by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 16th 2013 7:38am
by Tim Cushing
Thu, Nov 8th 2012 9:54am
Police Chief's Custom Spam Filter Blocks Occupy Protestors, Brutality Complaints And (Oops) Federal Monitors
from the citizens-of-oakland:-prepare-to-meet-the-princes-of-Nigeria dept
People who've e-mailed Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan over the past year about Occupy Oakland probably didn't get much of a response.It's tough work being Chief. A steady stream of complaints about the police force under your "control" is sure to be disheartening. But, if you can't take the heat, reroute it out the nearest opening, am I right? And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for that meddling federal court monitor.
That's because he used a spam filter to dismiss messages sent to him with "Occupy Oakland" in the subject line, according to a federal court filing Monday. Same goes for the phrases "stop the excessive police force," "respect the press pass" or "police brutality." Instead of landing in his in-box, those messages went straight into his junk mail folder, which he apparently never looked at.
Because of those filters, Jordan missed e-mails from other city officials and a federal court monitor, who oversees the department's compliance with court-ordered reforms stemming from a police abuse scandal.Oops. Ignoring the persistent chatter of unhappy citizens is one thing. Ignoring a federal judge is quite another. While you can safely ignore some of the people all of the time, you can't really ignore all of the people all of the time. You can attempt it, but then you end up in "unprecedented" territory, which is never a good place to be if you value your career.
Robert Warshaw, the monitor, had sent Jordan an e-mail with the subject line "Disciplinary Actions-Occupy Oakland." Jordan told the court on Oct. 18 that he never saw those e-mails, infuriating Thelton Henderson, the federal judge in San Francisco who appointed Warshaw.
Henderson will hear arguments in December about whether to place the Police Department into the hands of a federal receiver, which Oakland officials believe is unprecedented.When you've mismanaged your post so badly that the police department ends up in receivership via a court order, you've probably done more than filter out anything resembling bad news. A year of unread email certainly didn't improve the ongoing compliance issue. The handling of "Occupy Oakland" didn't instill any confidence in the public that their law enforcement officials were there to serve and protect. Henderson's willful rerouting of email pertaining to allegations of excessive force and brutality shows a very ugly contempt for the citizens under his protection. Of course, now that the truth has come out, he has a few excuses.
He had been inundated with anonymous messages, he said in a declaration to the court.Well, of course. Anonymity is a key ingredient in any protest. Being inundated with messages you don't like doesn't grant you the permission to revise the incoming narrative by dumping anything negative into the trash. The excuse continues:
But he forgot the e-mail filter was still in effect.It's an easy thing to forget if you find painting a self-portrait on rose-tinted glass preferable to actually dealing with problems in the community and, indeed, within the ranks of your own force. The brain has many wonderful tricks its willing to play on you to provide you with the short term memory and justification needed to "forget" your determined pruning of incoming messages.
"It was never my intention to ignore the monitor," Jordan said in his declaration.No. I'm sure it wasn't. You had no desire to piss off a federal judge. But it was your intention to ignore the general public, a fact that goes unacknowledged by this pitiful statement attempting to pass itself off as some sort of an apology. Turning your incoming mail into a "yes-man" approximation is just plain sad.
by Leigh Beadon
Wed, Apr 11th 2012 1:34pm
from the coffee-filters dept
In yet another example of overactive copyright law blocking legitimate content, we find this story from Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper, about Zazzle's abrupt and unfriendly treatment of its supposedly (but not actually) infringing customers.
Marco, who is no stranger to copyright concerns, recently used Zazzle to sell a jokey mug based on bad reviews of Instapaper:
Later in the day, after the mug had racked up 116 sales, all the customers were told that their orders had been cancelled because the mug violates Zazzle's acceptable use policy—apparently the "design contains an image or text that may be subject to copyright."
May be subject to copyright? Anything and everything may be subject to copyright. If that's the bar they're using to determine what's allowed on Zazzle, nothing will exist there at all. Besides, usually when you come across something that may have a problem you check to find out if it actually does. But that's not what happened here.
Meanwhile, Marco himself got nothing—Zazzle gave him no explanation at all. Of course, it's important to pick your battles, and even though Marco knows damn well there's no issue of this "maybe" infringing (there is no infringement), he has no intention of fighting this. Instead he's opted to send a message on his (quite popular) blog:
"Now I just know that Zazzle sucks, and I’ll never do business with them again."
And, because Zazzle may suck, perhaps you won't want to do business with them either.
It's not entirely clear what led to Zazzle cancel the orders, but since Marco was never informed about a complaint, it was probably an automated filter, possibly with some lax human review. But computers aren't very good at identifying copyright infringement, and neither are most people‐not even rightsholders themselves. That's not really surprising, since copyright law is insanely complex, but online services that feature user-generated content still face all sorts of pressure from various industries, insisting they somehow magically detect and stop all infringement. Some cooperate, so you end up with overactive filters that inevitably block all sorts of legitimate content—then you end up with rightfully pissed off customers complaining in public.
by Glyn Moody
Mon, Dec 19th 2011 4:01pm
Three Strikes Approach Rejected By Irish Data Protection Commissioner, Gov't Seeks Censorship Plan Instead
from the where-will-it-end? dept
The contentious nature of the "three strikes" response to unauthorized sharing of copyright materials can be seen by the legal battles being fought around it across Europe. That's particularly the case in Ireland, which has emerged as a key testing ground for the approach and its legality.
Back in 2009, the IFPI sued the ISP Eircom for copyright infringement, and the latter settled by agreeing to implement a three strikes policy. The Irish Recorded Music Association then started sending letters to other Irish ISPs demanding they do the same. One Irish judge approved the three strikes approach, but another judge ruled ISPs were under no legal obligation to implement it.
And now we have the latest twist in this continuing saga: Eircom has been ordered to halt its three strikes scheme in a ruling by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner because of concerns about users' privacy. This follows an investigation that was triggered by the earlier incident in which Eircom sent out first warning letters to innocent account holders.
However, this is by no means the end of the story. The Irish government is now considering how to plug perceived gaps in existing laws:
Minister of State for Enterprise Seán Sherlock is to publish an order early in the new year that is expected to allow music publishers, film producers and other parties to go to court to prevent internet service providers from allowing their customers access to pirate websites.
But as usual, the recording industry's demands are for ever-more extreme powers:
EMI Ireland recently warned the Government that it would take legal action against the State if the Government did not address the problem.
Its chief executive, Willie Kavanagh, is not ruling out going ahead with this if the statutory order does not give companies such as his a clear right to seek court injunctions against internet service providers that allow access to music and video piracy websites.
This attempt to pressure a national government into changing the law for the convenience of a group of companies unwilling to move with the times is troubling. The logical conclusion of this kind of thinking is to turn ISPs into the content industry's private police force, letting the former do the dirty work and get the blame, while the latter sit back and enjoy the benefits of their monopoly pricing.
by Michael Ho
Fri, Jul 15th 2011 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- Specially-treated sand can (cheaply!) purify water for drinking. Can't wait for DIY versions to replace Brita filters... [url]
- Leaving water in PET plastic bottles to soak up some UV sun rays can kill harmful organisms in a few hours. This is how at least 5 million people disinfect their drinking water in 30 different countries.... [url]
- Apparently, bottled water sold in the US could use some more transparent labeling. And US tap water needs a better marketing team. [url]
- NASA is working on a way to let astronauts drink their own pee safely. Yum, urine simulants! [url]
- To discover more food-related links, check out what's floating around at StumbleUpon. [url]