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  • Feb 6th, 2018 @ 3:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Knew Techdirt would deny, so here's a link that covers ALL:

    I could give a hoot about Nunez and Trump. But, using your scenario, if the cops knew that the tipster had an axe to grind against the neighbor and that his assertions about a meth lab were likely to be BS, then they should be required have something more credible before getting a warrant and definitely shouldn't go busting any doors down based on that "info".

    Just to be doubly clear, I think Trump, Nunez, and most Republicans are pathetic on surveillance issues. Just like Obama, Feinstein, and most Democrats. Ditto the FBI. Nevertheless, if it turns out a federal agency was using marginal intel to get FISA approval for spying on Americans (and not telling the Court what it knew about the dubiousness of the intel), then heads should roll.

  • Jan 11th, 2018 @ 5:10pm

    Re: Re: Besties?

    I guess if I thought the President (this one or any other) were listening to what I have to say, then I would want to make the best case for my opinions and have it appeal to him.

    I have no idea how much attention this President actually pays to Fox & Friends (I cut the cable over a decade ago) and it's pointless to speculate. But, I can see the participants of the show addressing him directly 1) because he might be listening and 2) because it appeals to the audience to give the impression that the President listens and that the audience gets to hear whatever "advice" they give him. I have heard hosts on other networks act similarly, so it's probably a useful tactic.

  • Jan 11th, 2018 @ 11:04am


    Really? How is Andrew Napolitano one of Trump's "besties"? I am not sure how Mike Masnick thinks that is an fair characterization.

    Anyway, best of luck of Rand Paul and Ron Wyden in blocking this in the Senate.

  • Jan 5th, 2018 @ 11:51pm

    Third Party Doctrine == Crap

    Once again, the third party doctrine is based on nothing, is counterintuitive to the citizenry in many situations, and yields absurd results. Dump it. I know the odds may be against SCOTUS eliminating the TPD, but cases like this highlight why it should and why the public should be outraged by it.

    The basic notion that a citizen's interaction with another citizen or entity necessarily happens without any expectation of privacy is ridiculous. Of course I expect the phone company to keep my location information private. If Verizon, AT&T, et al. published an open web page where one could look up the location information of a given person or phone number, people would be outraged. And, frankly, I'd bet the government would be, too. In that hypothetical, how long would it be before some politician or state's attorney decided to go after the mobile carrier for doing that? So, clearly, people do expect that such information is private.

    Why do these law enforcement agencies work so hard to sidestep and undermine the U.S. Bill of Rights? Why do they hate America?

  • Jan 3rd, 2018 @ 3:27pm

    Why do they need to search devices at all?

    How does bringing data (whatever it happens to be) into the country constitute a threat to the country? Or a crime at all? Data isn't drugs, or trafficking minors for sex, or terrorism, or whatever the buggaboo of the day is.

    Any response I have heard to that question tends to fall into the framework of "but the data might be evidence of a crime", which it certainly might be. So, show that the crime has been committed and probable cause that the person whose stuff is being searched committed the specific crime and then search his stuff. And, if the government actually has all that, then they wouldn't have any trouble getting a warrant. So, why not just go the full distance and pretend this is America and get the g*ddamned warrant?

    Instead, what we have is a sort of a 100-mile-fishing-expedition policy.

  • Nov 29th, 2017 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: the regulation isn't the same as the goal

    Actually, the headline of the article is the Cuban is clueless about NN rules. But, at least part of what Cuban is saying is that redefining the sector (reclassifying broadband services under Title II) gives the government more authority to regulate how the internet runs (that reclassification is not limited to NN) and that the people doing that regulation are not always going to be the people that pro-NN folks want in charge.

    The narrow point is that NN may be a worthwhile good. The broader point is that regulation isn't as a straightforward good, because it gives government more authority, which we then have no assurance that it will use in the way that we want.

  • Nov 29th, 2017 @ 11:32am

    the regulation isn't the same as the goal

    I am okay with net neutrality rules. I think there is enough evidence of insufficient competition in this market and of companies like Comcast and it's cohorts doing sneaky (and sometimes not-so-sneaky) things that amount to charging different rates for the same ones and zeros (usually while calling them a different "kind" of data).

    However, people on the pro-net neutrality side need to acknowledge a simple truth: The regulations ostensibly intended to accomplish X are not the same as X, even if they initially look similar. What technically aware people think of as net neutrality will not be the same as what the government is able to do under the guise of ensuring net neutrality. It's important to understand that government isn't some wizard casting a net neutrality spell on the internet and then, magically, we have net neutrality. I know that sounds silly, but that's often effectively what people assume with many kinds of regulation. Instead, the government assumes some power to regulate something and then a bunch of rules come out of that. The government then applies (often very selective) discretion in enforcing those rules. That's the reality. Rarely, that enforcement comes close to the ideal and often it does not.

    People on Techdirt rightly complain about the ill effects of regulatory capture and similar issues. We need to acknowledge that that is in play with net neutrality as well. Similarly, we see many cases where the government is given the authority to do something that's ostensibly useful and it ends up getting used to do something abusive. That is in play here as well.

    I have no idea what's in Cuban's head. But, it's a worthwhile point that, even if net neutrality stays as it has been, Trump's people will be in charge of enforcing the regulations. It's a valid point that changing how this tech sector is defined such that government has more authority over it is giving Trump's people more influence over how the sector is run. I think Mr. Bode has made a strong case that Trump's people are not to be counted on to enforce the rules in ways consistent with what most of us want. We can't go around thinking that, since someone whose views on the topic were more appealing was in charge when the rule was implemented that somehow that cements how it will be used when the next guy comes along. It doesn't. We give the government some authority and the person in charge right now will use it as he sees fit.

  • Nov 13th, 2017 @ 11:57am

    (untitled comment)

    Civil asset forfeiture is the government saying, "Remember all that happy talk about due process and innocent-until-proven-guilty? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

    Civil asset forfeiture should not be a tool of law enforcement. Full stop. If someone has broken the law, then gather the evidence, arrest them, prove it in court, and then a judge decides whether the state can confiscate their ill-gotten gains. That's criminal asset forfeiture. It's typically hard to argue against, which is why Rosenstein is trying to conflate it with what he's defending. Skipping the first three steps (and, in so doing, calling into question the critical "ill-gotten" part of the last step) is civil asset forfeiture and it is an affront to anything one could call justice.

    The deceptions and outright lies Rosenstein makes are a reflection of how desperate the pro-theft crowd have gotten. They know that, in the end, arguing that government should be able to take people's stuff without a trial is a loser. Everytime they have a compelling example of an actual bad guy, the obvious response is, "So, why not convict him, so we can take his stuff and get him off the street?" Every other example is one of either potential or obvious abuse, where they have a hard time showing there was ever an actual bad guy.

  • Nov 9th, 2017 @ 1:01pm

    Re: Re: Attitudes incompatible with good policing

    And... the strawman cometh.

    No one said they were the bring-me-a-glass-of-water kind servant. And, frankly, it's difficult to believe anyone reading is biased enough to think that is what was meant. The idea that public servants should understand that they serve the public simply cannot be that hard to grasp.

    BTW, if someone tells an officer to get him a glass of water and the officer responds by punching that person in the face, the officer should be arrested for assault and fired, just as would be appropriate for anyone else who reacted that way. I certainly hope that any poster here who thinks that sort of violent response to a minor verbal indignity is appropriate for a police officer doesn't have a badge.

  • Nov 8th, 2017 @ 10:27pm

    Re: When will...

    When will the age of politicians exhibiting a solid understanding of anything (aside from politics itself) actually reach politics? The best evidence seems to indicate: never. Seriously, politicians routinely demonstrate a deeply flawed understanding of economics, medicine, law enforcement, science, etc. I would love it if things were somehow different with high-tech fields, but I don't see why they would be.

    The real question is: Why do we trust politicians to deal with these issues and clamor for government to "fix" problems the people running it know so little about?

  • Nov 8th, 2017 @ 10:11pm


    There are others. For instance, Rand Paul is one of those who is usually on the right side of the issues that get attention on Techdirt (e.g. on the side against passing a stupid law that will make things worse). But, these issues seem to be Wyden's bread and butter. And, thank goodness for that. I don't honestly know Wyden's opinion on most issues. But, I have come to expect that, on technology-related issues, I am thrilled that he is out there.

  • Nov 8th, 2017 @ 9:37pm

    Attitudes incompatible with good policing

    Two things. First, someone sincerely claiming that he feared for his safety when "attacked" by a twelve-pound rat terrier isn't suited for police work. Full stop. Policing is a job where officers need to respond with restraint to serious threats. Responding with deadly force to a minuscule (in every since) threat like this shows a disqualifying inability to assess threats.

    [Some would doubt that the tiny-dog-killing cop was sincere. Perhaps so. There are certainly people with an irrational fear of dogs. But, it's also true that cops are trained to put certain words in a police report when they have discharged a weapon. Either way (irrationally fearful of commonplace things or lying in a police report), they should be fired.]

    Second, what attitude did this cop have when he did this? For certain, his attitude was not, "I work for these people and this is their pet." In other words, the "Serve" part of Protect and Serve was missing from his attitude.

    This I'm-in-charge attitude is too commonplace at all levels of government, from law enforcement to politicians. They forget our fundamental civics: In America, we elect our servants, not our rulers. The same is true for non-elected public servants; we are paying these people to serve us, not to be our bosses. They think that the badge signifies that they are in charge in any situation and that everyone else is supposed to obey them, making with the yessirs and nosirs. Except in cases where a serious threat exists (which was not the case here), those servants have it reversed. Until people wake up and demand that their servants act the part, the dog-killings, the beatings, the forced cavity searches, the head stompings, etc. will continue.

  • Nov 2nd, 2017 @ 11:40pm

    How far will they go with these fantasy crime convictions?

    These convictions based on the idea that there was no actual crime, but the defendant thought that there was are almost too surreal. I wonder how the courts would rule if the feds stole (forfeited) someone's car, had it repainted, and then convinced the owner that the car is someone else's, but that he should steal it because his was stolen and this one is the same model. Would it be ok to convict that person of grand theft auto for stealing his own car? Would the AFT (gasoline is combustible, so I'm sure they consider this part of their bailiwick) be on board with the scam? No? What if the target were tricked into bringing a gun along (provided by the feds, of course) to the "robbery"? What if the target were told there was $1,000,000 of cocaine in the trunk? And kiddie porn?

  • Oct 13th, 2017 @ 10:24am

    So, what does NBC do now?

    It seems like NBC would have more than a leg to stand on if it chose to go after Trump in court. Will it do so?

    On the one hand, it would be useful NBC went to the mat and won. Some folks have never quite accepted that Trump is actually the president, and they spend (too) much of their time fantasizing about the scandal that will finally boot him from office. I have no such illusions that something like this will end the Trump presidency. But, a court ruling against him in a matter like this might make him do something he doesn't seem to do now: Think for half a second about what it means for the President to say something publicly before he says it. And, just maybe, not say it.

    On the other hand, why try to fix Trump? His directness and unfiltered comments are part of why his supporters like him. But, they are also how he reveals himself as a boob much of the time*. Would we be better off if he thought all of these silly things and didn't say them? It would be less annoying and possibly less embarrassing. But, we might be better off with these constant reminders that, in many respects (not all), the President is an idiot.

    (* But also cunning. He knows that his opposition's obsession with his every controversial tweet means that they waste time on those tweets instead of paying attention to his actual policy initiatives. He knows they can't resist screaming when he pokes them, so he pokes them and goes on to do something else.)

  • Oct 13th, 2017 @ 10:06am

    Mr. Masnick really likes Owedi v. Molinari

    I like it, too. But, I don't think I have ever quoted the same identical paragraph from it twice. ;-)

  • Sep 19th, 2017 @ 5:05pm

    (untitled comment)


    Someone needs to give us what a better bill looks like.

    So, someone needs to give Blumenthal a blowjob before he can understand that someone else is kicking him in the nuts. Bonehead.

  • Sep 11th, 2017 @ 11:07am

    Maybe crowdfund to increase exposure instead

    The $30,000 in crowdfunding for the vendor is impressive. But, I wonder if that sort of fundraising would be better spent maintaining an ongoing advertising and media presence for this issue. Billboards with a still of the cop grabbing the cash and a caption saying, "We pay police to clean up the streets, not to clean out vendors' wallets" and social media links to the video with the message "If the 'policy' says this is okay, then the policy needs to change" and so on might actually prompt some change.

  • Sep 1st, 2017 @ 9:35am

    (untitled comment)

    You would have thought that farmers would welcome the ability to shape local agricultural laws according to local needs and local factors like weather, water and soil.

    Actually, farmers don't see things that way because that's not how it works. The ability of cities or counties to pass their own regulations on X doesn't mean that the state or feds won't also regulate X. So, that ability encourages regulations at every level, meaning more regulations overall, not just locally tailored ones.

    Additionally, in many areas, those local politicians and bureaucrats passing new rules on how to use seeds or whatever aren't farmers, don't know anything about agriculture, and are reacting to volatile public opinion. Should a biased article in Rolling Stone about bee apocalypse prompt local panic and new regulations about planting "bad" seeds? What sort of local laws might come about from internet rumors that cell phones are killing bees? I can see how a state-level law to prevent such local legislation might be favored by farmers.

    This isn't saying I think the state-level legislation in question is necessarily a good thing. But, the idea that the nominal "local control" aspect of the current system would be appealing to farmers just doesn't reflect reality.

  • Aug 22nd, 2017 @ 11:14am

    So many bad consequences to come...

    Keep in mind 2 things: 1) The government can demand data for a whole host of legal reasons, none of which require a conviction. So, we are talking about the data of people who are still presumed innocent. Don't be fooled into thinking the targets will only be "bad" people who have committed what most of us might consider a serious crime. Like every other overly broad legal tool, this will eventually be used by some cop to check if his girlfriend is cheating on him or to see what secret files some celebrity is keeping. 2) If our government can do it, so can the governments of Russia, Iran, China, etc. Will they hesitate to demand the data that any company (not just Google) has on someone they want to target? E.g. a business competitor, a suspected undercover/counter-terrorism operative, etc? Of course they won't.

    Keep in mind that it seems like the only relevant standard the court is really enforcing here is that there is someone in the U.S. to whom law enforcement can hand a court order and that said someone can get access the data from here, whether or not the data itself is currently here. That's basically any data stored by a company that has a U.S. office.

    At the end of the day, this encourages companies to off-shore not just some of their data for efficiency purposes, but also their headquarters and any offices so that this can't happen. Odd-sounding notions like businesses incorporated on floating private island nations that aren't subject to traditional national jurisdiction are typically met with lots of outrage by people who disdain all things corporate. But, here is potentially a good civil rights reason for such places.

  • Aug 15th, 2017 @ 4:57pm

    (untitled comment)

    But that is a failure of a good idea gone too far, not of the idea of supercharging the fame of horrible people itself being bad.

    Well, the innocent guy was threatened due to the actions of self-righteous internet tough guys who were more than happy to be thugs when they could hide behind a thin veneer of moral outrage. And, that result was actually an inevitable consequence of the let's-shame-these-moral-degenerates-into-hell idea, since internet mobs like this can never be counted on to do this sort of thing carefully and with diligence. So, in practice the distinction between "good idea gone too far" and "bad idea" is pretty much tissue thin here.

    Not that I think there should be any legal prohibition on this sort of thing. But, cheering it on is BS. If people don't see the irony in innocent people being f*cked with by others who have ignorantly decided that they are morally inferior, ...

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