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by Karl Bode
Thu, Apr 16th 2015 11:47am
"The American Legislative Exchange Council—a shadowy corporate front group that works to enact discriminatory voter ID laws, weaken gun safety laws and eliminate environmental regulations—is now pressuring state legislatures around the country to ban cities from offering broadband Internet access. ALEC is pushing its anti-municipal broadband agenda through model legislation it has developed, which one municipal broadband advocate described as “the kind of language one would expect to see if the goal is to protect politically powerful cable and telephone company monopolies.” Many perennial funders and members of ALEC, including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner [Cable], stand to gain financially from these state laws because they eliminate the possibility of competition from city-run broadband services."In its cease and desist letter to Credo, ALEC first proclaims it's a respected think tank, not a lobbying apparatus. It also insists it doesn't "block" municipal broadband, the group simply advocates encumbering towns and cities with "certain steps," should they be interested in building their own broadband:
"We demand that you cease making inaccurate statements regarding ALEC, and immediately remove all false or misleading material from the Working Assets and Credo Action or related websites and action pages within five business days," the letter, dated March 5, reads. "Should you not do so, and/or continue to publish any defamatory statements, we will consider any and all necessary legal action to protect ALEC."How exactly can you claim you don't oppose municipal broadband when you've played a starring role in opposing municipal broadband? Because many of the bills ALEC helps pass don't technically "block" municipal broadband. They are however usually saddled with language by ISP lawyers that effectively does the same thing. For example most of the bills prohibit communities from getting into the broadband business if their market is "served" by an existing provider. They then go on to define "served" to include satellite and cellular connections, while using extremely generous versions of zip code coverage analysis. Similarly ALEC doesn't lobby to pass these bills directly, their incumbent ISPs client do that.
ALEC contends that it does not oppose city broadband but only advocates that certain "steps" be required before a municipality can provide telecom services. Additionally, ALEC takes issue with Credo labeling it as an organization that lobbies state legislatures at all, arguing that it is merely a "think-tank for state-based public policy issues and potential solutions."
"Not only does ALEC attempt to influence legislative outcomes, it clearly succeeds in doing so. As recounted in a 2011 Bloomberg News article, ALEC's model legislation on municipal broadband was the principal reason why cable companies were able to block Lafayette, Louisiana from offering high speed Internet access to its citizens (editor's note: Lafayette was ultimately able to offer gigabit connections via LUS Fiber, but only after a protracted legal fight against regional incumbents Cox and BellSouth (now AT&T)).It's not entirely clear what ALEC hopes to accomplish here, as its role in both climate change and municipal broadband is pretty clearly established by documentable history, news reports, and the legislative process itself. It's kind of like the town drunk, after months of being videotaped punching clowns in the face, becoming foul-mouthed and indignant at the mere mention of the odd number of clown black eyes around town. In fact the behavior is only bringing additional critical attention to ALEC's longstanding role as an organization that's useful to corporations looking to quietly shovel bad legislation through financially compromised state legislatures with the bare minimum of fuss or actual public debate.
"Under these circumstances, the language used in the statements you challenge -- "working to make sure it never happens" and "pressuring state legislatures" -- is well within the bounds of political discourse in making the point that ALEC's model legislation and positions have the intent and effect of encouraging enactment of state legislation effectively banning cities from offering broadband Internet access."
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Apr 16th 2015 10:44am
"We are aware of Periscope and have sent takedown notices," an HBO spokeswoman said in a statement. "In general, we feel developers should have tools which proactively prevent mass copyright infringement from occurring on their apps and not be solely reliant upon notifications."There are two issues there. First are the takedowns -- which is a part of the DMCA. But the second part is asking for Twitter to go Beyond the DMCA and to start proactively reviewing and policing the content that is streaming over Periscope. This is a bad idea for a whole variety of reasons that both Twitter and HBO should already understand. First, such efforts inevitably lead to takedowns that block important, legitimate, non-infringing speech. Considering how Periscope and Meerkat are designed for livestreaming events right now, blocking those could lead to important content never seeing the light of day at all. The chilling effects could be massive.
Thu, Apr 16th 2015 9:43am
I love chess. As the original multi-player turn-based strategy game, chess serves as the backbone for many a modern era game, for which it has my respect. Despite this love I have for the game, I happen to be quite horrible at it, but that only makes me all the more reverent of those that master its wily machinations. Kasparov is a name I know solely because he was a grand champion, one of those faces of chess that spurred on so much intrigue as people wondered just how he was able to dominate his opponents so completely.
Gaioz Nigalidze was one of those folks, too, having attained the title of grandmaster, but now he isn't. He might actually be as good as advertised, but we can't trust that he is any longer because he was found to be using a iPhone to cheat his way through a match. The plot begins and ends, as all good plots do, in the toilet.
On Saturday, Nigalidze, the 25-year-old reigning Georgian champion, was competing in the 17th annual Dubai Open Chess Tournament when his opponent spotted something strange.Yes, the strange part was which toilet Nigalidze used, not the fact that his bladder decided to punctuate each move with a potty trip. As it turns out, Nigalidze had hidden an iPhone in one of the restrooms, wrapped in toilet paper because there ain't no stealth in chess, and had been running the game he was playing through an application that analyzed and suggested moves. In other words, he totally h4x0red that chess tournament, ya'll!
“Nigalidze would promptly reply to my moves and then literally run to the toilet,” Armenian grandmaster Tigran Petrosian said. “I noticed that he would always visit the same toilet partition, which was strange, since two other partitions weren’t occupied.”
Nigalidze was expelled from the tournament, which is still ongoing and features more than 70 grandmasters from 43 countries competing for a first-place prize of $12,000. The Georgian’s career is now under a microscope. His two national titles are under suspicion. And under recently tightened rules against cheating, he could be banned for up to 15 years.This has reportedly sent the chess world into some kind of insane tailspin over concerns that, now that someone has proved that cheating in tournaments with a small device such as a phone is doable, who knows how many other of our revered grandmasters are big, steaming, salty cheat-burgers? The ancient game is now understood to be relatively easy to master with something as common as a smartphone, which means chess tournaments are about to get way more TSA-like with security, I guess.
by Tim Cushing
Thu, Apr 16th 2015 8:16am
Hey, budding adults! Welcome to college! Now, kindly shut up for the next few years.
Cal Poly Pomona’s campus policies impose a web of restrictions before students can distribute literature on campus: They must check in with the Office of Student Life, allow the school to copy their IDs, and wear badges signed by an administrator. Even then, would-be speakers are relegated to the so-called “free speech zone.” Badges can only be issued from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, although the Office of Student Life pledges to “work with” any student who wishes to engage in expressive activity on evenings or weekends. Additionally, students must register in advance for outdoor events, and the Office of Student Life must approve all flyers and posters.That's what the First Amendment has been reduced to at Cal Poly Pomona: asking permission, wearing "free speech" badges and a standing-room-only patch of ground. These restrictions have prompted a lawsuit from student Nicolas Tomas, who alleges campus police prevented him from handing out pro-vegan fliers on a campus sidewalk and directed him to jump through the college's many speech-curbing hoops before exercising his First Amendment rights.
Together, the policies establish an unconstitutional “free speech zone” and impose unconstitutional prior restraints on expressive activities that limit free expression at Cal Poly Pomona.At some point between March 5th and today's date, CPP personnel updated the site to include the missing 2014 Presidential Order. No new link is provided, nor has the title of the existing link ["New Presidential Order: Use of University Buildings, Facilities, or Grounds (PDF)"] been altered. Only the destination document has. Instead, whoever was in charge of this simply swapped out the 2008 Order for the 2014 Order without any indication this change had taken place. Crafty.
The policies are contradictory, confusing, and do not provide adequate notice to students regarding Cal Poly Pomona’s policies on free expression. For example, the Student Life webpage on the Cal Poly Pomona website provides links to the Interim Freedom of Expression Policy (dated 2002) and the 2008 Presidential Order policies, but not the 2014 Presidential Order.
The inconsistent policies allow administrators to pick and choose provisions that they are going to enforce, allowing them unlimited discretion to promote or silence speech based on its content or the identity of the speaker.
by Karl Bode
Thu, Apr 16th 2015 6:16am
"Reliance’s deal with Facebook, called Internet.org, effectively gives you one social network at no cost, while forcing you to pay for others like LinkedIn. It might seem like the company being generous, but it only works because Facebook and Reliance were able to strike a deal. A smaller social networking firm that doesn’t have Facebook’s resources or influence would find it harder to build an audience, because they’re competing with a free service....Pahwa pointed out that this strategy could result in dominance of major players in the market and crowding out of others who can’t afford to “strike deals or pay up for getting access to the fast lane".Indian Internet users aren't alone in realizing the problems inherent in zero rated apps. A growing chorus of Internet content companies have started backing away from zero rated efforts like Airtel Zero or Facebook's Internet.org deal with Reliance. The Times Group, India Today, NDTV, IBNLive, NewsHunt, and BBC have all pulled out of the initiatives citing the bad precedent set in cherry picking which content gets a free ride. Flight, hotel and travel price tracking website Cleartrip also dropped out, posting to their blog that such exclusionary practices are against the company's DNA:
"...the recent debate around #NetNeutrality gave us pause to rethink our approach to Internet.org and the idea of large corporations getting involved with picking and choosing who gets access to what and how fast. What started off with providing a simple search service has us now concerned with influencing customer decision-making by forcing options on them, something that is against our core DNA."While the neutrality debate in India may be fresher, the public and industry there are already more in tune to the threat posed by zero rated apps than many U.S. customers and companies are. And the U.S. and India are obviously seeing more conversation on this issue than, say, markets in Africa. There, in many markets, users are happy to get access no matter what it looks like, and Google and Facebook are aggressively jockeying for pole position over billions in new advertising eyeballs. These services in particular are a two-sided coin. On the one side, both companies are correct in noting that the services deliver limited web access (and all the great things that entails) to those who currently don't have service. On the other hand, as Susan Crawford highlighted a few years ago, what these users are getting is a notable bastardization of the internet:
"For poorer people, Internet access will equal Facebook. That’s not the Internet—that’s being fodder for someone else’s ad-targeting business," she says. "That’s entrenching and amplifying existing inequalities and contributing to poverty of imagination—a crucial limitation on human life."If you're building internet access from the ground up dominated by a few ISPs and a few content gatekeepers, it certainly makes you wonder what kind of strange monstrosities these models evolve into. When the internet starts from a place of openness, companies have a steeper uphill climb. Here in the States, both AT&T and T-Mobile have struggled to convince the public that these models heavily benefit consumers. AT&T has been setting a horrible precedent by allowing deep pocketed companies to bypass usage caps, pitching the concept as "1-800" or "free shipping" for data. T-Mobile's had better luck convincing users that exempting only the biggest music services is a consumer boon for the ages (it's not, because it puts non-profits, independents and smaller companies in an immediate competitive hole).
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Apr 16th 2015 4:08am
Isn't that convenient?
So in November of 2014, the TSA was warned that two of its officers were currently, actively conspiring to commit sexual assault. But the TSA did not notify the police about that anonymous tip. The Denver Police Department is the agency that regularly polices Denver International Airport; the DIA Bureau is listed on this directory.
If the TSA had notified the police about the tip in November, the police could have been watching the checkpoint to observe the groping incident that was instead witnessed by a TSA employee. But the police didn’t know about an allegation of active, current, ongoing sexual assault, because the TSA didn’t tell them.
And so an act of sexual assault occurred right in front of a TSA investigator — and the investigator let the victim walk away without approaching him and identifying him.
Then, in March 2015, the TSA informed the police of the allegation, and of the evidence of the event that a TSA investigator had personally witnessed more than a month before. But the TSA didn’t notify the police until both employees had been fired — in other words, until both participants in a scheme to commit sexual assault had been removed from the place in which they allegedly committed it.
It’s as if someone called the fire department to report a pile of cold ashes. The TSA waited to call the police until the passengers were long gone, the TSA officers alleged to have committed the crime were long gone, and the crime witnessed by a TSA investigator was more than a month old.
by Glyn Moody
Thu, Apr 16th 2015 1:09am
One of the most interesting realizations in recent years is that done right, massive, open collaborations are not just an efficient way of working, but they scale in a way that can take us to entirely new levels. A good example -- and perhaps the first project to exploit this fact -- is Linux, which grew from a small bunch of hackers working together across the internet on some bedroom code into a global, distributed project that now dominates every sector of computing bar one (the desktop -- so far.)
The open source methodology has inspired all kinds of cognate projects in different fields, including that of citizen science, which pools the efforts of large numbers of people working with simple tools to produce important results that can be published in academic journals. The best-known example of this is Galaxy Zoo, which asks members of the public to help classify some of the millions of images taken as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, many of them unseen by any human previously.
Adrian Bowyer, the man behind RepRap, an open-source project to construct a 3D printer that is capable of self-replicating -- that is, printing all of its parts -- has written a fascinating blog post about another application of citizen science. It involves hundreds of people taking a picture of the same patch of night-sky with their smartphones, and then uploading the digital image to the website of a BBC program, which coordinated the whole project. As Bowyer explains:
Each individual picture was just a black rectangle -- not enough starlight had gone through the lens to make an image that could be seen. But some had gone through, and registered in the camera's pixels as a slightly less-dark patch of black.
On its own, then, each image showed so little that it was impossible to make out anything. But this is what happens when you combine hundreds of them:
A computer first matched them up by making sure that the centres of the prominent stars were all in the same place, and then added up the slightly-less-black bits to make the picture. Of course the pixels in all the cameras were not in the same place relative to the stars, which means that each camera pixel could be split into thousands of final-image pixels, which gives the fabulous resolution
The resulting composite image (available as a 40 Mbyte tif file) looks like it was taken using a high-power telescope, and is a wonderful demonstration of how combining a large number of apparently insignificant contributions can create something unexpectedly impressive. Here's just part of the image:
The human race is a species on which the stars never set. So let's make the Human Telescope. Set up a website to which anyone anywhere in the world can upload any sky images that they have taken with any digital camera, phone or telescope. The images will have a timestamp and a GPS location, and will be continually stacked by a computer in the background to give an exquisitely detailed evolving picture of the whole vault of the heavens.
The world would become a great spherical insect eye looking at every star, galaxy, planet and nebula all the time. We would be automatically finding comets, supernovae and near-Earth asteroids. We would never miss an astronomical trick.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Apr 15th 2015 9:02pm
In order to encourage web developers to move from HTTP to HTTPS, I would like to propose establishing a deprecation plan for HTTP without security. Broadly speaking, this plan would entail limiting new features to secure contexts, followed by gradually removing legacy features from insecure contexts. Having an overall program for HTTP deprecation makes a clear statement to the web community that the time for plaintext is over -- it tells the world that the new web uses HTTPS, so if you want to use new things, you need to provide security.It's a clever setup. Basically, if you want to take advantage of new features on the web, you'll have to encrypt.
with our existing server infrastructure and the up to 50% capacity hit we had observed, driven by our traffic mix.In short, yes, deploying HTTPS at that scale is expensive, but the benefit to users is tremendous and worth it.
At that time, we were uncertain of the gains we could achieve with software and hardware optimization and of the timescale for those. I'm pleased to report we have made good progress on that and we presented our FreeBSD work at the Asia BSD conference. We now believe we can deploy HTTPS at a cost that, whilst significant, is well justified by the privacy returns for our users.
So, as we mention today in our investor letter, we intend to roll out HTTPS support over the coming year - for both our site and the content itself - starting with desktop browser tests at scale this quarter.
by Michael Ho
Wed, Apr 15th 2015 5:00pm
Explore some core concepts:
|15:42||Why Not? AT&T Adds Its Name To The Pile Of Lawsuits Against The FCC's Net Neutrality Rules (8)|
|14:38||Obtained Emails Show FBI, DOJ Fought Over Charges In Blackwater Shooting Case (16)|
|13:25||California Bill Would Require Libraries Post Scary Warning Signs Not To Do Infringy Stuff With 3D Printers (33)|
|12:20||Koei Tecmo Goes DMCA On DOA Modders For Undressing Its Already Scantily Clad Characters (26)|
|12:15||Daily Deals: ibVPN Total Plan: 4-Yr Subscription (8)|
|11:04||Google To EU: You Know, No One Really Uses Our Vertical Search Products (33)|
|09:56||Homeland Security Will Finally Admit To Banned Flyers That They're On The No Fly List (9)|
|08:34||TSA Agents Outwitted By Cory Doctorow's Unlocked, 'TSA-Safe' Suitcase (129)|
|06:28||Verizon: Nobody Really Wants Unlimited Data Plans, And Those Who Do Should Ignore Such Silly 'Gut Feelings' (94)|
|04:14||Teen Blogger Arrested In Singapore For Being A Teenager And Posting A Video The Government Doesn't Like (21)|
|01:13||UK Government Refuses To Reveal Job Title Or Salary Of Top Law Enforcement Officer Because Terrorism (22)|
|17:00||DailyDirt: Problems With Peer Reviewed Publications (6)|
|15:53||New Mexico Passes Law Saying Law Enforcement Can't Steal Your Property Without A Criminal Conviction (39)|
|14:55||Despite Claiming To Want To Negotiate A Net Neutrality 'Compromise,' Many Republicans Rush In To Kill New Rules (27)|
|13:34||EU Official Says It's Time To Harm American Internet Companies Via Regulations... Hours Later Antitrust Charges Against Google Announced (146)|
|12:29||Techdirt Podcast Episode 20: How The Patent System Is Broken (0)|
|12:24||Daily Deals: ZeroLemon SolarJuice 10000mAh Battery (1)|
|11:16||Former Security Director For Lottery Charged With Tampering Equipment Before Secretly Buying $14.3 Million Winning Ticket (48)|
|09:58||Wireless, Cable Industries Show Their Love Of An 'Open Internet' By Suing To Overturn Net Neutrality Rules (10)|
|08:28||No, Getting Your Music Played On The Radio Is Nothing Like Slavery (106)|
|06:22||The Mere Threat Of Google Fiber Has Time Warner Cable Offering Speeds Six Times Faster At The Same Price (33)|
|04:17||UK Government Can Now Hand Out Two-Year Sentences For Revenge Porn, Online Trolling (14)|
|01:15||Another Reason To Deploy Encryption Widely: Spiking China's 'Great Cannon' Attack (18)|
|21:08||Zenefits Allowed Back Into Utah After Insurance Brokers Tried To Kill The Innovative Startup (7)|
|17:00||DailyDirt: Will This Problem Ever Go Away? (11)|
|16:05||Court Dismisses Prenda's Ridiculous Defamation Lawsuit Against Internet Critics & Guy Whose Signature It Forged (11)|
|14:38||Telco Lobby Sues FCC Over Net Neutrality Rules Yet Again... Just In Case The First Time Didn't Work (9)|
|13:23||Baltimore Cops Asked Creators Of 'The Wire' To Keep Cellphone Surveillance Vulnerabilities A Secret (17)|
|12:09||Anonymous Targeting CloudFlare Seems To Go Against Anonymous' History (45)|
|12:06||Daily Deals: Linux Learner Bundle (4)|