This Week In Techdirt History: May 22nd – 28th
from the looking-back dept
Five Years Ago
Our first inkling that that the NSA and the White House had reinterpreted the PATRIOT Act in secret came out as Senator Ron Wyden began sounding the alarm, that eventually resulted in Snowden leaking documents two years later. Of course, Wyden’s warnings didn’t stop the PATRIOT Act provisions from being renewed. That same week, Wyden also put a hold on the PROTECT IP bill, which was later known as the PIPA half of SOPA/PIPA. None of that really mattered since Homeland Security was already seizing web sites for copyright infringement… and for online poker.
It was the early days of copyright trolling in the US as one of the originators of the scheme, US Copyright Group, sued 24,583 people for sharing Hurt Locker. It was also an early legal loss for famed copyright troll John Steele, who went on to found Prenda Law.
Back on the privacy front we were explaining why “if you’ve got nothing to hide…” was such a dumb argument. The UK was dealing with another situation involving a ridiculous superinjunction designed to silence the press from mentioning Ryan Giggs, leading to the UK press figuring out ways to name him anyway, and that leading a judge to argue this proves why such press censorship is so important.
This was the beginning of Rakofsky v. the Internet, in which a young lawyer sued basically everyone who said anything mean about him (we were briefly almost included in that lawsuit, but due to a filing error, that never became official). A new report in the EU found that IP laws that were too strong were harming the EU economypushing for greater enforcementdemanding royalties for inspiring some of her popular songs.
Oh, and following on the push in Texas to pass a law banning the TSA from groping airline passengers, the Justice Dept threatened to block all flights out of Texas.
Ten Years Ago
Some things never change. Security researchers were afraid to report vulnerabilities because they were getting blamed for them. The RIAA was suing XM (pre-Sirius) over a useful little device called the Inno. Meanwhile, it’s partners in the IFPI were cheering criminal charges brought against 3,500 file sharers in Germany. Someone was challenging the legality of the GPL, but it wasn’t working. Telcos were happy to use regulations that helped them beat off competition, while complaining about regulations in all other contexts — and we (rightly) expected that the fCC would do nothing about net neutrality. And the BSA was releasing its bogus stats. We were already worried about the NSA abusing surveillance data and misinterpreting results, since your book club might look like a terrorist group.
People were exploring who was really behind Nigerian 419 scams. Meanwhile people were noticing that MySpace was being used by scammers… and also noticing that MySpace was going out of style. An appeals court told Apple that bloggers are journalists too and wireless networks were battling it out in court over who could claim to have the best network. Wired unleashed the word crowdsourcing on the world and people were still freaking out about how kids could possibly survive the rise of digital technology.
Fifteen Years Ago
People were, as always since the internet began basically, worried about the future of media on the internet. The RIAA was being the RIAA and suing Aimster, a somewhat unique file sharing system, that insisted it was legal (courts eventually disagreed). Speaking of file sharing online, we mocked the idea that sharing TV shows online was a real issue, because at the time bandwidth wasn’t fast enough to really matter. The great age of innovation was progressing as we were shocked by the idea of mobile check in for flights (and even just automated check in kiosks, that are now standard). Speaking of mobile internet, there was too much hype about the wireless web, because back then it truly sucked. Lots of other tech stuff sucked at the time as well, and someone argued that the world needed a “geek hero” to encourage kids to get into tech (anyone still think that’s true?). Meanwhile, Webvan, the poster child for dotcom excess and failure began auctioning off its assets (if I remember correctly, healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente ended up buying a bunch of them), and dot commers still coming to terms with the original dot com bubble collapse were dealing with depression.
Eighty Years Ago:
Famed mathemetician/code breaker Alan Turing submitted his landmark paper “On Computable Numbers” to be published, arguably the first paper on “computer science.” Kind of amazing how far we’ve come in well less than a century.