from the 88-years-of-communication-regulation dept
Five Years Ago
This week in 2010, we continued following the story of the school caught spying on students through webcams in their laptops, and the details were not looking good. Especially when we discovered the student in question was only guilty of eating candy.
This was also the time of ACTA negotiations, and when the internet chapter leaked, we got a look at how sneaky the negotiators were being. We learned which countries were fighting hardest against ACTA transparency, and European officials were getting concerned about the agreement. Meanwhile, the UK was supposedly backing down on the three strikes provisions of its Digital Economy Bill, but it turned out this was really just an exercise in rebranding and the bill still allowed for disconnection (that would last as long Peter Mandelson felt it should.)
You know that famous "I'm on a horse" ad for Old Spice, which the company continues riffing on to this day? Well, this was the year it originally aired during the Olympics (which, sidenote, was busy trying to get paid for tweets) leading us to hold it up as an example of how advertising is content. In a weirder attempt to enact that principle, EMI got State Farm to sponsor the embedding of OK GO videos (which were otherwise blocked), while the band's singer stepped up to point out that a lack of embedding hurts everyone.
Other upsets to the internet this week in 2010 included: the (secret) settling of the lawsuit between Perfect 10 and Amazon, the conviction of four Google executives on criminal charges over a YouTube video, the overblown freak-out over PleaseRobMe, the consideration of internet addiction for inclusion in the DSM and, perhaps most significant of all, the temporary takedown of the original Rickroll video.
Ten Years Ago
Looking back to 2005, you can clearly see the debates and practices that would lead to today's net neutrality battle. The vicious attacks on muni broadband by lobbyists were blatantly self-serving, and some companies went even further to outright prevent it. One group, fresh off of taking a Techdirt quote completely out of context to trash muni WiFi, went on to attack the idea of broadband-over-power-lines as well.
Lexmark got smacked down in its attempt to abuse the DMCA to block third-party ink cartridges, while HP was accused of building an expiry date into its cartridges. Apple, having recently launched its retail stores, was sued by Apple resellers and accused of unfair practices. And Google was accused of threatening French culture with its book scanning project by focusing on English books.
People were really beginning to realize how attached they were to their phones — and that losing them could mean losing friends. The rise of SMS was even threatening the greeting card industry. But, despite assumptions, constant texting seemed to be improving kids' language skills.
Fifteen Years Ago
If you do any work with web analytics today, you know that conversion rates are a key metric — but back in 2000 they were the new kid on the block. Then again, so were colour screens on PDAs and plenty of other high tech toys for grownups (though apparently not as many for kids).
British Airways announced that it would charge more for paper tickets, and we wondered if it would back down the way Delta did on a similar initiative. Palo Alto was experimenting with fiber to the home. Various magazines were looking at the state of things like digital currencies and weblogs like Techdirt (yes, still "weblogs"). And Techdirt itself briefly disappeared thanks to a DNS issue.
Eighty-Eight Years Ago
On February 23rd, 1927, Calvin Coolidge signed the new Radio Act into law, establishing the Federal Radio Commission that would, less than a decade later, become the FCC we all know so well.