Shaun Wilson’s Techdirt Profile


About Shaun Wilson

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  • Jul 8th, 2020 @ 4:45am

    The real problem

    It's actually a matter of jealousy, the US politicians are jealous of those politicians in China who have the power to successfully order censorship on local websites/apps and the banning of foreign ones. Since the US politicians are having little luck instituting censorship on local websites/apps they want to prove (perhaps even to themselves) that this lack of relative power isn't so broad, at least they can ban foreign apps/websites.

  • Apr 7th, 2020 @ 6:42pm

    What he actually meant

    I think it's worse than how your summation of his comments implied, instead it should be: "I'm sorry you thought I called the captain stupid when I said he was either stupid or a criminal, I obviously meant he was a criminal."

  • Jul 16th, 2019 @ 8:57pm

    Don't throw pain patients under the bus

    I suffer from ongoing pain due to arthritis and about the only thing I'm offered any more is oral acetaminophen (or paracetamol as we call it here is Australia). Unfortunately for me it doesn't seem to have any effect while opiates work well and have negligible side effects - but because of political and media grandstanding I've been almost completely weaned off them.

    When I was on a reasonable dose of opiates I had a life and a (part time) job, now I have no life, no job and I barely make it out of the house most days. While some so called "pill mills" actually involved fraud the majority are just good doctors, some of the few still willing to buck the public pressure and actually care for their patients. By being one of the few not scared away from treating pain they therefore get a good reputation for helping and end up seeing more patients in need.

  • Apr 11th, 2019 @ 6:11pm

    Penalties for False Take-downs

    In a similar manner to the story about Canadian copyright treat letters from earlier this week or more directly analogous with the DMCA, if there is no penalty for false take-downs being sent the many, or perhaps a majority, will be false and cause massive censorship. At an absolute bare minimum the penalties for ignoring a take-down (or in this case not responding within 1 hour) should not apply to any further requests send from a source that has proved itself "incompetent" in this manner. If you want to actually be reasonable about it however then the submitter of the false take-downs should be fined (again at a minimum) the cost of dealing with the false take-down such as the cost of the time spent by employees dealing with take-down requests, commercial losses if a commercial site (or some of it's content) is taken down by a responding hosting provider and even damages for the reputational costs and emotional and mental harm associated in having your content falsely designated as terrorist content.

    Ideally the individual within the "competent authority" responsible for a false take-down should also personally liable - such as the law in the US that states that government employees are personally liable for violating citizens constitutional rights - but even if that were somehow passed, the EU courts would likely react the same as the US supreme court did and completely make up something like "qualified immunity" to essentially overturn such a law.

  • Mar 18th, 2019 @ 10:10pm

    Financial sense for whom?

    While you are likely correct that this continued legal action doesn't make sense for the company as a whole or it's shareholders, there is one group for whom it almost certainly does make financial sense - the lawyers themselves. Odds are that any halfway competent lawyer would have the skills to "explain" that either the courts are wrong to rule against them and/or that they need to take on these fights regardless. What is likely harder would be to explain why they need their job if all they do is occasionally report to management that everything is fine and they don't need to sue anyone.

  • Dec 18th, 2018 @ 5:00am


    I agree almost completely with this with the exception that the penalties should apply to the people in the agencies acting illegally instead of (or in addition to) the actual agencies and probably should include significant criminal penalties as well. If it's not their own money the fine comes out of then almost no level of fine could possibly be high enough to have any effect.
  • Dec 18th, 2018 @ 4:53am

    Jail the prosecutors

    The people who prosecuted/perseceted Swartz belong in jail, their harassment led directly to his death. With social media bullying suicides getting attention it's absurd this isn't considered criminal as harassment is thousands of times worse with the power of the state behind the bully. But obviously that's exactly why it isn't criminalised, even in our supposed modern democracies we still have a high Court/low Court system like in feudal days but with politicians and selected "public servants" now in the place of the nobility.

    Separate and unequal justice for all.
  • Jun 8th, 2018 @ 6:37am

    That's a new one

    The court ... does make it clear it will trust videotape more than it will trust cops.

    I pretty sure it was on this site only a few years back that we heard that a cop's recollection could be trusted more than a video. If I remember right it involved a camera in a police van showing a prisoner being assaulted by a cop and the court deciding that the cop's memory (of "helping") was more reliable than the video of the assault.

  • Jun 8th, 2018 @ 6:14am

    Re: Re:

    So... a second "American Revolution"?

    As an outsider, it's my understanding that this is precisely why you guys have your second amendment - so that a second revolution, if needed, had a chance of succeeding. Or am I missing something here?
  • Jun 2nd, 2018 @ 5:30am

    (untitled comment)

    the TSA's definition of "assault" -- much like law enforcement's...

    It seems law enforcement's definition of assault usually involves citizens "assaulting" a (or many) police officers fists with the citizen's face - though I suppose this does make it a close matchup to the TSA's definition.

  • Feb 24th, 2018 @ 6:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Robbers use guns, lockup everyone with guns.

    It may be a positive use of a gun, but it's destructive, not constructive.

    Getting into semantics is often problematic with an argument, no mater which "side" you fall on. So, onto the semantics and analogies!

    Removing ivy growing on an historic building (ie killing it) is obviously destructive to said ivy as shooting a rapist is to them. On the other hand if the ivy is actively destroying the building is it really a destructive act to destroy the ivy? It could even be argued it is actually a constructive act by contributing to the repair of the building.

    In the same way is preventing the "destructive" act of a (implied) violent rape by the "destructive" action of shooting (or even just scaring off) the rapist with a gun really an overall destructive act? It could even be considered constructive by removing the rapist's ability to continue being destructive to both the individual victims and society. Furthermore, if that removal helps the world heal and grow to a point where no woman would fear a stranger alone on a street at night, then it could become even more truly a constructive act.

  • Feb 24th, 2018 @ 4:34am

    (untitled comment)

    Even defining what a "real name" is can be problematic. If a person's birth certificate identifies them as "Name: John Smith, Gender: Male" is that what they must use on Facebook etc? And is registering as "Name: Jane Smith, Gender: Female" automatically a violation, even if their friends would use "She's Jane Smith" to introduce them?
  • Feb 13th, 2015 @ 5:22pm

    Re: FOIA

    Alright I suppose you are right that some of the files that they found that relate to the "drug lord" don't actually relate to the DEA's role in his capture and some time must be spend eliminating the irrelevant records. However as I pointed out above, according to the DEA's foia page:
    fees can be charged to recover review costs. Review is the process of examining documents to determine whether any portion is exempt from disclosure ... review costs may be charged to commercial requesters only

    And again as I said above, the DEA determined "there is no indication that you are a commercial requester" and so those review costs cannot be charged to him.
  • Feb 10th, 2015 @ 12:41am

    (untitled comment)

    Initially looking at the story I thought that while $1.4 million did seem a large amount, with "13,051 investigative case files" involved then maybe the time spent reviewing them for redaction meant it was legitimate. I decided to look into it further, just to see.

    Firstly in the DEA's response letter there is the fee waiver section. This is not based on the volume of documents requested rather on how 6 different factors are "balanced". The DEA basically said that 5 of 6 factors were in the requester's favor and "Consequently, you request for a waiver of fees is denied." What? The "balancing" determined that even though the request would contribute to "public understanding" (factor 3) it would not do so "significantly" (factor 4) and this one factor outweighed the 5 other factors. This seems rather dubious but lets continue.

    How about the time spent "searching" for the documents? The DEA conducted a "preliminary" search which involved entering the drug lord's "name, social security number and/or date of birth" into the "Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Information System (NADDIS)" which found 13,051 files. Ok so it looks like the actual "search" part is already done (even if only in "preliminary" form) so that can't take much time, how about the review for reactions? Well according to the DEA "review costs may be charged to commercial requesters only" and they have already told the requester "there is no indication that you are a commercial requester" (factors 5&6 above).

    So this all adds up to mean that the DEA thinks it will take over 5 years of effort to type a few words into a computer system. Even considering that it took almost a whole year to type this in on a "preliminary" basis I can't believe that they were working full time typing those few words nor that it would take 5 times as long to type it "officially". The only other reasonable conclusion is that those are mostly copying fees and there are over a thousand pages in each of those files. Or, you know, the DEA is lying. Take your pick.
  • Sep 15th, 2014 @ 4:08pm

    (untitled comment)

    When the top accomplishment listed is "Smartcan is patented" that kinda reduces any trust I have in the quality of the product. I'm not sure how bad patent trolling is outside the software field but whenever I see a new company promoting its patents I generally assume it will just end up being acquired by a troll or even becoming one.
  • Aug 5th, 2014 @ 5:26am

    Re: Re:

    I'd say my thoughts are pretty similar - at first glance it seemed almost obvious that the basic ruling was correct given the major corruption in the Russian government. The only question seemed to be whether the size of the award was appropriate and who should pay it - ideally Putin personally and whomever of his cronies received the stolen company assets.
    The story seems more complicated however as it appears that the shareholders themselves acquired the company - initially from the Russian government - through corruption so it seems a bit hypocritical of them to complain about the Russian government's corruption in stealing it back.
  • Jul 8th, 2014 @ 9:57pm

    Heroes of Dragon Age

    I play an EA game on my phone called Heroes of Dragon Age which also features a "freemium" model with a purchasable "gem" currency alongside the more common "gold". You can earn a limited amount of gems in-game or purchase them: the "Best Value" (and highest cost) pack gets you 1600 Gems for $129.99, the "Most Popular" is 275 Gems for $24.99 and the cheapest is 22 Gems for $2.50. You use "Stamina" for pvp battles and "Energy" for pve which slowly renew up to a maximum of 6 each or can be renewed for 3 Gems instantly. You can also use 38 Gems to purchase a random "Rare" hero, with the only use for "Gold" being to purchase a random "Common" or "Uncommon" hero, though all ranks to have a chance of rewarding a higher ranked hero up to "Epic" or "Legendary" and sometimes the higher ranked heros can be bought for several hundred gems - usually just in time for a special event where they will be of most use.

    Now it is possible to play the game without spending real money as I do - I can even get into the top 10,000 in a pvp match (with effort), especially as a few gems are rewarded as you progress in pvp. However it seems certain that the higher ranked players are spending quite a bit of money to get there and the game is definitely designed to keep you spending money as a way to continue playing, rather than as an optional extra to support the developers if you wish to. I would be much happier if the game instead had a limited free mode with the option to pay to unlock pvp say - I would definitely have paid for it as it is fun, it's just that the freemium elements are irritating and detract from the overall enjoyment of the game.
  • Mar 31st, 2014 @ 6:10am

    (untitled comment)

    The United States wouldn't negotiate away its right to regulate in the best interest of its citizens

    The US (and really any other) government does this all the time when they want to pass laws that aren't "in the best interest of its citizens". This occurs when they want to help out political donors as with copyright law and when they want to attack minorities and maintain/increase police power over their "citizens" as with drug prohibition.
  • Mar 5th, 2014 @ 12:37am

    (untitled comment)

    They have already done this with previous pokemon games for DS - "Pokemon Black and White" and "Pokemon Black 2 and White 2". They used to have an online component called the dream world but they shut this down not long before the new 3ds games came out. Without this online functionality it is still possible to "complete" the game - though significant functionality is lost. This is particularly a problem with pokemon games as they are still played long after the initial release - as reflected by their high resale value years after they are no longer available new.
  • Jan 14th, 2014 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If you just leave your computer on with a webcam pointed at your pet basket when you go on holiday, or have a baby monitor that includes video (though not a nanny cam) and that happens to catch a recording of a criminal act then you probably would be able to argue that the recording is incidental (and hope that any cops and judges you encounter aren't having bad days). However the point of a security camera is generally for security. Good luck convincing anyone that the real purpose for your security camera is to check if you remembered to turn the light off, even if you use it for that purpose far more often than for recording criminal acts.

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