by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 26th 2016 10:49am
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jul 15th 2016 9:41am
from the say-what-now? dept
Instead, we'll move on to the second craziest thing he said, right after that first statement, which is something that fits much more with Techdirt's usual themes: Gingrich then claims two ridiculous things, each only slightly less ridiculous than his first statement:
Anybody who goes on a website favoring ISIS, or Al Qaeda, or other terrorist groups, that should be a felony and they should go to jail. Any organization which hosts such a website should be engaged in a felon. It should be closed down immediately. Our forces should be used to systematically destroy every internet based source...He then goes on to note that if we can't take them off the internet, we should just kill them all. Which, you know, I'm sure won't anger any more people against us.
Either way, this is idiotic. Merely visiting a website should put you in jail? What if you're a journalist? Or a politician? Or a researcher trying to understand ISIS? That should be a felony? That's not how it works. This also assumes, idiotically, that merely reading a website about ISIS will make people side with ISIS. It's also not, at all, how the law works. Same with the second part about it being a felony to host such content. We're already seeing lawsuits against social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for hosting accounts from ISIS, and many are voluntarily taking down lots of those accounts. But making it a felony to keep them up? That's also not how the law works.
Reacting to a very real problem with stupid unconstitutional solutions suggests someone who has no clue what he's doing.
by Glyn Moody
Tue, Apr 21st 2015 1:11am
Hosting Companies Threaten To Leave France Over (Yet Another) Surveillance Law. But Where Could They Go?
from the black-box dept
Back in December, we reported on how France sneakily enacted a controversial surveillance law on Christmas Eve, obviously hoping nobody would notice. Now the French government is quite brazenly saying last year's law didn't go far enough, and that it must bring in yet another surveillance law that is even more intrusive, and do it quickly with only minimal scrutiny. Here are just some of the problems with the new bill according to Human Rights Watch:
Serious flaws include expansive powers for the prime minister to authorize surveillance for purposes far beyond those recognized in international human rights law; lack of meaningful judicial oversight; requirements for private service providers to monitor and analyze user data and report suspicious patterns; prolonged retention periods for some captured data; and little public transparency.
That requirement for ISPs to install "black boxes" for algorithmic surveillance of "suspicious patterns" is particularly troubling:
The bill's requirement for service providers to install secret, unspecified, state-provided means of analyzing suspicious patterns -- for example, visits to websites advocating terrorism, or contacts with persons under investigation -- could potentially be applied to a virtually unlimited set of indicators, Human Rights Watch said.
Once these black boxes are in place, it can only be a matter of time before the copyright industry starts pushing to use them to detect copyright infringement. After all, it will doubtless point out, since the equipment will already be there, it wouldn't impose any further costs on service providers to carry out such scans. Who could possible object? Leading French Internet companies certainly do. As ZDNet reports, some are threatening to leave the country if the law is passed in its present form when it comes to the final vote on 5 May:
Seven companies, including web hosting and technology companies OVH, IDS, and Gandi have said in a letter to the French prime minister Manuel Valls that they will be pushed into de facto "exile" if the French government goes ahead with the "real-time capture of data" by its intelligence agencies.
The companies say that between 30 to 40% of their turnover comes from customers outside France, attracted by the current framework's strong protection for online privacy (original in French.) It's a great gesture, but the question is: could the companies carry out their threat? After all, given the rush to introduce far-reaching surveillance laws in many other European countries, it's not clear where exactly those companies could go. Even Switzerland, that old standby, has its surveillance programs, and the risk is that it, too, will bring in measures like those of its neighbors.
The companies argued that being required by the law to install "black boxes" on their networks will "destroy a major segment of the economy," and if passed it will force them to "move our infrastructure, investments, and employees where our customers will want to work with us."
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 13th 2015 12:09pm
from the anonymous-is-random dept
Even so, the strategies of #OpISIS are a bit baffling, and certainly seem to go against Anonymous' general stance in other situations. Last week, it put out a list of hosting/infrastructure companies that it claimed were hosting pro-ISIS content, with the aim of demanding such sites take down that content. One of the main targets: CloudFlare, a company that many websites (including Techdirt) use to protect against denial-of-service attacks and to generally improve reliability. CloudFlare has responded by pointing out the obvious: it makes decisions to stop serving websites based on court orders, not mob rule:
CloudFlare does not itself host the content of the websites, meaning blocking its service would not actually make the content go away. The service instead protects sites from malicious traffic and cyber threats, meaning without it websites would be more vulnerable to attacks from Anonymous.In other words, careful where you aim that gun, #OpISIS, because it might point back at you as well. It seems even more ironic when you realize that one of the earliest "high profile" campaigns by Anonymous was when it targeted companies like Paypal and Amazon after each made the decision to cut off Wikileaks. Thus, Operation Payback began, targeting those who chose to arbitrarily cut off Wikileaks, without waiting for any sort of official legal process.
"We're the plumbers of the internet," [CloudFlare founder & CEO Matthew] Prince said. "We make the pipes work but it's not right for us to inspect what is or isn't going through the pipes. If companies like ours or ISPs (internet service providers) start censoring there would be an uproar. It would lead us down a path of internet censors and controls akin to a country like China."
CloudFlare has previously faced criticism for protecting websites associated with Anonymous, however Prince asserts that their service is only removed if they're told to do so by a court of law.
"The irony is there is no organisation that we have had more requests to terminate services for than the hacking group Anonymous, including from government officials - which we have not done without following the proper legal process," Prince said.
So it seems rather bizarre and counterproductive for this particular segment of Anonymous to now be pushing for the same thing: companies to arbitrarily cut off other content, while in the past it has argued that infrastructure providers should not bow down to the opinions of a few without a legal basis. It's fascinating that Anonymous is targeting ISIS, showing just how bizarre this world has become, but doing so by trying to pressure companies into voluntary censorship campaigns seems really counterproductive and completely contrary to the message that Anonymous has presented to the world in the past.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 9th 2015 4:06am
EasyDNS Sued For Refusing To Take Down Website Without Court Order; Then Hit Again For Writing About The Lawsuit
from the this-is-not-a-good-idea dept
In November, EasyDNS wrote about the case again, pointing out that it was seeking to get out of the case, because it shouldn't be considered liable for what a user did on his own site just because EasyDNS hosts it. Also, small claims court doesn't provide injunctive relief as a remedy anyway. In response, it appears that Lehrer has decided to amend his complaint against EasyDNS, specifically arguing that the company further damaged him by writing about the case. Seriously. From the lawsuit:
54) Further, the Defendant EasyDNS has, on August 22, 2014, November 13, 2014 and December 10, 2014, posted publicly about this lawsuit on http:/blog.easydns.org and directed people to the Defendant Rourke's content despite knowing that the Plaintiff views this content as defamatory. According to a chart posted on the Defendant EasyDNS's November 13, 2014 posting, the earlier blog entry of August 22 resulted in substantial increase in the number of individuals viewing the causepimps.ca website. The postings by EasyDNS constitute egregious and non-content neutral behaviour which is contrary to the EasyDNS's claim of "innocent dissemination" and deserves the censure of this court.Got that? Merely writing about the case apparently is a cause of new action, as is, apparently, posting the public document filed in the lawsuit. But that's absurd. Lehrer's entire lawsuit is premised on the idea that the content is obviously defamatory, but as EasyDNS pointed out to him, that's a matter for the courts to decide, not a hosting provider.
55) In addition, in reaction to the within proceeding, the Defendants easyDNS and Rourke have both published the statement of claim on their respective websites. In addition, Defendant EasyDNS has published the statement of claim on the online publishing platform Scribd. The Defendants have thus furthered the libels after being put on notice of the defamation. Their conduct is egregious, is deserving of the censure of this court including the imposition of punitive damages.
56) The Plaintiff pleads that the Defendants deliberately, intentionally or recklessly harmed and damaged the Plaintiff by publishing and distributing the defamatory words and that they acted with actual malice by either publishing and distributing the defamatory statements with the knowledge that the information was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.
In the US, thankfully, things like Section 230 of the CDA would immunize against any kind of legal attack like this -- but Canada doesn't have an easy out like that, which means it's likely that EasyDNS will have to go to court and defend itself using basic common sense on liability, noting that it's just the host and not responsible for the content, and that it would be absolutely insane to hold it liable for the content. Finally, as of this amended complaint, it will have to explain why talking about a lawsuit and filing the public documents related to that lawsuit is not some sort of egregious behavior that deserves "the imposition of punitive damages."
Once again, we're left amazed at how some people assume that anything they don't like online must be illegal, and everyone else must be responsible for it.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Oct 15th 2014 4:04am
from the that-slippery,-slippery-slope dept
In the story linked above, the Dutch Hosting Provider Association (DHPA) claims that prosecutors are simply going to hosting companies and declaring, without any court order or underlying legal argument, that certain content is jihadist and should be removed. Feeling pressured and threatened, many hosts will simply remove that content. While the content may be incendiary, does that mean that there should be no due process at all? And the very real risk of overblocking doesn't seem to concern those demanding the content be taken down. The story notes one example of a video of a group of men around a campfire shooting guns -- but they note it's not entirely clear why they're shooting. And yet, they were told to take the video down.
It's easy to say "this content is dangerous, take it down," without recognizing the slippery slope of censorship this creates. No one is defending efforts to recruit people into jihadist groups, but leaping immediately to censorship without due process or any evidence of actual law breaking is not the way to protect a free and open society. It seems very much like the opposite.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, May 20th 2013 9:59am
Swedish Prosecutor Claims Registrar Of .se Domains An 'Accomplice' In Infringement Because Of Pirate Bay Domain
from the how-many-degrees-of-separation? dept
“The legal system has not been able to shut down the service after the previous guilty verdict against TPB,” IIS Chief of Communications Maria Ekelund told TorrentFreak.That seems fairly ridiculous when you begin to think about the implications of it. This is so far removed from any actual infringement, it's incredible. This is the scorched earth approach to dealing with copyright infringement, with no care at all for any possible collateral damage in holding totally unrelated parties, who happened to be used by a service provider who, in turn, happened to be used by some people to possibly infringe, as liable for that infringement.
“Therefore the prosecutor has opened a new case against both the domain holders and .SE. The prosecutor is accusing .SE of assisting TPB who are assisting others to commit copyright infringement.”
[....] “In the eyes of the prosecutor, .SE’s catalogue function has become some form of accomplice to criminal activity, a perspective that is unique in Europe as far as I know,” says IIS CEO Danny Aerts.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Feb 26th 2013 12:22pm
Swedish Pirate Party Stops Hosting The Pirate Bay, But Intends To Sue Anti-Piracy Organization For Unlawful Coercion
from the whac-a-mole dept
However, even if the Swedish Pirate Party is no longer hosting the site, it is clear that it is not happy about this turn of events, and suggests it is planning legal action for "unlawful coercion" against the Rights Alliance:
"The Pirate Party has a board meeting in a few days. I will recommend the board to file a police report against the Rights Alliance for unlawful coercion," Troberg says. "It is important to determine precisely how forgiving the system is to those who try to abuse the judicial system to silence others."Given how law enforcement has treated The Pirate Party so far in Sweden, it seems unlikely that much would come from such an action, but that just highlights a big part of the problem.
In the meantime, this continues to show the ridiculous whac-a-mole nature of the entertainment industry's war on TPB. The site isn't actually "hosted" by these other Pirate Parties, but rather it is widely distributed. However, there does need to be a few key places where it connects clearly, so that people can find it. And that, it appears, is the role that these Pirate Parties will take on. And, while that's happening, it would appear that some other Pirate Parties around the globe are gearing up to be able to take on similar duties, should it be needed.
All this for one ancient site that hasn't changed or innovated much in years. It's kind of incredible. Peter Sunde, The Pirate Bay's former spokesperson has insisted, for years, that The Pirate Bay should be dead already, not because of Hollywood's continued attempts to take it down, but because other sites should have innovated far beyond what TPB has offered. Of course, I'd argue that Hollywood itself has had multiple opportunities to do that innovation, but instead has focused on attacking TPB and trying to cut off what consumers want, rather than figuring out ways to help provide the public what they want. It's been a decade long case study in exactly how not to deal with disruptive innovation. And this story shows no signs of changing any time soon.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Feb 20th 2013 2:52pm
the pirate bay
from the well,-that-could-get-interesting dept
The party is figuring out how to respond. They note that, given how the original TPB trial played out, even if they believe they're strongly in the right under the law, the courts seem to toss all logic out the window as soon as someone mentions "but, piracy!" So they are reasonably concerned that a fair trial on the merits of the case would not come from this. However, it would certainly be an interesting trial, and might certainly call more attention to the issues that go beyond just the initial TPB trial. This is clearly getting into significant questions about secondary liability, especially over products that have significant non-infringing uses, and where the site itself is not hosting any of the infringing content. The whole thing remains a witch hunt by people who don't seem to understand the technology. A lawsuit against a political party may serve to highlight just how crazy this witch hunt has become.
In the letter, which also targets bandwidth provider Serious Tubes, the group cites last year’s Supreme Court rejection of The Pirate Bay case as a precedent that hosting providers can be held liable for providing Internet services to file-sharing sites.
“With that decision, it was finally determined that not only those who operate illegal file sharing services, but also the Internet providers to such illegal services are committing a criminal act,” the Rights Alliance writes.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Nov 14th 2012 11:45am
from the a-string-of-failures dept
The latest setback comes from Germany, where the US sought assistance from officials in seizing various assets of Dotcom's or Megauploads. However, the court has now rejected the request:
The Frankfurt judges have since rejected this request, because it contains insufficient evidence. The US legal team failed to demonstrate that a web hosting service for the illegal upload of copyrighted files, amounts to a criminal offence.Of course this was the same point that we raised the day that Megaupload was shut down. While it may be true that many Megaupload users have infringed on copyrights, there's a massive leap from that point to the idea that Megaupload is a criminal enterprise -- yet the US government's case basically skips over any details to make that leap. Thankfully cooler heads are recognizing that a significant amount of the US's case seems to be based on a fairy tale that US officials -- under the influence of Hollywood -- keep telling.
According to the German 'Telemediengesetz' (communications legislation), a hosting service for foreign files will generally not be accountable unless the host had active knowledge of illegal activity. The judges also emphasised that the concept of knowledge is limited to positive knowledge. Therefore if the service provider believes that it is possible or likely that a specific piece of information is stored on their server, this is not sufficient evidence of knowledge of abuse.
According to the court ruling, there is no legal obligation to monitor the transmitted data or stored information or to search for any illegal activity.
Tip to DOJ officials under the sway of Hollywood's version of the internet: remember, these people make their livings telling fairy tale stories. You know those opening credit lines about how something is "based on a true story"? Yeah, quite frequently the actual truth is a long way from what's shown. It seems that you may have been taken in by another such Hollywood "true" tale.