Michael Morisy's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the government-documents... dept

There was a lot of important news — good and bad — this week, on everything from how patent abuse tries to hold back healthcare even while making us pay more for it, to how a rag-tag, Whedon-esque coalition of organizations came together, against all odds, to fight NSA surveillance.

The following, however, are my daily favorites with a grand prizer winner at the end.

For those of you who don't know me, I am a huge government documents nerd and I co-founded MuckRock, a Freedom of Information request filing tool that occasionally graces these pages (including this week). If you're interested in this sort of thing, we have 20 free accounts set aside for Techdirt readers: Just email me with the subject line "Techdirt".

And now on to the week that was.

Monday: NY Times Profiles One Of The World's Worst Patent Trolls

I just caught up this week on This American Life's When Patents Attack, Part II, so while this story is one of the oldest in the book for long-time Techdirt readers, it's one that still resonates, and the reality is that if you run some kind of technology business (or even if you don't), you are in constant danger from patent troll looters backed by a broken legal system.

Tuesday: 7 Months Of Warrantless 'Just Metadata' Paints A Clear Picture Of Your Personal Life

There were so many great stories on Tuesday, but this one stood out. I feel like "Metadata" has received more widespread attention the past two months than in the prior 5 years, but perhaps it's still not enough given how open it is for abuse and poorly it is understood by policy makers, courts, and the general public. It was good to see some push back by the ACLU on this issue, as well as clear illustrations about the dangers and invasiveness of something so seemingly benign as just cell tower data. I'm hopeful that, like in Texas, the tide is changing.

Wednesday: Man Suggests Nature Walk To Observe NSA Spies Threatened Habitat; Has Law Enforcement Visit His Habitat

There's nothing I don't love about this story: The cheeky Facebook post that sets off international intelligence alerts, the innocent farce that becomes a legal "demonstration," or the surreal response by local police doing a simultaneous call-and-knock. It's hard to tell which is more childish: The civilian playing as nature guide, or the law enforcement playing as spies.

Thursday: ACLU Presents Its Findings On License Plate Scanners, Most Of Which Is Bad News

In April, MuckRock and the Boston Globe did a joint investigation into the amazing lack of policy around license plate scanning technology throughout the state. Now the ACLU has taken it 49 steps further and found that it's a national problem. In New York, one city's usage policy was only limited by an "officer's imagination." Not to editorialize, but this is what happens when Homeland Security gives high-tech gizmos away to departments with little or no oversight from policymakers. Ok, I editorialized.

Friday: TSA Now Searching Valet-Parked Vehicles, Utilizing A Crack Security Team Composed Of... Valets

Honestly, ever since I had a TSA agent lecture me about how dinosaurs never existed and another make me tuck my shirt in to go through their scanner, nothing surprises me about how they operate. This came close. At least I can still take the subway to the airport and avoid asinine TSA security practices. Oh wait, I can't.

Top Pick: FISC Says It Will Declassify Ruling That Forced Yahoo Into PRISM

Like I said, I'm a huge government document nerd, so I found this ruling really exciting and pretty surprising. I'm guessing Mike is right and that the released documents will be heavily redacted, but the fact that anything will make it out is a great development. I've already used the decision as the basis for a number of my own FOIA requests, and I'm hopeful it will shed more light on the lines not even tap-happy telcos wanted to cross.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    Be careful what you post, folks. Or else Mike "The Censor" Masnick will manually set his spam filters so all your posts get hoovered up by it, and then he'll pretend like he has no idea why your posts are going to the spam filter.

    LOL! How fucking dishonest are you, Mike? Can't even admit that you're sending my posts to the spam filter on purpose. Epic dishonesty there, Mikey.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2013 @ 3:50pm

    Morisy? Are you that dude that used to be the leader of Egypt or that dude that used to sing lead for The Smiths?

     

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  3.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Jul 20th, 2013 @ 4:01pm

    Hell of a wrapup there, Michael, and I'm not just saying that because I put together 4 of this 6 posts you selected. (That's only part of the reason I'm saying that.)

    I'm also digging the one-per-day limit and bold headings that make it a breeze to read. I'm tempted to recommend that as a template for every weekly roundup of favorites, but I know some of our Favorites' writers are prone to sprawling masterpieces.

    I see you've also attracted the attention of a frequent commenter who constantly mistakes comment threads for impromptu stages where he can hurl ad hom, wild accusations, paranoid ravings and the occasional milk-related video in the general direction of Techdirt.

    One might be tempted to answer a few of his not-really-questions, but then one might notice that he's prone to throwing "LOL" around mid-rant and think better of it. A person who punctuates baseless accusations with LOL can scarcely be trusted to focus on the discussion at hand, what with needing to peer suspiciously through the venetian blinds every time a vehicle passes within 100 yards of the house and occasionally duck out to top up on "poppers."

     

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  4.  
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    Automatic Grammatizator, Jul 20th, 2013 @ 4:07pm

    Re:

    Spoiled brats never realize that they're getting spanked for a reason.

     

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  5.  
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    Techdirt News, Jul 20th, 2013 @ 4:08pm

    News @ 6:00

    Spammer calls site owner "dishonest" for having spam filter

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2013 @ 4:36pm

    Re:

    Lots of disagreements have been posted here without trouble, the posters that are blocked seem to fit a pattern of:

    1. posts that come from anonymizing services(likely some sort of repeat offender spamblocking)

    2. trolls who post comments with no substance and are only here to personally attack mike or readers/rile up people. You know, like you

    In both cases Techdirt is justified in blocking you

     

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  7.  
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    RD, Jul 20th, 2013 @ 4:36pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jul 20th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    Says the complete fucking retard who's comment is not only shown and not censored, but is the FIRST comment on the article.

    Yeah, you really 'got' Mike there, sport.

     

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  8.  
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    RD, Jul 20th, 2013 @ 4:38pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jul 20th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    Yeah and juat so you know shittard, Mike has our full support if he *does* block your spamming ass.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2013 @ 4:50pm

    I would applaud Mike if he was putting the troll in the spam filter. He really needs to be there.

    Dang you guys were already on the ball and he was report hidden before I even saw it. How nice the troll gets his just rewards.

     

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  10.  
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    Atkray (profile), Jul 20th, 2013 @ 4:55pm

    Re:

    This ^

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2013 @ 5:45pm

    average_joe is a MUGU.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2013 @ 7:21pm

    Re:

    It takes some extreme cognitive dissonance to spam messages whining about being caught in a spam filter.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2013 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Troll

    Be careful what you read. folks. Or else Troll "The Shit" Head's comments will be in your head when Techdirts spam filters fail to hoover them up, and the Troll will pretend like he has an idea to share.

    LOL! How fucking dishonest are you Troll? Can't even admit that you're spamming the comments on purpose.
    Epic dishonesty there, Trolley

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2013 @ 8:14pm

    Health Care Patent Abuse

    Abuse is too tame of a word.
    One medication I take cost over $5k/mo. This drug was first synthesized in 1874 yet the pharmaceutical company has a patent on it.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2013 @ 9:39pm

    this will probably just make people angry but... honestly we're all idiots. just look at the comments here. the problem with the world is that a mind only has at it's disposal the things that it has been exposed to and the only things we've been exposed to, for the most part, are entertainment, lies, slavery and whatever is required for us to be the slaves that we are.

    combine that with the things we consume, (knowingly or obliviously). food, beverages, beer, meds etc...

    everything that we put into our bodies enters the blood and from there it travels through our entire body. of course it also travels to our brains. this, in turn effects everything we are, our abilities, our intelligence, competence, health etc. it's no wander we have the governments and leaders we do. and it's no wander we're being screwed over by them. no wander that we even need them.

     

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  16.  
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    Paul Keating, Jul 21st, 2013 @ 4:01am

    Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere

    http://kieranhealy.org/blog/archives/2013/06/09/using-metadata-to-find-paul-revere/

    A great analysis on the use of metadata to track people. In this case it singles out Paul Revere as a likely suspect based entirely upon the membership data of 254 people during the period preceding the Revolution. Imagine what would have happened.....if.

    The footnote contains an interesting reference to a much more specific analysis performed by an NSA specialist which reaches the same conclusion and provides even more information based upon the same metadata consisting of only memberships.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous, Jul 21st, 2013 @ 5:33am

    Re:

    Yes, you're the Wanderer. They call you the Wanderer. You get around, around, around...

     

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  18.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jul 21st, 2013 @ 5:44am

    Re: Re: Troll

    Has first post on last two articles and claims being blocked. What a maroon.

     

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  19. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Michael Gray, Jul 21st, 2013 @ 6:06am

    It was really exciting and fun..

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2013 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re:

    you spin me right round baby

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2013 @ 9:19am

    Re:

    that's all I got. I figured I would get a bunch of hate, was hoping not though. still got made fun of and rightfully so. I was a fairly drunk when I posted the above comment and it should probably be regarded as drunken babble. I still can't believe how well typed out it is.

    I love techdirt and there are intelligent people here. but you know what, I still believe it's true what I said above.

     

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  22.  
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    Edward Teach, Jul 21st, 2013 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re:

    Even the earliest spammers, like Dave Rhodes and Canter and Siegal seemed to tolerate cognitivie dissonance really well, although that ability might just be a bad case of "I'm reslly special and should be allowed to do things others are not".

    A spammer personality or mindset seems to actually exist, and cause a lot of trouble, to mindset holder and to the rest of humanity.

     

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    Anonymous Monkey (profile), Jul 21st, 2013 @ 11:23am

    Re: Health Care Patent Abuse

    Holy Crap! Is it synthesized with gold nano-particles or something?!? o_O

     

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  24.  
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    michael morisy (profile), Jul 21st, 2013 @ 7:27pm

    Re:

    Thanks! Really like your stuff, Tim, obviously.

    And that's not the first time I've heard either. My sister moved back from the Middle East about a year ago, and there everyone joked that she was related to the (now ex-) Egyptian president.

    Glad to see bad name puns are universal.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2013 @ 11:33pm

    Re: Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere

    The british are coming! the british are-*gunshot*

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous, Jul 22nd, 2013 @ 5:20pm

    Re: Re:

    Just imagine having a president with the middle name of Hussein. What a hoot that would be! On second thought, it probably wouldn't be very funny at all.

     

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