Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the to-london-and-back dept

As is the norm these days, most of this week's comments are tackling the NSA — but for once we're starting out with a detour across the pond. Both of our most insightful comments were inspired by the London police unilaterally shutting down websites for copyright violations without due process or any court intervention whatsoever. Rikuo, anticipating a debate, took first place by attempting to lay some groundwork:

Before certain people come in and vomit their usual idiocy, be aware of these facts.

This is a police body issuing orders to parties to shut down and censor other parties all WITHOUT A COURT ORDER. Not only that, but in the case of EasyDNS, it's a BRITISH police body demanding action from a CANADIAN domain registrar to redirect a website based in SINGAPORE (I did a WHOIS search) to competing websites based in LONDON, or the police would complain to ICANN, a body based in the USA. Again, no courts involved.

Naturally this failed to head off the opposition, and an argument erupted anyway. After it was suggested, as usual, that we're just defending pirates, an anonymous commenter took second place by pointing out the glaring issue with that idea:

You know, if it's so cut and dry that all these sites are "pirate" sites, then why circumvent the court system? Surely, such a black and white issue would be a slam dunk in the court system.

Care to comment on that?

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start with Sneeje, who proposed an interesting line of thinking when it comes to attempts to suppress online criticism, such as the California students who were recently suspended for posting an incriminating image of their principle:

I agree with everything you've said, Mike. What I struggle with, however is how to characterize why we're at this point.

I firmly believe this is a problem of our own cultural making. Teachers/administrators (or government employees, or police officers, or...) that make mistakes are not met with reasonable understanding that “things happen”, but an overwhelming wave of blame that usually results in someone getting fired. Yes, I realize that there are things that cannot fall into the "things happen" category, but we need to figure out how to separate them.

If this principal knew after he was overzealous in his use of force that he could acknowledge he made a mistake, the school would stand behind him and pay for reasonable medical expenses, he would have to learn from his mistake, and everyone could move on, I bet this kind of reaction would not occur. But more likely what happens is, lawsuits happen, the school disavows him and claims it was a rogue employee. This is a situation in which which people will abandon all kinds of ethical behavior to avoid.

If you (I certainly do) long for different behavior from these establishments, we need to ask whether in today’s culture, we are willing to allow mistakes and rehabilitation rather than punishment through firings and the legal system.

(Of course, that's a bit of a chicken-egg situation, since the smug evasiveness of those who land in hot water is part of what makes the public so thirsty for blood.)

Next, we've got Not an Electronic Rodent, who pointed out that the NSA's claim that it prevented "subsequent plots" after the Boston Marathon bombing isn't just meaningless — there's no real reason to believe it's even true:

Except it's impossible to prove a negative, so the best he's in fact saying is "With this massive invasion of privacy and violation of the constitution we can be reasonably sure that there's probably not any other related pieces of the plot out there... until of course we get proved wrong by something we missed in the enormous haystack."

Yeah, that's a great justification... basically, "It doesn't matter whether any of this stuff really does anything as long as we think we can convince people they are safe and we're doing something with the enormous amounts of money we spend."

Over on the funny side, this week's favorite punchline is is the NSA's data center woes. When General Alexander made the unhelpful suggestion that data be stored at a "neutral site", one anonymous commenter knew just the place:

May I suggest that a new organization; the 'Neutral Storage Agency', to be based in Utah, be charged with this assignment?

In second place we've got zem, who responded to the fires and explosions at the NSA's Utah datacenter:


liar, liar, pants on fire

is true after all

Just outside said datacenter, an activist-adopted highway was ignored by the agency with an elaborate version of no comment: "Highway adoptions are not a part of NSA’s federal mission." Our first editor's choice for funny goes to one anonymous commenter who supplied an excellent response to this:

Then leave the information superhighways alone.

And finally we'll take a break from the NSA and drop in on Maryland, where the war on cyberbullying is raging. After a particularly meddlesome organization squeezed special powers for itself out of Facebook, Michael had to applaud its excellent branding:

National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG)

Well, I have to say that is a particularly apt acronym.

Indeed. And na(a)gging becomes much more dangerous when it has the weight of the justice system behind it.

That's all for this week, folks!

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Rikuo (profile), Oct 13th, 2013 @ 11:50am

    *Does a victory dance* Not often I even get mentioned on Funniest/Insightful.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Oct 13th, 2013 @ 2:48pm


    I'm all a-glow from my honourable mention too... but yours, sir, was well deserved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 13th, 2013 @ 6:20pm


    Your comment is well thought out talking about all those jurisdictions.

    But, but, but, piracy! Oh, and think of the children being sucked into a life of piracy, surely preventing that is worth giving up a little due process.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 13th, 2013 @ 9:06pm

    "I firmly believe this is a problem of our own cultural making. Teachers/administrators (or government employees, or police officers, or...) that make mistakes are not met with reasonable understanding that “things happen”, but an overwhelming wave of blame that usually results in someone getting fired."

    I think part of the problem is that those subject to the high court get preferential treatment. Cops get caught on camera doing something they know is wrong, something they would try to cover up (which shows that they know this is wrong) and when we check their background they have a long history suspicious activity. Yet they are kept around and not punished and the only resistance or punishment they face is public criticism (which may hopefully result in punishment) but the point is that punishment should have occurred not in fear of public criticism but because it's the right thing to do.

    Yet we the people have all these oppressive laws imposed on us, laws passed by corporate interests (look at copy protection lengths, govt. established taxi cab monopolies, etc...) and if we violate them the punishment is very very severe.

    No, if those with high court privileges are met with 'reasonable understanding' that 'things happen' they will continue to happen more frequently. It is the fear of public scrutiny that reduces and has reduced the extent that these things happen (when it should be primarily an internal drive to do what's right and secondarily a fear of punishment from the employer or the law that prevent bad behavior).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 13th, 2013 @ 9:09pm


    The first time this teacher assaults someone people may give the school a pass. But if the school lets it slide the first time and the teacher does it again then the people will rightfully blame the school for not taking care of it the first time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Bergman (profile), Oct 13th, 2013 @ 11:45pm

    Re: Re:

    Simple solution: give the teacher (who acts in loco parentis) the same "pass" that that child's real parents would get if they were caught committing the same act on their child. Anything that would get the kid removed by CPS should get the teacher fired.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Oct 14th, 2013 @ 4:09am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Anything that would get the kid removed by CPS should get the teacher fired.
    I agree with the sentiment, but therein also lies the problem - It's rarely that simple. Too often children are removed from families when they shouldn't and not removed when they should be. The same goes for teachers and for everything else.

    This is not to say that such services are inherently bad necessarily, just that in the real world things are rarely black and white. We have created this labyrinth of rules and laws and tests and increasingly we enforce these with "Zero tolerance", removing the human element and forgetting that such lines are models of acceptable human behaviour. Like any model, they do not - CAN not - take account of every variable to be fairly enforced without judgement being exercised in their use and yet we seem to strive to remove all such possibility of judgement and remove humanity from human decisions.

    And when these hard-drawn lines become arbitrary and based on knee-jerk responses to tragedy or personal bias of someone in a position of power, that lack of humanity becomes even more dangerous.

    Striving for perfection is human nature, but believing it can be created with law is an insanity we all need to wake up from.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Ninja (profile), Oct 14th, 2013 @ 8:45am


    Well, you described how mind boggling what the police is doing. Ignoring due process while giving a shit to sovereignty...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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