strategy has always been to go after and/or block the sites themselves, rather than the end user streaming the content. What silver bullet the Malaysian government has crafted to be able to track this sort of thing remains unknown at this point.But what isn't unknown is just how antithetical to justice this plan is.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 02-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



No Immunity For Cops Who Arrested A Man For Creating A Facebook Page Mocking The Police Department

Furnished content.


A few years ago, the Parma (OH) Police Department decided to turn its hypersensitivity into a criminal investigation. A local man, Anthony Novak, created a Facebook page parodying the PD's social media front. It wasn't particularly subtle satire. Most readers would have immediately realized this wasn't the Parma PD's official page -- not when it was announcing the arrival of the PD's mobile abortion clinic or the institution of a ban on feeding the homeless. Not only that, but the official logo had been altered to read "We No Crime."The Parma PD decided to treat this parody as a dangerous threat to itself and the general public. It abused an Ohio state law forbidding the use of computers to "disrupt" police services to go after Novak. Not that there was any disruption other than the rerouting of PD resources to investigate a non-criminal act.The end result was the arrest of Novak, the seizure of his electronic devices, and a four-day stay in jail for the parodist before he was acquitted of all charges. Novak sued the police department, but the district court decided to award immunity across the board to everyone involved. The Sixth Circuit Appeals Court has rolled back some of that ruling, allowing Novak's civil rights lawsuit to proceed.The opinion [PDF] opens with a brief discussion of how parody works -- and how the court treats parody -- which is more reprimand than reminder.

Apple pie, baseball, and the right to ridicule the government. Each holds an important place in American history and tradition. So thought Anthony Novak when he created a Facebook page to mock the Parma Police Department. He styled his page to look like the department’s official Facebook page. But the similarities ended there. Novak shared posts like an advertisement for a “Pedophile Reform event,” at which pedophiles would receive honorary police commissions.Novak’s page delighted, disgusted, and confused. Not everyone understood it. But when it comes to parody, the law requires a reasonable reader standard, not a “most gullible person on Facebook” standard. The First Amendment does not depend on whether everyone is in on the joke. Neither is it bothered by public disapproval, whether tepid or red-hot.
This misuse of police resources was mobilized by an entire twelve hours of posts by Novak. The page offered up a recruitment ad that "strongly encouraged minorities to not apply" and promised swift justice would be brought against an "African American woman" for "loitering outside a Subway" while it was being robbed by an "armed white male," who was presumably not under investigation. A certain number of readers were so upset by what they saw they phoned the police department, tying it up for a total of twelve minutes.The PD assigned two officers to the case and sent an email to Facebook reps demanding the page be taken down. The parody page made a brief appearance on the local news as Parma's brave crime fighters announced their desire to take down this Facebook criminal. Novak deleted the page shortly thereafter, but the Parma PD continued its investigation, ultimately arresting him for "disrupting" the PD's apparently endless supply of waste-able time.The Appeals Court says there is no doubt Novak's speech was protected, citing none other than The Onion.
[A] parody need not spoil its own punchline by declaring itself a parody. “Parody serves its goals whether labeled or not, and there is no reason to require parody to state the obvious (or even the reasonably perceived).” Campbell, 510 U.S. at 583 n.17. Imagine if The Onion were required to disclaim that parodical headlines like the following are, in reality, false: Presidential Debate Sidetracked By Booker, De Blasio Arguing About Best Place In Lower Manhattan To Get Tapas, or, John Bolton Urges War Against the Sun After Uncovering Evidence It Has Nuclear Capabilities. News in Brief, The Onion (June 26, 2019); News in Brief, The Onion (June 10, 2019). The law of parody does not require us to strain credulity so far. And that is not because everyone always understands the joke. Susanna Kim, All the Times People Were Fooled by The Onion, ABC News (June 1, 2015).
Unfortunately, this doesn't necessarily mean Novak's claims of First Amendment retaliation will hold up. As the court notes, the Supreme Court recently gave officers a free pass to retaliate against protected speech, provided they can find some sort of probable cause to support an arrest. In some cases, it could be nothing more than jaywalking or not signalling before a turn. In this case, it could be an Ohio state law the Sixth Circuit court views as unconstitutional.First, it notes the only thing Novak engaged in was speech. And it was only determined to be criminal by using a very loose reading of a very loosely-written law.
Besides posting to his Facebook page, Novak committed no other act that could have created probable cause. In other First Amendment retaliation cases on point, by contrast, the defendant’s conduct was a mix of protected speech and unprotected conduct. That is, the defendants both said something and did something.[...]Here, we have nothing like that. Novak did not create a Facebook page criticizing police and use his computer to hack into police servers to disrupt operations. The sole basis for probable cause to arrest Novak was his speech. And there is good reason to believe that, based on the reasoning underlying the First Amendment retaliation cases, this is an important difference.
But if officers reasonably believed the law supported this arrest, they can avail themselves of qualified immunity. The state law against "disrupting" police operations is broad enough it could conceivably allow these officers to escape retaliation allegations. The Appeals Court doesn't like this law much.
[T]he vague language of the Ohio statute further heightens the concern raised in Issue 2. That statute makes it a crime to “use any computer . . . or the internet so as to disrupt, interrupt, or impair the functions of any police . . . operations.” Ohio Rev. Code § 2909.04(B). To see how broad this statute reaches, consider an example. An activist tweets the following message: “The police are violating our rights #TakeAction #MakeYourVoiceHeard.” People in the community see the tweet and begin calling the police department to share their views. A small protest even forms in the town square. Police station employees spend time fielding the calls, and a couple of officers go down to monitor the protest. Under the plain text of the Ohio statute, have these acts of civic engagement “interrupt[ed]” police operations? Taken at face value, the Ohio law seems to criminalize speech well in the heartland of First Amendment protection. This broad reach gives the police cover to retaliate against all kinds of speech under the banner of probable cause. Critical online comments, mail-in or phone bank campaigns, or even informational websites that incite others to “disrupt” or “interrupt” police operations could violate the law.
The vagueness of the law could help or hurt Novak, depending on the lower court's interpretation of the law and its application in this case. The Appeals Court only hints that an easily-abused law that blurs the line between legitimate enforcement and speech-targeting misuse may work out better for the plaintiff than the law enforcement defendants. No qualified immunity… at least not yet.A few other claims survive as well, including Novak's allegation that the Parma PD's announcement it would prosecute him for his parody page was prior restraint. The court agrees, allowing this claim to continue for further factual development. A number of his other claims rest on the same issue as his retaliation claim: probable cause or the lack thereof. If it's determined the Parma PD had no probable cause to arrest Novak, his claims of malicious prosecution and Privacy Protection Act violations will survive.The most important decision is the most immediate: no qualified immunity for the Parma PD officers and no early exit from the lawsuit. There's no question the search and arrest were retaliatory. The only question remaining is how much Ohio's terrible law will help these cops get away with it.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 02-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Former Law Enforcement Officer Displays His Ignorance Of The Law In Civil Forfeiture Article

Furnished content.


If you're going to be touted as an "expert," the very goddamn least you can do is not make people stupider. May I present to you "Trooper Steve," the resident "traffic safety expert" for ClickOrlando.com.He comes highly-touted. None other than the Orlando Sentinel called him… well, a "traffic safety expert." Here's the headline:

Former FHP Trooper Steve Montiero brings wealth of knowledge as News 6 traffic safety expert
Underneath the video announcing this triumphant hiring is a sentence that makes my head ache terribly:
Montiero gained fame with the Florida Highway Patrol as a Public Information Officer…
It's really weird that anyone would "gain fame" as a law enforcement officer. Sure, his position was more public-facing than most, but let's not start building a statue in his honor yet.Here's a bit from his bio at ClickOrlando. [Please hold your vomiting until the end of the quote.]
A Central Florida native and decorated combat veteran, Montiero comes to the station following an eight-year assignment with the Florida Highway Patrol. While there, his responsibilities included patrolling Osceola, Orange, Brevard, Lake, Seminole and Volusia counties, along with the Orlando area of the Florida Turnpike. He was later assigned to the Florida Highway Patrol Motorcycle Unit, where he began doing public speaking engagements and found his passion for community involvement.From that experience, he became the face of FHP in Orlando. Lt. Kim Montes took Steven under her wing and made him assistant Public Affairs Officer.Over the last several years, he has become known across the Sunshine State as “Trooper Steve.” He’s spent his time doing everything from corporate events to interviews on WKMG, to just hanging out with kids in hopes of spreading the word about safe-decision making in hopes of saving just one life.
Why am I being so harsh on Trooper Steve? Well, it's a few things. First and foremost, his leap from law enforcement officer to "traffic safety expert" assumes he actually knows how to keep traffic safe. The thing about cops is they are under no obligation to keep the public safe. As the occupation name makes clear, they are there to perform law enforcement, not keep drivers safe. If the two happen to align occasionally, everyone wins. But LEOs have no "duty of care."More than that, touting someone as an "expert" tends to lead viewers and readers to believe this person knows what the fuck they're talking about. But as this recent column by "Trooper Steve" painfully proves, police PR reps make for terrible "experts."The question is fairly innocuous: are there any safety tips Trooper "Traffic Safety Expert" Steve could offer travelers roaming around the country with cash in their possession?
Martha, of Champions Gate, asked, “Is there anything I should know when carrying large amounts of cash in the car?
Everything goes off the rails immediately.
Well if you’re up to no good and get stopped by the police and have large amounts of cash on you, you’re going to have something to worry about. Civil asset forfeiture act requires you to show proof of cash when law enforcement is conducting an investigation.Anything around $5,000 or more you should always have some type of paperwork showing where that money has come from, legally. This is to eliminate the idea that this money was earned or given during criminal activities for which you may be investigated.
First and fucking foremost, there is nothing illegal about cash. Cops presume there is because it puts money directly in the pockets of cops. Civil asset forfeiture tends to benefit the agency performing the seizure, so cops (and troopers) have every incentive to view any amount of cash as suspicious.Trooper Steve draws the line at $5,000. It's an arbitrary line. Law enforcement officers will gladly seize amounts less than that because they're allowed to keep 85% of everything they seize.But -- either due to stupidity or as a favor to his law enforcement buddies -- "expert" Trooper Steve shifts the burden of proof to drivers. That is not the law. The law -- following some minimal reform efforts -- lays the burden exactly where Trooper Steve says it doesn't.
Cash seizures still won’t need to be preceded by an arrest, though under the new law, forfeiture of any property won’t be made permanent unless law enforcement can prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that it is linked to a crime. That’s the same standard of proof required for a criminal conviction.
So, it is not up to drivers to prove the cash they have on them is legit. It's up to cops. Of course, this won't stop a seizure, but at least the law says the burden of proof is on law enforcement. Supposed "expert" Trooper Steve says it isn't. He is making people stupider. And perhaps conveniently so, because while you can take a cop out of the force, you can't take the force out of the cop.Do better with your hiring, ClickOrlando. And clean up after your repurposed public servants when they fuck up. Thanks.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 01-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



Liverpool FC Also Apparently Attempted To Trademark Widely Used Chant By Football Fans

Furnished content.


We were just discussing Liverpool FC, a football club in the UK's famous Premier League, receiving a ton of backlash from the public and other football clubs over its rather audacious attempt to trademark "Liverpool". Now, Liverpool FC claimed that its trademark application was extremely targeted, claiming that it was geared specifically towards the football marketplace. Unfortunately, in the current protectionist trademark era, that doesn't mean much. First, we see trademark holders threaten and sue those across marketplace borders all the time. Second, there are other football clubs in Liverpool, meaning that the trademark application represented a direct threat to their brands.It turns out this callous attitude towards other football clubs isn't a one-off for Liverpool FC. Recent reporting reveals that the club also has attempted, and then withdrawn, trademark applications for a popular football fan chant that doesn't even originate with Liverpool FC fans.

Liverpool FC made an audacious attempt to trademark the popular terrace chant ‘Allez, Allez, Allez’, it has been revealed. The Reds’ owners FSG made an application to the intellectual property office to trademark the words last November, according to iNews, only to later withdraw it. ‘Allez, Allez, Allez’ has become synonymous with the Anfield faithful having adopted it last year during their run to the 2018 Champions League final.However, Liverpool were not the first side to adopt the chant, with the song reportedly sung by fans of FC Porto as far back as 2016 and the likes of Genoa, Juventus and Napoli all coming up with their own versions. Fans of Aston Villa, Rangers, Atletico Madrid and even Cardiff City are also said to have appropriated the popular terrace chant.
Making this all the more stupid is that the chant is from a song created by an Italian band in the 80s. So, Liverpool FC fans occasionally use a fan chant appropriated by fans of other clubs, which stems from an Italian band from a few decades ago... and decided to try to trademark it?So of course there was more fan backlash again, both before and after Liverpool FC had withdrawn its application. The real question is why the club seems to think it needs to lock up language that is generic or common across its geographic area and/or marketplace, to the detriment of everyone else?

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story


Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 01-Aug-2019
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

0 comments, click here to add the first



August 2019
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
       







RSS (site)  RSS (path)

ATOM (site)  ATOM (path)

Categories
 - blog home

 - Announcements  (2)
 - Annoyances  (0)
 - Career_Advice  (1)
 - Domains  (0)
 - Downloads  (4)
 - Ecommerce  (2368)
 - Fitness  (0)
 - Home_and_Garden  (0)
     - Cooking  (0)
     - Tools  (0)
 - Humor  (1)
 - Notices  (0)
 - Observations  (1)
 - Oddities  (2)
 - Online_Marketing  (3554)
     - Affiliates  (1)
     - Merchants  (1)
 - Policy  (1439)
 - Programming  (0)
     - Browsers  (1)
     - DHTML  (0)
     - Javascript  (536)
     - PHP  (0)
     - PayPal  (1)
     - Perl  (37)
          - blosxom  (0)
     - Unidata_Universe  (22)
 - Random_Advice  (1)
 - Reading  (0)
     - Books  (0)
     - Ebooks  (1)
     - Magazines  (0)
     - Online_Articles  (4)
 - Resume_or_CV  (1)
 - Reviews  (1)
 - Rhode_Island_USA  (0)
     - Providence  (1)
 - Shop  (0)
 - Sports  (0)
     - Football  (1)
          - Cowboys  (0)
          - Patriots  (0)
     - Futbol  (1)
          - The_Rest  (0)
          - USA  (1)
 - Woodworking  (1)


Archives
 -2019  August  (33)
 -2019  July  (55)
 -2019  June  (49)
 -2019  May  (49)
 -2019  April  (81)
 -2019  March  (94)
 -2019  February  (91)
 -2019  January  (15)
 -2018  December  (44)
 -2018  November  (43)
 -2018  October  (48)
 -2018  September  (47)


My Sites

 - Millennium3Publishing.com

 - SponsorWorks.net

 - ListBug.com

 - TextEx.net

 - FindAdsHere.com

 - VisitLater.com