Here's A Tip: If You're Desiging Special Apps To Hide From Regulators, You're Going To Get In Trouble

from the bad-idea dept

Crisis management must be a full-time job at Uber. I've argued in the past that some of the attacks on the company are greatly exaggerated, but it keeps running into crisis after crisis -- many of them avoidable. The latest is a big scoop in the NY Times about how Uber has a special program called Greyball (a play on "blackball," get it?) that helped it determine if regulators were trying to get rides and then avoid sending a car. Here are the basics from the article by Mike Isaac:

One technique involved drawing a digital perimeter, or “geofence,” around the government offices on a digital map of a city that Uber was monitoring. The company watched which people were frequently opening and closing the app — a process known internally as eyeballing — near such locations as evidence that the users might be associated with city agencies.

Other techniques included looking at a user’s credit card information and determining whether the card was tied directly to an institution like a police credit union.

Enforcement officials involved in large-scale sting operations meant to catch Uber drivers would sometimes buy dozens of cellphones to create different accounts. To circumvent that tactic, Uber employees would go local electronics stores to look up device numbers of the cheapest mobile phones for sale, which were often the ones bought by city officials working with budgets that were not sizable.

In response, Uber has claimed that the program was designed to greylist "terms of service violators", but if that's the case it can just kick them off the service and tell them they violated the ToS. From the report, it seems clear that even if the program was used for ToS violators, it was also used against regulators.

I've certainly been vocal about the fact that I think city and state regulations limiting Uber/Lyft and the like are generally bad ideas. What may have started out as a good idea to prevent cabbies taking advantage of riders has turned into quite a corrupt system used to limit competition and artificially inflate prices. I think that the idea behind Uber and Lyft and similar services is super powerful. But, that doesn't mean the company should get a pass for this kind of stuff.

Directly building an app to avoid regulators just looks really, really shady, and it's going to come back to haunt you (just ask Zenefits or Volkswagen). And while the article claims that the tool might be a CFAA violation, I don't see how that's possible, unless it involved even more nefarious activities under the hood (none of what's revealed in the article would seem to qualify as a CFAA violation, even under the really stretched interpretations of the CFAA that we've seen).

But there still are some other questions. At least in the EU, some are already asking if the use of the tool violates the E-Commerce Directive or Data Protection rules.

The bigger question, honestly, is why do this kind of stuff? I'll never understand why companies feel the need to take the shadiest route possible, when they could have just gone with the upfront path of explaining why what they're doing is so useful and powerful, and fighting for it, rather than trying to play silly games. Yes, you can make arguments about how they're trying to grow rapidly, and yes, (as we've discussed) these local regulators are often a nuisance for bad reasons. But this kind of stuff is clearly going to bounce back and create problems later on. Just fight these fights head on, without playing shady games that undermine basically everything else about your business.


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  • icon
    TechDescartes (profile), 3 Mar 2017 @ 8:13pm

    Think It Through

    I agree that naming a program "Greyball" is too cute and likely will snowball just because it "sounds bad" without anyone really thinking it through.

    Enforcement officials involved in large-scale sting operations meant to catch Uber drivers would sometimes buy dozens of cellphones to create different accounts. To circumvent that tactic, Uber employees would go local electronics stores to look up device numbers of the cheapest mobile phones for sale, which were often the ones bought by city officials working with budgets that were not sizable.

    Why does the government get a pass to have agents buy a dozen phones to appear as if they are a dozen users, yet Uber does not get a pass pretending to have cars in places they are not? Moreover, the NYT article never once says what laws or regulations are being "enforced". Is the government justified in lying about its own conduct to "enforce" unspecified laws or regulations? And depending on the ends, does that justify the government's means?

    Don't forget that a city's taxi regulator has the same self-interest as the taxi cab drivers themselves: protecting their own job. If the taxi market is disrupted sufficiently, their own job is at risk. Just a thought.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2017 @ 11:40pm

      Re: Think It Through

      I had a Jitney service 20 yrs ago local grocery store runs Drs appointments in a poor neighborhood made very little, I was harassed repeatedly by cab companies/ police. sometimes these companies left seniors waiting for hrs to be picked up, no tears lost cab companies

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    • identicon
      Agammamon, 4 Mar 2017 @ 12:14am

      Re: Think It Through

      Its a common tactic when enforcing victimless crimes. Because the people involved do not think they're victims of crimes, they have no incentive to report such activities to the police.

      The police then have to resort to ever more intrusive measures to find these people. And they cry foul when the 'criminals' then adapt and use new tech to get around that surveillance. Hence the complaints about the use of encryption and demands for backdoors.

      Its all part and parcel of the same thinking.

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      • icon
        madasahatter (profile), 4 Mar 2017 @ 8:48am

        Re: Re: Think It Through

        Technically the victims are the cab companies and the city for lost fares and fees. Both 'victims' have lost sight that cabs are a service that should be benefitting the public first. Uber and Lyft challenge the lack of customer service.

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        • identicon
          Agammamon, 6 Mar 2017 @ 1:44am

          Re: Re: Re: Think It Through

          If a new store opens up, are the existing store owners victims? Do we have an expectation to a right to economic success now?

          Did buggy-whip makers become victims when the automobile rolled out?

          In any case cab companies and cities that have created a cartel - that would be illegal if the local government weren't part of the scheme - and then suffer a loss because others exercise their right to freely trade with other people . . . fuck 'em.

          Whatever makes Uber problematic - its not trying to get out from under rights violations.

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  • icon
    faceless (profile), 3 Mar 2017 @ 8:23pm

    no matter the publicity, as long as it continues to be infinitely easier to catch an Uber than a Cab when you're a minority, Uber will continue to be used.

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  • identicon
    Agammamon, 3 Mar 2017 @ 9:13pm

    They're not hiding from 'regulators'. They're hiding from the enforcers of a cartel that would be straight up criminal if it didn't include the local government as a primary member.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 3 Mar 2017 @ 9:21pm

      Re:

      They're not hiding from 'regulators'. They're hiding from the enforcers of a cartel that would be straight up criminal if it didn't include the local government as a primary member.

      That's a fair characterization... but doesn't change the fact that it was dumb to try to hide from them in this manner.

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      • identicon
        Agammamon, 4 Mar 2017 @ 12:10am

        Re: Re:

        I still disagree that it was dumb - the only other options are to submit - enabling these people further - or to take up arms.

        As bad as some things have gotten in this country, I don't think we're quite at the 'take up arms' stage. At least not over the taxi cartel.

        That it has caused them problems is part of what I'm going to assume is a calculated cost/benefit analysis - where they figured they could weather the PR hit. After all, the only people really outraged by Uber doing what pretty much *everyone* does in their day-to-day life (structure their affairs to minimize government interference) are the people who hated Uber simply for existing.

        So, the people who hated Uber before hate it still, the people who liked Uber before don't care - as long as their rides are on time and clean - and the rest of the people have to get the kids ready for school.

        Playing the lottery is a dumb decision even if you win - not everything that ends up with a bad outcome was a dumb decision.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 4:22am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Uber did not try to "minimize government interference". It tried — successfully, in several cases — to "opt out" of government interference altogether.

          Someone at Uber knew the regulations and decided they were not worth following, despite knowing that decision could get the company in trouble. Someone at Uber decided to scam government officials by creating Greyball and use it as a way of hiding Uber activity from said officials. Someone at Uber believed that the best way to get around the law was to break it and hide their illegal activity.

          If that someone was the CEO, I can assume he will try to "blame-share" the responsibility with his employees.

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          • identicon
            Agammamon, 4 Mar 2017 @ 2:05pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            OK fine - they tried to opt out. What's wrong with that?

            I'd like to opt out of a lot of interference - and I have by choosing the jurisdiction I live in. Just because the government says it needs to monitor and control something doesn't mean that it really does.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 4:18pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Just because the government says it needs to monitor and control something doesn't mean that it really does.

              Would you mind if oil companies dumped pollution in your local river? Would you mind if a car dealership sold you a faulty car? Would you mind if you were injured on the job due to your employer's own carelessness?

              And would you mind if they all went ¯_(ツ)_/¯ about those things when asked to take full responsibility for them?

              The point of any regulation — in spirit, if not always in practice — is to give government a role in protecting citizens from those who might seek to harm them through behaviours that are either careless or intentional. OSHA regulations, pollution controls, and laws against selling "lemons" are all regulations meant to protect ordinary citizens.

              Why should Uber get to "opt out" of the same kinds of regulations that govern the commercial transportation industry?

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              • identicon
                Jj, 5 Mar 2017 @ 2:04pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Only problem is that the regulators have an ulterior motive and are less about serving the public than maintaining an outdated business model. The serving the public part is actually lip service. The taxi industry needs to die, it's terrible.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 2:34pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Again, I ask: Why should Uber get to "opt out" of the kinds of regulations that govern the commercial transport industry?

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                  • icon
                    The Wanderer (profile), 6 Mar 2017 @ 3:45am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    The standard answer is: Because those regulations were written to rein in the problems with a particular business model (or collection of business models), and Uber is using a different business model to which that specific set of problems does not apply. Thus, if regulations for what Uber is doing are needed, they should be written with Uber's actual business model in mind, not applied blindly on the assumption that Uber is using the same business model as their competitors.

                    How much the various assumptions behind that answer are or are not true is something to which I cannot personally testify.

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        • icon
          OldMugwump (profile), 4 Mar 2017 @ 12:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: The only other options are to submit or to take up arms.

          Uber has elevated civil disobedience to a business model.

          With some discomfort, I have to say I admire them for it.

          I'm generally a fan of the rule of law - if the law sucks it should be changed, not violated.

          But sometimes the only practical way to get it changed is civil disobedience. Esp. so with victimless "crimes".

          If Uber hadn't played games like this, they'd never have gotten the volume, revenue, and number of (voting) customers needed to get the law changed, disrupting the taxi cartels.

          Lots of other more law-abiding types have tried to break into the market for decades, and got stomped every time. Uber has found a model that works - blatant, open violation of the law, working in favor of customers. And finding sneaky ways to avoid punishment long enough to reap credit for it.

          This can only work when it's the law that's criminal, not the violators. But maybe we need more of this.

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          • identicon
            Andrew D. Todd, 6 Mar 2017 @ 9:10am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The only other options are to submit or to take up arms.

            The problem is, it's not Civil Disobedience. Civil Disobedience is something quite different. Civil Disobedience is about flooding the jails. Suppose that five thousand people go to the local police station, all at once, and try to turn themselves in for being Uber drivers, and each of them is carrying paper evidence of having sold an Uber ride. That would be Civil Disobedience.

            I've come to some curious conclusions about taxicabs. I don't think you can have healthy taxicabs unless you also have healthy public transportation and healthy pedestrian access. Taxicabs ought to be something of a luxury, the way restaurants with waitresses are something of a luxury. Such restaurants have their proper place, but they don't try to compete with McDonald's, and they don't try to compete with Seven-Eleven.

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            • icon
              OldMugwump (profile), 7 Mar 2017 @ 3:23pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The only other options are to submit or to take up arms.

              From my viewpoint civil disobedience covers any situation where people violate a law with the express purpose of getting that law changed.

              Opinions, of course, will differ.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2017 @ 9:21pm

    NY Times shows why Uber needs 215MB for its spy app

    Fake screens, ghost cars, blacklists, whitelists, etc.

    http://www.cultofmac.com/304401/ubers-android-app-literally-malware/

    http://www.gironsec.com/blog /2014/11/what-the-hell-uber-uncool-bro/

    http://www.theverge.com/2016/11/30/13763714/uber-location-dat a-tracking-app-privacy-ios-android

    Here's the full list of all the data Uber is collecting through its Android app [in 2014; certainly more by now]:

    -- Accounts log (Email)
    -- App Activity (Name, PackageName, Process Number of activity, Processed id)
    -- App Data Usage (Cache size, code size, data size, name, package name)
    -- App Install (installed at, name, package name, unknown sources enabled, version code, version name)
    -- Battery (health, level, plugged, present, scale, status, technology, temperature, voltage)
    -- Device Info (board, brand, build version, cell number, device, device type, display, fingerprint, IP, MAC address, manufacturer, model, OS platform, product, SDK code, total disk space, unknown sources enabled)
    -- GPS (accuracy, altitude, latitude, longitude, provider, speed)
    -- MMS (from number, MMS at, MMS type, service number, to number)
    -- NetData (bytes received, bytes sent, connection type, interface type)
    -- PhoneCall (call duration, called at, from number, phone call type, to number)
    -- SMS (from number, service number, SMS at, SMS type, to number)
    -- TelephonyInfo (cell tower ID, cell tower latitude, cell tower longitude, IMEI, ISO country code, local area code, MEID, mobile country code, mobile network code, network name, network type, phone type, SIM serial number, SIM state, subscriber ID)
    -- WifiConnection (BSSID, IP, linkspeed, MAC addr, network ID, RSSI, SSID)
    -- WifiNeighbors (BSSID, capabilities, frequency, level, SSID)
    -- Root Check (root status code, root status reason code, root version, sig file version)
    -- Malware Info (algorithm confidence, app list, found malware, malware SDK version, package list, reason code, service list, sigfile version)

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2017 @ 9:33pm

    If the question is "why" the answer

    If the question is "why" the answer is almost always going to be "money".

    I'll never understand why companies feel the need to take the shadiest route possible, when they could have just gone with the upfront path of explaining why what they're doing is so useful and powerful, and fighting for it, rather than trying to play silly games.

    This assumes that the playing field is level in the governmental arena.

    It almost never is.

    I can tell you that with absolute confidence with 15 years trying to get government contracts and 15 years on the inside of the government where I could see the process of granting those contracts that petty loyalty and "gifting" almost always play a very major role in city, county, authority, and state contacts. Even more blatant is the state official that would put out a memo with "preferred vendors". It always tracked political contributions in Texas. If you didn't give a lot, or gave to the "wrong" party, then that company would absolutely not be given a contract, even if it was low bid or offered more services at the same price. And no, despite many people over a decade turning in whistle blower reports, few investigation were ever made by state enforcement. The few that did take place were because the person involved in the contract grant was themselves of the "wrong" party or were preformed by federal law enforcement. And yes, the state howled "STATES RIGHTS" every single time.

    There is absolutely no question in my, or many others, minds that the process is about as corrupt as it could possibly be without having the bribes paid for in cash, on the counter, in front of God as a witness.

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2017 @ 10:06pm

    Hey, Mike, I've got to say, this article is less malicious than usual, I'm happy to give you credit for that (maybe we'll win you over to the American side yet). I wonder if I could challenge you to take your own advice by "being upfront and explaining why what they're doing is so useful and powerful". What is you you're doing with TechDirt, Mike? What is your mission? I'm assuming, as the previous poster said "money", but you probably have some zen-like philosophy behind it, don't you? As regards this article, I see you saying "attacks (on Uber) are greatly exaggerated" and limiting User and Lyft are "generally bad ideas". How does this fit your mission with TechDirt (just asking). I'll bet you have something important to say, and perhaps I'm just having trouble hearing it. (I fell asleep before reading the end of the article)

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    • icon
      TechDescartes (profile), 3 Mar 2017 @ 10:19pm

      Re:

      You fell asleep before finishing, didn't go back to figure out what you read, and then proceeded to comment anyway?

      Sounds to me like you are catfishing. Just like all your other comments. I would say try Harder, but I'm just guessing that is your lawyer's name.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2017 @ 10:30pm

        Re: Re:

        You know, I loved your comment about a "black hole", I think we could be fabulous philosophical friends (and I was serious about American Inventors being the most powerful force in the known universe). I was actually kidding about falling asleep, it was a literary tool to express that I thought the article was a little boring, and I'm too lazy to actually proof my writing well enough to avoid mistakes. And about the honorable Charles Harder, I could only dream to be so lucky to have Charles Harder as my attorney, a true American Patriot and protector of the most beautiful, gracious and well spoken American Immigrant First Lady of all time (I love you, Melania, especially in that yellow dress you just posted - I'm a Facebook fan).

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 4:00am

      Re:

      You are not owed an explanation, nor do you deserve one.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 7:53am

      Re:

      Did you invent weirdly obsessive commenting, too?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2017 @ 10:09pm

    (sorry, wasn't all the away awake when I posted the above - "what is you you're doing" should have been "what is it that you're doing" - my apologies)

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

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 12:53am

    Wow, that's amazing. I just Googled Charles Harder American Patriot and it brought me here! Incredible. I take my hat off to your openness and willingness to engage with real Americans. There IS hope for you guys!

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  • identicon
    I Love Capitalism, 4 Mar 2017 @ 2:03am

    My hat's off to Uber!

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 2:54am

    This was old news in Australi

    In Queensland, Uber was doing this about a year and a half ago and it was widely reported on. Surprised this has only come up now. Department of Transport literally gave up because they couldn't get rides. I wouldn't be surprised if it was actually Queensland that caused it, because they were getting fines of upwards of $30,000 a day which surely couldn't be sustainable.

    Every fine was paid for by Uber and now demerit points were not recorded, so it was basically a get-out-of-jail-free card for the drivers.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 3:13am

    Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that whenever a major corporation gets caught massively hoodwinking the government, this virtually guarantees MORE REGULATION for many years to come.

    Considering the toxic corporate culture at Uber, we are left wondering how many other shenanigans they are trying to pull off.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 4:12am

      Re:

      Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that whenever a major corporation gets caught massively hoodwinking the government, this virtually guarantees MORE REGULATION for many years to come.

      When a corporation is hoodwinking the government, only God (and possibly the CEO) know what that corporation is doing in re: its employees and customers. A not-zero number of regulations exist to protect regular jackoffs (thank you "Metalocalypse") from being trampled by "the free market".

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 6:17am

    Wow, this is really astounding in its brazenness and complexity.

    If you needed a good example on how powerful metadata, big data and profiling are, here you go.

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  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 4 Mar 2017 @ 8:36am

    I'll never understand why companies feel the need to take the shadiest route possible,

    I would imagine it is partially because this is a popular element of our culture, and everyone doing it imagines they are the good guys.

    Not sure what is up with Uber, but this is the third or fourth completely different shady thing i have heard about them this week. If i am not lazy, I will find what the others were as i paid less attention to them.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 10:34am

    Re: But, that doesn't mean the company should get a pass for this kind of stuff.

    Please cite the respective law they've violated?

    A business is not required to pay more tax than it is legally obligated to pay. It is not obligated to provide services to the state without consideration. It is not obligated to testify against itself.

    What I see uniformly, is a bunch of gum flapping across a broad base of corporate media, to which TD is apparently now a member.

    What has been trotted out in the Times and the Post is just rediculous from a legal perspective. No reasonable legal argument has been made. There have been numerous cases before SCOTUS that have found time and time again, that a perpetrator is NOT responsible for the incompetence of the state.

    This is clearly a reversal of TD's past positions on disclosure. Care to explain why?

    Clearly there is a massive hatchet job going on right now. My guess is that all of this is probably about some billionaire wanting to buy Uber, and using the trinity to tank the stock in advance of an attempted takeover. And TD joins CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. Except the trinity got paid to suck the stock brokers dick, and TD did it for free.

    Service localization isn't different if you do it to the state. If it is criminal, it is criminal. But that has nothing to do with Uber. It has to do with highly localized profiling for the purposes of exploiting people.

    So some cops lost. Boo Fucking Hoo. The Constitution rights of the citizenry have been loosing for a decade on now. So why is it all of a sudden "shady" when it is done to manipulate the state, and not when it is done to manipulate the vote, the price a a loaf of bread, etc. etc. etc. ?

    Yeaaaaa. Bullshit.

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    • identicon
      Thad, 4 Mar 2017 @ 10:46am

      Re: Re: But, that doesn't mean the company should get a pass for this kind of stuff.

      You've just written nine paragraphs that make no argument beyond "nuh-uh."

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 3:26pm

        Re: Re: Re: But, that doesn't mean the company should get a pass for this kind of stuff.

        Read you blog Thad.

        I'll add that to my file cabinet filled with witty Thadisms. Though it is creating a slip hazard now, what with all the whining and butt hurt pouring out over the floor.

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

        • identicon
          Thad, 5 Mar 2017 @ 9:12am

          Re: Re: Re: Re: But, that doesn't mean the company should get a pass for this kind of stuff.

          FYI, "whining and butt-hurt pouring" is a mixed metaphor.

          Always nice to have a new fan, though; I really should blog more.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2017 @ 10:22am

          Re: Re: Re: Re: But, that doesn't mean the company should get a pass for this kind of stuff.

          Thems is some sour grapes you are chewing on.

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

          • identicon
            Thad, 6 Mar 2017 @ 7:22pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: But, that doesn't mean the company should get a pass for this kind of stuff.

            It's cool, though; when I ran across Ed Palermo today, I probably wouldn't have even thought of making a blog post about it if Man-Crush over there hadn't reminded me I had a blog just sitting there waiting for more Zappa posts.

            This one doesn't even have any puddling butthurt or whatever he called it. I'd say that's a win for everybody. Nobody wants puddling butthurt.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 11:47am

    Now that the cat is out of the bag, Uber will likely try and make its tactics even more undetectable. As someone said once "Build a better tap, someone will build a better mouse".

    I would imagine with Volkswagen getting caught cheating emissions tests, that they are are work now building a much harder to detect system.

    It is the same with states that outlaw radar detectors. As police come up with new devices to detect radar detectors, manufacturers modify their products so new police devices cannot detect them.

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    • identicon
      Thad, 7 Mar 2017 @ 5:16pm

      Re:

      As someone said once "Build a better tap, someone will build a better mouse".

      What?

      That's not the expression, that's not how you spell "trap", and that analogy doesn't make a lick of sense. "Someone will build a better mouse"? What?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 1:01pm

    If Uber's idea is "so powerful", why are they losing tens of billions of dollars despite paying their drivers a sub-living wage?

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

    • identicon
      Agammamon, 4 Mar 2017 @ 2:08pm

      Re:

      You simply are so far off from reality that you are not even wrong.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 3:13pm

        Re: Re:

        You're right, taking advantage of the working classes is a pretty powerful idea. My mistake.

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

        • identicon
          Agammamon, 6 Mar 2017 @ 1:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If they were taking advantage of 'the working classes' (who is that by the way? I'm pretty sure we all work - even capitalists - especially in the modern age where the line between capitalist and worker is blurred) then all those working class people need to do is, you know, stop using Uber. Whether as drivers or passengers.

          But, it seems to me that, absent any coercion on the part of Uber (and there isn't any) or the government, people seem to think Uber offers them more value for their dollar earned or spent.

          Or are you going to tell us that these drivers have 'false consciousness' and don't really know what's best for themselves - but you'll be happy to take the Presidium and set the country on a course for prosperity. 5 years at a time.

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      • identicon
        Thad, 7 Mar 2017 @ 5:17pm

        Re: Re:

        That's not what "not even wrong" means. "Not even wrong" is when you say something that cannot be empirically tested.

        "Losing tens of billions of dollars" can be empirically tested. "Paying their drivers a sub-living wage" can be empirically tested. It is possible that he is *wrong*, but *not even wrong* implies that there's no way of disproving what he's saying.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 6:46pm

    Wow, there's a lot of comments that are no longer displayed. I hope you are all keeping careful records of who decided to remove those comments from display, and why. Were they Americans? Spoliation may be really damaging to your future case in court (as you've written about before), you wouldn't want that, would you?

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    • icon
      TechDescartes (profile), 4 Mar 2017 @ 7:46pm

      Re:

      Except for that "Click here to show" link next to each hidden comment, the fact that this post is wholly irrelevant to the lawsuit to which TechDirt is a party, and the lawsuit isn't about comments made by third parties but rather posts by TechDirt writers, you're absolutely correct. In other words, you couldn't be more wrong if you tried Harder.

      Speaking of which, if you are catfishing at their direction, even implicitly, there are some friendly state bar officials who really might be interested in meeting you.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 8:45pm

        Re: Re:

        Your comments are always so interesting, as is your picture and choice of name. I'm not an attorney, so I really wouldn't be able to speak to what is relevant, you are probably right. It does concern me that Mike hides behind "freedom of speech", but I think he's taken it too far. He seems malicious to me (and others, obviously), and tends to attack Americans with issues that benefit foreigners. His support for Open Source is basically the Open Borders of technology, allowing valuable property developed in the US to be delivered to the rest of the world for no charge. I'm not a fan of Open Borders for immigrants to come in, and I'm not a fan of Open Source for technology to stolen from the US and give to our competitors for free. So, in my opinion, everyone that Mike takes money from is relevant, for example, about whether is is "free speech" at all. I have seen many documented cases where he is clearly promoting a product or sale, and this (commercial speech) does not carry the same protection. Who is it actually who decides to hide posts so they can't be seen? My question about whether they are Americans (I think) is relevant. Who is TechDirt really, anyway? What is their mission? I've asked Mike this question, and all I hear is crickets. Maybe everything going on at TechDirt, including what is going on now, is relevant to the case at hand.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 9:25pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Who is it actually who decides to hide posts so they can't be seen?

          The Techdirt commenter community, for the most part. See that red button on the far right side of the comment's header? That allows any given commenter to flag a comment for being abusive, trolling, or spam. I assume that if enough commenters flag the comment, either the comment is automatically hidden or whoever moderates comments notices the number of flags and hides the comment. (I do not know which one happens; I do not moderate the comments.)

          But a hidden comment is just that — hidden from view. It does not get deleted, but it does get marked as "flagged by the community" (meaning the community sees it as a worthless comment).

          As for…whatever point you were trying to make about "free speech", you appear to misunderstand the very concept. The First Amendment guarantees a person's right to speak and express themselves without government interference. With few exceptions (e.g., defamation, incitements of violence), the government cannot stop a person from saying whatever they wish. That said, the First Amendment neither guarantees someone a platform for their speech nor protects them from criticism. It also does not protect someone from societal consequences of their speech (e.g., being labelled "racist" for saying racist things). "Free speech" does not stand for "consequence-free speech". Oh, and while commercially-sponsored speech (i.e., "promoted posts") must follow certain regulations, it is otherwise wholly legal.

          And as for the vaguely-worded problems you have with open source projects: Such projects allow people from all over the world to contribute their knowledge and skills towards improving a piece of software that can help all people. Hoarding that knowledge for profit, fame, or both strikes me as wasteful and egotistical.

          I've asked Mike this question, and all I hear is crickets.

          You are not owed an explanation, nor do you deserve one. (Also, if this is who I think it is: You did not invent email.)

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 9:51pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You are absolutely the best writer I have encountered in this forum, thank you for your very thoughtful and considered response. In return, I ask your opinion about whether asking any business about it's mission is legitimate. Personally, I think it is, every business I ever ran had a written mission statement, that's usually best, and I would be proud to display it, and try to live up to it. I know I'm not being fair with this next comment, but my read of MIke's mission statement is to "Publish as much Un-American proganda as possible, with specific attacks denigrating American Inventors (and yes, I include the Email inventor on that list) and the American Patent System". In short, I think his mission is to be a propagandist for Red Hat (likely his biggest customer) and other Free Software efforts. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems really strange that exposing your mission statement would be a contentious issue for a legitimate company with a legitimate mission. Would you agree with that?

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 6:37am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I ask your opinion about whether asking any business about it's mission is legitimate.

              You can ask. Ask all the live-long day.

              But you are not owed an explanation, nor do you deserve one.

              my read of MIke's mission statement is to "Publish as much Un-American proganda as possible, with specific attacks denigrating American Inventors (and yes, I include the Email inventor on that list) and the American Patent System"

              I have read this blog regularly for somewhere near a decade. It is not "against America"; it is against stupidity and cruelty and reckless behavior. Its writers rail against the broken nature of our various intellectual property systems, DMCA abuse, police misconduct, censorship, and other such important issues because they affect Americans in negative ways. (This paragraph would get too long if I had to explain how.) If you believe Techdirt calling the American patent system "broken" is "un-American", I would ask you to explain how the patent system is not broken in light of the overwhelming factual evidence presented on Techdirt.

              Whatever issues Techdirt may have with American inventors, it is because of their words and deeds. It is not due to said inventors being American. An inventor from any country can act like a fool or say something that makes them sound foolish; why should American inventors be exempt from criticism?

              Oh, and one more thing: Shiva Ayyadurai did not invent email.

              I think his mission is to be a propagandist for Red Hat (likely his biggest customer) and other Free Software efforts.

              There is a difference between your opinion ("thinking") and actual fact ("proving"). Nothing I have seen suggests that Techdirt is a blog driven by the love of a sponsor's money. If you have compelling evidence to the contrary, now might be a good time to show it.

              And what is so wrong with "propaganda" for open source/free software? Plenty of open source projects are excellent pieces of software — I should know, because I am using one right now (Mozilla Firefox) and I use several others on a daily basis. What makes open source software so evil that you feel you must openly demonise it?

              it seems really strange that exposing your mission statement would be a contentious issue for a legitimate company with a legitimate mission

              Expose your mission statement then, Mr. Harder.

              [And just so I do not have to reply to you twice...]

              just to get my question on the record, Michael Masnick

              Mr. Harder, this blog is not a court of law.

              And as for your questions, they seem an awful lot like a naked attempt to defame Mr. Masnick as "un-American" because Techdirt accepts money from open source foundations based in both the US and abroad, because it allows people outside of the US to comment on Techdirt articles, and because...well, because you cannot be fucked to do ten seconds worth of reading to see if a post is a "promoted" one or a regular one.

              I have said it before, and I will say it again for effect: You are not owed an answer to the questions you have asked, nor do you deserve one.

              (Oh, and next time you want to comment here, try not being so blatant about who you are. The "on the record" stuff, the specific questions about his "mission statement", the just-on-the-borderline attempts to defame Mr. Masnick as "un-American" so maybe he might "slip up" and make your case for Mr. Ayyadurai go a little easier...you could not make it easier to spot you from a mile away unless you actually signed your name to your posts, Mr. Harder.)

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 5:24pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Gosh, I like you. You have really a great command of the English language, and can weave interesting plots around really vacuous points. Socialism sucks, my friend, to put it bluntly. It does not actually work in the real world, as demonstrated time and time again. The stones you and the other socialist shitbags throw at the most successful country in the world (America) completely miss their mark. Why not use your considerable intellect to help IMPROVE the best system in the world, not ridicule and abandon it. Rise to the challenge of CONTRIBUTING to America, instead of pointlessly bashing it. Patent laws that add the fuel of interest to the fire of genius (you recognize this phrase) are BRILLIANT, and have served the American cause for more than two centuries. Come on over to our side, my friend, we need bright people like you. Help us Make American Great Again! (to quote a personal friend) We can be better friends to you that your current socialist shitbag brethren.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 7:18pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  You know, I just wanted to catch your points around defamation: If I call Michael Malice Sharik (after the dog in the socialist satire) or Socialist Shitbag (as suggested by another reader), is this defamation? You are likely the more qualified legal expert amongst the two of us, what do you think? I really hate what Sharik is doing, hiding behind the first amendment while he throws malicious nastiness at respectable inventors at the behest of his socialist sponsors.

                  And, if I'm reading you right, you are kind of speaking as Sharik's attorney, right? So, I believe you have admitted he makes his money from socialist Open Source organizations here and abroad, right? Mike is speaking for the socialist shitbags, but getting paid like a capitalist to do it, right? My guess is you are more honorable, and likely contribute your valuable time for free based on your principles (misformed as they might be), right?

                  Thank you again, my new socialist friend (yes, we can be friends even if we disagree). I admire your honest commitment to one side of the argument (unlike Sharik). I believe if you consider the issue more deeply, and apply more historical perspective, you will see the real beauty in the American ideology, which embraces capitalism (like Sharik does secretly). What I can't stomach are those phony, lying dogs like Michael Masnick (Sharik) to intend to profit from their bullshit paid propaganda. You strike me as a better class of person.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 8:27pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    If I call Michael Malice Sharik (after the dog in the socialist satire) or Socialist Shitbag (as suggested by another reader), is this defamation?

                    No. It is grade-level playground namecalling bullshit sitting behind a thin veneer of supposed "intelligence".

                    I really hate what [Mr. Masnick] is doing, hiding behind the first amendment while he throws malicious nastiness at respectable inventors at the behest of his socialist sponsors.

                    If telling the truth and sharing personal opinions about a man who has no more claim to inventing the email system that everyone uses today than I do counts as "malicious nastiness"...well...that seems like a personal opinion of Techdirt's writing, not an objection that Techdirt has knowingly made false statements that would equal defamation.

                    And if you could prove that any regular Techdirt contributor has written anything "at the behest of" a given sponsor (other than sponsored posts), now would probably be a good time to prove your accusation. I mean, you do want to have at least an appearance of credibility, right?

                    if I'm reading you right, you are kind of speaking as [Mr. Masnick]'s attorney, right?

                    No. I am not a lawyer, I am not associated with Mike Masnick in any personal capacity, and I am not associated with either Mr. Masnick or Techdirt in a professional capacity. I am what Dethklok would call "a regular jackoff".

                    I believe you have admitted he makes his money from socialist Open Source organizations here and abroad, right?

                    If he has, I do not see how this would somehow be a bad thing, so long as he has followed any necessary ethical and legal guidelines in this area.

                    Mike is speaking for the socialist shitbags, but getting paid like a capitalist to do it, right?

                    If you can prove he is "speaking for the socialist shitbags", now would be the time to do so.

                    My guess is you are more honorable, and likely contribute your valuable time for free based on your principles (misformed as they might be), right?

                    Yes, actually. As it stands, I do not currently see my time as worth anything, for I do not make much of anything that is worth anyone else's time. On the odd occasions where I do make something worth sharing, I make it free for anyone else to view and I do not actively enforce my copyrights. I am not entitled to the fruits of my labor; I am entitled only to the labor itself.

                    You strike me as a better class of person.

                    Do not mistake my general lack of insults and my sparing use of profanities as a sign of respect. The only reason I do not actively insult you and spew multiple profanities per sentence is because I would have to care about who you are to do that. You do not have mine and you have done nothing to earn it; trying to compliment me in an attempt to stroke my ego does not help you in that regard.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 9:12pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Well, thank you, it's good to know that I am not creating any legal liability with my grade-level playground namecalling. I won't say it's complete bullshit, through, would you? I mean, given that my friend President Donald Trump, the most powerful man in the world, and a Great American (by example) used it to bash (and defeat) his idiot opponents, it's a little more powerful technique than you give it credit for, don't you think?

                      So, let's see, can I actually prove that Michael Malice is speaking for the Socialist Shitbags? You might be right, it could be tricky, Mr. Crickets is pretty good at hiding his revenue sources and never responding to questions. But that might change in the future, since it has now become an issue of public interest and his financial records could reasonably be asked for in his current court case. Can I prove that he secretly authors materials under phony names, and then cites them as sources for his paid socialist propaganda, so his socialist shitbag sponsors can peddle their socialist shitbat code? Actually, I think I could, and I'm just waiting for the right moment to do so. Has that moment come? I'm just not sure, what do you think? Time to call him out as a fraud and a liar, and prove it with actual references?

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                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 9:32pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        I mean, given that my friend President Donald Trump, the most powerful man in the world, and a Great American (by example) used it to bash (and defeat) his idiot opponents, it's a little more powerful technique than you give it credit for, don't you think?

                        Donald Trump still lost the electoral vote by over three million votes. And not nearly as many people as you might think share your eerily obsessive devotion to him.

                        can I actually prove that [Mr. Masnick] is speaking for the Socialist Shitbags? You might be right, it could be tricky, Mr. [Masnick] is pretty good at hiding his revenue sources and never responding to questions.

                        You are not owed a look at his financial information, nor have you proven why you deserve one. You are not owed answers to your inane questions by Mr. Masnick or anyone else, nor have you proven why you deserve any. If I were you, I would prove why I have standing to demand such things before I go demanding them.

                        that might change in the future, since it has now become an issue of public interest and his financial records could reasonably be asked for in his current court case

                        This line of thinking assumes that the case will go past discovery. Last time I checked, facts are the best defense against a charge of defamation, and it will be very hard for Shiva Ayyadurai to either disprove the facts about the development of email during the ARPANET days up or make those facts disappear.

                        Can I prove that he secretly authors materials under phony names, and then cites them as sources for his paid socialist propaganda, so his socialist shitbag sponsors can peddle their socialist shitbat code? Actually, I think I could, and I'm just waiting for the right moment to do so. […] Time to call him out as a fraud and a liar, and prove it with actual references?

                        "Mr. Masnick authors material for Techdirt under multiple assumed identities and cites them as sources for further Techdirt material at the behest of corporate sponsors" sounds like a serious accusation. You would require factual, credible, and independently verifiable evidence to prove this accusation to be true. If you have such evidence, this would be the time to present it and render your arguments credible. If you do not have that evidence, your argument has no credibility, which means you have no credibility.

                        So yeah — if you can actually prove your conspiracy theory bullshit, now would be the time.

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                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 9:46pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Thank you again for that, you are very much a gentleman and a scholar. I do have factual, credible, and independently verifiable evidence. I just can't decide whether it would be more effective to present it here, or (as advised by my attorney) in court. Where do you think it would have the most effect? If I can prove it in court, how badly would it hurt him? Do you think he actually has any money? Perhaps it is simply better to engage him publicly, like I am doing now, and expose his socialist hypocrisy (getting paid to tell other people (like patent owners) they shouldn't worry about getting paid). Tough call, I have to think on it. Spend money to get no money, or spend nothing and enjoy every day calling out a liar and fraud for what he is. I'm just not sure.

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                          • identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 9:50pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            you are very much a gentleman and a scholar.

                            I am an asshole.

                            I do have factual, credible, and independently verifiable evidence. I just can't decide whether it would be more effective to present it here, or (as advised by my attorney) in court.

                            Then you have nothing. Your arguments are invalid.

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                            • identicon
                              Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2017 @ 2:12am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              I'm afraid I have to agree with you, I don't have a leg to stand on, you win. You are the winner. You deserve it, and I'm sure will serve the title with nobility. Every loser (like me) has to try to learn from their mistakes, right? What would you think of this? I'll just send my evidence of the fraud perpetrated by Michael Malice to Charles Harder, anonymously. He's an attorney, and could probably judge whether this evidence is useful against TechDirt and Sharik, or not. And, since court records are public, maybe we will all see them in the future! Maybe we'll even see this post! If not, oh well, I was wrong about whether they comprised useful evidence or not, and I will shut up about it forever. Deal?

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                              • identicon
                                Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2017 @ 2:59am

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                OK, out the door. Well, Michael Malice, if you do have the chance to present your case in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I hope we may face each other directly on the battlefield of the court system. We have just this sort of ideological debate here every day, and everyone holds a strong opinion, as they should. Are you a journalist, or a paid propagandist? That's an important distinction, and we would love to sort that question out. I think your state of mind, that is, the knowledge of the falsity of the information in your articles, will hang you (not literally, of course). We are the cradle of liberty, here, and I think everyone (including the Hamiltonians) will give you a fair shake and a considered opinion. Good luck.

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                                • identicon
                                  Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2017 @ 6:22am

                                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                  Hey, Michael Malice, come on, I've set you up with the best "Clickbait" headline of all time "Blood relative of Alexander Hamilton challenges Socialist Shitbag Michael Malice to a duel in Open Court in the Great Commonwealth of Massachusetts" - How can you resist running that, it's better than the other trash you come up with.

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                                  • identicon
                                    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2017 @ 6:48am

                                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                    …who the fuck is Michael Malice?

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

                                    • icon
                                      The Wanderer (profile), 6 Mar 2017 @ 8:25pm

                                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                      It's this particular anonymous troll's next-to-latest thinks-he's-clever nickname for Mike Masnick. (The latest being a literary reference I haven't bothered to remember, something about comparing him to a socialist dog - a literal canine.)

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2017 @ 10:25am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Oh look it's jimmy don't care. Back for more not caring I see.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2017 @ 10:52pm

    And just one other question: your statement "Hoarding that knowledge for profit, fame, or both strikes me as wasteful and egotistical" really spells out that you are a foreigner, right? Here in America, we practice capitalism, which has so far, and likely will continue to, produce the highest rate of achievement and innovation in the world. Study up, my friend, Socialism in America is over!

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 6:58am

      Re:

      > your statement "Hoarding that knowledge for profit, fame, or both strikes me as wasteful and egotistical" really spells out that you are a foreigner, right?

      Then it might surprise you to learn that I was born and raised in, and I have never travelled outside of, the United States of America. I happen to believe that treating all scientific, technological, and even artistic knowledge as something only a select handful of people should ever know is what I would call a "dick move".

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 5:34pm

        Re: Re:

        You are absolutely right, I am surprised. I'm not sure where you could have grown up to develop such a lack of American belief. Did you ever study history? Outside of the US, socialism has been attempted, and repeatedly failed. America on the other hand, is an astounding success, albeit not perfect. There is no perfect! But, there is tried and true, American red white and blue (I'm also a poet in my spare time). Think about it, you're smart! Hire American (inventors) and buy American (inventions) rings true somewhere in your soul, doesn't it?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 7:59pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          My belief is not "anti-American", it is "pro-knowledge".

          America has some rather intelligent people living and working in it. I would never deny this fact. But this country alone does not have the market cornered, so to speak, on intelligence and knowledge. Open source projects give people outside of the United States — people who may lack the resources to create a full-scale project of their own — a chance to contribute their knowledge.

          That you view hoarding knowledge of any kind as an "American belief", as something to be proud of, frankly disgusts me.

          I am under no illusion that all information and knowledge should be "free". But the bulk of knowledge in any area of expertise should be free for all peoples. Locking it up behind paywalls or making it nigh impossible for the average person to learn reeks of egotism — of capitalism's incessant need to make rich people richer at the expense of (and through the exploitation of) poor people.

          (And by the by, America is not a purely capitalist country. Government entitlement programs such as Medicare/Medicaid and SNAP (a.k.a. "food stamps") are forms of socialism baked into the country's capitalist economic system.)

          I am not in favor of American supremacy. I do not subscribe to the idea of "American exceptionalism"; it reeks of zero-sum, "I got mine so fuck you" thinking. I can be an American and believe everyone can potentially contribute towards the improvement of human life everywhere — and that open source projects of all kinds can do just that.

          If you think that somehow makes me "less American", I cordially invite you to please kiss my entire American-born ass. It is literally the only thing that has a single shit to offer you and your opinion.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 9:00pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I continue to like you more and more, especially now that you have joined me in profanity. You are good at it! I could learn from you.

            I think I have to agree with you about knowledge being free, that rings very true to my American beliefs. And I agree with you about America not being a purely capitalist country (at the moment). But I have a feeling that my friend Donald Trump will straighten that out, given a little time.

            I am not in favor of American "supremacy", which seems to imply a birthright, either. I am in favor of American exceptionalism, as expressed by exceptional Americans, within the rights and privileges of the American system. One of those rights has to do with patent rights, which I see as the bane of Open Source, and why Michael Malice (oops, Sharik) makes his money by bashing patents and patent holders. How about we stop defending the rights of foreigners to exploit exceptional Americans (as they do through TechDirt), and defend Americans building a better country for Americans (that seems right, doesn't it?).

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 9:48pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I could learn from you.

              You do not want to learn from me. I would weave phrases that would make you wish you had never learned how to read. Two decades-plus on the Internet, many of which were spent reading some really vile shit, will do that to you.

              I have a feeling that my friend Donald Trump will straighten that out, given a little time.

              Calling him your "friend" does not impress me, nor does it make me think any better of you. (If anything, it makes me think less of you.)

              I am not in favor of American "supremacy" […] I am in favor of American exceptionalism

              Same thing — all you want is for people to think "America is Number One, everyone else can go get as fucked". It shows in how you continuously extoll the virtues of "American" whatever (e.g. "American beliefs", "American capitalism", "American inventors"). Your continual usage of the adjective "American" at nearly any chance you get reeks of obsessive national pride that blinds you to the myriad of problems within this country.

              But hey, since you want to go down that road, I have a good question for you: How proud are you of the "American exceptionalism" that has left the citizens of Flint, Michigan without clean drinking water?

              One of those rights has to do with patent rights, which I see as the bane of Open Source

              Yes, and that is mostly because the patent system appears broken and busted to anyone with a little common sense. Techdirt has made the case for this line of thinking across numerous posts over its long existence.

              How about we stop defending the rights of foreigners to exploit exceptional Americans (as they do through TechDirt), and defend Americans building a better country for Americans (that seems right, doesn't it?).

              How about we stop bitching and whining about people from around the world (including Americans) contributing knowledge and expertise to projects from differing countries (including America) and defend the right of those projects to exist? I like the open source software that I use, after all. I like things such as open standards, openly viewable code, and the open sharing of knowledge. You will not make me feel ashamed of my support for open source projects; to do that, you would have to prove why supporting them at all is shameful.

              And I cannot see you doing that. Ever.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 9:57pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                You know, you really are better at this than I am. Thank you for being so patient. You are right about many things you said. President Donald Trump is only my friend from my view, he doesn't actually know me (other than these posts, which I heard he admires). You are completely right about the water in Flint, Michigan being a disaster. The government there has failed the people there, and it's a disgrace. About the patent system, I'm not sure you've convinced me of anything. Patents draw the best and the brightest to the USA, which is where we want them. That's a good thing, right? About Open Source, sorry if I sounded like I was whining, it's just my inexperience in these forums. I have a lot of admiration for the software itself. My beef is that the Open Source community needs to live under the same patent laws as the rest of America. Would you agree with that?

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 10:12pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  President Donald Trump is only my friend from my view, he doesn't actually know me

                  Then you are either delusional, a shitty troll, or both. Right now, I am leaning towards "both".

                  (Told you I was an asshole.)

                  Patents draw the best and the brightest to the USA, which is where we want them.

                  I have never heard anyone ever say that, and I cannot see how that is even remotely true.

                  My beef is that the Open Source community needs to live under the same patent laws as the rest of America.

                  Why should an open source project be forced to patent its output if no one contributing to the project wants it patented?

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

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 10:23pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    I continue my assertion that you are a scholar (from your obvious wit and legal insight) and a gentleman (from your generous use of your time to debate fairly). And sorry, you misunderstood me. I don't care if the Open Source community patents their stuff or not (though I would it encourage it, there is no better protection other than secrecy). I meant that the argument that because the patent system is inconvenient for the Open Source businesses, it should be demonized (as Sharik does) or abandoned (as many of his foreigner readers espouse) is wrong headed. The truth is that Open Source is supported by companies making money from it (like Red Hat), and patents are inconvenient for THEM. THEY need to respect the patent system, just like every other company that sells a product (and Red Hat sells a LOT of products). Is that more clear? If you want to compete with every other company in the best country in the world (America), respect its laws, and quit hiding behind socialist propaganda that attempts to discredit the system as a whole while continuing to take advantage of the benefits that system provides (MONEY).

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

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 10:36pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      I meant that the argument that because the patent system is inconvenient for the Open Source businesses, it should be demonized (as [Mr. Masnick] does) or abandoned (as many of his foreigner readers espouse) is wrong headed.

                      Wrong-headed? Maybe; that is a matter of perspective. But it is certainly not illegal to complain about the patent system, no matter who you are.

                      The truth is that Open Source is supported by companies making money from it (like Red Hat), and patents are inconvenient for THEM.

                      Unless they are actively breaking the law, I have a simple two-word reaction to this: "So what?"

                      If you want to compete with every other company in the best country in the world (America)

                      There you go with that "American exceptionalism" bullshit again. I was born and raised in America, and even I am not fucking stupid enough to believe America is "the best country in the world" (though not for lack of trying on the part of America's declining education system).

                      respect its laws, and quit hiding behind socialist propaganda that attempts to discredit the system as a whole while continuing to take advantage of the benefits that system provides (MONEY)

                      So long as a company does not break laws, they can "hide behind" whatever propaganda they want, for all I care.

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

                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 10:55pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        Well, my friend (as my friend Ronald Reagan used to say in a very convincing way), I respect your view. I would just mention that your view is an unusual one. Most Americans care about money, and want to defend their government and their constitution, and their right to make more (money). I understand that money is not a primary concern for you, and that's fine. But the American system is designed to give unfair advantage to the most industrious and hard working Americans, while leaving the privileged Americans alone (except for taxes). So, the Americans who truly love and respect and want to preserve the American system are probably not as lucky as you are. They're industrious, hard working, smart, and ready to go the extra mile (and I'm not saying you're not, just look at the size of this thread). Be a socialist, if you like, and live in your socialist dream (which I also respect (for you)). For the rest of us, we need the unfair advantage that patents give us ordinary Americans so that we can compete in world full of unsavory characters (not like you). Don't trash the system we need get a leg up, so our children can grow up as well educated and privileged (but perhaps with better parenting) than you did.

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

                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 11:09pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          And I would just ask you, my socialist friend, if I was right, and a HUGE company like Red Hat was paying TechDirt and Michael Malice to unfairly compete with INDIVIDUAL American entrepreneurs by publishing misleading legal opinions under phony names to promote their socialist shitbag Open Source products, would you be offended? Or would you think "Hey, that's fine, let them print whatever misleading propaganda under whatever false name they like, who cares?" Are you completely a "live and let live, no rules" kind of guy, or do you think that the legal system should serve to level the playing field between huge, rich companies and individual inventors?

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

                          • identicon
                            Thad, 6 Mar 2017 @ 7:25pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            What the fuck are you talking about?

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

                            • identicon
                              Wendy Cockcroft, 7 Mar 2017 @ 7:13am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              He's invoking the boogeyman. The idea is to derail the discussion by characterising anyone who dares to disagree with him as "socialist." That's it, game over, no further discussion to be had, you commie pinko, etc.

                              Thankfully most of us are too smart to fall for that nonsense. Let's all agree that when the name-calling starts, the argument is over since we're dealing with a troll.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 2:28am

    So, just to get my question on the record, Michael Masnick, for all to see, approximately how much money have you taken from Free Software foundations in the US, and how much money have you taken from Free Software foundations in France and other foreign countries? Are you actually employed by American companies at all? The people posting legal opinions on your web site seem to be largely foreigners, are those your consultants posting? How can I tell the difference between "promoted posts" and "actual posts" from real people? Just curious, Mike, what actually is your business, and who are your paying customers? Inquiring minds (including others who have posed this question to Mr. Crickets before) want to know.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 5:01am

      Re:

      I have found a better name for you, Michael Malice, because (actually) there is a real Michael Malice (sorry), so to avoid any legal difficulties, your new name is "Sharik". You might remember the satire about Sharik, a stray dog taken in by a successful surgeon, who later rises to prominence in a socialist society already familiar to many of you. Sharik reminds me very much of you, Michael, and I thought this name might sound more familiar to your socialist friends. You are about to return to your dog nature, my friend, Sharik.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 7:15am

        Re: Re:

        Well, this certainly is a unique insult.

        But it is far too long-winded to be of any great effect. You should have just called him a "socialist shitbag" — far more punchy and easier to remember.

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 6 Mar 2017 @ 9:20am

      Re:

      So, just to get my question on the record, Michael Masnick, for all to see, approximately how much money have you taken from Free Software foundations in the US, and how much money have you taken from Free Software foundations in France and other foreign countries?

      What a bizarre off-topic question. The answer is $0. We've never taken any money from any "Free Software" foundations.

      Are you actually employed by American companies at all?

      Yes, I'm employed by Floor64, an American company based in Redwood City, California.

      The people posting legal opinions on your web site seem to be largely foreigners, are those your consultants posting?

      Wut?

      How can I tell the difference between "promoted posts" and "actual posts" from real people?

      Um. Most of our posts are "actual posts". On the rare occasions when we have had sponsored posts, those are clearly disclosed.

      You seem to be thinking there's some grand conspiracy theory that simply is a figment of your imagination. Elsewhere I see you claim to have evidence of all of this. Please do post it here, because such evidence literally cannot exist, because what you are claiming is not even remotely true.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2017 @ 10:33am

      Re:

      On the record lol.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Mar 2017 @ 7:16pm

      Re:

      You know that changing IP addresses to talk to yourself is an act of socialism, right?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2017 @ 9:54am

    No-one seems to be mentioning how ALL uber staff have full unrestricted access to your payment method.

    i.e. they can see on their screen ANYONE's full unredacted credit card number, expiry date and CVV (rear security number)

    God KNOWS how many 'accidental' purchases were made against company credit cards for government departments and large corporations who may not even have noticed the purchase.

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

  • identicon
    christenson, 6 Mar 2017 @ 7:01am

    Uber Viable? Culture of Cheating

    My, the majority of comments are *way* off topic!

    I'll go with our Anonymous coward who is concerned about how *ANY* uber employee has access to the payment methods....

    That's the *next* crisis waiting to happen! Will CC processors shutting them down be next?

    Seems to me, using Ars Technica's words, Uber is run by (basket, foot, base)ballers. I think it implies there's a culture of cheating. Here, they cheat the regulators. Last week it was women for sex. Six months ago, it was lawsuits in California over how they treated their drivers.

    So can they discriminate? Hell yes, there's way too much data...and no culture in place that makes that wrong.

    The right question is whether they will ever wake up to the fact that if they want to make it in the long run, they need to practice good ethics. Without that, the recent past is an excellent predictor of the future!
    ***
    Now, as to what I, as Joe Jackoff, thinks is actually required for ridesharing:
    **1) Everybody is afraid that J. Random Passenger or J. Random Driver might be some kind of monster that is going to hurt them or rob them. In 1970, people in the US stopped hitch-hiking for this reason. Resolve the safety issue, transportation can be a whole lot more efficient and roads less crowded.
    **2) My car, with four seats and one person, travels places. A little help with gas and repairs would be appreciated, especially if it is *fair*.
    **3) I need to be able to show up where I'm supposed to be *reliably* and *conveniently*.

    By the way, I think a good argument can be made that America became the great economic engine it has been precisely because parts of the economy became *fair*, and ignored artificial, socially-defined constraints on who could do what job and paid *fair* wages.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2017 @ 8:18am

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


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