Kal Zekdor’s Techdirt Profile


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  • Jul 25th, 2017 @ 11:07am


    I don't get this position. You're ok with the school collecting sales data in their cafeteria, and you're ok with the school giving funds to students that need them, but when they use the sales data to determine who needs funds they've suddenly crossed a line?

    The cards in question are likely reloadable cards given out by the school for use in the cafeteria or school stores, not students' personal credit cards. (My school had the same thing.) Not that it matters, because the data is available to them at point of sale regardless.

  • Jul 24th, 2017 @ 7:23pm

    Third party doctrine

    I think the crux of the matter, at least for me, comes down to who has access to the data, not so much what they use it for. (Not that that implicitly means that I'm ok with whatever action, just that how they use data has no bearing on that judgment.) In this story, unless I'm missing something, there are two actors, the student and the school. Unless the cafeteria is owned (not just operated by) a third party, it should be trivially obvious that the school has access to that data. If nothing else they'll need to track sales just so they can do inventory management. It would seem a bit crazy to me to purchase something, but demand to have all record of the transaction erased, particularly when dealing with non-cash transactions.

    Now, if this were a third-party, say a government agency monitoring private transactions and using it to, I dunno, decide who gets awarded public grants, that I would have a problem with, if it were done without the knowledge and consent of all other actors.

  • Jul 6th, 2017 @ 10:47pm

    Some sense

    I'm glad somebody is responding to this event with a modicum of sense. This non-story has somehow resulted in a controversial firestorm, with pretty much everyone involved trying to put it out using gasoline. I wish I was surprised, but that's par for the course these days. I used to get worked up about partisan vitriol, about people who are too blinded by their fantasy of "us versus them" to behave in an objective and rational manner, but now I'm just too damned tired.

  • Jun 1st, 2017 @ 8:31am

    Re: Re: So?

    Neither of which explains the vitriol in the article. Maybe this is short-sighted, or maybe Netflix just thinks that net neutrality is a lost cause, at least in this administration, and are exploring other options to protect their business. I'm not going to fault them for doing what they need to do. This isn't their responsibility.

    It's pretty clear that Netflix still supports NN, even if it's only lip service. Of course, a couple of statements here and there by Netflix probably has more impact than my meager donations to the EFF and random rants on tech blogs. I'll take a tepid ally over a straight-up enemy any day. So Netflix won't be swooping in to save the day, does that invalidate the good they've done so far?

    In short, disappointment I can understand. Anger and outrage, on the other hand, not so much.

  • Jun 1st, 2017 @ 7:14am


    I really don't get this article. What's the problem here? Netflix believes that they have enough clout to protect themselves regardless of net neutrality, or lack thereof. They're probably right.

    If they'd suddenly flipped to an anti-net neutrality stance I'd understand the outrage, but that's not the case here. Netflix has decided that it doesn't make sense for them to be on the front-lines any more, and that's their prerogative. It's not like people were donating funds to Netflix to fight for net neutrality; that's what the EFF is for.

  • May 31st, 2017 @ 1:50am

    Re: Re: ??

    You seem to have missed the point entirely. It appears that you're operating on the assumption that there is a single core problem that is the source of everything. If so, you're either naive, or attempting to push a particular agenda, or both. Either way, sorry to break it to you, but there is no magic bullet that can fix everything. When I say that the problem is manifold, that is exactly what I mean; we are dealing with a cascade of interconnected problems. There are no easy answers, there is no single aspect at which we can point to say "that's the cause of everything, fix that and we're good". I wish there were, but this isn't a story, where we all join together to stop the big bad and save the day. This is reality, and, unfortunately, in reality shit is complicated. All we can do is attempt to fix the problems one by one, but even that's easier said than done.

  • May 30th, 2017 @ 5:34pm

    Re: ??

    The "problem" is manifold. Let's start with blind voting along party lines, where bills like this are rushed through without any real debate. Then we can talk about how poorly our "representatives" actually represent the will of the people, thanks to rampant Gerrymandering and unfettered campaign contributions. Then maybe we can discuss this culture of "collect everything" that is pervasive among agencies which are not headed by elected officials, even though it's been shown time and again that, not only is the data subject to abuse, but it doesn't actually perform the prescribed function, the signal gets lost in the noise. We might then finish up with the thought that laws aren't a great benchmark for determining the wrongdoings of those who make the laws, because, as the saying goes, who watches the watchers?

    Problems are easy. Solutions are what require deep thought.

  • May 21st, 2017 @ 2:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Meh, GPL.

    I'll cop to being somewhat off-topic, but how is this trolling? Just last week had to write a library from scratch (that was pretty basic) because GPL is incompatible with pretty much any of my clients' environments. It gets frustrating. If you want to open source your code, open source your code.

    End of rant.

  • May 21st, 2017 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Last 21 digits of Pi

    Of course, if I did that, I would literally set my password to "the last twenty-one digits of PI", just so that when then finally figure it out I could simultaneously defuse the situation while smugly giving them a second finger.

    ...I'm not a nice person.

  • May 17th, 2017 @ 7:35pm

    Meh, GPL.

    I'll take an MIT license project over a GPL or derivative any day of the week.

  • May 12th, 2017 @ 9:01am


    Yeah, Bankruptcy can be weird. In short, the company declaring bankruptcy sells off assets to cover their liabilities. So they can sell off the assets of a business unit (in this case including domains, server infrastructure, IP, advertising accounts, etc.) to another company, while they retain any liabilities. Now, in this case "liabilities" refers to the accounting term, meaning "money that is owed", not civil liability, so I think someone down the chain got confused.

    Now, any action taken by the business unit prior to the sale could not be held against the purchasing company, any suits would need to be directed at the bankrupt company. The new company is then potentially liable for any action taken once they're in charge. In this case, though, there seems to be a provision in libel laws (this "first publication" rule) that's a little outside my knowledge, but seems to limit liability to the original publication of content (i.e., when Gawker was in charge), even if it's still being "published" (available on the Internet). It doesn't seem to apply in all states, and any significant subsequent alterations to the content can result in the rule ceasing to apply.

  • May 2nd, 2017 @ 11:06pm

    I am the system administrator.

    My voice is my passport. Verify me.

  • Mar 22nd, 2017 @ 8:40am

    Re: Re:

    Again, even if pages are encrypted, whoever is buying the data will see the URLs you visited. Say, on the pages on a medical site dealing with specific and embarrassing medical conditions, teen pregnancy, etc.

    This is not accurate. Barring a TLS MitM attack, HTTPS URLs are encrypted and not available to your ISP. They will certainly have access to the IP address of the server you're connecting to, and unless you are using encrypted DNS they'll have access to the domain, but not the full URL. So, for example, my ISP can tell I'm reading techdirt, but not which article I'm looking at.

    It's feasible to determine the length of a URL from the encrypted data. I'm not sure how problematic that is, but I recall discussions about adding random padding to prevent such things to the TLS spec. Dunno if anything ever came of it.

  • Mar 16th, 2017 @ 11:38pm


    I won't go so far as to say expect, I'm not that naive, but I certainly demand politicians who don't accidentally stumble into a correct stance merely because something became personal for them. It galls me to no end when politicians are imperiously ignorant to the consequences of their actions, so long as those consequences don't touch them personally. It clearly shows that they don't see themselves as the servant of their constituents, but as the rightful occupant of a seat of power. This isn't about fucking bias. Whether "12333 needs oversight" is a correct position is completely fucking irrelevant. That he came to that position not through the wishes of his constituents, but because his personal power was challenged should fucking alarm and infuriate you. That's how a ruling class behaves, something we should not, and must not tolerate.

  • Feb 21st, 2017 @ 4:06pm

    Re: Surprisingly

    Look, if you want to argue that those being deported for illegal immigration should have to forfeit any assets they have, that's one thing. There's plenty of arguments against that, which I'm not going to get into here, but it's at least a logically defensible position. That's not what we're talking about when we discuss "asset forfeiture", though. Law enforcement officials have no need to prove that someone is in the country illegally, or have committed any sort of crime, in order to seize their assets. It's horribly open to abuse, as has been shown time and time again.

    Even if someone does eventually manage to navigate the byzantine appeals process and reclaim their assets, so much time has passed by then (months, if not years), that real losses have been sustained. It's not like they get back their assets with interest.

    Arguing that the assets of people convicted of a crime are subject to seizure is one thing. Arguing that LEOs can seize whatever they want, on whatever grounds they feel like, from people who are not only not convicted of a crime, but in many cases are not even charged with one, is insane.

  • Feb 21st, 2017 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Funding Governemnt

    Seriously. Even if you start with the a priori assumption that illegal immigration is an existential problem, how the frak do you think building a wall is going to help anything? Do you how know how the bigger smugglers/coyotes cross the southern border? Tunnels. Giant, miles-long tunnels that go right past the border. And the solution to stop this is... build a wall? My brain hurts.

  • Feb 6th, 2017 @ 4:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: More Cognitive Dissonance from Tech Dirt

    ...and the vast majority of the people banned are Muslim.

  • Feb 6th, 2017 @ 4:13pm

    Re: The I.T. Sector see this as a 'Canary in the Coal Mine' Scenario...

    So, let me get this straight. American workers aren't able to compete with foreign workers. They demand that the government step in to regulate the private sector, forcing companies to hire American workers, regardless of the costs involved. In order to effect those demands, these people vote for the party which espouses laissez faire capitalism, and to which the very idea of regulations is anathema.

    ...That chain of logic broke somewhere.

  • Jan 27th, 2017 @ 3:02pm

    Re: Makes sense

    Please post your full name, street address, birthdate, SSN, phone number, email address and password, marital status mother's maiden name, and the name of your first pet.

    Put up or shut up.

  • Jan 27th, 2017 @ 2:53pm

    US First

    Look, I get the US first mindset. I do. There are plenty of real problems here at home, and it can be frustrating to see so much time, effort, and money spent towards problems that don't even affect us. The US should not be acting as world police (and, indeed, doing so for the most part just pisses other nations off).


    With that said, it's doubly important to think about chained effects. Shit like this is dangerously short-sighted. Like it or not, we live in a global community. When we do shit like this, it sends a message that it's "us against the world", and that's a very dangerous message to send. Look at what Obama did after the Snowden leaks, he pulled back on intrusive surveillance of allied nations. Was this because he cares one whit about privacy? Obviously not, given what he sanctioned within our own nation. No, he curtailed some of the more egregious programs because our allies were pissed off about it, and he wisely avoided a major diplomatic incident. This is something Trump desperately needs to learn. Shit like this tends to escalate. It won't be long before our allies, let alone the rest of the world, takes this a step further in response.

    Fuck, say what you will about Hillary, (she would have been fairly terrible on domestic issues, in my opinion), but at least she understands international politics.

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