Hello there fellow Techdirtians, ’tis been a while since I last saw fit to grace Techdirt with my scribblings. A little about myself. I’m a male in my mid-20s… that’s enough. Basically, think of me as the average joe (no, not THAT Average_Joe! shudders). I don’t talk to politicians, I don’t write drafts of upcoming law bills, I just do my 9-5 and pay my taxes. That’s the viewpoint I’m taking going through this week’s Favorites.
For Monday, I chose Keith Alexander wanted all the data. When the guy who oversaw illegal wiretapping under Bush says you’re going too far in hoovering up Internet data, maybe that’s when you should stop what you’re doing and take the time to think about it. But, apparently that’s not how Alexander views it. I especially am quite afraid of his attitude of “We have the capability, so let’s use it.” Better make sure he stays away from the Big Red Button™, the one that if pushed, launches the nukes.
I also looked at the NSA engaging in economic espionage and was quite put off by that. I simply cannot fathom a reason for the NSA to do that legitimately. The NSA is supposed to be looking for threats to US national security, and while a foreign owned oil conglomerate could certainly gain some market share over a US based one, that’s not a military threat. That’s just market forces at work.
Tuesday had two articles that caught my eye. The first was of a California school announcing it monitors it students 24/7. I always look back on my school years with some fondness, and thank the God I don’t believe exists that nothing like that happens where I live. While yes, social network profiles are more or less open and public by default, the thought that if I were a student, the school would go out of their way to monitor everything I post just rubs me the wrong way. Since such monitoring is so easily thwarted, it does beg the question of just why you would spend taxpayer money on such a system, if all one needs to do to not be monitored is never mention what your school is on your profile.
I suffered an aneurysm reading the court ruling that WiFi isn’t radio. Techdirt, I’m gonna sue, so prepare yourselves! Just because the radio signal isn’t audible suddenly means it’s not radio? This is why the thought of a judge having to undergo a technical course of not less than a year before ruling on a technology related case sounds pleasing.
Wednesday rolled around and I hear that France’s only HADOPI disconnection has been stopped. One thing that I noticed was that none of Techdirt’s usual defenders-of-greater-enforcement decided to comment on that one. HADOPI is the poster-child of X Strikes systems world-wide, so it must come as an embarrassment to its supporters that after four years of operations, multiple millions of French taxpayer Euros and only a single disconnection resulted. Now, that disconnection has been cancelled. For those of who support 3 strikes, how does barring someone from home internet access encourage them to start buying copyrighted material?
The news that Russia wants an Internet whitelist scares the crap out of me. Online communication is an indispensable tool of modern life. How does the thought of having to ask your government for permission to set up a website sound? Obviously, such an idea would be used by a government to disallow its critics from having their own sites. There can be no other outcome, especially with Putin at the head of government.
On Thursday, I couldn’t help but read that now the MPAA can file bogus DMCA takedowns without fear of punishment. The whole point and greatest strength of a democracy is the ability to make speech. Having that speech available is kinda the point, but democracy itself is threatened when one’s speech can be curtailed very easily simply by someone claiming copyright. Now one doesn’t need to consider whether the potential infringement of your work that you’ve found could be fair use. You can just notify away and even if the fair use is obvious, no biggies. I guess people like LittleKuriboh, whose Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged Youtube channel gets blocked regularly thanks to DMCA notices despite his series being a clear cut case of parody under fair use, should just shrug and accept it.
Timothy Geigner’s article about how privacy advocates are responsible for TSA abuses was a good laugh. Even in the year 2013, we still get people like Stewart Baker who will defend the TSA to the death. If I were in the airport, and a TSA man stuck his hand on my junk, he’d be the person I’d blame, him and the person who signed off on the policy; not people campaigning to end it.
So…here we are on Friday. First up is the eight month sentence for a guy who taught people how to beat a polygraph. Reading through the comments, I noticed one thing that wasn’t talked about. I noticed that the ruling more than likely is because it’s basically aiding in a crime, like when the undercover cops said they were criminals and Chad Dixon taught them anyway. My thought on the matter is – let’s say a real criminal confessed to a crime, and was taught. He then gets caught. In his trial, polygraph results would be rejected as evidence anyway, because they are so unreliable. So what’s the harm here of teaching how to beat a polygraph, even to a confessed criminal? It’s not the same thing as teaching someone how to more effectively commit a crime, only how to beat a machine whose results wouldn’t be used anyway.
My last favorite article for the week is why the NSA must be reined in. I agree, and not just simply because the NSA could have dirt on a sitting president. They could very easily see a proponent of a policy that they don’t like, and surreptitiously reveal embarrassing secrets to forestall that policy. They can very easily arrest someone simply because, without context, their (previously thought to be) private communications said something nasty. The threat to basic freedom and democracy from the NSA is too high for it to be left to run rampant as it is.
Thank you fellow readers, and thanks Mike for the opportunity to write this. Ciao!