EFF's Parker Higgins' Favorite Techdirt Stories Of The Week

from the so-many-EFF-issues... dept

Hi Techdirt! I’m Parker Higgins, an activist at EFF. It’s been a big week in the office, so I’m especially excited that Mike and the gang asked me to wrap up some of the top stories of the last few days. If you’ll indulge me, some of my personal top stories this week have a bit of an EFF-y flair.

First off, with this week came the announcement of Freedom of the Press Foundation’s relaunch of Aaron Swartz’s whistleblower platform. There aren’t really formal institutional ties between EFF and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, but its Executive Director, Trevor Timm works alongside me full-time as an EFF activist, and I was lucky enough to get the chance to help out with this software. It’s good stuff, and as security expert Bruce Schneier says, “I hope this system is broadly implemented and extensively used.”

One short Techdirt story was a big one at EFF: we filed to invalidate a majorly bogus patent that is being used to shakedown famous podcasters. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again, but I just don’t want to rest until we’ve destroyed all patent trolls—and our patent lawyers Julie Samuels, Daniel Nazer, and activist Adi Kamdar are working to do just that.

Another great story this week covered the launch of a new site called PiracyData.org. Hollywood is quick to point the finger at whoever it can blame for unauthorized downloading: users, technologies, companies, search engines, whatever. This new site does a clever mashup of two data sets—TorrentFreak’s top downloaded movie list, and a database of what’s available for streaming, renting, and buying—to effectively make the point that Hollywood itself could be doing a lot more to make content available. It’s an old saw that you can’t compete with free, but it sure would be easier if you’re actually, y’know, competing.

Similarly, Tim covered the back-and-forth over Spotify between two musicians I deeply admire: Dave Allen, the bassist for Gang of Four, and David Byrne, who was an amazing frontman to the Talking Heads but is way off-base when he argues—seriously—that “the internet will suck all the creative content out of the world.” David Byrne’s sentiments echoes Thom Yorke’s, previously, and while both of these guys are really incredible musicians, their take on Spotify and other streaming services is sadly short-sighted.

Bringing it back to EFF for a minute, Glyn covered the “truly stupid idea” to make DRM an official aspect of HTML5. Of course, Mr. Moody is correct, and that’s why we officially made the argument to the W3C that DRM has no place in the HTML charter. Unfortunately, Tim Berners-Lee has ruled the proposal in-scope, and responded at length on the W3C blog. Still, Berners-Lee is making some fundamental framing errors that confuse the issue, and Glyn does a great job calling him out for those.

Finally, a post that I consider classic Techdirt material, is this epic takedown of a series of bald-faced lies from Senator Feinstein. The Senator has said that the NSA dragnet would have been helpful in stopping 9/11, which is not just a shameless appeal to people’s emotions, but flat-out verifiably wrong. The Techdirt post quotes at length from a thorough debunking which is worth reading itself, but I loved the line Mike ended his post with: “If they can’t support their program with the truth, it seems pretty clear that there’s no reason to support the surveillance program at all.”

Amen, brother. To wrap up, we’ve got the good: privacy-preserving whistleblower tech, reasoned responses to musicians concerned about streaming; the bad: patent trolls, misleading arguments from Hollywood, and DRM in HTML; and the ugly: sitting Senators serving up mendacious propaganda for NSA spying. What a week!

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Comments on “EFF's Parker Higgins' Favorite Techdirt Stories Of The Week”

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Rikuo (profile) says:

“There aren’t really formal institutional ties between EFF and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, but its Executive Director, Trevor Timm works alongside me full-time as an EFF activist,”

Uhh…sure you want to leave that in? Because from where I’m sitting, it sounds like there are very formal ties between EFF and Freedom of the Press.

Anonymous Coward says:

the problem i can see coming more to the fore is that regardless of who says how bad DRM is going to be when implemented as part of HTML5, with Berners-Lee certainly atm, coming done in favor of it, means there is more chance of it being permanent than not! Glyn Moody needs some help to put his points across before it’s too late, unless, of course, the decision has already been made but just not announced to everyone else!!

Anonymous Coward says:

shame there was no mention of the demise of ISOHunt. a really big point could have been made about how the industries are not in the least bit interested in how much money they supposedly have lost/are losing to justify their constant bribing to get sites closed. the whole aim is to just get rid of anything that would force them to compete. this is very much proven by the fact that they never open a site of their own when the one in their sights at that moment gets closed down. why did they not just buy ISOHunt and all the other sites then instead of closing them run them as legitimate ventures? the money they would make, if they ran the sites correctly, would be astounding! all the industries want to do is go back to the days of the shop bought disk and the rip-off prices they charge(d) and not have to worry about someone making more money than them!

Anonymous Coward says:

That’s not a formal tie between the organizations.

This from the embarrassing douchenozzle who sees the MPAA behind very anti-piracy law, judicial decision enforcement action, etc, etc.

“There aren’t really formal institutional ties between EFF and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, but its Executive Director, Trevor Timm works alongside me full-time as an EFF activist,”

Right, just as there are no formal ties except the ED of the Freedom of the Press Foundation is on the EFF payroll full-time. No reason to infer any ties there.

How about EFF controls the Freedom of the Press Foundation, that’s the truth of the matter.

Anonymous Coward says:

" length from a thorough debunking "

“the problem was not that the government lacked the right tools to do its job (it had ample authority to trace Mihdhar?s calls). The problem was that the government apparently failed to use them.”

So the system works (NOW!!!!), but you want it taken down, so your saying if they failed to “USE THOSE TOOLS” then they should just stop using those tools now ???

This would be (and is) a very good argument showing the present system is necessary, required and wanted, and most importantly more effective now that in the past.

Why to shoot down your own article, and yes, it is a good read, perhaps you should read it!

So they are using those tools now, so what is your problem again ?

Brazenly anonymous says:

Re: " length from a thorough debunking "

1) Tools sufficient and all necessary => attacks stopped.
2) Tools sufficient and some not necessary => sifting through data causes time lags and attacks succeed.
3) Tools not sufficient and all necessary => some attacks missed.
4) Tools not sufficient and some not necessary => organization completely useless.

Ideal case: 1
Case in 2001: 2
Case Today: worse case of 2
Case in 2001 according to Feinstein: 3

If Feinstein were correct, more programs to try and shore up sufficiency deficit would be a valid trade-off (one many of us would still oppose making) where freedoms would be sacrificed for increased security.

The investigations surrounding 9/11 instead indicate the case where there was too much data, meaning that programs needed to slimmed down and made more efficient and focused to increase security. By instead expanding them we have sacrificed both security and freedoms.

Anonymous Coward says:

U.S. intelligence agencies knew the identity of the hijacker in question, Saudi national Khalid al Mihdhar, long before 9/11 and had the ability find him, but they failed to do so.

So they knew his identity, that might be true, but did they know what he was going to do ??

They probably know the identity of many people who have not done anything (YET)..

So are you blaming the security community for not guessing what this person was going to do before he did it ?

That does not appear to me to be all that strong of an argument, but I guess if it all you got, you have to run with it.

Silly NSA for not being able to predict what someone is going to do at some future time !!!!!!

CK20XX (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

There’s actually a good amount of truth to that though. Rage tends to come with an adrenaline rush that feels good, like all drugs you shouldn’t abuse. If a person runs on anger long enough, fear enters into the equation as well, putting the victim at the center of a fantasy drama that creates the illusion of personal power. That’s how you get trolls who think that all the disciplinary action and retribution aimed at them is just evidence that they’re right and everyone else is wrong.

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