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  • Jun 02, 2014 @ 01:51pm

    Not backing down

    There'll be people in the DOJ saying things like "Moral Hazard" and "slippery slope" etc, and however much they know they should back off they'll pursue it all the way and only then realise what they've done.
    But then it will be too late.

  • Nov 06, 2013 @ 05:14am


    There's an obvious tradeoff. We'd like to only intrude on privacy a) when there is reasonable suspicion b) with a court order. However, we'd also very much like (upon finding someone is a clear target of interest) to be able to look at data from before we knew the person was a target of interest.
    The only way (the NSA would argue) is to store everything in case you need to look at it later.
    The flaw with this is that we can't trust them to apply suitable discretion in when they look at stuff.

    But imagine a different arrangement, where an independent entity logged and stored everything, and only made it available to law enforcement / intelligence services with a court order.

    So NSA/FBI could some to this entity and say "we now believe person xxx to be a terrorist - here's a court order looking at his last 1 yr of phone metadata".

    Or they might come and say "we believe that this algorithm, run in the background, looking at credit card purchases, can identify bomb makers". And they'd explain why and show they had a court order for it. Then the independent institution would run the algorithm on their behalf and say "OK we found 2 people",but not name them.
    So NSA/FBI would apply for a new court order to have these 2 people's phone records tracked looking for a reason to suspect (including past calls). And the identities of the suspects would still not be shared with NSA/FBI until some reasonable grounds for suspicion emerged.

    This organisation would be non political, separately funded, and would receive the lions share of the current NSA's budget for R&D, but actual law enforcement would have to jump through legal hoops to get near anything that the independent entity logged.

    It would be publically known that this entity existed, though not necessarily public what it's capabilities were.

    It would have a very strong legal team and open source security. It's charter would be that it is specifically there to serve the people, and would be enshrined in a constitutional amendment. The council that led this body would be long term appointments, somewhat like SCOTUS.
    Any data recording capability (such as cameras that read licence plates) anywhere in the nation would feed into this organisation. Aggregating such data outside of this body would be a felony.

  • Feb 01, 2012 @ 03:02am

    Superinjunctions etc

    In the UK we had the ridiculous scenario where it was illegal for anyone to report that a famous footballer had had an affair with someone (or even that such an injunction existed). By the end everyone knew the facts but no-one could report them.

    I worry about a few things with a "right to delete" law such as this.

    John Smith writes on Techdirt "the sky is red"
    Peter Jones writes "John Smith says the sky is red but I disagree".
    John Smith writes to Mike and demands his remark is removed.
    Does Mike have to find and remove Peter Jones' comment too ?

    I would like to see
    - the right to ask Facebook et al to COMPLETELY delete an account and all related historic data
    - a company such as Facebook make it clear in their TOC when you signup that there might be a charge for this and what the charge would be. (Then they can't complain about the urden)
    - where I signed TOC's that hand over copyright of my postings, there should be a clear fee structure for buying it back.
    - the company would also make it clear where their responsibility ends (ie with their own servers). Mirrors, caches etc held elsewhere are not their problem and they won't scour the internet clearing up stuff that propagated as a result of it being publically accessible at some point.

    I heard someone on the news (a publicist) complaining that a 1 week jail term 20 years ago was the first thing that comes up on google about his client. I thought "tough".
    I don't think ANYONE should be able to censor facts that have at anytime been in the public domain. And that includes people running for office with previous DUI's etc. A fact is a fact, and it can't be copyrighted and shouldn't be censored.

    Therefore if I choose to demand to redact my comments in a forum
    - I better make sure I didn't give away the copyright first (read the TOC's !) or else be prepared to buy it back.
    - I should understand that the FACT that I made comments on the forum will be true and available in the public domain , even if the content is not.

    I don't think it's unreasonable for google to remove cached copies of content where the original content has been legitimately removed by some legal process. I'm sure they do already , but that's just a personal guess.

  • Jan 22, 2012 @ 02:33am

    Re: Re:

    "But think of this as the drug war on technology."

    You mean pointless, distracting, and doomed to fail ?

  • Dec 02, 2011 @ 07:53am

    Re: Yesterday, it was "piracy cost MPAA /at most/ $60 million"...

    If you're talking of the article I recall, it compared fantasy "lost sales" numbers with possible income via the "pirates" legally watching the movie through Netflix.

    The difference between the fantasy MPAA number and the $65M is the amount the MPAA is losing because of Netflix. The $65M is the amount they are losing because of pirates.

    In the case of games, there is no Netflix where the user could legally get one view of the game for a few $$ as part of a monthly subscription. But games are different to movies. Many people don't want to spend 50 hrs in front of the same movie, yet who'd rent a game for one night ?

  • Nov 12, 2011 @ 11:48am

    Why people illegally download (IMHO)

    In the UK we recently had "riots". Actually they weren't really riots, they were mass lawlessness, moving so fast from location to location that the police couldn't (apparently) keep up. As it happens, cctv has caught up with hundreds, but at the time the thought that they could not get caught was prevalent.

    Middle class hand wringing was the order of the day. There's a terrible underclass with no respect for the law, who "choose to ignore a law they happen not to like with no compunction, as soon as they think they can get away with it". The newspapers were falling over themselves to analyse this.

    But in fact this is no different in principle from speeding on UK roads. Plenty of people clearly choose to ignore laws that don't suit them, providing they can't get caught. If they know there are speed cameras and/or police out, they toe the line. Give them a deserted camera free road at night and they (most people) drive well over the speed limit when it suits them.

    And I would contend that if you ask anyone who downloads illegally if they would also walk out of HMV with a CD inside their coat, they would start by saying "that's different, that's theft" but admit under cross examination that they simply feel more likely to be caught doing that.
    Sure, everyone will construct a philosophical argument for it, but in truth, it's actually really simple most of the time.

    Ask someone would they steal AAA batteries that they needed from the supermarket. Probable answer no.
    But if they got home and found some had made their way into their shopping (not paid for) by accident, would they take them back ? Of course not.

  • Nov 05, 2011 @ 05:30am

    Wilful misunderstanding

    Wow, so many posters trying so hard to deliberately pretend they heard Mike say something he didn't.

    I must say that I started out thinking was a great way to filter. I'd say (for example) "Artists like Crowded House" and find a whole load of stuff I liked, but after a while I realised that this generated a pretty small playlist (which then repeated) and rather than be some clever algorithm that correlated likes from people who also liked CH, it seemed to be just playing me a a load of stuff that they had already categorised in the same sub-genre as CH. They way I spotted this was that I took one of the new bands that had come up and restarted for artists like them, and seemed to get same playlist. Maybe I was unlucky, but it was disappointing.

    Rather stupidly, allowed me to do this on the Sonos in my house (tagging likes and dislikes) and yet have never sent me an email encouraging me to buy some of the bands I discovered and liked. And guess what - because they can't show ads on my Sonos they have discontinued the Sonos free service. So they never tried to monetize it, as far as I can tell, and now a key new music discovery service has gone away (for me).

  • Nov 04, 2011 @ 03:17am

    The complexity is unworkable

    I know a UK equipment company who once asked CA state authorities if they need to charge state sales tax. They have no presence in USA and would only enter CA to install/train once the kit was delivered by UPS.

    CA's response was
    - coming to CA to install is enough of a nexus
    - you need a sellers permit before even taking an order
    - you will need to charge CA state sales tax and submit quarterly CA state tax returns
    - you'll be responsible for figuring out the state/county (stadium ?) tax rates and charging them.

    Imagine if
    - that UK company had taken these suggestions seriously
    - it had been the same in all 50 states

    Imagine a small UK company filing 50 separate US state tax returns and having to be able to calculate the sales tax anywhere in the USA, JUST so they were allowed to potentially accept an order from the USA.
    And imagine a UK company collecting California taxes from US citizens and taking the money out of the country for 3 months. Absurd.

    Now, I can see the bricks and mortar argument. The internet sector doesn't deserve a tax break just because it's "a bit tricky" to collect it.

    But it's really unworkable unless someone builds
    - a single official easy to use calculator/website/webservice that will calculate sales tax for any zip code nationwide
    - there is sensible (approved) software or website to keep track of it so you know what should be submitting on your quarterly state sales tax return
    - a means of submitting all state sales taxes in a single return to a national body that then divides them all up and shares them out to the states, to minimise needless overheads

    And I don't see that level of cooperation between the states any time soon.

    As some people often say in Europe, "you can't have a single currency across that many different regions until you harmonise the tax system"....

  • Nov 03, 2011 @ 02:09am

    Seems to make no sense

    This bizarre conclusion seems to make no sense.

    Seems to be saying if every published paper worldwide had been charged a publication fee of $1300, it would have amounted to the Elsevier profit number.

    The fact that PLoS can run on an open access model is certainly relevant to the discussion, but equating the numbers with a company's profits seems meaningless.

    What I'd like to see is a comparison between what Universities typically spend on paid access vs what they would pay if the $1300 publishing fee was introduced universally.
    If these numbers are compelling, then the Universities may want to campaign together for a change in how the world works. And that would be a big force to reckon with.

    Someone needs to show the for profit journals that there is an open access model they can still pay shareholders with, and this post seems to show the opposite. That Elsevier & Springer would need to charge $1300 on every paper in the world (not just their own) to return the same amount to shareholders that they currently do.

  • Nov 02, 2011 @ 02:17am

    Re: Re: end of licence?

    They may be the owner of the DRM but they probably originally signed something with the label saying they would not distrib any DRM free music.

    Surely the "right" thing to do would be to tell each user that their obsolete files were now available in a personal area as MP3 files instead.

  • Nov 02, 2011 @ 01:34am

    Re: White House petition process appears to be a waste of time

    What kind of response do you expect to a popular petition - 25,000 hand written letters ?

    The measure of a petition's success if if they take notice, not if they write you a nice letter.

  • Nov 01, 2011 @ 03:54pm

    Re: Re: Logic Bomb

    I agree with Mike that it is head in the sand behaviour to think suing people will "turn the tide" of piracy.

    I agree with TAM that Wiley is not "wrong" for trying it.

    I think Wiley are either naive or plain stupid for thinking they can make a difference. It's an issue of scale.

    The rationale behind suing people who fileshare is the same as the rationale for prosecuting shoplifters. It doesn't scare away paying customers and noone's pretending it's to turn existing shoplifters into paying customers.

    The flaw's with the current approach seem to me to be
    - unless you stood a very good chance of being caught (and you don't) the fear of being sued is not a good disincentive to filesharing. The only way a very unlikely thing is scary is when the consequences are huge, which generally means "legally disproportionate".

    - unlike shoplifting (where the person caught in possession is banged to rights), many of these file sharing cases are more like arresting everyone in a student house for shoplifting because stolen food is alleged to have been eaten on the premises. It's tenuous legal case and you can't always prove exactly who did it.

    Now, the few people Wiley catch probably aren't going to pay for the legal costs and Wiley won't (by themselves) impact the world of filesharing. But to admit defeat for that reason would be like saying "why vote, I have so little effect". So of course they bravely soldier on.

    Probably on the advice of a lawyer.

  • Oct 28, 2011 @ 04:50am

    Re: Besides the whiz bang factor, what else does it do?

    When I find I'm coming home early and want to come back to a warm house, I'd like to go online and tell the house to warm up.

  • Jun 25, 2011 @ 03:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Encryption

    Wasn't that Phil Zimmerman ?
    What part did Assange play, I can find no references for that.

  • Jun 25, 2011 @ 03:06pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Where in this title does it say "its possible"

    That would in the use of the word "can" rather than the word "did".

  • Jun 21, 2011 @ 04:30pm


    I thought he was saying just check the content hasn't already been uploaded once before.
    No need for an "official list". Just hash the content of every book at upload and block any whose hash is not unique.

    You can be pretty sure that among these 1000's of PLR books there will be a lot of duplication.

  • Jun 17, 2011 @ 05:34am

    When I was at high school...

    ... studying chemistry,

    Inorganic meant
    - stuff like salt
    - often coloured unless anhydrous
    - simple to understand
    - unlikely to kill you before you graduated

    Organic meant
    - stuff like benzene
    - probably coame from oil
    - mostly it stank
    - often it was highly flammable
    - teacher insisted on leaving the room before we started ("you kids only do this once, it's every week for me !")
    - mostly carcinogenic (or else not yet proven carcinogenic)

    Then a few years later the word "organic" suddenly seemed to start meaning "natural", "good" and "wearing sandals".

    How did that happen ?

  • Jun 03, 2011 @ 01:44pm

    Who'd want this camera ?

    for theaters it seems like a pretty expensive proposition for pissing off your customers

    And for phone manufacturers. Or will it be illegal to sell a camera that doesn't have this (thus forcing everyone to license Apple's IP ?).

    Hardly a selling point for a new camera that it can be disabled. Or will people just find some jailbreak code to "fix" the phone when they get it home. In which case you are just punishing the innocent.

    Will UK prominent soccer players be able to get "IR injunctions" to prevent the Paprazzi from photographing them with their mistresses ?".

    My suggestion for a better technology ? Continuously (randomly) varying frame rate & interlacing. This means there will be a periodic interference with the camera's fixed frame sampling rate causing a poor end product noone will be able to watch. But the human eye won't be fazed by it in the theater.

    Oops, should have patented it first...

    Doesn't fix the ANALOG hole, but who is using analog video recorders in theaters these days ?

    But I guess that would need new projectors and (maybe) cameras. Or could conventional digital recordings be post processed into this format ? In which case just new projectors.

    Why not just mandate that all new build cameras must emit a signal when filming ? Then the police could run into the theater armed with a receiver and arrest the terrorists / sorry, bootleggers, without any change to theater infrastructure.

    Or would that be overreacting ?

  • May 26, 2011 @ 02:33pm

    My new credit card company

    My card company of > 10yrs was bought by a large bank.
    Hmm. Wonder what terms they'll change to get their ?billion stake back.

    The new privacy policy was online as a PDF so I read it.

    There were three sections in effect
    - the ways we collect your data relating to you
    - the uses it can be put to
    - the groups of people we can share it with

    And if you take the worst from each category and make a sentence it would read something like

    We gather tons of data including every transaction you ever make and your IP address whenever you connect to our site,
    and we use this for any purpose that in our view helps our business, and we may share it with absolutely anyone it suits us to share it with.

    As an exercise I tried to copy the worst bits, stitch them together with a few "..." between and paste into an email back to their customer service dept and ask them to clarify.

    But the PDF of their terms is not possible to copy from. I tried it lots of ways. In the end I thought maybe I'd print it to another PDF then copy from that. But CutePDF couldn't print it (weird error).

    When they put that much effort into stopping you quoting their privacy policy in an email, it HAS to be time to move on !

  • May 25, 2011 @ 01:13am


    The big difference between his name being out on twitter and the mainstream press being allowed to report it is that twitter doesn't besiege your house with camera trucks and people trying to take pictures of all your family as they attempt to walk down the street.
    That is the "harassment" which is being referred to, not the idea of papers reporting it.

    Giggs knows we all know it is him.
    If this had all come out with no superinjunction it would still have been big enough news to get his family pestered by the press. (Though this has undoubtedly made it worse).

    I'd have preferred that the injunction simply addressed the real situation and sought to ban media organisations from within 100 yards of his family (who are the victims). Which is all it has really been achieving of late.

    On another point, even if twitter was UK based, I don't see how you can sue someone for tweeting this.
    If they don't know it is true for sure then they are guessing/speculating, and that can't be the same as wilfully revealing details. If it's legally secret, how am I supposed to know who it is ? How can I know when I retweet if I am breaking the injunction or not ? A law that I cannot legally find out whether I am breaking, is surely a stupid law.
    Maybe it comes down to tweeter zero, the first person to tweet it. Yet if they are not in a priveleged position to know the info behind the injunction, they are just speculating too.

    Put another way, if I tweet the identity of all the top 50 footballers, guessing it must be one of them, am I guilty of 49 libels and 1 injuction breaking? And if I have the right to know the charges against me, doesn't someone have to break the law to tell me what I did wrong ?

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