from the good-for-them dept
Update: a commenter points out a video clip from Brazil that briefly shows a Senator, Eduardo Suplicy, holding up the mask:
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 9:14pm
by Michael Ho
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 5:00pm
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 4:05pm
The District Court in Recouvreur awarded fees to a declaratory relief plaintiff, Christopher Recouvreur, who registered "Charles-Carreon.com" using domain-privacy, published my face on the front, displayed the phrase "Censorious Douchebag" above my head, and starting [sic] posting nonsense under my name, misrepresenting me as a trigger-happy nutcase type of lawyer, which I most certainly am not.Well, we'll let the record speak for itself on that one. I will also note the following.
I have filed an appeal of the Court's decision, and when questioned by the press, responded in a respectful manner that expressed no criticism of the ruling.I am curious how setting up an entire site dedicated to attacking those who commented on the case, including Paul Levy, the opposing lawyer in the case, fits with his claims of handling this "in a respectful manner" -- or in upholding the "best traditions of the Bar as an officer of the Court." Is it really in the "best traditions" to post a picture on his website representing the lawyers who won the case against him, Paul Levy and Cathy Gellis, along with their client, Chris Recouvreur and Ken "Popehat" White as KKK members burning a cross? Because that's what Carreon has done. On that same website are ridiculous allegations of conspiracy theories by various folks who have written about Carreon and (believe it or not) an entire spreadsheet in which Carreon lists everyone who he claims has lied about him, checking off what "lies" they've told. For example, I am listed on there for telling the "lie" that "it's outrageous and immoral to sue charities." Of course, I don't believe I've ever said that. I do think I've argued that it was ridiculous for Carreon to sue two particular charities because Matthew Inman was planning to donate some money to them. But that's fairly different.
Finally, with respect to any concerns this Court may have concerning my legal acumen and ethical disposition, I stand ready to respond to any inquiries the Court may have, and commit to uphold the best traditions of the Bar as an officer of the Court.
Mr. Carreon shall file a renewed declaration in support of his Resubmitted Application for Special Admission Pro Hac Vice  which addresses the specific issues and concerns identified by the court regarding the scope of practice permitted to him in both California and Arizona, and which identifies new local counsel in light of Mr. Johnson’s intent to move to withdraw from the case.I fear that this is only going to get worse and worse -- and by the end, Penguin is going to have an easy win... and a dreadful precedent.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 3:02pm
One consequence of this shift is that soon no one will know what a book’s “real” price is.No one ever knew what a book's "real price" was, because there's no such thing as a "real price." There's whatever price a willing buyer and a willing seller agree on, and that's the "real price" for that book.
Price will be determined by demand and perhaps by whim.Supply and demand have always been the key setters of price, so why is that so surprising or troubling here? And I'm not sure where the "whim" comes in, because that's actually much more how book pricing was done before. Amazon appears to be doing the exact opposite of that: it prices things based on data, rather than on a whim.
“And I don’t like the inconsistency of the pricing, either — the raising, the lowering — because it sends a confusing message that good books are worth less, and because it encourages buying based on something other than the quality of the book. It’s just an unhealthy business if people are buying a thing mostly because of its price, not its quality. That’s how you sell widgets, not books.”Someone doesn't seem to understand the difference between price and value -- nor do they understand price elasticity. But, perhaps that's because they don't understand basic economics, as evidenced by their dismissive concept that books are not "widgets." Price and value are not the same thing. Just because a price is low, it does not mean the value is low. In fact, very cheap things can be incredibly valuable. And, the fact that more people buy stuff when it's cheaper, well, until you change basic human nature, that's never going to change. Pretending otherwise is like pretending you can stop the tide from coming in.
“Discounting, and especially inconsistent or shifting discounting, really messes with a publisher’s ability to price a book fairly and accurately to its cost,” he added. “You have to consider the fact that whatever price you put on the cover, Amazon is going to reduce it by as much as half — unless they don’t — or they may, but only for a while. But in short they’re going to make your book look like a thing with a cost lower than the one you placed on it."Fairly" is what the market will bear, and it appears that Amazon knows a lot more about that than this publisher. "Accurately"? What does that even mean? The book is always priced "accurately" because whatever price is put on it is "accurate." The publisher sets the basic cost, and what the retailer sells it at is a separate issue.
“So do you raise the price, knowing they’re going to lower it, so that the price will then appear closer to what you need it to be? But if you do that then you’re screwing the more honest retailers who can’t discount. And we’ve gotten a long way from recognition of the fact that publishers have costs in making books, and that should have something to do with the price.”This whole discussion seems to suggest this publisher, Dennis Loy Johnson, of Melville House, doesn't seem to recognize the fundamentals of the situation here. He's the publisher: he prices the books at what's the best price for his publishing house to maximize its revenue overall, and what retailers then price the book at is not a huge concern, because he's already set his own price. If Amazon wants to sell the books as a loss leader, so be it. What difference does that make unless you have some faulty notion in your head that books are so stupendously valuable that they "must" be priced higher than most people want to pay?
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 2:03pm
The Obama administration’s decision last week to close nearly two dozen diplomatic missions and issue a worldwide travel alert resulted from intercepted electronic communications in which the head of Al Qaeda in Pakistan ordered the leader of its affiliate in Yemen, the terrorist organization’s most lethal branch, to carry out an attack as early as this past Sunday, according to American officials.So... revealing that we collect data on everyone somehow turns Snowden into a traitor, while having officials in the government tell the NY Times that we directly intercepted emails between Al Qaeda's top leaders is somehow perfectly fine? How does that work?
The intercepted conversations last week between Ayman al-Zawahri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden as the head of the global terrorist group, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the head of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, revealed one of the most serious plots against American and other Western interests since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, American intelligence officials and lawmakers have said.
They are what lead us to have the - or allow us to have the ability to gather this chatter that I referred to. If we did not have these programs, then we simply wouldn't be able to listen in on the bad guys.Of course, that's hogwash. The programs people are complaining about go way way beyond that. They're not objecting to the ability to "listen in on the bad guys." Glenn Greenwald hit back quickly, explaining why this is completely bogus:
"Nobody has ever questioned or disputed that the U.S. government, like all governments around the world, ought to be eavesdropping and monitoring the conversations of people who pose an actual threat to the United States in terms of plotting terrorist attacks," Greenwald says. Pointing to the recent revelations by leaker Edward Snowden that he has reported on, Greenwald explains, "Here we are in the midst of one of the most intense debates and sustained debates that we’ve had in a very long time in this country over the dangers of excess surveillance, and suddenly, an administration that has spent two years claiming that it has decimated al-Qaeda decides that there is this massive threat that involves the closing of embassies and consulates around the world. ... The controversy is over the fact that they are sweeping up billions and billions of emails and telephone calls every single day from people around the world and in the United States who have absolutely nothing to do with terrorism."I don't deny that there may be an actual threat and that Al Qaeda and various affiliates really are (or were) planning something major. But just because a group that we already know is trying to launch attacks is planning to launch an attack is, in no way, a justification for collecting the information of everyone.
by Tim Cushing
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 1:03pm
Some of the most ardent defenders of our nation's
Skynet surveillance programs and other forms of cyber-overreach have one thing in common: they continue to belittle their opponents as a loose confederation of basement-dwelling loners who exist solely on The Internet. I'm sure this form of disparagement plays well with like-minded people who take comfort in belittling things they don't understand (anyone more than 5 years younger than them; The Internet; bitcoin exchange rates; bronies*).
[*TBH, I don't really understand the last two either. But I have yet to attack them purely out of naivete.]
Mike Rogers, best friend to intelligence agencies everywhere, has done this on more than one occasion. The first one he fired off during his impassioned defense of the indefensible CISPA bill, in which he referred to opponents of the bill (including the ACLU and EFF) as "14-year-olds in their basement clicking around on the internet."
In his recent impassioned defense of not cutting off funding to some of the NSA's surveillance efforts, Rogers returned to his favorite target.
Are we so small that we can only look at our Facebook likes today in this Chamber? Or are we going to stand up and find out how many lives we can save?Now, it's former NSA director Michael Hayden's turn to call opposition to NSA spying nothing more than bunch of internet malcontents. In his speech to the Bipartisan Policy Center, Hayden speculated that apprehending Ed Snowden could result in retaliatory attacks from "hackers and transparency groups."
"If and when our government grabs Edward Snowden, and brings him back here to the United States for trial, what does this group do?" said retired air force general Michael Hayden, who from 1999 to 2009 ran the NSA and then the CIA, referring to "nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twentysomethings who haven't talked to the opposite sex in five or six years".Setting aside the point that transparency groups like the ACLU and EFF aren't comprised of malicious hackers, the insinuation that the opposition is largely comprised of sexless young adults is nothing short of insulting. It's this sort of attitude fosters the "us vs. them" antagonism so prevalent in these agencies dealings with the public. The NSA (along with the FBI, DEA and CIA) continually declares the law is on its side and portrays its opponents as ridiculous dreamers who believe safety doesn't come with a price.
"They may want to come after the US government, but frankly, you know, the dot-mil stuff is about the hardest target in the United States," Hayden said, using a shorthand for US military networks. "So if they can't create great harm to dot-mil, who are they going after? Who for them are the World Trade Centers? The World Trade Centers, as they were for al-Qaida..."
Hayden said that the loose coalition of hacker groups and activists were "less capable" of inflicting actual harm on either US networks or physical infrastructure, but they grow technologically more sophisticated. Echoing years of rhetoric that has described terrorists, Hayden added that their "demands may be unsatisfiable".At this point, Hayden goes beyond insulting and into possibly dangerous territory by directly comparing "transparency groups" and "hackers" to al-Qaida terrorists. The best thing about this speech is knowing Hayden is still only a "former" head of the NSA. No doubt his words carry weight, but they're less likely to have a direct impact.
by Tim Cushing
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 12:03pm
There are rules for the common people and rules for their "leaders," and only in rare cases do the same rules cover both. Chris Morran at the Consumerist points out how politicians (yet again) are being allowed to ignore the same laws that affect their constituents. Colorado legislators are immune from speeding tickets and parking tickets thanks to the special plates issued to lawmakers -- ones that aren't included in the DMV database.
According to CBS Denver, the info for these particular license plates is never entered into the DMV database, so when some state senator goes zooming by a speed camera, he or she won’t get a ticket, because the camera system looks up the license plate number through the DMV. Since no info comes up, no ticket is given.On the parking ticket side alone, there are $2,100 worth of unpaid tickets linked to these "invisible" plates. The Dept. of Public Works has decided it's "too costly" to pursue collection of those fines. Of course, now that this is public knowledge, a politician has "stepped up" to right the wrong.
This appears to be true for parking tickets as well. See, even though a parking enforcement officer might leave a ticket on the car, cities like Denver that rely on the DMV for addresses of vehicle owners come up empty when they try to collect on those tickets.
One state lawmaker recently stated his intention to close this loophole through legislative action in the next session, by simply doing away with the plates altogether.If only this sort of behavior were an aberration. Earlier this year, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad's speeding SUV was pursued by a highway patrol officer who decided (or was instructed) not to pull it over after realizing whose vehicle it was. Like in Colorado, certain public vehicles are issued plates that aren't listed with the Iowa DMV, which makes these vehicles automatically exempt from traffic cam tickets, parking violations and apparently, even speeding clocked by an on-duty state trooper. It should be noted that the trooper raising the complaint about the governor's speeding driver (another state trooper) was placed on leave after making this public.
“[I]t’s absolutely unfair,” said state representative Chris Holbert. “We should be held accountable like any other citizen. We are elected to represent the people and there’s no reason for us to be treated differently.”
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is upset about the number of specialized license plates that have been given to state, local and federal agencies.Over 350 agencies in Iowa have these plates at their disposal (over 3,000 issued so far), a ridiculous amount considering the plates were originally intended for undercover use by various arms of Iowa law enforcement. Branstad probably isn't looking to give up his ticket-dodging plate but presumably will be forcing several others to play by the same set of rules as the public -- that same public these public servants are supposed to be serving.
More than 3 thousand plates have been issued that exempt the vehicles from getting traffic camera tickets. Brandstad has ordered state transportation officials to cut the number of the special plates.
Municipal, state and federal government agencies are among the biggest offenders when it comes to illegal parking and non-payment of parking citations. A report released last week by the US House Committee on Transportation documented 4000 cases last year where employees in federal vehicles skipped out on paying parking tickets worth $700,000 in Washington, DC and New York City. The total does not include unpaid tickets in foreign countries and other cities throughout the fifty states where 642,000 automobiles registered to the US government are in use.The worst offender? The FBI, which the report found to be responsible for the largest number of delinquent parking tickets by a single agency. The FBI, properly chastened, examined the cases listed and, because it's such a shit-hot investigative agency, found itself "unable to come up any suspects who may have been responsible for illegally parking FBI vehicles on 218 occasions."
"Over one-half of all workers in the southernmost section of Manhattan are government employees," the report explained. "Essentially, all of lower Manhattan is a free parking lot for government vehicles."
Federal workers were not alone in ignoring parking laws. City workers in Washington and New York also disregarded citations issued by fellow employees. DC government vehicles generated 329 unpaid tickets worth $33,360 while New York city and state vehicles skipped out on paying 2562 tickets worth $490,939.
by Glyn Moody
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 11:02am
Around the world, we have been watching the gradual taming of social media, especially in countries where governments keep mainstream media on a tight leash. But even against that background, this news from the Bangkok Post about Vietnam's latest moves to censor online content is pretty extraordinary:
"Personal electronic sites are only allowed to put news owned by that person, and are not allowed to 'quote', 'gather' or summarise information from press organisations or government websites," local media quoted Hoang Vinh Bao, director of the Broadcasting and Electronic Information Department at the Ministry of Information and Communications, as saying.
That's even more extreme than China's approach, which may take down troublesome material as soon as it is put up, but at least allows the possibility of putting it up in the first place. Vietnam's rules mean that online news can only be carried by "official" channels, which are closely regulated. For everyone else, it seems, the Internet must by law become the realm of entirely content-free narcissism -- and pictures of cats.
The ban was approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on July 15, communicated to Vietnamese press late Wednesday, and was due to come into force on Sept 1.
It also bans individuals from providing "general information" on their profiles or blogs.
In response, the US Embassy in Vietnam has released a statement expressing its "concerns" about this move:
Fundamental freedoms apply online just as they do offline. Decree 72 appears to be inconsistent with Vietnam's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as its commitments under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Who says Americans don't do irony?
by Tim Cushing
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 9:57am
The FBI seems to be of the same mindset as the NSA -- it's better to have it all and not need it than to show any sense of restraint when it comes to harvesting data. Declan McCullagh at CNET has uncovered yet another surveillance program aimed at collecting vast amounts of data simply because the current legal climate allows it.
The U.S. government is quietly pressuring telecommunications providers to install eavesdropping technology deep inside companies' internal networks to facilitate surveillance efforts.Isn't that great? Carriers don't know what effects the FBI's new toy will have on their systems and are perhaps even a little concerned that they're violating their customers' last remnants of privacy by allowing this, but turning down this "opportunity" means facing contempt charges. The situation presents only unappealing choices.
FBI officials have been sparring with carriers, a process that has on occasion included threats of contempt of court, in a bid to deploy government-provided software capable of intercepting and analyzing entire communications streams. The FBI's legal position during these discussions is that the software's real-time interception of metadata is authorized under the Patriot Act.
Attempts by the FBI to install what it internally refers to as "port reader" software, which have not been previously disclosed, were described to CNET in interviews over the last few weeks. One former government official said the software used to be known internally as the "harvesting program."
"Pen Register and Trap and Trace orders grant law enforcement the authority to collect dialing, routing, addressing, or signaling information associated with a target's communications. This information includes source and destination IP addresses and port numbers. In circumstances where a provider is unable to comply with a court order utilizing its own technical solution(s), law enforcement may offer to provide technical assistance to meet the obligation of the court order."The FBI statement specifies "pen register" and "trap and trace," but the port readers gather far more information than the limited data available to those processes.
Federal law says law enforcement may acquire only "dialing, routing, addressing, or signaling information" without obtaining a wiretap. That clearly covers, for instance, the Internet Protocol address of a Web site that a targeted user is visiting. The industry-created CALEA standard also permits law enforcement to acquire timestamp information and other data.Knowing that the FBI is harvesting much more than basic metadata calls into question the recent court decision declaring warrantless cell phone location tracking constitutional. According to the majority's argument, metadata created by phone usage is nothing more than a "business record." something that is freely available to law enforcement and intelligence agencies because it carries with it no reasonable expectation of privacy.
But the FBI has configured its port reader to intercept all metadata -- including packet size, port label, and IPv6 flow data -- that exceeds what the law permits, according to one industry source.
[The csv file contained] a list of 12,367,232 Apple iOS devices including Unique Device Identifiers (UDID), user names, name of device, type of device, Apple Push Notification Service tokens, zipcodes, cellphone numbers, addresses, etc.Why an agent had the data of 12 million iPhone users stored on his laptop is inexplicable. According to the narrative, any "inadvertent" data gets swept into storage where it can only be "asked questions." This file dump shows the FBI isn't necessarily discarding or segregating "irrelevant" information, a problem that is only worsened by each additional form of "metadata" it scoops up.
by Tim Cushing
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 8:52am
Sen. Jay Rockefeller's pet project -- fighting violent media -- just got a shot in the arm from the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee (because those three seem like perfect complements...), which "advanced" his legislation directing the National Academy of Sciences to study the effects of violent media on children.
Rockefeller's bill -- the "Violent Content Research Act of 2013" -- also drags the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services along for the ride, which indicates the end result of this study is going to be some form of regulation, First Amendment or no.
Why the country needs redundancy in studies of violent media is something only Rockefeller knows for sure. The president himself ordered the Centers for Disease Control to study the effects of violent media on children shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting, although the president's request also tasked researchers with looking for a link to gun violence.
Both studies are looking for something that hasn't been conclusively proven to date: violent video games and media make people more violent. Rockefeller has his own ideas, ones which hopefully won't skew the results. For the past half-dozen years, Rockefeller has made a handful of efforts to regulate or otherwise curtail violent media, to this point mainly concentrating on broadcasters. Every attempt to date has been shot down, mainly due to First Amendment concerns.
But the Sandy Hook shooting breathed new life into Rockefeller's media-controlling aspirations. One week after the shooting, he fired off a "concerned" press release that made the following claim:
As parents, research confirms what we already know – these violent images have a negative impact on our children’s wellbeing.But research doesn't confirm this. Perhaps these two new studies will find a link between violent media and violence, but to date, research hasn't proven there's a link. Hopefully, this research will confirm what seems to be obvious -- that violent video games and media do not alone turn a person violent.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 7:48am
While Comcast knows the solution is feasible, the company’s engineers haven’t formally begun work on it. The project is being worked on in tandem with engineers at NBC Universal, the content side of the conglomerate.That certainly sounds like something cooked up on the NBC Universal side of things. The offering here sounds ridiculous and intrusive:
As sources described the new system, a consumer illegally downloading a film or movie from a peer-to-peer system like Bittorrent would be quickly pushed a pop-up message with links to purchase or rent the same content, whether the title in question exists on the VOD library of a participating distributor’s own broadband network or on a third-party seller like Amazon.This highlights a few key points:
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 5:46am
Holy shit (get it?). Should you be unable to see the embedded video, the question asked how sins are assessed in video games. Robertson answered by quoting The Nazarene as saying that lusting after a woman was the same as committing adultery (Yay! Thought crime!). Building off of that, Robertson suggested that "that's a virtual sin, if you play one of those [violent/salacious] video games" before gleefully stating he's never played a video game in his life. Then, to drive the point home, he brings up Grand Theft Auto and says "if you murder someone in cyber-space, in a sense you're performing the act whether you like it or not."
Hoo-boy. Here I was, going about my day, looking up obscure trademark and copyright stories while thinking up penis-jokes, all the while I had no idea that I've committed more murders than Stalin. And I did it gleefully. And it isn't just murder I'm guilty of either. Think of the number of animal abuse charges that could be leveled at me for all those turtles I stomped on in Super Mario Bros., or the genocides I've committed in Mass Effect. And, yeah, I've played GTA too, and you don't even want to know the stuff I've done in that game.
If all these are sins equal to their real-life counterparts, there's got to be a terrorist attack or tsunami bearing down on me at this exact moment. Or, perhaps we shouldn't be asking the elderly and willfully ignorant how they assess what we do in video games. Otherwise, we'll just get the same responses we've received about nearly every other form of entertainment before they became commonplace.
by Glyn Moody
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 3:48am
Last week we wrote about how the Russian equivalent of SOPA had been amended in order to ban swearing online. Although that was worth noting for its entertainment value, probably more important is the fact that the same law -- originally brought in to take down sites about drugs, suicide and child pornography -- has also been widened to include copyright infringement, as TechWeekEurope reports:
the law has been extended to include intellectual property, such as films or TV shows (but interestingly, not music). Under the new rules, copyright holders can contact the website and demand for illegal content to be removed, or request a court order and complain to Roskomnadzor. The website is then required to block the access to files within 3 days, and keep them inaccessible until the court decides on the case.
This is a textbook example of how to bring in broad censorship in easy stages. First, pass new Web blocking laws "for the children", which no politician would dare object to; then, once the machinery for blocking certain sites is in place, simply broaden it to other, more contentious areas -- such as alleged copyright infringement. As the same story explains, over 1700 Russian Web sites went dark last week in protest at the new law, and 88,000 people signed a petition calling for the law to be repealed (original in Russian), just short of the 100,000 needed for the petition to be considered by the Russian parliament, so nothing much will happen on this front now.
If the website owners refuse to comply with the order, Roskomnadzor will order ISPs to block the whole site.
Meanwhile, a film distribution company lost no time using the law to file against Vkontakte, Russia's equivalent of Facebook. Although the case was thrown out because it lacked certain corroborating documents, it seems likely that it will be submitted again. Others will doubtless follow suit. Amusingly, though, the body responsible for implementing Russia's extended SOPA law, Roscomnadzor, looks like it might have fallen foul of the new rules itself, as TorrentFreak explains:
The problems date back to July 9, 2013 when a technology audit at Roscomnadzor offices led officers from the Economic Crime unit and the Interior Ministry to seize five computers suspected of containing unlicensed software.
This is reminiscent of the French HADOPI body also being found to have infringed copyright multiple times. Both cases emphasize just how widespread such unauthorized use is around the world, and why harsh punishments like Web blocks are completely disproportionate when even copyright enforcement bodies find it hard to comply with the law.
According to preliminary information from local law enforcement agencies, two of the seized computers contained unlicensed copies of Photoshop but apparently the problems don't stop there as unlicensed software from Microsoft, Corel and Autodesk was also found.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 1:07am
“Obama apparently cannot distinguish between communicating information to the enemy and communicating information to the press,” Mr. Goodale wrote. “The former is espionage, the latter is not.”This is dangerous for a whole host of reasons -- including having an informed and knowledgeable public. But it's also dangerous from a First Amendment standpoint. Remember, the First Amendment protects freedom of expression and freedom of the press -- and both are closely linked when we're talking about whistleblowers leaking information to the public via the press. When we start turning the leakers and the press into "spies" we make that much more difficult, and as a result we have a less free society, and a much more controlling and abusive government.
“Manning’s defenders will say that Manning only leaked information to the 21st-century equivalent of a newspaper, and that he could not have known that Al Qaeda would read it,” Professor Yoo wrote in National Review Online.Of course, Yoo is either woefully ignorant or flat out lying -- neither of which makes him look good. First of all, the Manning/Lamo transcripts make it quite clear that Manning had very little communications with Assange. But, even more important, as research from professor Yochai Benkler made clear, prior to Manning's leaks, Wikileaks was not seen as anti-US in its mission at all. Its earlier leaks had been focused on mostly corporate and government malfeasance around the globe (mostly outside the US), such as with Bank Julius Baer. As Benkler explained:
“But WikiLeaks is not The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, and it does not have First Amendment rights,” he added. “Manning communicated regularly with WikiLeaks’ founder and would have known about the group’s anarchic, anti-U.S. mission.”
When you read the hundreds of news stories and other materials published about WikiLeaks before early 2010, what you see is a young, exciting new media organization. The darker stories about Julian Assange and the dangers that the site poses developed only in the latter half of 2010, as the steady release of leaks about the U.S. triggered ever-more hyperbolic denouncements from the Administration (such as Joe Biden's calling Assange a “high-tech terrorist”), and as relations between Assange and his traditional media partners soured.Furthermore, the idea that Yoo has that Wikileaks somehow "does not have First Amendment rights" because it's "not the NY Times or the Wall Street Journal" makes no sense. It's just assuming that because one brand is established and another is new that the established one automatically has greater rights than the new one. That's an argument based on nothing more than historical bias, rather than any sort of recognition of reality. Wikileaks was never focused on the US, but was focused on revealing conspiracies of all kinds -- that the US just happened to be involved in many speaks more to problems with the way the US government works, than to Wikileaks itself.
In early 2010, when Manning did his leaking, none of that had happened yet. WikiLeaks was still a new media phenom, an outfit originally known for releasing things like a Somali rebel leader’s decision to assassinate government officials in Somalia, or a major story exposing corruption in the government of Daniel Arap Moi in Kenya. Over the years WikiLeaks also exposed documents that shined a light on U.S. government practices, such as operating procedures in Camp Delta in Guantanamo or a draft of a secretly negotiated, highly controversial trade treaty called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. But that was not the primary focus. To name but a few examples, it published documents that sought to expose a Swiss Bank’s use of Cayman accounts to help rich clients avoid paying taxes, oil related corruption in Peru, banking abuses in Iceland, pharmaceutical company influence peddling at the World Health Organization, and extra-judicial killings in Kenya. For its work, WikiLeaks won Amnesty International's New Media award in 2009 and the Freedom of Expression Award from the British magazine, Index of Censorship, in 2008.
by Leigh Beadon
Tue, Aug 6th 2013 12:00am
The term "patent troll" has been kicking around for about 20 years now (at least according to Wikipedia's etymology), and that's about how long it's taken for the problem to really start getting attention in the broader political world. Progress is, of course, a little slow: tech startups and lots of other companies still face frivolous patent litigation as a major threat and, in many sectors, an inevitable "tax on success." But at the same time, the big picture of 2013 is one of significant progress and growing awareness on multiple fronts:
February: Obama Makes Unexpected Overtures & SHIELD Is Re-Introduced
During a Google Plus "Fireside Hangout" early this year, the president was asked about patent reform, and gave gave a somewhat surprising answer that would turn out to be an overture for bigger things to come. It was the first clear statement from the administration acknowledging that patent trolls are a problem.
Meanwhile, as expected, the SHIELD Act (allowing the victims of patent trolls to seek legal fees) was re-introduced — and again it turns out this wasn't the last we'd be hearing on that front.
April: Rackspace Takes On Erich Spangenberg
Calling him "the most notorious patent troll in America," Rackspace hit back against a lawsuit from Spangenberg by catching him in his own tangled web of agreements. Every year, companies prove increasingly less willing to roll over and settle when the patent trolls come a-knocking, and that pattern alone could be enough to make the whole scam more trouble than it's worth.
May: Legislation, Legislation Everywhere
At the beginning of May, Senator Chuck Schumer introduced a bill that would make it cheaper and easier to get tech patents reviewed by the USPTO. Then, later in the month, Rep. Ted Deutch introduced a bill that would take an important tool away from patent trolls by preventing them from hiding behind shell companies. Then Senator John Cornyn introduced the Patent Abuse Reduction Act with more troll-busting measures, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte released a patent discussion draft.
In the end, four different pieces patent-related legislation were proposed in May, making five so far in 2013. As usual, there were good and bad aspects to most of them — but the important thing was the amount of attention and discussion being given to the issue as a whole. (Also, while all that was happening, the state of Vermont quietly passed a new law targeting patent trolls, and promptly sued one under it.)
June: The White House Doubles Down
Following up on the hints dropped in February, the Obama administration got serious about patent trolls. Obama released a multi-part plan utilizing executive actions (as well as requests to Congress) to start tackling the problem. At the same time, the White House released a report about the broken patent system, with some data showing just how big the troll problem has become.
More In June: The Chief Patent Judge Chimes In
The CAFC, which handles appeals on all patent cases, doesn't always seem aware of just what's going on with the patent system. So it was a little unexpected when CAFC chief judge Randall Rader wrote an NY Times op-ed highlighting the patent troll problem. As we noted at the time, it would be nice to see this realization expressed in the court through better rulings and precedents — but for now, the recognition is an encouraging first step.
Still More In June: The FTC's Gloves Come Off
A June Supreme Court ruling that focused on pharmaceutical pay-for-delay deals had an important side effect: it allowed the FTC to go after patent trolls — and it didn't take long for the FTC to exercise that ability. Later the same week, the FTC announced a sweeping investigation of patent trolls and their business practices. Though patent trolls are often adept at manipulating the courts, they are less prepared for an attack from that angle, and it's going to be very interesting to see what the FTC does.
July: One More Bill Appears In Congress
Finally, just a couple of weeks ago, Reps. Darrell Issa and Judy Chu introduced the STOP Act, which would extend the USPTO's power to aggressively review business method patents. The legislation is closely related to Schumer's bill from May, and brings the total number of anti-patent-troll bills introduced in 2013 to six.
All told, 2013 is looking like the year when the walls are starting to seriously close in on patent trolls. Of course, like most people who game the legal system, they have a tendency for tenacity, but they're also driven by the desire for easy money. There's no need to make patent trolling impossible, just unprofitable — and it's encouraging to see companies, congress, the courts, the administration and agencies like the FTC all making steps in that direction.
This post is sponsored by The Hartford.
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