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  • Oct 17th, 2016 @ 6:09pm

    Re: Google is telling us something.

    Google is playing a game here. They are playing the "scary government" card, and letting the imaginations of every conspiracy theorist go wild.

    With the gag order lifted, Google could (and probably should have) already released this document to the public. But in doing so, they would likely reveal how banal it really is, likely an information request (gmail, probably) related to a recent bomber or "domestic terrorist" and nothing much more. No big brother looking over everyone's shoulder or anything.

    The mystery of "big governement gagged us" is way better than "government quietly asked for emails related to a terror suspect". Google knows that. Google likes it when you wear Google logo tin foil hats.

  • Oct 16th, 2016 @ 7:40pm

    (untitled comment)

    I think the author sort of misses how automotive rules are set. The standards are set at the Federal level. The vehicle must pass federal standards to be sold (or operated) in the US (exceptions exist). The states are allowed to set even higher standards (the classic California emissions rules are an example), however those standards cannot ban or block a vehicle that passes the federal standards from being driven on the roads of any state.

    The states generally get around this by making compliance with the tougher state standards a requirement for registration, sale, or transfer of a vehicle. So while you could drive a non-California emissions legal car in the state, you couldn't plate it, sell it, or buy it (except for off road use only).

    What the state of California is doing here is pretty simple: They are pointing to a standard being set by the feds and saying "we agree". Nothing much more than that. The rules are vague because it's an evolving situation, not a hard and fast situation. As jupiterkansas points out, that flexibility in the rules gives space for innovations and alternate approaches. Can you imagine for a moment the rules for autonomous cars being set to the standards of the first examples a few years back, and limited to only that technology and approach? It would be a disaster. The space in the rules and guidelines are about allow the technology to flourish.

    It's much better to set a series of objective tests as the baseline goal, and see how different companies get to those goals.

  • Oct 16th, 2016 @ 5:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: A Profound Failure of American Jurisprudence

    Standing is a basic legal principal. It applies in all sorts of situations, not just this one.

    The idea of standing is that your legal challenge isn't just theoretical, but practical in that the ruling would actually apply and fix a wrong that you feel is being done to you. It's not to allow you to challenge any American law or agency even if the law or agency isn't doing anything specifically against your.

    From Wikipedia:

    "In the United States, the current doctrine is that a person cannot bring a suit challenging the constitutionality of a law unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that he/she/it is or will "imminently" be harmed by the law. Otherwise, the court will rule that the plaintiff "lacks standing" to bring the suit, and will dismiss the case without considering the merits of the claim of unconstitutionality. To have a court declare a law unconstitutional, there must be a valid reason for the lawsuit. The party suing must have something to lose in order to sue unless it has automatic standing by action of law."

    What the appeals court has ruled is that summarily dismissing the case was wrong, as there is a very narrow path where the plaintiff might be able to show standing. But it's a pretty narrow path, having to show that their information was collected, and then prove that the collection in violation of the constitution.

    It's unlikely to succeed, but hey, someone had to try.

  • Oct 16th, 2016 @ 2:34am

    A non-story, really

    This is a non-story. Amazon is pushing their Dot product for various reasons, and they are attempting to create both differentiation and niche in an evolving marketplace.

    It's also not clear that the service overall is limited, just that very low price promotional tier.

  • Oct 15th, 2016 @ 6:22am


    Here's the reality: Copper is "old" and maintaining and repairing old technology and keeping it going is expensive and doesn't lead towards the future Verizon is aiming for.

    If a company orders their employees not to fix a network that they intend to pretty much "end of life" at some point, it's pretty normal. It's also pretty normal that high pay line technicians have a vested interest in keeping the crappy, failing copper network running. Switching customers to voice link pretty much means that they are out of a job over time, and they know it.

    So the question really is this: Is there something that specifically says and obligates Verizon has to maintain a copper network?

  • Oct 15th, 2016 @ 1:49am

    (untitled comment)

    As always, the question in these cases will be standing. They are asking for them to be unsealed but not showing how they are specifically affected by it all. They might find they don't have enough traction unless they can find someone who has been specifically targeted.

  • Oct 14th, 2016 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Trashing the cops

    I agree, the feeling that something bad is happening to people we "know" is a big part of the deal, I think - no matter how much crime goes down, the feeling is that there is more crime.

    Lighting won't help. The problem isn't the rolled up sidewalks as much as what is left as they are rolled up. All the good tends to go away and what is left isn't particularly nice or safe. That is the perception, and that's what it's all about.

    Overall the question is simple: Is there more crime (or more police shootings, or whatever else) or is there just more reporting, more amplification, and more exposure?

  • Oct 14th, 2016 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Trashing the cops

    You fail equally hard, because you ignored my post, and instead are posting about me. That's the type of crap that ruins a discussion. You can disagree with my post, disagree with my points, or pick nits all you like - but a post that is just about how horrible a person you think I am is just trolling.

    Sorry, but you fail worse that snappy one liner troll above.

  • Oct 14th, 2016 @ 5:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Trashing the cops

    Troll fails!

  • Oct 14th, 2016 @ 4:20am

    Re: Re: Trashing the cops

    "Now a big part of the problem is that violent crime is down"

    It is true when you look at overall numbers, but it does not perhaps reflect what people experience in their day to day lives.

    Part of the problem is that high levels of gang activities in major cities, especially peaking a few years back, was such that many cities saw record numbers of murders and other violent crime. More recently (outside of say Chicago) there seems to have been a calming of the gang activity. Well, at least they are learning to be more discrete!

    But in our day to day lives, what do we really experience? The US has a specific problem with disrespectful acts which lead to making public places less inviting. You have all of the things that make cities depressing (dirty, noisy, rude people, and so on), added to the fact that most cities now turn into war zones after dark, with metal roll downs covering the stores turning blocks at a time into poorly lit spaces. There is the question not of the crime that happens, but the crime we perceive.

    Add the internet and especially things like Facebook. When someone is a victim of crime, they tend to go social and share it with their friends. We all know people who have had their car, their bike, or their tech gear stolen at some point in the last 12 months. We know friends of friends who have died tragically, perhaps violently, or have been injured. We pretty much know people who have been mugged, have been in car accidents, have been verbally or physically assaulted - or we are friends with someone who knows someone who did... it's the echo chamber effect of the internet that perhaps makes us feel crime is closer to us.

    The proof is in the amount of gun ownership. Those numbers continue to surge, as people feel the need to "protect themselves" or "protect my family" by having a piece under the bed, in the car, or tucked under your jacket if you can get a carry permit.

    Just like terrorism, violent crime isn't just about what happens to you personally, but about the perception built up by those around us. The old six degrees of separation means we are never that far removed from bad things.

    We live in the world we create.

  • Oct 13th, 2016 @ 5:50am

    Re: So?

    I agree. I also think it's meaningless to say who started it, because it's entirely based on an arbitrary consideration of the starting point. Cyber snooping is just the digital variation of interception radio messages which was in turn a technology version of getting a copy of a letter, and so on. You can trace this back to the Roman empire if you so wish.

    Also, I think you are correct - doing nothing right now would be a form of tacit support for the whole process (on both sides). It may require in some ways a little bit of a re-thinking of the basic operations of much of the internet to really deal with it. One thing for sure, it's not nice out there!

    As for Assange, let's just says that there is more than enough reasons for him (and his remaining crew) to be misleading or to doctor things in a manner to get a rise out of people. Also, his connections to Snowden (direct and indirect) who in turn is basically working for the Russian government gives you enough traction to suggest Assange may be either helping out the Russians, or worse yet, getting played by them. Either way, Wikileaks credibility as a source is sinking pretty quickly, each release cycle seems to garner less media coverage and more media ridicule.

  • Oct 12th, 2016 @ 2:43am

    It's the internet, ya know?

    I think that you have to stand back a bit and consider what might be the root cause of all of this: The interwebnetthing.

    The internet makes communication all over the world near about instantaneous. It has also removed most of the filters was have had in the past. The two most important were distance and time. A dumb (and false) story written by a third rate Russian "news" organization would likely never even be heard of outside of it's original area. With time and distance, there would be enough filtering going on to catch that it's wrong and not repeat it.

    The internet? Huge echo chamber, and some people try very hard to control the echos and drown out sanity.

    We were lead to believe Wikileaks was a good source. That's just not the case anymore. Assange clearly has political axes to grind and an agenda as long as his arm, which means what many believe to be a credible source just isn't always that at all.

    The internet has also brought us great sources like Alex Jones. Yeah, Infowars is perhaps one of the most depressing pieces of crap online (as far as I am concerned) but for some it's absolutely gospel, gods word into his ear shit. He's just a more extreme version of Rush Limbaugh, and he just a more abrasive version of Fox News (the ultimate in velvet glove delivery of total, absolute nonsense).

    We get more and more of our information from websites like Techdirt. Like it or not, this place has an agenda and a tone which means that facts are cherry picked and glued together without the goal of creating a truth that may or may not be true. There are some who read this site in the same manner people pay attention to Alex Jones. It's not as extreme, but just as dangerous in the end.

    When you get your information from a biased source (WND anyone?), your opinion will naturally be biased. It's how it works. The internet and modern media distribution let's it happen. Like minded idiots can congregate and egg each other on. The retweet first, check never mentality means that incorrect stories are repeated over and over again. Celebutards use this to their advantage, the entire Kardashian thing is created out of whole cloth by them grabbing and controlling the message and the media.

    It's all because you like it, because you react to it, and because you get involved with it. Every re-tweet is, in it's own way, spreading a little lie or a little twist of the truth.

  • Oct 9th, 2016 @ 8:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Imagine how classy this place will be when 4chan dies.

  • Oct 8th, 2016 @ 2:18am

    (untitled comment)

    I keep repeating and clearly law enforcement thinks the same:

    Section 230 protections are overly broad and allow very questionable behavior by online services.

    The "escort not prostitute" game has been going on for a very long time, this goes back to classified ads in weekly inkies and whatnot. For the most part, normal print publications would not even have an escort category, and would strongly police (ad by ad) things which appears in the massage or personal services categories.

    Backpage has enough knowledge of the problem to have written a filter for certain words and whatnot, but that appears actually to confirm that they know their service may be used in this manner. Since even a brief look at the ads on Backage for adult stuff turns up fairly direct escort ads, it's not a secret. If backpage was intended not to allow escort ads, then they are doing a horrible job of it.

    At the end of the day, when they have an "adult" section and have to warn you about the content. then they have clear knowledge of what their service is being used for. Forget section 230, and go have a look at laws for pimping and "living off the avails of prostitution". There is a point where clear knowledge of what is going on makes section 230 irrelevant - it cannot overrule other existing laws.

    You have to remember also that backpage has had plenty of problems with credit card companies unwilling to process for their escort / adult service ads. The backpage company and it's operators are very clearly aware of the nature of the ads on their sites, and the site makes most of it's income off of selling those ads.

    Section 230? It looks weak here.

  • Oct 8th, 2016 @ 1:44am


    Proof once again that Techdirt's comment system needs a revamp. Disappointing to see this sort of thing.

  • Oct 6th, 2016 @ 1:39pm

    Re: Re:

    MY point was while they could not freely spend the cash (and other assets) they can just hold it forever as "evidence in an investigation" and just not have to investigate anything.

    The effects for the citizens involved would be the same - money and other assets gone for a very long time, and the same process of filing to try to get them back.

  • Oct 6th, 2016 @ 5:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "unless you have devices that connect to both the specified range and wifi, or the specified range and 3/4G or the specified range and a wired connection, etc. Even if such devices weren't commercially available, a determined person could certainly create one."

    Please pay attention Paul - it's a bi-directional communication. it doesn't matter how much you turn up the INCOMING power, the device replying has a range of a few feet. It's not in the wifi band, it's in a band just near cellular generally reserved for low power remote controls and similar devices.

    The risk here as a general concept is very small. This is one of those "proof of concept" hacks, but one that is fairly hard to implement. You need to find a target with the right device (pretty rare), you need to get very, very close to them (less than 10 feet to have a chance, less than a couple of feet to get reasonable communication speed), figure out which of 16 channels they are on, establish communications, and then you have to trigger the burst of insulin, which the subject still has the potential to override on the unit they are wearing.

    Someone who is very determined might be able to do something with such a hack, but it's not comparable to internet connected devices with poor or non-existent security.

  • Oct 6th, 2016 @ 5:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re-evaluate?

    I would disagree.

    First and foremost, mail accounts generally do have limits. they are often very high, but limits do exist. Also, we don't tend to keep all of our emails, deleting many (including the tons of spam) and retaining only a select few - in the same exact manner that one might keep their snail mail correspondence in a filing cabinet.

    The thing is, in your own home, your letters and such do tend to be mixed together anyway. Your electricity bill is next to your jury duty notice, that parking ticket reminder right next to the spam for the local super market. We by our very nature mix our personal and business lives, and in modern times they are often one and the same. It would be no different than calls placed on a phone line that was subject to a listen warrant. If it's your personal line but you also conduct business on it, the police have full rights to record and retain those conversations as well.

    Think of it perhaps better explained as "contents of storage locker" or "documents located in office on second floor". Email is not magically or somehow special, it's just another way to communicate, no different in reality from placing a phone call, sending a cable, or using the pony express.

  • Oct 6th, 2016 @ 3:13am

    (untitled comment)

    The net effects are pretty much the same, with a few exceptions:

    The police still seize the assets, call them "evidence" and leave the case open. So they end up just holding the money and whatever for as long as they feel the need to investigate. They could slowly, slowly, slowly move a case forward one interview at a time, one review at a time, and spread it literally over years.

    True, they may not be able to freely spend the cash for stuff they want, but the person who had the money seized from them will see the same effects. They will have to get a lawyer and go to court and make motions to move the case forward or have it dropped.

    Not sure they really fixed anything here.

  • Oct 5th, 2016 @ 9:19pm

    Re: Re-evaluate?

    "The meaning is that government is supposed to be searching for a specific thing named in the warrant."

    " But they can't take your home with them to search later."

    Actually, they can take everything except the home, if they feel it may have probative value in relation to the given search warrant. As an example, the warrant could specific "all contents of filing drawers in Mr Smith's office" without having to specific a single document or set of documents. That is not unreasonable or non-specific. The filing cabinet itself (and contents thereof) are generally considered specific.

    For email, saying "all email sent to and from hotmail account X" is specific. Non-specific would be "all email sent to and from hotmail". Narrowing things down to a single account (or group of accounts) means that they are specifically reviewing an infinitesimally small and specific part of the mail hotmail sends and receives.

    "Maybe they should be able to grab everything. But if so, then they definitely should NOT be allowed to search later. It's search NOW, for the specified items, then destroy the data."

    Once something is entered into evidence as part of an investigation, it generally isn't tossed out after the first time it is examined. Legally obtained, it can retained for as long as the case is open (even as a cold case). Retaining the email would be no different then retaining the content of the file cabinet. If obtained thorugh a legal and valid warrant, there is no reason to dispose of it, nor any legal basis under which the police cannot return and re-examine the materials obtained through the warrant.

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