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Leigh Beadon

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Toronto, Canada

Posted on Techdirt - 28 November 2023 @ 01:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 371: AI Is Going To Change More Than You Realize

The world of generative AI has been changing rapidly, and that’s not something that’s going to stop any time soon. Today, we’re joined on the podcast by Jonathan Ross, founder and CEO of Groq (no, not Elon Musk’s new bot called Grok) — a company working on a new technology stack that drastically speeds up performance of AI models — to talk about all things AI, and the many ways it’s going to change in the coming months and years.

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

Posted on Techdirt - 26 November 2023 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Thad with a simple comment about Elon Musk’s extremely terrible lawsuit against Media Matters:

Of course, as you know firsthand, a suit doesn’t have to have any merit to make life miserable for its targets.

In second place, it’s Mechanical Rhizome with a comment about the DOJ’s latest failure to convict the Backpage boss of sex trafficking (EDIT: I had previously pasted the wrong comment by mistake. The correct one is now inserted):

Where the citation, and also that is not the same as sex trafficking, which you claimed up thread.

Conflating sex trafficking with prostitution is exactly what caused the mistrial. They are not the same thing, despite how hard various AGs and politicians have worked to convince you otherwise.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we’ve got a couple more comments about the Media Matters lawsuit. First, it’s James Burkhardt responding to the claim that the Media Matters report was somehow fabricated:

IBM stated that ANY amount of neo-nazi content next to its ads is a deal breaker to further ad buys. Musk got IBM ad revenue on the back of claims they could prevent that while still allowing Neo-Nazi content on he platform twitter used to remove. By the nature of Xitter, that promise can not be kept.

People said so at the time, Elon admits, and media matters proved that by the nature of Xitter, neo-nazis will see ads next to neo-nazi content. They were able to get Xitter to serve ads against neo-nazi content. IBM has responded accordingly.

Where is the fabrication?

Next, it’s That One Guy with an overall characterization of the suit:

‘How dare you say the king has no clothes(but does have a swastika tattoo)?!’

This isn’t just a lawsuit against free speech it’s a lawsuit against reality and the audacity of pointing it out.

This is Elon throwing a hypocritical tantrum that someone pointed out that yes there absolutely is nazi content on the platform and they have no filters against that showing up next to the ads of major companies, which means to the surprise of apparently several major companies their ads can show up next to nazi content and all it takes it for an account to follow the ‘right’ people on the platform.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Anonmylous with a comment about Stanford student King Vanga’s lawsuit:

Introductions are in order I believe…

Me Vargas, I’d like to introduce you a Ms Streissand. I expect you’ll be getting to know her quite well over the course of your future.

In second place, it’s Crafy Coyote getting cheeky in response to a copyright bot confusing a Star Trek ship with an adult film performer:

With La Sirena (the spaceship) your goal is to go where no man has gone before.

With La Sirena (the adult film actress) your goal is to go where quite a number of men have gone before.

Does that help the Bot out?

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we’ve a couple jokes about Musk and Media Matters. First, it’s Rob with thoughts on Musk’s “free speech absolutism”:

Musk really needs to fix the autocorrect on his phone. It really confuses the message when it replaces “abolitionist” with “absolutist”

Finally, it’s Pixelation with an explanation for just how terrible the lawsuit is:

Based on how bad it is, I bet it was generated by Grok.

That’s all for this week, folks!

Posted on Techdirt - 25 November 2023 @ 11:57am

This Week In Techdirt History: November 19th – 25th

Five Years Ago

This week in 2018, the government agreed to delete data copied from a traveler’s phone after being hit with a “motion for return of property” while, in something of an inverse situation, prosecutors charged a suspect with evidence tampering after a seized iPhone was remotely wiped. Cord-cutting was setting more records while many cable giants were refusing to compete on price, and Comcast responded by reinventing the closed cable box. Another court ruling prevented cable giants from weaponizing the first amendment, the FCC was accused of burying data on the sorry state of US broadband, and MuckRock released the data from its national automatic license plate reader survey. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron was calling for widespread regulation of the internet.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2013, Sony was busy spoiling the fun yet again by taking down amusing fan edits, while Warner Bros. was admitting to issuing bogus DMCA takedowns and more or less boasting about how nobody could stop it. The USTR was lying about the implications of the TPP, while we got a look at the talking points for copyright maximalists defending the leaked IP chapter, and wondered where exactly the “free trade” was in all of this — then at the end of the week, Congress slammed the brakes on the agreement. Meanwhile, newly declassified documents showed how the NSA exploited pen register statutes and gave more details on bulk email collection, and then the latest Snowden document revealed the NSA’s deal with GCHQ to spy on UK citizens.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2008, we continued our informal series of posts examining the global financial crisis. The RIAA managed to get a law in Tennessee forcing universities to filter networks for copyrighted content, and got smacked down by a judge for trying to demand double the money in an agreed settlement, while the lawsuit over the constitutionality of RIAA lawsuits was heating up with an all-star witness list. An Australian ISP agreed to demands that it filter the internet just to demonstrate how stupid the plan was, while the country’s largest ISP was facing a lawsuit from movie studios for failing to magically stop infringement. And we got an early whiff of the firms that purposely seed copyrighted content on P2P networks in order to demand settlements.

Posted on Techdirt - 19 November 2023 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is Thad with with a comment about Elon Musk citing The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy as the inspiration for his new “Grok” AI product, and our point that the titular guide was compiled by humans:

Yeah, if you want a real-life equivalent of the Hitchhiker’s Guide, it’s…Wikipedia.

In second place, it’s Stephen T. Stone with a comment about the data protection complaint against YouTube for its adblocker blocker:

Browsing the Internet without an adblocker is like skateboarding without a helmet and pads: Being able to do it doesn’t mean it’s the smart thing to do, and doing it will inevitably cause some damage.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with a reply to that comment from BernardoVerda suggesting another way of looking at it:

I don’t block ads, I block trackers.
And I use EFF’s Privacy Badger browser extension, so as to block only the “problematic” (from a privacy perspective) trackers.

If that results (as it rather frequently does) in many ads being blocked as well — that’s on the website and/or advertiser, not on me.

If some website won’t let me view their site unless I allow them to infringe my privacy and track my online activity, like some creepy stalker, well, after all…
… The Internet is a very big place — I can generally find what I’m looking for somewhere else, from someone who doesn’t consider it a deal-breaker to not let them snoop on what’s none of their business.

Next, we’ve got another comment on that post, apparently from Alexander Hanff, who filed the complaint:

I am the person who filed the complaint and I do often find it both amusing and very sad when I read comments to articles about this.

Amusing because I like watch the apologists flapping their gums about mythical rights of publishers and mythical obligations on the people visiting their web sites.

Sad because it truly dismays me to see how ignorant the general public about their fundamental rights.

I am a lawyer, computer scientist and sociologist who has studied this particular law for the last 15 years and am widely regarded as one of the foremost experts in the world on this matter. I advise the Regulators, Legislators and Parliamentarians on these issues and helped to draft the law which will replace it.

So let me make this clear – in the EU people have no legal obligation to watch ads, period. It is also illegal for any publishers to store any script or other technology on your device which is not strictly necessary for the provision of the requested service – a position clarified by Regulatory Guidance going back to 2014 and further supported by binding case law in the EU’s highest court as recently as July this year. The EU Commission’s formal legal analysis also makes it clear that this is illegal without consent a position they have held since 2016 in a formal written legal evaluation.

And in fact, not is this only a breach of civil law, I have also filed a criminal complaint against YouTube in Ireland for a breach of computer trespass and misuse law – which also makes it a criminal offence to gain unauthorised access to a computer and/or utilize computing resources in an unauthorised manner.

So to the apologists, marketers and Google fan boys, you are quite simply wrong – you have no legal argument and are just polluting the debate with your personal opinions which are both unqualified and utterly irrelevant in the case of a legal complaint.

But it is important to everyone else to note that there is no point in discussing the issue with these people, because there is no discussion with people who live under some false illusion of an entitlement to trespass on our property and ignore our fundamental rights – as such it is an utter waste of energy and time and only serves to give them the attention they strive for in order to get their dopamine hits and feel like they are important.

Have a great day everyone and please, start to exercise your own rights otherwise you will lose them.

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

What a dreadful thing to call “Grok.” RAH would be spinning in his grave…if he hadn’t been cremated and had his ashes scattered at sea.

If he wanted a Hitchhiker’s themed name, how about “Eddie,” after the shipboard computer on the Heart of Gold? Always positive and frequently wrong.

In second place, it’s an anonymous comment about the lawsuit over video game addiction, referencing one of my favorite Dan Bull songs:

I recommending listening to the Dan Bull song 40 Years of Gaming whilst reading the lawsuit.

These lyrics seem on point:

Hijack your mind, your momma can’t abide this
Night Trap might lack morals, it’s a moral crisis
What are we doing to our youth?
They’re shooting people
Glued to screens with superglue
Computers need to be banned when the laws broke
Ban Manhunt
Ban Grand Theft Aut

(It’s truly worth watching, so I’ll go ahead and embed it…)

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment about a different moral panic from a tired old mold — panicking about social media trends and challenges:

I have no idea why the media has to drum up new moral panics when Dungeons and Dragons is still out there.

Finally, it’s Nimrod with one more comment on our post about Grok:

Elon Musk has to have the record for the longest puberty by now. He can go ahead and grow up any day…

That’s all for this week, folks!

Posted on Techdirt - 18 November 2023 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: November 12th – 18th

Five Years Ago

This week in 2018, the RIAA made a court filing where it warned about overprotection from copyright, Nintendo secured a huge settlement against ROM site (probably just to scare other ROM sites), and the Girl Scouts sued the Boy Scouts over trademark. CNN filed a lawsuit seeking to show that Trump can’t kick reporters out for asking tough questions, a judge allowed the NRA’s first amendment lawsuit against Andrew Cuomo to move forward, and we lamented the fact that the Conan O’Brien joke-stealing lawsuit was still going on. Meanwhile, the EU Council got explicit in its push for mandatory upload filters and we urged them not to wreck the internet.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2013, polls showed that less than 20% of Americans believed the NSA had adequate oversight, while the Senate Intelligence Committee rejected a bunch of attempts to amend Dianne Feinstein’s fake NSA reform bill, and we noted that Feinstein received a lot of cash from intelligence contractors. We learned more about Paul Hansmeier’s ADA lawsuits, namely that they were filed without knowledge of the plaintiffs (and he soon dismissed one of them) while Comcast and AT&T were looking to get their cut of legal fees from Prenda. Also, a leak gave us a look at the IP chapter of the TPP agreement, and confirmed that it was even worse than ACTA.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2008, there were reports that some students were dropping out of school in order to pay RIAA settlement fees, the French recording industry sued SourceForge for hosting open source P2P software, and the Turkish city of Batman threatened to sue Christopher Nolan over Batman the movie. The judge from the Napster lawsuit was recommending a massive bureaucracy as the way to fix copyright, the EU was continuing to give bogus reasons for keeping ACTA secret, and we looked at whether new SEC rules about linking violated Section 230 safe harbors. And we praised an excellent viral essay by Cory Doctorow about how copyright harms culture.

Posted on Techdirt - 12 November 2023 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

We’ve got another double winner this week, with the same anonymous comment taking first place for insightful and second place for funny. It comes in response to a joke about Republicans in the zombie apocalypse:

Republicans will be the zombies because when an outbreak happens, the government will tell people to avoid the zombies, and Republicans will argue it’s a violation of their freedom to get bitten if they want to. Other conservatives will be on social media selling essential oils that supposedly prevent zombie infections. Donald Trump’s undead corpse will be decomposing in a corner somewhere with one hand reflexively hitting POST on the Truth Social app, except there’s a good chance his accidental thumbing of random letters will make more sense than his intentional posts when he was alive.

In second place on the insightful side, it’s a comment form rob019 noting that targeted manipulation of people’s beliefs is not the goal of a lot of disinformation:

Missing the point

The purpose of disinformation is not to persuade or promote a specific idea. For those who peddle disinformation, the intention (and if not, at least, the happy result) is to undermine the idea that anything could be true, or that anyone might be acting in good faith.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with an anonymous response to the idea that the consequences of a proposed Ohio pornography law demonstrate a lack of foresight:

Feels intentional to me. I’ve been watching the right wing bend over backwards to get kids trapped in the system for as long as I’ve been aware of the system. And there’s no shortage of evidence indicating it goes back longer than I’ve been alive.

Stop giving these people the benefit of the doubt. They know what they are doing. They want to torture kids and adults for “sexual impurity.” That’s it. Being gay, watching porn, it doesn’t matter. They want us to suffer.

Next, it’s TKnarr with a comment about Hollywood not wanting to expand copyright laws for once:

I think the reason they don’t want to expand copyright laws in this case is that the people who’d be protected by the expanded laws aren’t them.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is Stephen T. Stone battling his instincts on our post about the NY Post claiming it has proof the DHS censored emails:


I must not bait. Bait is the mind-killer. Bait is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my desire to bait. I will permit the desire to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the desire to bait has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

We’ve already had the second place winner above, so we’ll move on to editor’s choice with another comment from that same post, in which BernardoVerda responds to the statement that nobody rational trusts the NY Post:

That reminds me of Adlai Stevenson’s famous response during a presidential campaign, when a supporter declared that after his speech on the radio, he could count on the vote of every thinking person in America:
“Thank you… but that’s not enough, madam; we need a majority!”

Finally, it’s an anonymous comment on our post about the end of PlayStation/Twitter integration with thoughts on the future of the DualShock controller’s dedicated Share button:

From now, pressing it will play “I’ve go you babe”, from Sonny and Cher.

That’s all for this week, folks!

Posted on Techdirt - 11 November 2023 @ 12:00pm

This Week In Techdirt History: November 5th – 11th

Five Years Ago

This week in 2018, there was another failed attempt to hold Twitter responsible for terrorism, while we were taking a closer look at the massive influence campaigns and coordinated election interference happening on the platform. AT&T began kicking pirates off the internet, the Supreme Court rejected the telecom industry’s calls to hear a net neutrality case, and the FCC was pretending to do something about robocalls. Meanwhile, Manhattan DA Cy Vance was calling for federally-mandated encryption back doors.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2013, it turned out Team Prenda’s Paul Hansmeier had moved on to suing companies over supposed ADA violations, and it sure was keeping him busy, while Prenda itself was seeing the big losses (and the big bills) continue to pile up. Meanwhile, NSA defenders were rejecting a clemency appeal that Ed Snowden never actually made and favorably comparing metadata collection to stop-and-frisk, as both Al Gore and Tim Berners-Lee came out with stern condemnations of NSA surveillance and we looked at the major media bias towards NSA defenders and the many examples of chilling effects created by the surveillance.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2008, we learned more about the funny incident in which the video for Weird Al’s Don’t Download This Song had the names of filesharing tools bleeped out. A UK ISP was trying to wage war on open WiFi by threatening to disconnect anyone with an open network, authors in Italy were calling for a you-must-be-a-pirate tax on all DSL connections, and the Copyright Alliance was begging the Supreme Court to make remote DVRs illegal (while we wondered why the MPAA had secured the power to review and test DVD players). And another video game executive was attacking the existence of used game sales, while Motorola started trying to block used phone sales.

Posted on Techdirt - 5 November 2023 @ 12:00pm

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our top comments on the insightful side both come in response to Elon Musk’s plans to turn X into a financial app, and the question of whether you’d trust him with your money. In first place, it’s an anonymous comment:

Given how well that Elon complies with consent decrees, I suspect his compliance with banking regulation will give his financial service ambition a lifetime of about 5 minutes.

In second place, it’s Harold Koenigsaecker with a detailed rejection of the idea:

As a retired banker, I do not trust any app, bank, or computer with all of my financial information. My finances are scattered, ie: I have no banking app on any phone or portable device, it is only on my home computer behind a firewall and password protected. I have 3 banks, all isolated from each other. This in case the bank fails or is hacked. Almost all purchases are done by credit card, not a debit card as there is a federal law that says the credit card company must reimburse fraud transactions. An ATM debit, even if fraud, gets an “oh well” from the deposit bank. Musk will guarantee nothing and any loss you take will be your loss without any support from Twitter.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start out with a comment from Somewhat Less Anonymous Coward on our post about how community notes are great, but not a replacement for trust and safety:

Somehow i get the feeling that the fundamental shortcoming of the community notes – that it’s a voting system that cares little (or possibly not at all) about actual authority on any subject – is exactly why it’s pushed by Musk as an end all be all solution. The chaos that he and those he allies with are creating is essentially a mob rule, one they hope to be leading. This system is exactly that – a large enough crowd can drown anything, regardless of how truthful is is.

Next, it’s an anonymous comment correcting the common misconception that DMCA notices are entirely issued under penalty of perjury:

Quoting the third link: “The ‘penalty of perjury’ language appears to only apply to the question of whether or not the person filing the takedown actually represents the party they claim to represent — and not whether the file is infringing at all, or even whether or not the file’s copyright is held by the party being represented.”

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is another comment from Somewhat Less Anonymous Coward, this time passing on someone else’s joke about Twitter’s precipitous decline in value:

I wish i could take credit for this one, but it’s from Ars Technica forums: “Like the dipshit in charge, that valuation seems high and untrustworthy”.

In second place, it’s Pixelation with another comment about X as a financial app, and specifically Musk’s claim that it will be so powerful “you won’t need a bank account”:

Because there will be nothing left to put in it.

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we’ll close things out with a one-two punch from that same post, again directly addressing the question of whether you’d trust Musk with your money. First, it’s Toom1275 with an answer:

I wouldn’t trust him with my car.

…which prompted Stephen T. Stone to offer up a rejoinder:

I wouldn’t trust him with his car.

That’s all for this week, folks!

Posted on Techdirt - 4 November 2023 @ 12:05pm

This Week In Techdirt History: October 29th – November 4th

Five Years Ago

This week in 2018, we wrote about a session of our election simulation game, Machine Learning President, that we played in Chicago. The EFF sued cops in California for refusing to hand over stingray documents, a Florida appeals court said handing over passwords is protected by the fifth amendment, and Senator Wyden released a draft bill of federal privacy rules. The FCC falsely declared community broadband to be an attack on free speech, while Verizon obliterated Ajit Pai’s justification for killing net neutrality. And the Copyright Office extended anti-circumvention DMCA exemptions to cover all filmmakers, not just documentarians.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2013, the NSA revelations continued with a leak that showed the agency had collected millions of phone records from Italy and Spain, leading Mike Rogers to cluelessly claim that the French should be celebrating this news. Rogers was also insisting that Congress knew about the NSA spying on foreign leaders and attacking fellow representatives who said they had no idea, and agency officials were furious that the White House claimed not to know about it. Then another big revelation (that the NSA had infiltrated Google and Yahoo servers) arrived while Keith Alexander was on stage, and the agency was quick to issue another non-denial denial. Finally, Congress introduced a bill to stop the worst NSA abuses, while Senator Feinstein countered with her own bill that would actually legalize the illegal status quo.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2008, we saw one of the first panics about terrorists using Twitter, while Turkey was busy banning websites left and right. Universal Studios went on the attack against Redbox DVD rentals, and it soon came out (unsurprisingly) that the company was planning to launch its own DVD kiosks. A judge slammed the RIAA’s lawsuit tactics, as bigger guns came out in an attempt to show its lawsuits are unconstitutional. We also lamented Google caving and settling the lawsuit over its book scanning project. And then, the CAFC issued its ruling in the Bilski case that appeared to greatly limit software and business model patents but left open some big loopholes.

Posted on Techdirt - 31 October 2023 @ 01:30pm

Techdirt Podcast Episode 370: Trust & Safety In Wartime

As you hopefully know, we recently launched (and then released a podcast about) our new game, Trust & Safety Tycoon, which we created in association with the Atlantic Council’s Task Force for a Trustworthy Future Web. This week, we’ve got two people from the Atlantic Council joining us on the podcast: Democracy & Tech Initiative Director Rose Jackson and DRFLab Senior Fellow and Managing Editor Andy Carvin. In the wake of current events in Israel, the conversation turned to a look at the unique challenges of trust and safety during times of global armed conflict.

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

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