by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 26th 2013 8:11pm
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Mar 14th 2013 3:08pm
from the good-for-them dept
We are encouraged by the continued attention of Congress to this important issue and we look forward to working with both the House and the Senate to find a legislative balance that promotes government sharing of cyberthreat information with the private sector while also ensuring the privacy of our users.Still, it's encouraging that a company, like Facebook, which really does rely on the support of their userbase, appears to at least recognize that something like CISPA might not be good for its users. In fact, this seems similar to when Microsoft backed away from its CISPA support last year as well. The article linked above notes that Microsoft still feels the same way, citing the concerns about user privacy with the current draft of CISPA.
So, who is supporting CISPA? The telcos are still there, not surprisingly, as well as mostly infrastructure providers, rather than any company that has a bunch of its own internet users. So, you see IBM, Intel and Juniper Networks. But there is not a single real "internet" company in the bunch any more. Perhaps that should be a loud hint for CISPA's sponsors that the bill is not a good thing for the internet world.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 12th 2013 9:50am
Innovators Break Stuff, Including The Rules: How Gates, Jobs & Zuckerberg Could Have Been Targeted Like Aaron Swartz
from the do-we-want-to-stamp-out-that-kind-of-innovation? dept
In 2006, while a sophomore at Harvard, Zuckerberg created a website called “Facemash” which compared photographs of Harvard’s entire population, asking users to compare two photos and vote on who looked better. Zuckerberg allegedly got access to these photos by “hacking” into each of Harvard’s nine House websites and then collecting them all on one site. It’s not clear what this “hacking” was, but since the charges against him included “breaching security,” it may have fun afoul of the law.On Jobs:
Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu notes in the New Yorker that Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, did acts that were “more economically damaging than, Swartz’s.” The two college roommates made what were called “blue boxes,” cheap devices that mimicked a certain frequency that allowed them to trick AT&T’s telephone system into making free long-distance calls. They also sold blue boxes before moving onto bigger and better ideas.On Gates:
In his autobiography, Allen told the story of when the two future billionaires “got hold of” an administrator password at the company they worked at before starting Microsoft. The company had timeshared computers and Allen and Gates were getting charged for using them for their personal work.Of course, defenders of the existing law will argue that these episodes are entirely unrelated to the later greatness that all three of these folks were eventually involved in. But that's not actually supported by the facts. Facesmash almost certainly directly led Zuckerberg to Facebook. And, in the case of Steve Jobs, he specifically told an interviewer:
The two men used the password to access the company's accounts and set about trying to find a free runtime account so that they could carry on programming without having to pay for the time. They also copied the account database for later perusal. However, management got wise to the plan."We hoped we'd get let off with a slap on the wrist, considering we hadn't done anything yet. But then the stern man said it could be 'criminal' to manipulate a commercial account. Bill and I were almost quivering."
“Experiences like that taught us the power of ideas…And if we hadn’t have made blue boxes, there would’ve been no Apple.”Innovators innovate because they hack away at stuff. They push boundaries and they try new things to explore uncharted worlds. Do we really want to be punishing people like that with threats of 35 years in jail? (And, yes, the government absolutely did threaten him with 35 years.)
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Feb 28th 2013 3:38am
from the the-internet-police dept
It appears that at least Twitter has pushed back a little bit, pointing out that it will take down images if the law requires it upon notification, but that it cannot and will not monitor every one of its users to prevent them from posting the image:
Sinead McSweeney, Twitter's director of public policy in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said she did not wish to be drawn into commenting on individual accounts.You can argue that it's unfair for Venables, under his new identity, to be connected back to what he actually did, though I'm not sure I buy that argument. But, it's taking it to a whole different level to then seek to prosecute people for merely posting a photo to their social network feed. They then take it to an entirely ridiculous level to order that third party service providers actively police and censor this particular photo. And, of course, all this is doing is calling much, much, much, much more attention to the photo. A lot more people are now seeing the photo than would have if people had just ignored the original postings.
She added: "We work with law enforcement here in the UK. We have established points of contact with law enforcement in the UK where they communicate with us about content, they bring content to our attention that is illegal, and appropriate steps are taken by the company. You may read into those words what you wish in context of the current [issue]."
McSweeney, who appeared alongside officials from Google and Facebook, said Twitter could not be expected to proactively monitor what is published on its social network across the globe each day. She added: "It's important that people increasingly understand that online is no different to offline: what is illegal offline is illegal online."
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Feb 21st 2013 5:51am
from the for-the-encouragement-of-lying dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Feb 19th 2013 4:02pm
from the what's-the-point dept
That wasn't Greenspan's only long shot legal dispute. He also sued author Ben Mezrich, Mezrich's publisher Random House, and Columbia Pictures, claiming that they all more or less rewrote his own book. Mezrich's book, Accidental Billionaires, became the hit movie The Social Network, and Greenspan claims they both infringe on his own book, which he had trouble publishing, about the origins of Facebook. Greenspan is representing himself (pro se) and hasn't had much luck. The case was easily dismissed by both the district court and the appeals court. The district court reminded Greenspan that you can't copyright facts. I tend to think that Greenspan's legal escapades concerning these things are simply tilting at windmills. There's no case here and he should really move on.
That said, there is a really fascinating tangent to all of this. After the appeals court once again rejected Greenspan's arguments, he went through the process of filing to ask the Supreme Court to hear the case (the chances of this actually happening are very, very, very slim). However, his blog post about his reasons for filing and the insane process that the Supreme Court makes you go through is absolutely worth reading. Basically, he notes that every step of the way there are bizarre, convoluted and ridiculous rules that seem to serve no purpose other than to try to make it frustrating as hell for a normal everyday person to actually appeal to the Supreme Court without hiring an expensive lawyer and/or some really expensive services. Here's just a snippet of a much longer piece, which I highly recommend, despite my feeling that his lawsuits are a complete waste of time.
He goes on to note that the Supreme Court even specifies the weight of the paper, but not the type (which makes a difference in understanding the weight), leading to confusion. Oh yeah, also the filings are encouraged by the Court to be bound together with a specific stitch: saddle stitch. The whole thing is a crazy story -- and while I think this legal filing itself is a waste of time, I really appreciate his sharing the details of some of the insanity it takes to actually file.
The first thing to know is that the finished booklet must be 6 and 1/8th inches wide and 9 and 1/4 inches high.
9 and 1/4 inches is a strange number when it comes to page length. Most of us know paper (so long as we're not in Europe or Asia) as being 8 and 1/2 inches wide by 11 inches high, commonly referred to as "Letter" size paper. If you take a standard sheet of Letter paper and fold it over, you get a booklet that is 5 and 1/2 inches by 8 and 1/2 inches. For the Supreme Court's purposes, that for whatever reason doesn't work. (Interestingly, the dimensions of the printed text block easily fit on a Letter sheet of paper, so Rule 33.1 could be said to be designed to mandate slightly bigger margins, and nothing more.)
Well—you might think (as I did)—maybe they sell 12 and 1/4 inch by 9 and 1/4 inch paper in stores (so that when you fold it over lengthwise you get a booklet that matches the Court's required dimensions).
They most certainly do not sell 12 and 1/4 inch by 9 and 1/4 inch paper in stores. It's one of the only things, in fact, that I've ever typed into Google and not found a single relevant result for. However we farm trees to make paper, we do not farm them to make paper of this size. It does not exist in the marketplace.
Yes, we don't want random crackpots continually inundating the Supreme Court, but it really seems like these archaic rules now serve little purpose other than to make things nearly impossible for anyone who doesn't do exactly this for a living to take part in the process. Basically, it's just like other sets of regulations whose sole purpose really seems to be to prop up a mini industry that has sprung up around them. In this day and age, it seems only reasonable that the rules should be modernized quite a bit.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Feb 7th 2013 12:44pm
from the so-much-for-that-plan dept
From the moment the contract was signed, everything went silent. There was no contact between SMAIS and us, unfortunately. We tried to contact them, but it didn't work.This, as you might imagine, caused a bit of an uproar in Iceland, with people speaking out against SMAIS. In response, someone there (apparently without very much internet experience) decided the right thing to do would be to set up a Facebook account for SMAIS. Now, if they could actually discuss the various issues, that might not be a bad idea. But... that's not what happened. After being bombarded with critical comments from others, SMAIS shut down the Facebook account with a snarky note about how they needed to hire someone to run the account, and also about how they have "lots to learn." Though, they also claimed that "some freedom fighters think that only some voices have a place on Facebook." Probably not the right spot for a bit of snarkiness, but perhaps it's not so surprising.
Fri, Jan 25th 2013 3:30pm
from the depends-on-your-goals dept
In a way, I’m surprised we don’t have more stories about people posting their grades on social media sites. The kids are already using Facebook and Twitter as a running diary of their lives, so you’d expect there to be more instances where people throw their law school transcripts up on the internet.
In fact, let me ask the question this way: why wouldn’t you post your grades on Facebook? They’re clearly important to you. If you did well, you can brag about them just as surely as one of your friends is bragging about the exploits of their kids or dogs. If you did poorly, you can seek the solace of friends who you don’t actually like well enough to have a beer with. Why wouldn’t you post them?
The obvious answers seem painfully old-timey. “It’s in poor taste to brag about your grades.” “Your transcript should be private.” “You got an ‘A’? Go f*** yourself.” These are the thoughts of a previous generation. For the Facebook generation… I mean, have you seen what people post? This is nothing.
A law student decided to post his solid grades on Facebook. I bet you can guess what school we’re talking about. Let’s just say that it’s a school that seems to admit students who like to draw attention to themselves when things are going well by subtly upturning their collars….
Yeah, we’re talking about UVA Law because that’s where this kind of thing is most likely to happen. A law student there posted his recent grades on his Facebook page. Here was the initial post sent to us by a tipster:
A few things jump out from this posting:
- Thank you for your service.
- It’s not really “bragging” if you got Bs.
- He’s only a first year.
Look, if I saw this from one of my Facebook friends, I’d simply respond like this and move on:
But other people at UVA Law were annoyed by this perceived display of self-aggrandizement. That inspired our guy to make a follow up Facebook post:
“Deprive non-law school friend of updates about my life” is the new killing it.
Again, this wouldn’t be something I would do, but this is how people use social media. It’s UVA! I bet this isn’t even the most “look at how special I am” Facebook post by a UVA Law student since I started writing this story. I reached out to the guy (via Facebook) who posted his grades, but he has not yet responded. I assume he’s somewhere trying to figure out why so many people care that he posted his grades on Facebook while simultaneously firm in his belief that his 1L grades were an appropriate starting point for a public Facebook discussion. It’s the world we live in.
In the battle between propriety and Facebook, Facebook wins. Facebook won. People better get used to seeing this kind of thing, at least from 1Ls who don’t yet know any better.More stories from Above The Law:
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 24th 2013 8:00pm
from the treat-your-community-right dept
So I was actually surprised a few years ago when TechCrunch moved to switch all of its comments to Facebook comments, claiming that one of the good things about it was that it required you to provide your real name. Apparently that wasn't actually such a good thing for lots and lots of commenters -- as after nearly two years, TechCrunch has dumped Facebook comments and is pleading for commenters to come back.
Our comments are obviously far from perfect, but we've never been at a loss for having spirited discussions on nearly all of our posts. There's just something awesome about the community that likes to really dig into the various stories. That's part of why we've always viewed this site as a discussion site, rather than a "news" or "reporting site." We post stuff with our opinion because we expect people to respond -- good or bad, agree or disagree -- in the comments, and for some sort of discussion to ensue. That doesn't mean that we like to encourage trollish behavior, but we recognize that encouraging a real community has its benefits, and one key aspect to that is keeping the barrier low. Too many other sites seem to think the best way to deal with the messiness of some annoying commenters is to make it more difficult to comment. However, as TechCrunch has discovered, like chemotherapy, it's a solution that can kill off many of the "good" cells along with the "bad."
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jan 15th 2013 8:01pm