There Are Lots Of Ways To Punish Big Tech Companies, But Only A Few Will Actually Help Improve The Internet

from the this-is-important dept

There are many reasonable complaints making the rounds these days about the big internet companies, and many questions about what should be done. Unfortunately, too much of the thinking around this can be summarized as "these companies are bad, we should punish them, any punishment therefore is good." This is dangerous thinking. I tend to agree with Benedict Evans who noted that there's a similarity between calls to break up big tech companies and Brexit in the UK:

I've pointed out a few times now that most calls to break up or regulate these companies fail to explain how these plansactually solve the problems people highlight. Companies are callous about our privacy? Will regulating them or breaking them up actually stop that? The GDPR has proven otherwise already. The companies algorithms recommend bad things? How will breaking them up stop that?

Too much of the thinking seems to just be focused on "company bad, must punish" and don't get much beyond that.

And that's a pretty big problem, because many of the ideas being passed around could ultimately end up harming the wider internet much more than they end up damaging the few big companies anyway. We've already seen that with the GDPR, which has served to further entrench the giants. The same will almost certainly be true when the EU Copyright Directive goes into effect, since the entire plan is designed to entrench the giants so that the big entertainment companies can negotiate new licensing deals with them.

In a new piece for the Economist, Cory Doctorow warns that many of these attempts to "harm" the big internet companies through regulation will actually do much more harm to the wider internet, while making the biggest companies stronger.

The past 12 months have seen a blizzard of new internet regulations that, ironically, have done more to enshrine Big Tech’s dominance than the decades of lax antitrust enforcement that preceded them. This will have grave consequences for privacy, free expression and safety.

He talks about the GDPR, FOSTA, the EU Copyright Directive and various "terrorist" and "online harms" regulatory proposals -- all of which end up making the big internet companies more powerful in the name of "regulating/punishing" them. It's worth reading Cory's take on all those laws, but he summarizes the key point here:

Creating state-like duties for the big tech platforms imposes short-term pain on their shareholders in exchange for long-term gain. Shaving a few hundred million dollars off a company's quarterly earnings to pay for compliance is a bargain in exchange for a world in which they need not fear a rival growing large enough to compete with them. Google can stop looking over its shoulder for the next company that will do to it what it did to Yahoo, and Facebook can stop watching for someone ready to cast it in the role of MySpace, in the next social media upheaval.

These duties can only be performed by the biggest companies, which all-but forecloses on the possibility of breaking up Big Tech. Once it has been knighted to serve as an arm of the state, Big Tech cannot be cut down to size if it is to perform those duties.

Cory is much more engaged in the idea of breaking up the big tech companies than I am (we recently debated the topic on the Techdirt podcast), but his point here is valid. So much of the "punish big tech" movement is at odds with other parts of the "punish big tech" movement. That's because there is no coherent strategy here -- it's just "punish big tech."

Cory's article suggests that any move towards antitrust should include mandating interoperability in an effort to build up competition:

One exciting possibility is to create an absolute legal defence for companies that make "interoperable" products that plug into the dominant companies' offerings, from third-party printer ink to unauthorised Facebook readers that slurp up all the messages waiting for you there and filter them to your specifications, not Mark Zuckerberg's. This interoperability defence would have to shield digital toolsmiths from all manner of claims: tortious interference, bypassing copyright locks, patent infringement and, of course, violating terms of service.

Interoperability is a competitive lever that is crying to be used, hard. After all, the problem with YouTube isn't that it makes a lot of interesting videos available—it is that it uses search and suggestion filters that lead viewers into hateful, extreme bubbles. The problem with Facebook isn't that they have made a place where all your friends can be found—it is that it tries to "maximise engagement" by poisoning your interactions with inflammatory or hoax material.

This actually reminds me of another similar piece, written last month by Josh Constine at TechCrunch, arguing that the FTC should force Facebook to mandate "friend portability" for Facebook:

I don’t expect the FTC to launch its own “Fedbook” social network. But what it can do is pave an escape route from Facebook so worthy alternatives become viable options. That’s why the FTC must require Facebook to offer truly interoperable data portability for the social graph.

In other words, the government should pass regulations forcing Facebook to let you export your friend list to other social networks in a privacy-safe way. This would allow you to connect with or follow those people elsewhere so you could leave Facebook without losing touch with your friends. The increased threat of people ditching Facebook for competitors would create a much stronger incentive to protect users and society.

Both Cory and Josh are making an important point: part of the reason why these platforms have become so big and so powerful is because there is real friction in leaving -- not because it's hard to just start using another platform, but because if all the other users are still on that other platform, it's meaningless if just you switch. Of course, history shows us that over time, many people will migrate over to new platforms. And you know this if you've been on the internet for the past two decades. Remember the 2000s when you used AIM to communicate with your friends while chatting with folks on MySpace? Over time, folks moved.

But making platforms more open -- forcing "interoperability" -- is certainly one way forward. I'd actually argue it does not go far enough. I've argued an even better solution is not just about forced interoperability, but moving to a world of protocols instead of platforms. In such a world, interoperability would be standard, but would also be just one piece of the puzzle for making the world more dynamic and competitive. If we relied on more open platforms, then third parties could build all sorts of new services, from better front ends, to better features and tools, and users could choose which implementation(s) they wanted to use, making switching from any particular service provider much easier -- especially if that provider did anything to hurt user trust. Interoperability would be one step in that direction, but only one step.

It's quite reasonable that people are concerned about big tech these days, but if we're going to have a reasonable solution that doesn't create wider negative consequences for the internet, we should be thinking much more carefully about the various proposals on the table. A simple "punish big tech because big tech is bad" may get people riled up, but the chances for negative consequences are too great to ignore.

Filed Under: antitrust, big tech, competition, copyright, gdpr, interoperability, punishment, regulations
Companies: facebook, google


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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 14 Jun 2019 @ 7:41am

    I've argued an even better solution is not just about forced interoperability, but moving to a world of protocols instead of platforms.

    Yes, you've said that many, many times on here. What you've never said is how.

    How are we going to get the platforms to take this action that runs directly against their self-interest? Is there anything, other than extremely heavy-handed government regulation, that would make this outcome even remotely plausible?

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    • icon
      Thad (profile), 14 Jun 2019 @ 9:23am

      Re:

      That's the million-dollar question.

      Open protocols are an excellent goal, and it's good of Mike to keep advocating for them -- but saying "we need open protocols" is a lot easier than actually getting people to use them.

      Even if we had an open protocol stack that would fit the purpose (and no less a personage than Tim Berners-Lee is working on it), how do you make people use it? RSS is a great syndication protocol, but it only ever caught on with two groups: power users and podcast distributors. And the latter are rapidly switching to closed platforms.

      I suppose there's an argument that this is still early days. Guys like Mike are helping through advocacy, calling attention to the problem and a potential solution; guys like Berners-Lee are working on technical implementations that will practically provide said solution. I suppose those are the first steps.

      But you're right to ask what the next step is. It's not as simple as "If you build it, they will come."* What's the incentive for private platforms to make it easier for people to leave? Government pressure? Tax incentives? Demand from customers? What form would any of those suggestions take in real life?

      If I had any answers, I'd share them. For now, at least we can ask good questions.

      * The line in the movie is actually "If you build it, he will come," but the common misquote is more apt here.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 10:11am

      Re:

      Yes, you've said that many, many times on here. What you've never said is how.

      This article does say how: rather than forcing interoperability, let interoperability be a defense to antitrust suits. A standard protocol might give a stronger defense than a custom site-specific one.

      It makes sense. Gmail's not a monopoly, because users can (more or less) seamlessly communicate with users of other email services. The same cannot be said of WhatsApp.

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      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 14 Jun 2019 @ 10:53am

        Re: Re:

        This article does say how: rather than forcing interoperability, let interoperability be a defense to antitrust suits.

        Yeah... that's not actually a solution, given how toothless antitrust law has become over the last 3 decades or so.

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

        • icon
          Darkness Of Course (profile), 14 Jun 2019 @ 2:48pm

          Re: weak anti-trust

          The anti-trust issue started with Reagan, him signing the agreement that AT&T be broken up. He was not a fan.

          However, no GOP legislator since that time has ever made anti-trust threats; unless its against a company they perceive as liberal, and thus pro-Dem. Anti-trust is against their core beliefs, profit over people every single time.

          GOP standard tactics, disagree, de-commit, de-fund, ignore.

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    • icon
      Darkness Of Course (profile), 14 Jun 2019 @ 2:59pm

      Re: Mike is not a software engineer.

      You're asking the wrong person the wrong question.

      We have standards for encryption, require their use.
      We have standards for data-transfer, choose one.

      What we still don't have is a Federal Privacy law, backed by an agency that has funding, and thus teeth.

      There really isn't a big hurdle. It's just names, addresses, phone numbers, online identities, birth dates and other trivia. And quite likely a list of shared friends. Many will block the sharing most of that information. Which is prudent.

      Just because you can't conceive of an answer doesn't mean there isn't one. To any software engineer, this is nearly a trivial task. Getting the interface written down is the easy part. Convincing politicians and people like yourself is much more difficult.

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

  • identicon
    Cory Doctorow, 14 Jun 2019 @ 9:33am

    Not forced interop...adversarial interop

    To be clear, I'm not (merely) advocating for forced interop (that is, some kind of API mandate), I'm ALSO advocating for an absolute legal defense for "adversarial interop" that would apply to claims under patent, anti-circumvention, tortious interference, EULA/CFAA violations, etc:

    https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/06/adversarial-interoperability-reviving-elegant-weapon-more -civilized-age-slay

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 14 Jun 2019 @ 11:22am

      Re: Not forced interop...adversarial interop

      Thanks for the link, Cory.

      Your examples are edifying and I think they go a long way toward answering the big question Mason and I were discussing upthread: how do you force openness into the big platforms?

      Allowing developers of competing platforms to reverse-engineer interoperability solutions without legal reprisal seems like a good step. The tool to allow Facebook users to post to MySpace is a good example.

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

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    identicon
    N. Ginn-Newitty, 14 Jun 2019 @ 9:46am

    Another rousing call to ZERO action!

    Companies are callous about our privacy? Will regulating them or breaking them up actually stop that?

    Absolutely. Needs only taken to the point where actually DOES.

    The GDPR has proven otherwise already.

    NO, it hasn't. You've stated that GDPR actually helps the larger criminals and harms smaller ones, and I agree, adding that's almost certainly the purpose of Euro-Globalists. GDPR effects are as intended, NOT at all the action I call for above.

    The companies algorithms recommend bad things? How will breaking them up stop that?

    Won't be problem in my plan since A) the existing corporations would be utterly taken apart, so that B) a large number of small companies can spring up and compete.

    Too much of the thinking seems to just be focused on "company bad, must punish" and don't get much beyond that.

    Yeah, people are funny that way. Hitler, for instance, is seen as ALL bad, yet out of that "evil regime" came MOST of the innovations of the modern world! Aren't you always for innovation? Hitler should be a "baby / bath water" dilemma for you. -- But I look ahead to that the new version of corporatism will do exactly as Hitler would, and advise to stop the evil before literally takes over the world.

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

    • identicon
      Rocky, 14 Jun 2019 @ 10:20am

      Re: Another rousing call to ZERO action!

      Anyone that propose simple solutions to complex problems is a fool.

      Seems we have a winner...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 10:21am

      Re: Another rousing call to ZERO action!

      Won't be problem in my plan since A) the existing corporations would be utterly taken apart, so that B) a large number of small companies can spring up and compete.

      Well, having destroyed the Internet in part A. why would anybody else invest in building replacement services as in part B.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 10:24am

      Re: Another rousing call to ZERO action!

      Won't be problem in my plan since A) the existing corporations would be utterly taken apart, so that B) a large number of small companies can spring up and compete.

      And that worked so well after the Ma Bell breakup.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 11:20am

      Re: Another rousing call to ZERO action!

      Needs only taken to the point where actually DOES.

      Lawyers just need to law harder then? Sounds like a solid, well thought out plan. Not.

      You've stated that GDPR actually helps the larger criminals and harms smaller ones

      No, he said companies, businesses, and startups.

      I agree

      No, you don't.

      Won't be problem in my plan since A) the existing corporations would be utterly taken apart, so that B) a large number of small companies can spring up and compete.

      Then why would anyone bother to develop similar services if they know they are just going to get ban hammered down the road?

      is seen as ALL bad

      He had over 6 million people killed and thought only blue eyed, blonde haired people deserved to rule the earth. (Ironic since he wasn't) I'm sure he wasn't "all" bad but he was pretty bad.

      yet out of that "evil regime" came MOST of the innovations of the modern world!

      And the rest of the world was sitting on its hands twiddling its thumbs developing nothing?

      Aren't you always for innovation? Hitler should be a "baby / bath water" dilemma for you.

      Progress marches on no matter what. Some things just expedite it. We would have gotten to the same place without Hitler. Besides, there were at least two other countries that were stirring up trouble at the same time he was.

      But I look ahead to that the new version of corporatism will do exactly as Hitler would, and advise to stop the evil before literally takes over the world.

      You've seen WALL-E WAY too many times.

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

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    identicon
    N. Ginn-Newitty, 14 Jun 2019 @ 9:53am

    The present negative consequences are too great to ignore.

    A simple "punish big tech because big tech is bad" may get people riled up, but the chances for negative consequences are too great to ignore.

    If we follow Masnick's dithering, not even advice, then willl be no change, let alone end of the PRESENT problems, only the major corporations entrenched forever.

    Economic systems / corporations are resilient, to say the least. 35 years after ATT was broken up, what do we have atacked right here most week days? -- ATT! -- A meat ax approach without dithering MIGHT save us from the imminent globalist corporatism, but Masnick opposes even using a butter knife.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 11:10am

      So what you're saying is breaking up companies doesn't work, therefore it would be stupid, delusional, and insane to continue to do something that doesn't produce the desired results.

      Glad you agree with us.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 10:05am

    Breaking up the companies would reduce antitrust concerns regarding advertising and censorship.

    I personally would rather just see federal contractors treated as common carriers, which would allow any company to retain its first-amendment rights simply by not taking federal money.

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

    • identicon
      Glen, 14 Jun 2019 @ 10:39am

      Re:

      And how do you propose we break up companies like Facebook? I don't see any viable way. Do you divy up the customer base? That's not gonna work.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 12:32pm

        Re: Re:

        You split Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, etc... before Facebook merges them all into a single platform and claims it's "impossible to break them up in any reasonable way" as you're claiming now.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 12:54pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Facebook is still Facebook even without Instagram and the others. It would change absolutely nothing.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 1:00pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          No, I don't think that's what he's saying.

          Some of the people calling to break up Facebook are saying that those companies should be split off, but a lot of other people are saying they want to split up Facebook itself, the social media site, because of its dominance in the social media market. I believe that is what Glen is addressing. And I echo his sentiment, how do you do that?

          In the same manner, people are calling for Amazon to be broken up because of its market dominance (not monopoly) as an online marketplace. Sure you can split off Prime Video, Kindle, etc... but it's still going to be the market dominate online marketplace to buy and sell goods. How do you break that up?

          And honestly, what good would it do to split off all those companies you just mentioned? Maybe they would all lose some revenue? People would still be using Facebook as their social media site of choice because all their friends and family are there. Oculus is especially ridiculous as it doesn't compete in the social media space. What possible advantage would everyone gain by splitting it off of Facebook?

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 15 Jun 2019 @ 1:39am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If you spilt off all the other brands you mention, that has no effect on Facebook's main property. So you've achieved... nothing, except for maybe killing innovation and brands that were depending on Facebook's funding to operate.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 1:29pm

        Re: Re:

        You turn Facebook from a monopoly into a cartel of mini-Facebooks, just as we did with Ma Bell.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 1:36pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          And how do you do that? There's no physical infrastructure to split up into mini-Facebooks. It's all software. How do you split up software?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 2:01pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Aldi supermarkets split themselves in two over a dispute regarding whether or not to sell cigarettes.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 2:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You have them over to the White House for a schvitz...then yadda yadda yadda, they're broken up! (SNL, Larry David as Frank Costanza as Bernie Sanders)

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 2:09pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              So you got nothing and are full of hot air. I figured as much. Most everyone who suggests breaking up a piece of software usually is.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 11:17am

      Re:

      In your world, what constitutes taking money from the government?

      Would that include tax returns? How about subsidies, either direct or indirect?

      I do not see the link between a government contract and requiring common carrier status, is there some reason for your obsession? You want platforms to be common carrier but not ISPs, why is that? What ax are you grinding and what do you intend to do with it?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 1:16pm

        Re: Re:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_Federal_Contract_Compliance_Programs

        This is also what triggers affirmative-action requirements for the private sector.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 2:27pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Cool - ignore the questions and reply with ... wth is that anyway?
          Am I supposed to guess what you are going on about or are you willing to just tell us.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 1:28pm

        Re: Re:

        This would provide a "public option" for free-speech platforms while allowing other platforms to enforce a private TOS. If we're going to divide them, this is a good, fair way to do it.

        Under this system, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other companies who do business with the government (or who subcontract with federal contractors) would become common carriers, while sites like this one (unless they do business with the government), would not.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 1:40pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          By that logic every company and individual is a common carrier because we all pay taxes.

          Or to be more specific, Scotts Toilet Paper is a common carrier because the government buys their toilet paper (or whatever brand of TP the government buys).

          Your argument is illogical and invalid.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 2:00pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Federal contractors are well-defined in scope.

            For example, landlords who rent to students are not taking federal money even if that is what's paying their rent. The university is, however, since the tuition is paid directly to them.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 2:06pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              But we aren't talking about federal contractors. We're talking about common carriers.

              How did that goal post get over there? I wonder...

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2019 @ 10:43am

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

                Is he really moving the goalposts, though? You (or somebody) asked how you could possibly divide, say Facebook, and he pointed to the distinction between common carrier and private platform as a possibility.

                You seem like an accomplished, practiced and (in your mind) wildly successful "Internet debater"but you have been quibbling, transferring burden of proof and maybe even moving or obscuring some goalposts yourself.

                Of course, Techdirt has become a place where everybody knows the right answer to all questions and the proper fucking position on all issues, so it's easy, isn't it: you're right and he's wrong. shrugs

                And before someone points out that I don't have to be here, I'll concede that point. Another win for robust debate!

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

                • identicon
                  Rocky, 15 Jun 2019 @ 5:55pm

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

                  Asking how to split a platform and getting an answer of the distinction of common carriers and private platforms doesn't answer the question HOW to split the platform. And how do you split a social media platform without destroying it?

                  But you aren't really debating, and to borrow your own words, you are in fact guilty of "quibbling, transferring burden of proof and maybe even moving or obscuring some goalposts yourself".

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 2:29pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You be trippin yo

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Jun 2019 @ 3:14pm

      I personally would rather just see federal contractors treated as common carriers

      Cool, let’s start with ISPs first.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2019 @ 6:51am

      Re:

      "Breaking up the companies would reduce antitrust concerns regarding advertising and censorship."

      What sort of anti trust concerns are there with censorship? Is this more of that conservative voices are censored bullshit? How does that have anything to do with anti trust?

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 16 Jun 2019 @ 7:03am

        Re: Re:

        He means that idiots believe that freedom of speech believe that they are free from consequences of that speech and people telling them to gtfo their private property somehow means the government is involved

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 14 Jun 2019 @ 10:14am

    I don't care if it improves the internet or not. I just want them to pay for being total dataholes. sigh A man can dream, right?

    Alright, I do care. It's just the resignation of where we're at with privacy that has me frustrated.

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

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 11:07am

    Does the world really need Mike Masnick defending monopolist turds on this site every single day?

    No... no it does not.

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

  • icon
    crade (profile), 14 Jun 2019 @ 11:41am

    "Cory's article suggests that any move towards antitrust should include mandating interoperability in an effort to build up competition"

    The quote does not suggest mandating interoperability, but protecting those that choose to make inter-operable tools from legal issues. Nothing in the quote suggest forcing companies to assist with this in any way, just basically making clear that it isn't illegal to make them.

    Currently in my view, creating those tools without permission is already allowed today by law today in principle, but it's currently very difficult to manage without running into loophole "gotcha" legal issues that were never really supposed to block interoperability in the first place.
    I read that quote as less "mandating interoperability" and more "the right to repair / modify"

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 14 Jun 2019 @ 12:08pm

    The Battle ground..

    The war keeps ranging, and the blame just Dont stick..
    I keep telling people about Looking around and See the Whole world and what is happening. How things are hidden. What you DONT see.. because its out there.
    Find the logic of how things work, how corps restrict Areas so that an underground market can make MORE money. How to NOT have items to repair products in a nation of Throw-away products. HOW there are products in other nations that Are NOT sold in the USA because the RIAA/MPAA ASKED' that they not be sold here. Because it COULD Lead to consumers making Copies, and NOT buying their Over priced and Controlled products.

    IMO,
    The internet can be the biggest choice/use of WHAT is a democracy.. A great source for every Psychologist and Humanist event that has ever happened.
    the only restriction tends to be, STICK to the subject. Got something to SAY to the Right leaning...they GO FIND a right leaning site.. If you wish to DEBATE, then you can debate. but its nice to have a few Basic rules.. Like a statement needs to have a way to PROVE what a person says..

    All that iv seen from the 1990's to now, is the SAME crap thats happened in REAL. Some FACT gets posted and 1000 Alt's appear to Bury it. Iv lost Sites, because they get buried or the persons that created them QUIT/DIED/DISAPPEARS.. Or the Site is just SHUT down. It would be interesting to give Everyone a Private/public site/server. and it Shouldnt be that hard to do. LEt the humans do what humans do.. and let the police Watch and monitor it..OPEN the backdoor to everyones brains...and.....

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

  • icon
    Glathull (profile), 14 Jun 2019 @ 12:49pm

    "Dude! Your house is on fire! You have to do something right now!! Quick! Take this bucket of gasoline and throw it on the fire!!"

    "Wait a second . . . why would I do that? That's not . . . NO DON'T!!"

    "What's wrong with you? We don't have time to stand around and argue about the best way to fight fires! This bucket of gas is what we've got, so we have to use it! Are you just going to do nothing?!!"


    I'm so tired of every damn issue being framed this way. It's not just tech companies. It's healthcare, the economy, the climate, it's every election from the mayor to the president. It's every war on every thing from drugs to governments we don't like half way across the world.

    We know why people frame things this way. They do it because it works. And we know it's not a new tactic. People have always done this. Literally always in the history of people. But we need to be resistant to that manipulation. If someone comes and knocks on your door with some gasoline and tells you your house is on fire, the burden of proof is on them to demonstrate that it actually is. And you're probably better off ignoring them because--honestly--who walks around your neighborhood with a bunch of gas talking about fires everywhere? Arsonists, probably.

    Meaningful change happens slowly. No action taken today will have any effect for probably years. Bureaucracies cannot move quickly. That's one thing in their occasional favor. I respect the slow-moving, often-kludgy aspects of modern human systems more than I did when I was younger because they are more resistant to fire-and-brimstone-mongers telling everyone we're about to die.

    These kinds of "MUST ACT NOW!" people usually fall into two categories:

    One) There's a hazard. A risk. There is an unsafe situation that could, under the wrong circumstances, turn into a major problem.

    It's rare to see people being super alarmed about this class of problem because most of the screamers fall into category 2.

    Two) The house is already completely burned down.

    A week later, someone shows up yelling at you that you have to act now because your house is on fire, and we have to find the person who burned it down and a) burn them alive, but also b) put them in charge of safety inspections.

    To try and be relevant to the topic here about big tech . . . the problems with big tech are in the second category. The house is toast. Every person who has any online presence has already been profiled, consumed, and evaluated for potential monetization by at least one major tech company. If you have data online anywhere--and if you're reading this, you do--that data has been compromised. The house burned years ago.

    There is no emergency. We have the time to decide between starting a new fire and throwing gas on it or designing a house that didn't tend to catch on fire to begin with.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 1:13pm

      Re:

      Hiding in plain sight is easier. Just don't buy anything pitched to you. Be boring.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 1:15pm

      Re:

      Here's the problem:

      Stupid people think they are smarter than they are, and overwhelmingly outnumber smart people, so they control elections. Point their stupidity out to them irrefutably and they lash out (see copyright and 230 threads).

      Those who claim to be smarter often have power and when their solutions don't work they just ignore/censor those who are truly smarter. Since there is no objective consensus which is accurate regarding who is smartest, we wind up ruled by the stupid.

      The truly smart just laugh at this, avoid the fallout, don't waste time, and acquire as much power as they can, anonymously.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 1:53pm

        Re: Re:

        there is no objective consensus which is accurate regarding who is smartest

        This single statement invalidates your entire argument since it relies on you knowing who is smart and who is stupid.

        If there's no way objective way to tell, your assumptions of who is smart and stupid is instead subjective. The opposite could in fact be true, those who you think are stupid are actually really smart and those who you think are smart are in fact really stupid.

        To wit, you claim we're ruled by the stupid while the smart accrue some amount of power anonymously. Therefore, objectively, those in ruling positions (e.g. government) are stupid and anonymous people are smart. That would be an objective, accurate consensus of who is smart and who is stupid. Except there are more anonymous people than public rulers, which runs directly contrary to your assertions and your argument flies apart at the seams.

        Now that I've pointed out your stupidity to you, you can either prove yourself smart by accepting my irrefutable logic or you can lash out and prove your stupidity by your own statements.

        Your move.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 1:59pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          There being no objective consensus regarding who is smarter doesn't mean that any individual person -- particularly the one who is actually smartest -- wouldn't know. It means that their knowing means nothing because they'd never be given the power to implement their policies.

          Since you think I'm stupid, I can pull back, let you and the other "smart people" continue to make policy decisions, and be confident that you'll fix everything, while living my life in such a way that I'll wind up with money, power, or whatever I want, regardless of what you do. This is why I don't really care how f**ked up things get. It really doesn't impact me.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 2:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            There being no objective consensus regarding who is smarter doesn't mean that any individual person -- particularly the one who is actually smartest -- wouldn't know.

            No that's pretty much exactly what it means. If someone does know who is smart and who is stupid, by definition that means there is an accurate, objective way to know, which flies directly contrary to your assertions. And from there the rest of my argument applies.

            *This is why I don't really care how f*ked up things get. It really doesn't impact me.

            Then why are you posting about it? You should be content to just sit back, laugh, and avoid the fallout. Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 5:58pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            This is why I don't really care how f**ked up things get.

            And you post like a scorned lover regardless.

            Sooooo much not caring.

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Jun 2019 @ 3:15pm

        Stupid people think they are smarter than they are

        Speaking from experience, are we?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2019 @ 10:53am

          Re:

          Or someone who's read up on the Dunning-Kruger Effect. But thanx for providing the example of his point that you claim he is giving.

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

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 14 Jun 2019 @ 5:12pm

      Re:

      I like those, that use ulterior Concepts..
      You see something bad happening and you find the BEST/WORST reason to defeat it..
      ITS FOR THE CHILDREN, is not a reason.

      To many people THINK, because they dont see it, they dont worry about it. And if they DO, they consider it the Worse thing they can ever see, until the next one.

      You can NOT, really understand how far the Human condition can Get a person to do the Stupidest, Strangest/ WEIRDEST/most corrupt idiotic things you could ever Think/NOT think of.. its like trying to tell a person the highest number, and the other person says +1.. YOU dont want to GO THERE.

      But with the internet...you have someplace to PASS the blame, ONLY because you THINK you see something.
      Its for the children.. is not a reason.

      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, 14 Jun 2019 @ 2:21pm

    Then why are you posting about it? You should be content to just sit back, laugh, and avoid the fallout.

    That's so people can't say no one ever told them what was wrong. For the most part, I do laugh at all the clicktivists who get so worked up about what they can't change. Big waste of energy. What I spend posting or reading is very minor, maybe 5-7 minutes a day.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    cumswalloer, 14 Jun 2019 @ 3:21pm

    How to stop tech fascism for good

    The only way to stop google, zuckerberg, apple, twitter and other globalist, marxist and currently fascist organization who destroy freedom of speech and the internet is to dismantle them.

    They all have been created for a simple reason: permanent global surveillence and propaganda.

    The only to fight monopolies an trusts is to apply the law: DISMANTLE THESE TRUSTS before they transform what is left of your lives into your worst dystopian nightmare.

    And remenber, behind these tech fascist ate the sionist and international jewry whose goal is chaos, destruction of the West and Christianity and of coruse world domination.

    We don't like the truth in techno jerk circles, we prefer to stay inside all day long on our screens rather than confront reality...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 3:40pm

      Re: How to stop tech fascism for good

      Best give your mommy back her phone before she finds out what you’ve been doing on it.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 4:21pm

      Re: How to stop tech fascism for good

      Dismantle worldwide corporate, political parties, military, religion ... are you an anarchist or a dominionist?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2019 @ 9:26pm

      [CITATIONS VERY MUCH NEEDED]

      Also, you might want to go see a doctor. Kind of looks like you may have had a seizure writing those last two sentences.

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


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