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Posted on Techdirt - 3 August 2021 @ 9:26am

Canadian Government Continues Its War On Internet Freedom With New 'Online Harms' Legislation

from the it's-very-bad dept

A few months ago, we wrote about the Canadian government's attempt to give its broadcast regulators sweeping new powers to regulate social media via Bill C-10 — a massive piece of legislation that seemed to only get worse over time thanks to unclear, ever-shifting provisions and a rushed, secretive amendment process before being passed by the House of Commons in the middle of the night. That bill is now in limbo in the Senate, and Canadians are waiting to see if it will come back in the September session or be preempted by an early federal election. Unfortunately, the stalling-out of Bill C-10 hasn't put a stop to the ruling Liberal government's efforts to create unprecedented new powers of internet regulation, and now their ongoing campaign is continuing with a technical paper outlining plans for more new legislation to address "harmful online content".

The planned bill is supposed to address five categories of content: terrorist content, incitement of violence, hate speech, non-consensual sharing of intimate images, and child sexual exploitation material. This apparently noble goal masks a wide range of utterly disastrous plans for stringent regulation that belong in the hall of fame for bad internet policy. The effort is headed up by Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault — the same Minister whose astonishing inability to answer questions about Bill C-10 all but confirmed that the law would do far more than its stated intent. In theory, the release of this technical paper is kicking off a public consultation, but the rushed and secretive procedure that happened with C-10 has left most observers completely unconvinced that the government will be genuinely receptive to even good-faith criticisms of the plan or its potential impact on free expression in Canada. Michael Geist describes it as:

...a process billed as a consultation, but which is better characterized as an advisory notice, since there are few questions, options or apparent interest in hearing what Canadians think of the plans.

... The perspective on [Online Communications Services] is clear from the very outset. After a single perfunctory statement on the benefits of OCSs which says little about the benefits of freedom of expression – the document does not include a single mention of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or net neutrality – the government proceeds to outline a series of harms.

So just what would this proposed bill do to address its list of harmful content? It would establish a huge new web of bureaucracy consisting of a Digital Safety Commission, a tribunal to rule on content takedown demands, and an advisory board to shape ongoing social media regulation. Through this framework, "Online Communications Services" (the government lists Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter as examples) would face expansive new requirements, such as taking down content the bureaucrats deem unsuitable within 24 hours (we discussed how unrealistic and dangerous this is when the EU had the same idea) and adhering to new pro-active monitoring and reporting requirements that will force them to turn over information on Canadian users directly to federal law enforcement. The new Digital Safety Commissioner would have the power to determine whether their monitoring efforts are sufficient, including whether or not the use of AI tools is acceptable. This could have any number of consequences, all of them bad: aggressive over-blocking of content, invasive monitoring of users even in private messages (though the government insists private communication will not be covered, this government's history of failing to uphold its promised limits on internet legislation does not inspire much confidence), and Canadians getting visits from the feds for engaging in protected speech.

If platforms fail to comply with the requirements they could face hefty penalties, and ultimately the government could play its trump card: ordering all Canadian ISPs to block access in the country, depriving all Canadians of powerful tools for free expression because the companies were unable to meet impossible requirements. That's assuming that many platforms don't just stop operating in Canada themselves in order to avoid the stifling regulatory framework, because if you're wondering where these takedown demands will come from and what the required remedies will look like, the answer is... almost anyone, and almost anything:

In order to enforce these rules, the public could file complaints with the Digital Safety Commissioner. The new commissioner would be empowered to hold hearings on any issue, including non-compliance or anything that the Commissioner believes is in the public interest. The Digital Safety Commissioner would have broad powers to order the OCSs “to do any act or thing, or refrain from doing anything necessary to ensure compliance with any obligations imposed on the OCSP by or under the Act within the time specified in the order.” Moreover, there would also be able to conduct inspections of companies at any time.

Yes, the government wants to give a new commissioner the power to basically set any rules they want about how online platforms operate, for any reason, so long as it can be framed as a matter of "public interest" — and to be able to conduct random inspections to ensure compliance. It also provides extremely wide latitude for the commissioner to hold hearings in secret if the issue can be said to impact privacy, national security, international relations, national defense or confidential commercial interests, among other things. And that's not all: the planned legislation would also grant Canada's national intelligence service, CSIS, new powers to secretly investigate online threats.

And, for the pleasure of facing all these stringent new requirements that would make operating in Canada extremely unappealing if not impossible, online platforms get to foot the bill:

The proposed legislation will create new regulatory charges for OCSs doing business in Canada to cover the costs of the regulatory structure as the companies will pay for the Digital Safety Commissioner, the Digital Recourse tribunal, and the Digital Commission. As part of the payment requirements, the Digital Safety Commissioner can demand financial disclosures from OCSs to determine ability to pay and Canadian revenues.

And once again, because it's worth reiterating: the document outlining these plans never once mentions the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or, even in general, the right of Canadians to free expression.

It's hard to imagine a more appalling, arrogant move by this current government, even after its long history of trying to clamp down on the internet with powerful new regulations. These proposals are not new ideas: they've been floated and sometimes attempted in countries all over the world for years, and the huge problems they present have been discussed and dissected many times. But the government hasn't even paid lip service to criticisms and counterarguments, and its invitation for public comment feels perfunctory and irrelevant rather than sincere — especially with Minister Guilbeault's track-record of ignoring such criticism and failing to give clear answers to important questions.

If Bill C-10 is any indication, the House of Commons will rush this proposal through and frame opposition as bad-faith partisanship, while constantly tweaking the specifics in ways that will make it difficult for the public to even know precisely what the final bill says and does. The strongest obstacles to its passage are the Senate and the looming possibility of an early election, but Canadians can't rely too heavily on either of those things. It will take a truly massive deluge of official public comment submissions (accepted until September 25th), as well as pressure on Members of Parliament and some good old public outrage, to stand a chance of making this government pause before barreling forward with this disastrous plan.

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Posted on Techdirt - 1 August 2021 @ 1:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the it-has-been-said dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Eric with a response to our post about the Vancouver roofing company that got hit with several negative reviews after suing over a single negative review:

So easy to fix this initially...

Its amazing how all of this could have been so easily avoided and fixed...Owner of ERS: "Hey Adam and Autumn, just saw the review you left and want to express how sorry I am for the experience you had, I spoke with our office manager to make sure this doesn't happen again. It is our policy, though, to only share the details with the customer. I'll reach out to your landlord to see if we can send it your way, if not, then it would be best for you to connect with the landlord for the information" ... I'm guessing after that most people would modify or at least edit their review. How do people not know how to fix these things?!

In second place, it's Nathan F with a comment about people who want Nazi content removed from the Internet Archive:

So, should we also pull down information about the Crusades? They did some pretty reprehensible things in their efforts to "return the holy lands" to the church. How about the Spanish Inquisition, or the Trail of Tears? Should we pull down everything about the horrible things people have done in the name of God and or country, because if we do that and try and pretend that everything in the past was all sweetness and light your going to have problems in the future.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from That One Guy on our post about how it's time to stop calling the negative consequences of FOSTA "unintended":

'How could I have known the experts knew what they were saying?'

If every expert and person in a field tells you 'if you pass your bill X will happen' and you pass that bill anyway you meant for X to happen. It may or may not have been your primary goal but it was something you considered at best an acceptable cost of that goal and as such you deserve no benefit of the doubt, no 'I didn't think that would happen' excuse or justification, you were told it would result from your actions and did them anyway.

Next, it's TFG expanding on another comment refuting the notion that anti-vaxxers would go away for vaccines that are fully FDA-approved:

To double-down on this point, antivaxxers existed well before Covid-19, and are the reason behind several measles outbreaks in the years prior to the current pandemic.

The MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine has been fully FDA-approved for nearly 50 years as of 2019 (ref: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/fda-brief/fda-brief-fda-reiterates-importance-vaccines-such-measles- mumps-and-rubella-mmr-vaccine )

Full FDA approval won't make this nonsense go away. It would be very nice if it would, but it won't.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Rico R. with a comment on our post about removing all Google ads and tracking code from Techdirt, in which we recounted our many problems with being flagged by AdSense:

I can’t believe Google would want to cut funding from a blog ran by one of Google’s own biggest shills. /s

In second place, it's an anonymous response to the police union that gave its Officer Of The Year award to a cop who spent the year on suspension:

He could do no wrong

He won by being the only officer whose actions in 2020 couldn't possibly result in a lawsuit against the city.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with another anonymous comment, this time in response to someone who claimed that the writers of the Constitution couldn't foresee anyone other than governments having the power to control the public:

Allow me to introduce you to the East India Company.

Finally, it's Stephen T. Stone responding to a commenter who noted a typo ("Repubiicans") in our post about the latest legislative attack on Section 230 in the House:

Now now, they haven’t earned their L yet. That comes after all these bills crash and burn.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 31 July 2021 @ 12:40pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 25th - 31st

from the plus-a-different-week dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, the hack of DNC emails was sweeping the news, revealing things that were important regardless of who conducted the hack (and some things that were just plain embarrassing) while we warned against any disastrous overreactions in response. We also highlighted Trump's worrying response as well as a ridiculous tidbit in the backlash from the DNC itself. IsoHunt settled the last of its lawsuits, an MPAA front group was attacking CloudFlare for not censoring the internet, and the TPP was meeting more resistance around the world. This was also the week that Verizon bought Yahoo, and of course it featured a continuation of the Monkey Selfie saga.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2011, governments were engaging in a propaganda war against hacktivist groups, Ron Wyden was pressing intelligence officials about their "secret" interpretation of the Patriot Act while other senators were trying to shift attention elsewhere, and Homeland Security was finally 'fessing up to the latest round of domain seizures. We saw worrying copyright rulings and laws in several countries including Sweden, Sierra Leone, and the UK (which offered up a double) — but perhaps the most concerning was in the US, where a judge put another nail in the coffin of the idea/expression dichotomy by allowing a photographer's lawsuit against Rihanna to move forward. But even more problematic than that was the CAFC ruling in the Myriad case that said individual genes can be patented.

Fifteen Years Ago

Well, this is an unusual one — as I was looking through posts for this section, I got a sense of deja vu, and had a realization: last month, I accidentally messed up the dates somehow and featured posts from this week in the flashback roundup for the final week of June. So you can go check out that link to see what happened this week in 2006, and today I've rounded up a few things that should have appeared in that post:

There were trends of gimmicky WiFi offerings and people blaming Google for their own failures; people were still working to figure out what Nathan Myhrvold was up to with Intellectual Ventures while the Supreme Court agreed to look into the question of patent obviousness; the Sony Rootkit fiasco reared its head again as the makers of a virus that exploited the technology were arrested; we wondered why there was so little honesty in the net neutrality debate, and how Senators who voted against net neutrality could be in favor of the broadcast flag; and we looked at just how little impact the Grokster decision had on the world of file sharing.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 27 July 2021 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 291: Free Speech, Elections, Vaccines, And Social Media

from the speak-freely dept

Freedom of speech sits at the intersection of so many of the topics we write about here on Techdirt, and some of our favorite podcast guests are true experts on the subject. One such guest is UCI Law Professor and former UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression David Kaye, who joins us again for this week's episode and a wide-ranging discussion about some of the most pressing and current free speech issues.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via Apple Podcasts, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 25 July 2021 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the whatcha-sayin' dept

We've got a double first place winner this week, with one comment hitting the top of both the insightful and funny leaderboards. It's an anonymous comment on our post about the judge who ignored the First Amendment and misread a town law in ordering a resident to remove "Fuck Biden" signs from their lawn — and it's a simple callback to another recent First Amendment ruling:

Fuck cheer

In second place on the insightful side, we've got PaulT responding to a pair of incorrect assertions about net neutrality:

"Industry leaders fear net neutrality rules will pave the way for the government to set broadband prices"

If you don't know what net neutrality is or what it does, I suppose it makes sense.

"Net neutrality has become an expensive, time-wasting exercise that has little real world effect,"

Weird, it's the default setting outside of the US, and we have cheaper, better internet access than you do.

As with healthcare debates, I'm sure someone will be along soon to explain why better service at cheaper prices with more freedom to move around and less hidden charges is awful for me.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from That One Guy about the "Fuck Biden" signs, and specifically the complaint that a six-year-old might see it and need to have the word explained to them:

It's four letters, not a literally magic word

Ooh, I've got some bad news for you if your kids are going to be interacting with society at all...

Either you'll explain it or someone else will because 'little TImmy/Suzy never hearing the word 'fuck''' is not a viable option for anyone who isn't insanely sheltered from birth to death.

Next, it's an anonymous comment about the latest of the recurring fights between newspaper publishers and Google, and the claim that the latter needs to better account for the value provided by the former:

The newspapers could prove that value by using robots.txt, or Google could prove the value of being listed by de-listing those papers. I know which option would cause much wailing and screaming for government aid, and its not the use of robots.txt.

Over on the funny side, we've already had our first place winner above, so it's straight on to second place with wshuff and another comment about net neutrality:

Look, clearly net neutrality is a horrible thing that should not be allowed. I mean, just look at all the dead people who submitted comments against it, trying to save us from beyond the grave.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with another comment about the "Fuck Biden" signs, this time from Stephen T. Stone in response to the claim that "an argument can be made that free speech is not infringed by requiring the Letters UCK be covered up":

It’d be a terrible argument, sure, but it could be made.

Finally, we head to our post about the shifty "MAGA Freedom Phone" where an anonymous commenter responded to the assertion that "this is precisely why Trump got elected. There is huge demand for this kind of product":

An obsolete, barely functional shitbox, embedded with foreign government spy(ware), that actively promotes its flaws as advantages, and tows an entire fleet of low class grifters and con artists, is pretty on brand for Trump.

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 24 July 2021 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 18th - 24th

from the as-before dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, Cy Vance was still arguing for mandated encryption backdoors with an unconvincing legal argument, while Apple was snubbing John McCain's attempts to drag them in to hear complaints about encryption, and a former Homeland Security advisor was trying to place the burden of proving backdoors are bad on tech companies. An important ruling in California reaffirmed Section 230 protections in a lawsuit against Yelp, a judge smacked down the DOJ for being lazy about fulfilling FOIA requests, and the EFF was challenging the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions on first amendment grounds.

Ten Years Ago

Though there were a few things going on this week in 2011, like the continuing fight over the PROTECT IP Act, it's worth focusing on the story that was infuriating at the time and which we now know was the beginning of a terrible tragedy. This was the week that the feds charged Aaron Swartz with felony hacking for downloading JSTOR articles. The indictment was immediately huge news, and closer inspection raised lots of questions (including the curious lack of a copyright angle to the charges — though that didn't stop the Copyright Alliance from weighing in with a post full of bad analogies). Soon it became clear that the indictment lacked any real legal or moral basis to an extremely troubling degree, and the internet began fighting back by uploading JSTOR articles to file sharing sites. Sadly, this wasn't the end of the story, and there will be more to come in future weeks.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, CBS was attempting a desperate strategy of selling DVDs of old news clips, Wal-Mart was making an equally desperate attempt to launch a social media network, and some quacks were claiming that iPods cause autism. A court reaffirmed that the DMCA cannot be used to block third-party repairs, MySpace was struggling to make a profit, and a printer company got in trouble for abusing trademark to block competition. We also saw a rare (in those days, and to some degree still) honest debate about net neutrality, as well as the much-anticipated opening of the floodgates on YouTube copyright lawsuits.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 20 July 2021 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 290: Patent Quality Week

from the promoting-good-patents dept

Although it's taken a bit of a back seat lately, the topic of patents has long been important here at Techdirt. Now that we're in the first ever Patent Quality Week, it's time to dig back in and talk about changing the patent system and turning it into something that enables good patents without allowing so many bad ones. So for this week's episode, we're joined by Engine's IP Counsel Abby Rives to talk about the inception and goals of Patent Quality Week, and how to fix our broken approach to patents.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via Apple Podcasts, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 18 July 2021 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the who-said-it dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Bloof with a response to someone making the plainly silly claim that Section 230 was created specifically to induce acts of censorship of conservatives by social media companies:

Section 230 became law in 1996. Facebook was founded 2004, Twitter in 2006, YouTube in 2005, Google in 1998, MySpace in 2003... Cox and Wyden sure thought ahead writing a law to silence conservatives using platforms that wouldn't be founded for years!

In second place, it's That One Guy with a response to the outrage about the White House's mishandled efforts to flag disinformation on social media:

Funny how selective that outrage is...

The WH definitely seems to have botched this but I find it telling that apparently telling a platform 'hey, this is misinformation' and leaving it up to them to take it down or leave it up is considered a heinous violation of the first amendment but multiple proposed laws attempting to force platforms to moderate as the government demands is no big deal.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got two comments that racked up nearly-even insightful and funny votes. First, an anonymous comment responding to the assertion that "there is no first amendment protection for anyone to censor others":

Wanna bet? Let me give you a few examples where I would censor you, and not even remotely give a shit about your 1st Amendment rights:

  • I'm sitting in a restaurant and you start blabbing about censorship next to my table. Guess who's gonna stand up and tell your stupid ass to shut the fuck up, and continue to do so until you do?
  • I'm at home and you start yammering outside of it. Guess who's going to give you to the count of three to get the fuck out before you get the hose?

Those are just a couple of examples, but I'm sure with enough time I can come up with plenty more. Your statement is bullshit, and I'm flagging it - see? There's another one.

Next, it's Thad, with a rejoinder to our post about Hannah Cox's Washington Examiner article about Donald Trump's lawsuit, and the notion that millennials are the entitled "participation trophy" generation:

I forget who said it, but giving kids participation trophies and then mocking them for getting participation trophies is the most Boomer thing ever.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Thad with a comment callback following the failure of Roy Moore's lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen:

But that can't be right. Someone in the comments assured me that Roy Moore had a colorable claim because, quote, "Cohen isn't sweetness and innocence."

If the "sweetness and innocence" doctrine is not the bulletproof legal argument that an Internet Lawyer told me it was, then I don't even know what I believe anymore.

In second place it's Stephen T. Stone with a brief skit about the claim that Patreon is censoring people:

🤡: “Patreon is censoring people!”

🤔: “Who’s being censored?”

🤡: “I’unno.”

🤔: “Why are they being censored?”

🤡: “I’unno.”

🤔: “Why should we care about your claim, then?”

🤡: “Because I said so.”

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with another comment from Bloof, this time with a comment about the Palo Alto cops who claim a Black Lives Matter mural harassed them:

No wonder police departments feel they need military grade hardware to protect their officers, they keep recruiting people with skin so thin a stiff breeze can tear a hole right through them and any sort of criticism cuts through to the bone.

Finally, it's Jojo with a response to Florida's legal argument that it's not the state's new social media law that is unconstitutional, it's Section 230:

Ah, the compelling and strong maneuver in Legal Defense that every lawyer is aware of: “No U.”

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 17 July 2021 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 11th - 17th

from the looking-back dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, the DEA seemed to be making some kind of effort to curb its abuse of warrantless wiretaps, while a report in the UK showed that police improperly accessed data on citizens thousands of times, and Sweden was considering making DNA that had been donated purely for medical research available to cops and insurance companies. Two senators were speaking out against efforts to expand FBI surveillance, and one of them who is well known to Techdirt readers — Ron Wyden — joined the podcast to discuss it. This was also the week that Pokemon Go took the world by storm, and we had an early mention of what is now a household name with a post about AstraZeneca trying to extend a patent.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2011, we wrote about why PROTECT IP would fail in its goals because people would never accept it, while lobbyists were ramping up the pressure to get it passed. Righthaven was accused of avoiding paying legal fees it owed and was ordered to stop delaying, while it continued to suffer loss after loss. And the Monkey Selfie drama continued, with a news agency telling us to remove the photos from our post and the photographer claiming he owned the copyright because he thought the picture might happen, while we looked closer at why the photo is likely in the public domain.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, a judge handed down a worrying ruling that said it infringes copyright to edit movies you've bought. The recording industry in the UK was asking ISPs to shut down the accounts of file sharers, but they were not convinced by the evidence, drawing the disappointing ire of indie record labels that were failing to innovate. There was also a lot of think-of-the-children panic happening, and we took a look at the overbearing ways people were trying to keep kids "safe" by tracking and monitoring them, while some in congress were blaming MySpace for troubled children.

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Posted on Techdirt - 11 July 2021 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the community-convos dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is from an anonymous commenter, responding to someone who described the Capitol Hill insurrection as a "kerfuffle":

You are another one of the fuckers who are trying to minimize what happened on 1/6.

Trumpists violently attacked the capitol, the capitol police, and DC metro police. There are numerous videos and 1st hand accounts of Trumpists beating cops with American / Trump flag poles. There is video of numerous violent attacks against the officers trying to defend the capitol and the congress.

To claim that it was just a "kerfuffle" and "100% based on politics." is to be a fucking asshole that doesn't deserve the freedoms that we have in this country.

If you really think that people yelling "Hang Mike Pense" and having a god damn gallows built outside the capitol is just a "kerfuffle", then you're a fucking asshole.

Sorry, do I sound angry about you calling it a "kerfuffle", You fucking bet your ass I am angry.

It was a violent attack, instigated by Trump and his fucking sycophants, and people fucking died because of it. It wasn't a "kerfuffle" you fucking imbecile!

In second place, it's JMT responding to a complaint about "elements of the executive branch" who "were working against Trump":

Some say "working against Trump, some call it "following the law".

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from sumgai responding to the perennial description of social media as "the new public space":

No, it's not. It's a shared private space, an entirely different thing altogether. If you insist on mixing up those two concepts, then you have only yourself to blame for all the Toll/Spam/Abuse clicks you keep getting.\

(Actually, social media is made up of many different private spaces, each of which has some degree of sharing. The control of the sharing varies from one private space to the next.)

Next, it's Bloof with a comment about the successes of community broadband:

Blindsided by this triumph of socialist communist Marxist community broadband, the big telcos redoubled their efforts, vowing to crush the red menace by building new infrastructure, cutting prices and upgrading their networks to prove the free market always wins in the end... No wait, they'll just buy enough state senators to ban community broadband state by state.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is wshuff with a comment about Trump's extremely stupid lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube:

If he opens a theme park at Mar-A-Lago, can he avoid paying attorney fees?

In second place, it's an anonymous comment about cops playing copyrighted music to disrupt citizen recordings:

Where's ASCAP in this?

Cops deliberately playing songs in public for Internet streaming without a performance license? ASCAP should be all over the cops not paying up.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start with an anonymous response to a list of complaints about Facebook:

"FB will allow convicted felons,"

Yeah, Dinesh D'Souza is still there.

"2020 rioters,"

I think most of the Boogaloo Bois moved to Parler.

"and probably even some pedophiles."

Trump has been banned from Facebook until at least 2023...

And finally, we've got K'Tetch with a comment about Ubisoft's latest DRM disaster:

Ubisoft is registered with the Ferengi Commerce Authority, and all complaints should be sent care of the FCA

... where they'll send it back and charge you for reading it, quoting the following rules of Acquisition

1 - Once you have their Money, you never give it back

17 - A contract is a contract... but only between ferengi

239 - Never be afraid to mislabel a product

299 - After you've exploited someone, it never hurts to thank them. That way, it's easier to exploit them next time

(Personally, I think we could use more Rules of Acquisition jokes in life.)

That's all for this week, folks!

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Posted on Techdirt - 10 July 2021 @ 12:35pm

This Week In Techdirt History: July 4th - 10th

from the what-was dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, transparency was under attack on many fronts. A North Carolina legislator who was a former police chief pushed through legislation to keep body camera footage out of the public's hands, while in the course of two days we got two examples of cops making recordings disappear, and the Philadelphia police department responded to an open records request by releasing one document: the journalist's own request email. An Ohio court sanctioned a lawyer for sharing publicly-available court documents with journalists, while another court secured a grand jury indictment against a newspaper publisher for filing open records requests. The details about Hillary Clinton's email server showed several emails withheld from FOIA availability (as an appeals court said email stored on private servers is still subject to FOIA requests). And the FBI was vacuuming up local law enforcement documents about the Orlando shooting to block open records requests. President Obama did sign a FOIA reform bill... just in time for it to have no impact on his administration.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2011, a group of law professors came out against the PROTECT IP bill, while Hollywood was ramping up a smear campaign against opponents of the bill, and one Senator removed himself as a co-sponsor (though the reasons were unclear). PROTECT IP wasn't the only bad piece of copyright legislation either: an anti-streaming, anti-embedding bill caught the attention of video game streamers who realized how it could impact them, and a bunch of YouTubers started putting up videos to protest it.

But perhaps most memorably, this was the week that the infamous Monkey Selfie fiasco kicked off.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, the recording industry was wasting its time suing international sites while the Associated Press was taking a look at piracy around the world and largely missing the point. Attempts to get college students onto special music download platform swere a total flop, record labels were turning to elaborate deluxe CDs to compete with piracy, and Australia was seeking to regulate YouTube.

But, once again most memorably, this was the week that Senator Ted Stevens delivered the infamous "series of tubes" line about the internet.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 7 July 2021 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 289: Florida's Social Media Bill Fiasco, With State Rep. Anna Eskamani

from the bad-bill dept

If you've been following our coverage of Florida's recent law about social media content moderation, you know it hasn't been going well — it was an insane bill that was quickly shut down by an injunction from a judge who could see how obviously unconstitutional it was. But the fight isn't over, so this week we're joined by Florida Representative Anna Eskamani, one of the most vocal critics of the bill in the state legislature, to discuss how this all happened and what's going to come next.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via Apple Podcasts, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 4 July 2021 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the raised-voices dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side Bloof making a point that really shouldn't need to be made anymore but apparently always does:

The first amendment does not guarantee you access to other people's property so you can access to the largest available audience. If you want access to a platform, obey the terms of service you agreed to when you signed up. It's not hard, millions of us have done so since these platforms were in their infancy without issue.

'Conservative beliefs' are not a 'get out of consequences free' card. You guys love telling others 'If you can't do the time, don't do the crime', well, maybe you should think about that next time you post things you know violate rules you chose to accept.

In second place, it's an anonymous commenter with a suggested resolution for the standoff between newspapers and Google:

Google is missing an amazing business opportunity.

Here's the proposal:

  1. Google will pay the Newspapers 10% of the revenue they get from news.google.com.
  2. The newspapers pay Google 10% of the ad revenue from the pageviews sent to them by Google News.

At the end of each month, tally up the numbers, and see who gets the Free Parking money.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got a pair of comments from our post about Florida's insane social media law. First, it's James Burkhardt expanding on the relationship between platforms and users:

Contracts require that each side is giving up something of value. Social media gives you access to their property. That is the 'consideration' they bring. Analogous Physical situations (museums, theme parks) explicitly understand that access can be revoked on the discretion of the property owner or their representative. The best compensation you could get is your consideration back. Normally that is money.

You don't pay facebook money. But at best the 'consideration' you provide is your content. Banning you involves stripping that content out of their site. If fact, that is the goal.

This gets right back to the point you were responding to. Either you aren't providing consideration, and therefore you can't rely on a contract, or your consideration, your thing of value, is your content. And if that consideration in the opinion of the property holder does not have value, or has negative value, they have a right to remove you to protect the value of the property. This is well adjudicated in the courts.

This is why free speech has long been the point of argument. You need a wedge to drive through long standing judicially recognized property rights and force new contract terms into the contract. Conservatives have been convinced free speech is that wedge as it was in the past for bigotted speech on TV, radio, and print. That you aren't even that far into the logic tells me how surface level your understanding of everything is.

Next, it's an anonymous challenge for the governor:

I would love DeSantis to give one example where a twitter ban meant that the person banned could no longer speak freely "throughout society."

Let's take Trump as an example, after being banned from most all social media, he is still able to publish his own blog site, can still have rallies, and whenever he wants, he can call up fox news and be heard by millions.

Explain to me how he is "silence[d] both on their platforms and throughout society."

Over on the funny side, both our winners come in response to our post about Trump allegedly demanding Parler kick off his critics before he would use the platform. In first place, it's Stephen T. Stone musing about possibilities:

Right-wing social media has too much of an anti-liberal bias. Surely there must be some law we can enact to take care of this issue. An equality declaration of some sort, a doctrine dedicated to allowing the fair and equitable expression of opposing ideas, could handle that.

…or we could all come to our fucking senses and laugh at Trump for being such a basic bitch that he can’t handle even the mildest criticism of his bullshit.

In second place, it's Greg Glockner with a quick quip:

Silly Techdirt, freedom of speech only applies to my speech, not the other guy. #sarcasm

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from Bloof about the oh-so-awful political tragedy of courts shutting down Florida's law:

They'll be MARXIST, LENINIST LEFT WING ACTIVIST JUDGES.. Chosen by Conservative pressure groups and appointed by known liberals George Bush, George W. Bush and Donald Trump.

Last but not least, it's Norahc with a comment on our post about the 2nd Circuit upholding sanctions against Richard Liebowitz:

Righthaven: We're the best copyright trolls ever.

Prenda: You're not even in the big leagues yet.

Liebowitz: Hold my beer.

That's all for this week, folks!

24 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 3 July 2021 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: June 27th - July 3rd

from the that's-how-it-went dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, the Copyright Office was pushing a dangerous plan to strip websites of DMCA harbors, Google and Facebook were using copyright tools to take down extremist content, and lawmakers in Europe were floating the dumb idea of letting robots and computers have copyrights. Malibu Media was getting called out by a judge while also launching a lawsuit against its former lawyer, while two other important rulings in copyright cases stated that an IP address is not a person. We also took a closer look at Hillary Clinton's problematic tech platform and vague and confusing intellectual property platform.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2011, early hacktivist group LulzSec announced plans to disband, and we looked at the impact this kind of hacktivism was having while the RIAA was citing such groups as another reason for passing the PROTECT IP act. Sony's CEO was blaming its own hacking woes on people wanting everything for free, while PS3 jailbreaker George Hotz (aka GeoHot) was hired by Facebook. Meanwhile, Righthaven's troubles continued with racketeering claims brought in South Carolina and similar claims made in Nevada, while the company was begging to be put back into a case it was dismissed from and trying to avoid sanctions by blaming its lawyer. Amidst this, we looked at the silver lining of Righthaven's activities: they helped to establish a much more expansive view of fair use when it comes to copying newspaper articles.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, newspapers were at the peak of their efforts to block people from reading their work for free online. The fact that IP addresses are not people (and weren't in 2006 either) was proving an effective way of getting the RIAA to drop lawsuits. Amazon's plans to get into the video download business were leaked, while Metallica finally caved and decided to sell music downloads in iTunes, and Kazaa settled its lawsuit with the music industry and announced plans to go legit while Torrentspy was facing its own lawsuit and asking why Hollywood wasn't suing Google too.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 30 June 2021 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 288: Rep. Zoe Lofgren Sees Problems On Every Page Of These Antitrust Bills

from the let's-dig-in dept

We've been talking a lot about the huge effort in Congress to pass new antitrust laws targeting big tech companies, and all the issues these proposals have. This week, we've got an insider perspective on just what's going on with antitrust in the House: Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who called out many of the deficiencies in the bills during last week's marathon markup session, joins us for a discussion all about the many, many problems in all five proposed antitrust bills.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via Apple Podcasts, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 27 June 2021 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the conversation-pieces dept

This week, both our winners on the insightful side come from our story about how a stupid patent is interfering with a new crowdfunded toy. In first place, it's samuelhopkins, who got lots of well-deserved votes for tracking down the specific patent:

found it

US10,850,205 - Marble track piece with triggered light and/or sound

In second place, it's an anonymous comment raising the obvious question:

Could that patent be invalidated by pin ball machines, where balls hit triggers that start sound and light displays?

That question got an answer from Rocky, which is our first editor's choice for insightful:

There are certainly a plethora of prior art, but as we know, invalidating patents is expensive and this guy has to comply or being sued which is also expensive and spending kickstarter-money on a lawsuit isn't really what the backers paid for.

It sucks.

For our next editor's choice, it's That One Guy with some thoughts on the failures of FOSTA:

It all depends on the metrics used...

If you take the supporters of FOSTA at their word for what the bill was supposed to do it is worse than an absolute failure, as not only did it not accomplish it's goals it made things drastically worse for the very people that were being held up as 'victims in need of rescue!'

On the other hand if you look at it as nothing more than a 'Look at what I've done!' PR stunt it worked out great, the people writing and supporting it got to brag about how they super-duper cared about people being exploited and sex trafficked and since the number of press outlets that are likely to call them out on this report could be counted on a single hand it's not like it cost anyone who matters anything, so it's a win-win from their perspective.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous suggestion for a new Peloton slogan:

Peloton: We don't give you a run for your money.

In second place, it's another anonymous comment, this time responding to someone who tagged their comment with the assertion that "any counter-argument is plainly illogical, denialist, and short-sighted":

That’s the adult version of no touchbacks

For editor's choice on the funny side, we go back to last week's top comments post for a brief exchange, starting with this comment from Bobvious:

About that cow

Now expecting Devin Nunes and/or family to have the farm declared an amusement park.

And finally, it's the anonymous rejoinder to that comment:

They're certainly in the entertainment business.

That's all for this week, folks!

13 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 26 June 2021 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: June 20th - 26th

from the so-it-went dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, the Supreme Court was chipping away at the Fourth Amendment while the FBI was continuing to use its bad facial recognition database and getting away with problematic warrants and hacking — and congress was seeking to legalize more FBI abuses (in an attempt that narrowly failed). The DOJ was fighting against privacy advocates, and CIA director John Brennan was bizarrely claiming that only the US had encryption technology. We were also disappointed to see Twitch bring CFAA and trademark claims against bot operators.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2011, Righthaven was losing lawsuits left and right, and the CEO was not taking it well. Sony was fighting against PS3 modding and Microsoft was claiming it could use the DMCA to block competing Xbox accessories, while Universal launched a war on popular hip-hop sites and blogs, which even swept up 50 Cent's own website. A new court filing explained how ICE's domain seizures violate the First Amendment, while Senator Leahy was praising the agency's initiative. We also took a look back at the many things that people thought would kill the music industry in both the analog and digital eras.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, the NY Times was in the midst of one of its many paywall experiments while the LA Times was subjecting reporters to stifling web filters. Blockbuster was fighting against Netflix's patents while GoDaddy was sued over a patent on server auto-configuration. We wrote about how ISPs were screwing everyone, and how their cooperation with the NSA was boosting the encryption market. Meanwhile, social media sites were booming but struggling to figure out how to make money, and of course still facing a variety of vague freakouts.

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Posted on Techdirt Podcast - 23 June 2021 @ 1:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 287: Regulating Amplification Is A Lot Harder Than You Think

from the signal-boost dept

Even among people who recognize the problems with holding platforms liable for user speech, there's an understandable temptation to treat the act of content amplification and recommendation differently, since that's something the platforms do themselves. While you can see the logic to this idea, the fact is it's just as difficult and fraught with problems as other intermediary liability proposals. This week, we're joined by frequent guest Daphne Keller, Director of the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, to discuss her recent paper on the subject and why regulating amplification isn't the simple solution it might sound like.

Separately, this is the first time we've had a sponsor for the podcast! The Pessimists Aloud podcast is sponsoring today's episode. It's a new offering from the Pessimists Archive Twitter feed, which finds old articles that are skeptical of technology, which in retrospect turned out to be incorrect. The podcast takes those articles and has them artistically read (in an old-timey voice) aloud. We think fans of Techdirt will certainly enjoy the Pessimists Aloud podcast.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via Apple Podcasts, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Posted on Techdirt - 20 June 2021 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the say-what dept

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Bloof with some thoughts about Rupert Murdoch's antitrust hypocrisy:

Rupert Murdoch is also against socialism, while pushing for laws in Australia so more successful companies are forced by the government to give his media empire free money.

Rupert Murdoch is against socialised medicine, yet bolted to the UK the moment the Covid Vaccine was made available to his agegroup, shot to the head of the line thanks to his political connections, getting the vaccine before the Queen.

Rupert Murdoch is happy to push antivax BS, yet... See above.

Rupert Murdoch has built his fortune on decrying others as sex offenders and criminals while defending criminals and sex offenders if they make him money or agree with him politically and are still of use.

Rupert Murdoch is a hypocrite and a cancer on western civilisation. Decades after his death, we will still be working out the true extent of the damage his malignant influence has done to the world.

In second place, it's another comment about Rupert Murdoch, this time from That One Guy responding to an Australian official's admission that he came up with the link tax idea and yet it somehow wasn't a favor for him:

'... I don't see it'

'Sure it was proposed by him, and will result in a whole bunch of money being funneled to him with no effort on his part, and it's set up so that if his demands aren't met the government will step in and bring the hammer down and force the other side to pay him, but that doesn't mean it's the government favoring him or anything!'

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we've got another comment about the link tax, from an anonymous commenter responding to the oft-floated idea that internet giants should cut Australia off in response:

Facebook tried that and the idiots decried it as Zuckerberg censorship. It's a lose lose situation either fighting it or going with it. Our tech policy debate have been hijacked by idiots.

Next, it's another anonymous commenter translating a description of the FBI's practices as "warrantless acquisition of other people's property":

Better known as theft.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Bobvious with another comment about Murdoch:

In other News

Murdoch Horse and Buggy Company sues Tesla, Demands a Man with a Red Flag Walk in front of them.

In second place, it's Rocky answering another commenter's question about whether or not Devin Nunes claims to have a cow:

I'm mostly surprised the judge didn't have one.

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous comment about the recent big push for new antitrust legislation and its glaring omissions:

I'm surprised there wasn't a "or owns a themepark" exemption in there too.

Finally, it's Bobvious again with a comment about music copyright issues for video game streamers:

Wait a minute

Isn't everyone going to get DMCA'd by the estate of John Cage for having 4'33'' on endless replay during the streams?

That's all for this week, folks!

6 Comments | Leave a Comment..

Posted on Techdirt - 19 June 2021 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: June 13th - 19th

from the the-style-at-the-time dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2016, we were learning more about the scope of Peter Thiel's attack on Gawker (and the further exploits of his laywer...) while Gawker was exploring a questionable legal counterattack. The issues with corporate sovereignty in trade agreements were getting more mainstream attention while the paperback version of Hillary Clinton's memoir removed text about her support fro the TPP. Europe was getting ready to create a link tax just as its top court was confirming that copyright levies don't work. An appeals court handed a big loss to record labels in their attack on Vimeo over lipdub videos, while Twitter, Facebook and Google were hit with claims of material support for terrorism following the Paris attacks.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2011, while some websites were playing pranks by pretending their domains had been seized by ICE, several of the sites that were actually targeted were challenging the seizures — and notable target Rojadirecta sued the US government, Homeland Security, and ICE. But ICE was still stalling on FOIA requests seeking more information about the seizures. And at the same time, China was getting in on the website seizure game while using copyright infringement as an excuse. Meanwhile, a judge was threatening sanctions while tossing out a Righthaven lawsuit, and the Denver Post was sued over its considering taken action, leading Righthaven to threaten them with more suits.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2006, we were bracing for the onslaught of political spam, and also for the inevitable freakout about mobile social media, while rolling our eyes at the latest panic about violent video games. We took a look at how the recording industry had Canadian politicians in its pocket, while the RIAA seemed to be reaching the denial stage of its war on piracy (and opening up a new front by sending out cease-and-desist letters to people dancing to music on YouTube). And while we were glad to see Congress starting to recognize the problem of patent trolls, we were not so optimistic about Rep. Lamar Smith's approach to combating them.

1 Comments | Leave a Comment..

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