Guy Sues Facebook For Violating Basically All The Laws, For Shutting Down His Account And For Everything Else Bad Facebook Has Ever Done

from the not-how-it-works dept

"This case is likely one of the first filed in this Court that addresses the relationship between the First Amendment and the Internet-based [Facebook] communications platform" claims a new lawsuit filed against Facebook by a guy very angry that his account got shut down (case first spotted by John Roddy). Suffice it to say that this is not one of the first such lawsuits. Many have been filed, and literally every single one of them has failed. Facebook is not bound by the First Amendment. Courts are clear on this. Over and over and over again, courts have been clear on this. But this lack of understanding of what's come before is just the first of many fun things in this 174 page pro se lawsuit. The complaint is so long that only the first 91 pages were filed as the official complaint, and the rest were put in the docket as an "attachment."

The complaint is... something. It goes on and on about every historical Facebook scandal, going back nearly a decade, talking about the FTC consent decree, Cambridge Analytica, privacy questions, Elizabeth Warren's proposed plan to break the company up, before finally getting around to the reason he's actually suing. His account got shut down.

Contrary to FB' s purported mission to connect the entire world, FB blocked Plaintiffs business and personal accounts and by so doing violated Zimmerman's First Amendment right to publish his non-violent, pro-democracy, political views on FB's platform and market his political and non-political books on FB's platform, and in so doing knowingly, recklessly and unlawfully violated Zimmerman's free speech rights and his constitutionally-protected right to participate in free and fair elections as well as his Fourth Amendment privacy rights by willfully allowing third-parties to access his FB user information without seeking Plaintiffs authorization and without his knowledge.

That's in paragraph 77 after many dozens of paragraphs about stuff having nothing to do with the plaintiff, Robert Zimmerman. All the way back in paragraph 38, Zimmerman sets up what appears to be his argument: that in granting him "unfettered" access to its platform, Facebook can never then revoke said access:

FB violated Plaintiff Zimmerman's First Amendment rights by first granting him and his publishing company unfettered access to the FB platform and then unlawfully revoking that access causing Plaintiffs severe economic harm and other injuries.

Because someone will ask, Zimmerman, who describes himself as an author of "three political books" and "a grassroots Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate," is not alleging anti-conservative bias, because he's at the other end of the traditional political spectrum. He's just claiming that Facebook can't delete his account, and doing so apparently violates more or less all the laws (Randomly, in his description of the parties, Zimmerman tells the court that he was once arrested for trespassing while distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution. It is not clear why anyone, let alone the court, needs to know this).

He then claims that Facebook "aids and abets" election rigging, terrorist activity, organized immigration crime, slavery trafficking, extreme and revenge pornography, incitement of violence, hate crime, harassment, intimidation, bullying, trolling, cyberstalking, sale of illegal goods and services (such as drugs and assault weapons), content unlawfully uploaded to and from prisons, sexting and distributing indecent or sexual images of children under the age of 18, children accessing pornography, children under 13 using dating applications, child sexual exploitation and abuse by pedophiles, distribution of enemy and adversary propaganda and disinformation, advocacy of self-harm, female genital mutilation, and suicide. Oh, and they shut down his account.

Also, the US government is partly to blame (though not a party to the lawsuit):

The U.S. government, much like it did when it failed to assert the dangers of smoking, has entirely failed to take the actions necessary to protect Americans from an unregulated FB.

He also accuses the company of being too big. But, given the above list, that seems like the least of the problems. It's basically a review of the literature of every news article or book that has criticized Facebook ever. Somehow, this is all relevant to Facebook shutting down Mr. Zimmerman's account. A few pages are taken up by reprinting the 2012 FTC consent decree with Facebook (a consent decree now superseded by the more recent one). There's an entire section arguing that Facebook helped sabotage the 2016 election (apparently this is the opposite argument for anti-conservative bias). He implies some sort of conspiracy between Russia and Facebook, which is a new one, even suggesting that perhaps Zuckerberg is a Russian asset who was possibly "compromised before he dropped out of college or shortly thereafter." Really.

At times it's unclear if Zimmerman is suing Facebook for ever letting him have an account... or for shutting down his account that he seems angry he had. I mean, considering the crux of the lawsuit is over Facebook shutting down his account, how is this relevant?

Zimmerman could not have been reasonably expected to know that FB's stored user' information could be plundered, aggregated, targeted and then used for improper and illegal purposes, including the sabotage of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

Eventually, on page 110, we finally, finally get to causes of actions. And, it's basically that Facebook violated all the laws. First there's a CFAA claim. Then an unjust enrichment claim. A "violation of Constitutional rights" claim (by which he means the 1st Amendment, even though Facebook is not a state actor).

A fundamental principle of the First Amendment is that all persons have unfettered access to places where they can speak and listen, and then, after reflection, speak and listen once more. A basic rule is that a street or a park is a quintessential forum for the exercise of First Amendment rights.

Yeah, but that's because streets and parks are public spaces, controlled by the government. Facebook is not. As has been established in multiple lawsuits, despite Zimmerman's repeated insistence that "this case is likely one of the first filed in this Court that addresses the relationship between the First Amendment and the Internet-based FB communications platform." Also, he makes a 4th Amendment claim, citing Packingham, which he mistakenly calls Puckingham. But Packingham is not about the 4th Amendment at all. He at least tries to argue that Facebook is a "quasi-state actor" but comes nowhere close to satisfying that standard (as detailed in multiple cases, you need to show that the private party is handling duties normally performed exclusively by the state). This is not that:

FB is also a quasi-state actor because it wields potent monopolistic and political powers and is currently getting ready to launch its own international currency.

[...]

FB Defendants are quasi-state actors because they regulate and control the FB platform that served Plaintiffs and at least a billion other FB users' as a public and private communications platform.

He does allege "discrimination" and "bias" but... apparently it's just discrimination against Zimmerman himself.

FB Defendants discriminated against Zimmerman by blocking his unfettered access to his FB accounts for no expressed substantive reason, thus unlawfully censoring Plaintiff's political messaging, disallowing Zimmerman's communications with his thousands ofFB "Friends," thus denying Zimmerman his right to express and promote his political and non-political ideas and to otherwise advertise and market his political and non-political books and to his FB "Friends" and others.

Back to the claims in the lawsuit: after the "constitutional" stuff, there's a "breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing." Then invasion of privacy. Civil conversion, because, why not? Negligence and gross negligence (covering all the bases). Negligent and/or fraudulent misrepresentation. Breach of contract. Willful infliction of emotional distress. Common civil law conspiracy. That one's interesting. He argues that Facebook conspired with the Trump campaign, Robert Mercer and Russian officials. Kinda funny at the same time Trump is claiming anti-Trump bias on Facebook, this guy is accusing them of conspiring to steal the election. More claims: "Deceit by concealment or omission." Fraud. Willful misrepresentation. And, eventually, on "count 15" we get Ken White's favorite: Civil Rico Conspiracy (It's Not Rico, Dammit). But he's not done yet. Violation of the Stored Communications Act/ECPA. That's it on the federal claims. He then repeats a bunch based on California state laws.

Look, I get being mad at Facebook over lots of stuff, and especially mad that your account got deleted. But, that doesn't give you anything to sue over. Still, if you really do want a slightly incoherent rant about everything bad Facebook has ever done, Zimmerman's got you covered. I expect this will get tossed out in short order.

Filed Under: free speech, pro se, robert zimmerman, section 230
Companies: facebook


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 12:56pm

    ... no, that makes perfect sense

    But this lack of understanding of what's come before is just the first of many fun things in this 174 page pro se lawsuit.

    Because of course it is.

    Ah pro se litigants, they may not all cause judges to really need a stiff drink(or two/three/four), but when they do they really go above and beyond...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:38pm

      Re: ... no, that makes perfect sense

      At least by going the pro se route, if he gets elected to the Senate he won't have to worry about his own Cohen

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

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:10pm

    That's a lot of laws to break

    I am still surprised that speeding and failure to wear a seat belt weren't mentioned.

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

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:18pm

    He's just claiming that Facebook can't delete his account, and doing so apparently violates more or less all the laws[.]

    I wish I could get to see the look on his face when he reads the court’s ruling about how no, that does not violate any laws.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Rusty Cator rur'l philosophomizer, 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:41pm

      Re: Wish I could see look on "Stone's" face when he riles...

      up a corporation and is told that it's unanswerable power.

      No exaggeration that you've just cheered corporate-state power, "Stone", which is exactly Nazi philosophy.

      You aren't objecting because not under attack at the moment, but when YOUR "social credit score" is low due to mere intemperate nasty remarks to an Uber driver, say, then you won't be able to complain to the public, or be allowed to find anyone to sympathize.

      Do yourself a favor this once and think on that might happen to you if trend continues.

      And then remember that you're promoting a legal fiction to control YOUR own access! Sheesh!

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

      • identicon
        Rocky, 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:50pm

        Re: Re: Wish I could see look on "Stone's" face when he riles...

        The funny thing is, even though we don't have "social credit score" yours are in the negative.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 2:20pm

        Re:see look on Blues face when I call him an ignorant motherfuck

        “And then remember that you're promoting a legal fiction to control YOUR own access!“

        And yet we still let you on here.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 3:33pm

        Re: Re: Wish I could see look on "Stone's" face when he riles...

        Were you involved in a near-fatal car accident? Maybe a few failed suicide-by-car-exhaust attempts? Something has seriously messed up your brain and I'm really curious what could cause so much damage and yet leave you able to operate a keyboard.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2019 @ 12:53am

        Re: Re: Wish I could see look on "Stone's" face when he riles...

        He's obviously a Chinese agent, being made to spam western sites so he can raise his 'social credit score'. But as he's not very good at it, he'll be around for ever. Which is why he keeps coming back!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:32pm

    I didn't think he was going to do RICO, then BAM! Third Encore!!!

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Rusty Cator rur'l philosophomizer, 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:32pm

    Is there ANY point at which you'd stop corporate power?

    Or will you keep excusing and advocating right up to the One World Corporation? -- And then claim it's obviously a "natural" monopoly?

    Again, in America, corporations are mere legal fictions (totally subject to the panoply of commercial law) intended to serve The Public with what it wants well known limits in Common Law and SC decisions), not to rule over us as absolute tyrants in totally computerized surveillance state and most invasive and controlling Royalty ever.

    By repeating the corporate-favoring legalisms that you misconstrue as "law", you're simply not helping The Public, Masnick. Which side are you on?

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:35pm

      Which side are you on?

      Given how much you love copyright and corporate enforcement thereof, I must ask the same question of you.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Rusty Cator rur'l philosophomizer, 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:43pm

        Re: I'm on the side of productive people, not pirates, right!

        Given how much you love copyright and corporate enforcement thereof, I must ask the same question of you.

        Question for YOU: how is supporting people who produce at all bad? -- Don't try to claim that copyright is all control, that's just the six-decimal place anomalies featured here at Pirate Central.

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

        • identicon
          TFG, 28 Aug 2019 @ 2:13pm

          Blue has never actually answered this question

          Question for you: exactly how do you support people that produce by support corporate ownership of copyright and the censorship vehicle that that enables?

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 2:14pm

          how is supporting people who produce at all bad?

          It isn’t. Supporting a system that allows corporations to “own” virtually all major cultural works and mete them out to the public as they seee fit, on the other hand, is morally indefensible. To wit: Disney’s decision to stop distributing what were Fox-owned films to second-run/independent cinemas. Yes, the films are widely available on home video and streaming. And yes, Disney can legally pull those films from distribution. The moral question is not whether it can, but whether it should — and, on a different level, whether it should be able to pull them.

          Don't try to claim that copyright is all control

          Copyright is literally all about control. It’s even built into the name itself. Copyright is about controlling who can make copies, who can distribute those copies, who can profit from those copies, and so on. You can claim that it is all about encouraging creativity, but you’d be missing the bigger picture: Copyright would be encouraging creativity by promising control over distribution of the end product.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 2:24pm

          Re: Re: I'm on the side of ignorant motherfuckers not pirates,

          Do you get paid every time you say anomaly or do you truely not know what that words means bro?

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

          • icon
            Vidiot (profile), 29 Aug 2019 @ 5:38am

            Re: Re: Re: I'm on the side of ignorant motherfuckers not pirate

            The "rur'l" part of the handle is intended to forgive all errors of usage, syntax and, above all, common sense.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 29 Aug 2019 @ 12:31am

          Re: Re: I'm on the side of productive people, not pirates, right

          "how is supporting people who produce at all bad?"

          It's not. The problem is people like you destroying their rights and those of the public so some middlemen can retain the lions' share of the revenue and control.

          "Don't try to claim that copyright is all control"

          That's literally all it is. You should read the actual law some time, it would clear up all the confusion you have on the subject.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2019 @ 2:33am

            Re: Re: Re:

            Seriously, we can look into the places where blue took a dump over the years.

            He literally says on multiple occasions that the whole point of copyright is to control distribution. Anything the creator didn't blatantly permit or agree to is piracy, no questions asked.

            It's like he thinks readers don't have memories...

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

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:35pm

      Re: Is there ANY point in this rant?

      So You actually copied that from Zimmerman's lawsuit, right? LOL

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Rusty Cator rur'l philosophomizer, 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:45pm

        Is there ANY point at which you'd stop corporate power?

        So You actually copied that from Zimmerman's lawsuit, right? LOL

        No, "Gary", who's actually Timothy Geigner astro-turfing, you are WRONG and STUPID as ever.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 2:15pm

          With retorts like this, it’s a wonder MENSA hasn’t contacted you~.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 3:35pm

            Re:

            If they did it would only be to discourage him from wasting his money trying to get in since he clearly has no shot.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 2:26pm

          Re: Is there ANY point at which you'd stop being crazy pants

          “A person who has a condition on the schizophrenia spectrum may experience delusions and what is commonly known as paranoia.
          These delusions may give rise to fears that others are plotting against the individual.”

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

        • icon
          bhull242 (profile), 29 Aug 2019 @ 2:06pm

          Re: Is there ANY point at which you'd stop corporate power?

          It’s been made explicitly clear that Gary is not Timothy Geigner. And yet you continue to assert that he is with no supporting evidence at all, not even bad evidence.

          Additionally, you continue to assert many other propositions without evidence, contradict your own positions, and avoid responding to questions about either.

          So who exactly is “WRONG and STUPID as ever” here?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 2:22pm

      Re: Is there ANY point at which you'd stop corporate power?

      You got really tore up of your RIAA bros arrest didn’t ya bro? Or are you just full of piss and vinegar after you got back from a three day state funded staycation?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 5:45pm

        Re: Re:

        MPAA, but considering the constant overlap and incestuous relationships between these corporations, you might not be far off the mark.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 10:01pm

      Re: Is there ANY point at which you'd stop corporate power?

      Looooooooooser

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

  • icon
    JGracey (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:36pm

    ... well I'm sure the judges will be conferencing over this one. I wonder who will spit out the most coffee and donut crumbs while trying not to laugh?

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:40pm

      I imagine filings like this are treated like The Eye of Argon: Someone reads until they laugh, then passes it to the next person, who reads until they laugh, and so on.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:52pm

        Re:

        I see a couple of possibilities:

        1. Legal professional (judge, clerk, lawyer, etc.) sees "pro se litigant," they think "oh boy, get the popcorn."

        2. Legal professional sees "pro se litigant," they think "well great, there goes my night reading over this crap."

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Rusty Cator rur'l philosophomizer, 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:48pm

      Re: Oh, my FUCKING GOD! Record ELEVEN YEARS ZOMBIE!

      Yes, people, this "JGracey" account hasn't been seen since since 2007! Near TWELVE years!

      HA, HA! Man, hoots never stop here!

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 2:18pm

        Speaking of hoots:

        Mr. Owl, how many years did it take Blue Balls to lose his mind and dedicate his life to trolling Techdirt?

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

      • icon
        bhull242 (profile), 29 Aug 2019 @ 2:09pm

        Re: Re: Oh, my FUCKING GOD! Record ELEVEN YEARS ZOMBIE!

        Dear Rusty Cator rur'l philosophomizer,

        What does rur'l mean?

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

      • icon
        bhull242 (profile), 29 Aug 2019 @ 2:12pm

        Re: Re: Oh, my FUCKING GOD! Record ELEVEN YEARS ZOMBIE!

        Also, what exactly are you trying to prove here? Who cares if someone hasn’t posted since 2007? I’ve never understood why you keep pointing these so-called “zombie accounts” out like this.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 30 Aug 2019 @ 1:33am

          Down that path lies madness and/or headaches

          I wouldn't put too much work into trying to understand Blue's conspiracy theory about people not posting every day, they're just upset that not everyone is as obsessed with the site as they are and actually have lives outside of TD.

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

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:39pm

    Same old same old

    And yet the tinfoil hats here will be scream about the law - but can't actually point to a law being broken.

    Really - I'd say Zimmerman is a regular here but we know Blue Balls doesn't have a FB account.

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

  • icon
    radix (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 2:15pm

    This raises many questions, but the most interesting one is, how long is it going to take before Robert Zimmerman goes full Thomas Goolnik?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 5:57pm

    Mike misread the complaint...

    Even though is "looks" like a lawsuit, it is, in fact, a plea to have the complainant declared insane.

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

  • icon
    techflaws (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 11:02pm

    "He then claims that Facebook "aids and abets" election rigging, terrorist activity, organized immigration crime, slavery trafficking, extreme and revenge pornography, incitement of violence, hate crime, harassment, intimidation, bullying, trolling, cyberstalking, sale of illegal goods and services (such as drugs and assault weapons), content unlawfully uploaded to and from prisons, sexting and distributing indecent or sexual images of children under the age of 18, children accessing pornography, children under 13 using dating applications, child sexual exploitation and abuse by pedophiles, distribution of enemy and adversary propaganda and disinformation, advocacy of self-harm, female genital mutilation, and suicide."

    Which of course makes it totally sane and understandable that he does not want to be kicked off from such a platform!

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 29 Aug 2019 @ 3:11am

      Good old own-goals...

      'It's a cesspool, a pit of absolute corruption and degeneracy and they had the gall to kick me out!'

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

      • identicon
        Anon, 2 Sep 2019 @ 9:12am

        Re: Good old own-goals...

        Reminds me of a certain internet personality who was kicked off social media recently for coordinating harassment against members of a protected class. They tried to sue the company class action over “freedom of speech” and lost hard.

        What’s funny is that this person wanted to be seen as a “free speech crusader” who is just concerned about “censorship” and “people’s right to speak their mind” online - right up until they lost their lawsuit and realized that they weren’t going to get their account back - then they turned around threatened to sue every anon who made fun of or criticized them online while they were promoting their “free speech” lawsuit all over the internet for “libel, libel, libel!” instead.

        I do think commenters need to be protected from internet personalities like this who constantly promote themselves and traffic in baiting, harassment and hyperbole online then suddenly turn on commenters and critics and threaten to sue the same anonymous strangers they claimed to be fighting for when their “free speech” lawsuit goes belly up.

        It seems many of the people filing lawsuits over social media censorship are just mad that the company is allowed to choose what to allow and what not to allow on their platforms. From what I’ve seen online, most of these people tend to be all for free speech unless it’s speech that is critical of THEM - then they immediately want the site to give up anons details so they can try to sue them. Anon commenters should be protected from litigious internet personalities who go out of their way to promote themselves and ask for public comments online then threaten anyone who says anything critical with speech-chilling lawsuits.

        Thankfully Anti-SLAPP laws are made for people like this, but it does seem to be an issue that is becoming more prevalent as people believe every Twitter spat and mean-spirited comment online needs to go to court instead of into the “delete/trash” bin.

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

  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 29 Aug 2019 @ 5:34am

    ...unlawfully revoking that access causing Plaintiffs severe economic harm ...

    Pray God that my economic well-being is never linked to Facebook.

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

  • icon
    schnick (profile), 29 Aug 2019 @ 11:50am

    Celebrity news ...

    " ...the plaintiff, Robert Zimmerman."

    Talk about burying the lede. Bob Dylan is suing facebook?

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

  • identicon
    RICOROGS, 31 Aug 2019 @ 11:30pm

    Ummm. RICO

    in re: Ken White's favorite: Civil Rico Conspiracy (It's Not Rico, Dammit)

    I dont wordNazi much, but it actually RICO, not Rico, as in Rico Suave, or Ricola.

    Its RICO, dammit, even according to White:

    “RICO is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, because goddamn Congress likes acronyms like your great-aunt likes porcelain cats.”

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


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