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  • Jan 19th, 2017 @ 9:33am

    Google stopped....

    If you look at the EFF page ( https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/10/google-changes-its-tune-when-it-comes-tracking-students ) discussing things, it looks like Google was tracking students via their student [Google Apps for Education] accounts and then using that data to build a profile used to market to them when the were using any other Google service outside of a very limited number that Google claimed were covered by their pledge.

    Google initially argued that technically they were abiding by their privacy agreement, they didn't show ads within the Google Apps for Education apps.

    Apparently in response to the EFF complaint they have stopped collecting data on student accounts. So while Mr. Hood may be able to complain about the past, it isn't ongoing. Other than some sort of monetary fine, there isn't anything for the courts to do.

  • Oct 5th, 2016 @ 5:46am

    They are just not doing it for the government....

    When Google says that they have never and would never build such a system for the government they aren't strictly speaking lying.

    They wouldn't have had to as they already have one. What do you think scans all of your GMail as part of their advertising operations?

    Now I'm not saying that Google has been re-purposing their exiting software to serve the NSA or other LEO's, but it wouldn't be the first time government actors piggybacked on existing advertising infrastructure. Some of the documents released by Snowden outlined the NSA doing just that.

    Perhaps Yahoo just found a way to get the government to pay for building the software to let them do with their email what Google's been doing with GMail all along.

  • Sep 9th, 2016 @ 10:58am

    Compulsary licensing closes some windows

    Just like in the music industry, a blanket compulsory license to all major manufactures would limit their ability to discriminate like they currently can.

    As things stand, they can demand that Tivo remove certain features, or not allow any content at all on Apple TV if they want. If the FCC's plan goes through, as long as the consumer has a cable subscription and that cable subscription includes those channels/movies, they can no longer say that XBOX and Roku are O.K., but PS3/4 and Apple TV are out.

    The MPAA are all about the windows; staggered releases, different pricing depending on format and geography are unfortunately all to common.

    Personally, the sooner we get to the point where they either release it everywhere at once or not at all, the better off we will all be.

  • May 20th, 2016 @ 9:06am

    Motion to Dismiss

    I think people are getting a little too worked up a little too early in the process. This is a Motion to Dismiss, which [IANAL] I believe means that the judge is required to look at things in a way that is most favourable to the other party.

    All the judge is basically saying is that if you squint and tilt your head sideways they might have a case. That's all they need to survive a motion to dismiss.

    It might not be likely, but it's possible that Google maliciously removed this company from their search results and erroneously accused them of breaking one or more of Google's policies as the reason for that removal.

    Because it might be true, he can't dismiss the case at this stage. This doesn't mean that they are right and Google's wrong, just that it's too early in the process to decide that.

  • Apr 29th, 2016 @ 11:34am

    Quantum encryption will save them.

    While it's true that classical encryption won't let them have a system that's both completely secure and allows law enforcement to get at the unencrypted contents, there is such a system:

    Quantum Encryption

    Just like Schrödinger's cat, the data will be both encrypted and plaintext at the same time.

    If presented with the owner's key or law enforcement's warrant the quantum encryption wave function will collapse into plaintext. For everyone else (especially the bad guys) the wave function will collapse into a state of encrypted data.

    So, Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein are right. As soon as we get our brightest minds to develop this special blend of mathematics, quantum physics, and computer science everyone will be both safe and private.

    [ /sarc ]

  • Apr 12th, 2016 @ 6:10am

    I guess he should be careful about his representation as well.

    If he hires, Dewey, Cheatem & Howe he might run into another fiduciary conflict....

  • Apr 8th, 2016 @ 7:11am

    the new normal.

    I believe ISPs would like this to be the new normal.

    You wrote:

    "And here you were thinking that's what your advertised existing monthly broadband bill was for."

    Your advertised existing monthly broadband bill has now been relabelled profit.

    The actual costs needed to build and sustain the service you are paying for are supported by all the fees they now charge.

  • Mar 22nd, 2016 @ 10:13am

    Good Facts vs. Real Facts

    Perhaps the U.K. minister is a fan of Babylon 5 (or Orwell). J. Michael Straczynski wrote in season 4 "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars" about a government trying to re-write history. This sounds like another variation on the same melody.

    Scientists deal in real facts.
    Governments (and corporations) deal in good facts

    What's the difference you ask?

    real facts represent reality. Unfiltered by any ideal or agenda.

    good facts represent facts that support the current ideology or agenda of the ruling party [or company] that espouses them.

    Good facts are fluid and infinitely malleable. Real facts are rigid, and only suitable for burying.

  • Mar 11th, 2016 @ 9:02am

    Public costs, private profits.

    Actually what we currently have is a corporatocracy. We might even have a fascist corporatocracy.

    The Free Market is a myth. Always was, always will be. Capitalism is a nice prod, an incentive to put a little life into an economy. Just like a game of monopoly, capitalism hates a free market. The end result of a successful capitalistic system, is one person owning everything and everyone else slaves to the winner. Just take a look at Standard Oil, the Great Depression, etc. to see where a lack of regulation gets you.

    Even those who advocate for a freer market understand that there are certain situations where the market will fail. Natural monopolies are one, it's terribly inefficient to have a dozen water pipes into everyone's home, and physically impossible to have a hundred roads between two villages. Healthcare is another area where the free market is ill equipped to function.

    You can choose to buy Pepsi over Coke, or something else entirely based on the price/value that a particular company brings to the table. Competition between producers vying for consumers dollars. But even here, there need to be basic rules (regulations). If Coke stole all of its ingredients and utilized slave labourers it could probably produce it's product much cheaper than Pepsi. That's what a truly free market would allow. So even in areas amenable to market forces, there need to be some regulations.

    Healthcare is something that when you need it you either get it or you die. There is no doing without, at least not for long. In addition, the people allowed to provide healthcare is heavily regulated, not just anyone can perform cardiac surgery (nor should they). Patents, a government granted monopoly [a.k.a. regulation] prohibits competitors from creating lower cost versions of life saving medicines. Which is the subject of the original article. Pharma is using regulations to stifle the Free Market driving up the cost of medicines in India.

    So if you truly wanted the free market to dictate health care, you would have to be prepared for lots of people to suffer and die. As scrooge would have said we would just be removing some of the surplus population.

    Hopefully you can see that the problem isn't an end result of our:

    '...petty "Regulate Everything" mentality and the constant assault on the Free Market.'

    It's the result of the wrong regulation.

  • Mar 11th, 2016 @ 5:36am

    As usual things are going in the absolutely wrong direction.

    As usual things are going in the absolutely wrong direction. Current healthcare costs, and prescriptions being an ever bigger part of that, just keep rising. The current system is unsustainable.

    It's a classic case of market failure. People can not not get healthcare, unless they want to suffer and die. Without strong regulations, including price controls, the prices will just keep going up. Great if you are in the industry, disastrous for sick people and the economy in general. It's quite literally a case of; your money or your life.

    Whether or not the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) is working is irrelevant. Even if it is, it's trying to solve the wrong problem. The problem isn't that there is a lack of universal health insurance, it's that there's a lack of universal (and affordable) health coverage.

    Having a health insurance plan with for example a $10,000 deductible, 80% coinsurance, no prescription coverage, and very few doctors that will take it, isn't much better than no coverage at all. With no coverage, at least you are saving on the premiums and you know more doctors will see you.

    When Vermont tried single payer, it wasn't the single payer part that doomed it, it was giving everyone coverage without having a way to contain healthcare costs.

    India shouldn't be giving up on using generics to produce reasonably priced medicine for its people. Instead the United States should be emulating India and making more use of compulsory licenses here.

  • Mar 10th, 2016 @ 11:37am

    You're thinking too small........

    I think folks are thinking too small.

    If letting terrorists use your website, app, hardware [think encrypted iPhone] means that you can be charged with providing material support for terrorism, them they don't need to rely on the All Writs Act.

    Just like any other completely ethical and above board plea deal, if you unlock this iPhone, then maybe we won't have you arrested for providing material support for terrorism.

    The government operates on many levels and is willing to play the long game....

  • Mar 2nd, 2016 @ 1:03pm

    Back to when the TV's remote was the VHS Recorder.

    Sure, that would be nice. Those of us old enough to remember when VHS was a shiny new thing and a television was a hulking CRT with a couple of dials (one for VHF and another for UHF channels), you could use your VCR

    (that's video cassette recorder, think 8 track tape compared to CD... hmm if you don't know what a VCR is, what are the odds you'll know what 8 track is? Nevermind... Wikipedia is your friend).

    remote control as the remote for the television. After cable had been around for a while television makers started incorporating that functionality into televisions directly. Sure you still needed a cable box for PPV or premium channels (think HBO, Cinimax, etc.), but basic ones unscrambled and available to anyone who wanted to add it to their products.

    If you combined that with the changes to the law that prohibited cable companies from charging you per television, we entered the nirvana where we subscribed to cable and could run it to all the kids rooms, the rec room in the basement, or wherever without asking the cable company's permission (or paying them more). This was also the era where we had television decoder cards for our personal computers and you could watch television on your computer, or create the first personal DVRs.

    This ended when they switched from analog to scrambled digital. Every television requires it's own set top box. They're not charging per television, just per set top box. See all perfectly legal (does anyone remember the old Rabbit system that would broadcast the television signal from one television to one or more other televisions? Think in house analog Sling TV, limited to other televisions).

    If the FCC succeeds in reopening this can of worms, just think of all the innovation that could happen? Innovation that your local cable company won't necessarily be getting a cut of. That probably gives them more indigestion than just the potential loss of their 20 billion in set top revenue.

  • Mar 2nd, 2016 @ 12:26pm

    Roku's betting on this initiative ending up just like CableCARD

    Roku's probably betting on this initiative ending up just like CableCARD. If history's any guide, there will be a lot of fanfare, maybe some progress, and then it will either be stillborn, or so hamstrung with restrictions that it may well have been.

    CableCARD itself, not exactly the poster child of success.

    Aero - crushed by lawsuits, Hulu hamstrung into uselessness, various third party players (including the great and powerful Apple) scaling back or abandoning the space altogether.

    The only success stories are those outside of the traditional cable industry entirely (see: Netflix, Amazon Prime).

    The FCC still hasn't done anything about; below the line fees, cushy insider deals (ex: XBox as cable box, but not PS), capping the competition while giving your own programming a free ride, etc.

    They are probably betting that when the dust settles, it's better to be on CableCo's good side than out in the cold.

    Just a thought.....

  • Mar 1st, 2016 @ 5:22am

    Right idea wrong target

    I think all of this right to be forgotten business might be a good idea, it's just directed at the wrong targets.

    Here in the US we shouldn't be left out. We should have a right to be forgotten too.

    Just in our case it's the government, not Google or Facebook, that should be required to expunge truthful data about us that they should never have acquired in the first place.

    The difficult part will be knowing all the government agencies we would need to send our requests too; NSA, CIA, ICE, Homeland Security.... IRS.

    You don't think the government would consent to having a single agency handle all of our requests to be forgotten.... do you?

  • Feb 18th, 2016 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Strong Passwords on iOS

    The only problem with the xkcd solution you've provided is that, seeing as the owner is already dead, there's no one left to drug or hit with a $5 wrench.

    Unless you are talking about Tim Cook.....

  • Feb 18th, 2016 @ 12:34pm

    Re: Privacy not an Issue? Really?

    As it's been said (often attributed to Cardinal Richelieu) and all the more applicable in our current overly criminalized world:

    "Qu'on me donne six lignes écrites de la main du plus honnête homme, j'y trouverai de quoi le faire pendre."

    Or for the American English majority:

    "If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him."

  • Feb 18th, 2016 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re: Somehow I think even she has limits.....

    But they could only;

    "... work hard and quietly at getting round censorship..."

    because there was space to do so. There were times when they weren't being watched that made activities like that possible.

    Modern technology is allowing oppressive governments, with the tools, to do things that were practically impossible before [and showing us just how oppressive supposedly enlightened governments, like the US, would like to be].

    • During the cold war it was practically impossible to track someone's every movement for months at a time, with cell phones it's trivial.

    • Tracking the location of every car that travels around town, impossible. Not now with automated license plate readers.

    • Putting a rural suspect's back yard [surrounded by an 8ft fence] under 24 hour surveillance for weeks at a time, kinda difficult not to spot the guy sitting on the pole holding the camera. Now, just nail a small hard to notice web cam to the pole.

  • Feb 18th, 2016 @ 12:12pm

    Somehow I think even she has limits.....

    Somehow I think that even Ms Bowles has limits on just how public she's willing to be. Sure she has an Echo in her bedroom, but I doubt she has public web cams there [or maybe she does, what do I know]. Transcripts of all her conversations, listings of all her purchases and prescriptions, her-up-to-the-minute itinerary and current GPS location are all posted in an easily accessible public place right? No? Why not, I thought she was so over that whole privacy thing.

    No one can live a completely public existence. Freedom, like a flower, dies under the merciless gaze of an unblinking sun.

    If people think they are being watched, if what they are doing, saying, is being recorded then they self censor. It doesn't matter if it never actually gets seen by anyone, the thought that it might will force people to change their behaviour.

    Eventually it's all twitchy, conformist, paranoid psychosis.

    Just because she's apparently lived a comfortable, doesn't think she has anything to worry about from the law, life so far, she's apparently just fine with the government breaking into people's cell phones. I say, great for her. She can turn off any encryption and not require a pass code on her phone.

    The rest of us need a chance to live a life with one less reason to fear our phones.....

  • Feb 18th, 2016 @ 11:50am

    Two words; parallel construction

    Two words; parallel construction

    If just means already has been as far as agencies like the NSA are concerned. As the Snowden revelations should have made clear, the only problem with the tin foil hat wearing paranoid conspiracy proclaiming subculture was that they weren’t paranoid enough.

    Assuming the FBI gets it's way, the only thing it will change is that every LEO, government agency, and divorce attorney will now be able to get access to anyone's iPhone contents. Well that and the data that just happens to fall out of an NSA briefcase and into an LEO/CIA operatives hands will attributed to this perfectly legal and above board strongly tailored and judicially approved source.

    Well that and people who care anything about security will migrate to other platforms.

  • Jan 29th, 2016 @ 5:35am

    I guess you haven't been following the stories on Techdirt.

    Your quote:

    "Such a strategy was doomed to fail from the beginning for any number of reasons, but mostly because you actually have to be using what you're trying to trademark in commerce in order to get it approved, and trolling isn't a commercial enterprise as far as I know.[emphasis mine]"

    Leads me to think that you haven't been following the stories here on Techdirt. We've been regaled with tales of companies who definitely practise trolling as a commercial enterprise; Prenda, Malibu, Crypto Peak, Intellectual Ventures, etc. the list is too numerous to contain with in a single posting.

    Perhaps you were referring to commercial trademark trolling? I haven't heard too much about that particular subspecies of troll lately.

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