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  • Jul 21, 2020 @ 10:19am

    Re: Always the Money

    Certainly true, and not wholly unreasonable that they'd like roi on their r&d. However, as no one has yet produced a working vaccine, we're left to assume that all this stolen data is about failures or works in progress that will likely be failures. At the very least, what does it hurt to share your failures with everyone so that we don't duplicate effort that won't go anywhere?

  • Jul 11, 2020 @ 06:21am

    Re: Re:

    There is a distinct difference. There was a witness who claimed to have seen a suspicious individual prior to the robbery near a church with a car, and if that individual is the robber it's likely he'll return there to his vehicle afterwards. All fair so far. Let's pretend to change what happened thereafter. Let's say there was a surveillance camera on the likely route between the bank and the church, owned and operated by a private business. If the owner refused to voluntarily hand over the surveillance recordings, it's easy to see probable cause to secure that particular camera's recording for the date & time in question. Those recordings could then be referenced against the original witness outside the church. All this would get them is a picture of the suspect to circulate in the media assuming the picture was of high enough resolution and the witness verified it. In this case, there's little functional difference between the warrant for the camera and a subpoena to compel testimony from a reluctant witness. However, with a reverse warrant, instead of using a warrant to access the records of one particular device that probably recorded the suspect, the warrant compels Google to access an unspecified number of accounts who were in the search area at the specified time. Chatrie alleges it was "tens of millions of accounts," and depending on how Google conducted the search, it may have been. Even if it was only a few thousand accounts (those who passed through the specified area in the specified time frame), that's a far cry from this one particular hypothetical camera. It would have included far more people than the number who passed in front of the hypothetical camera during the time window. Also, unlike the camera, this returned a list of 19 possible accounts whose movements might be what the police were looking for, with one matching more closely. Where the camera only gave them a picture of the suspect, this gave them his name, probably his address, phone number, and e-mail account and gave them far more information about his movements in the time at question than "he passed in front of this camera." It corroborated that he was at the church prior to the robbery, entered the bank before the robbery, exited right after, and returned to the church. If these sort of warrants are allowed to stand, despite their clear lack of particularity, why would the police ever bother with surveillance cameras? Google will give them much more information that helps their case.

  • Jun 18, 2020 @ 09:38am

    Re: Re:

    That's the issue: chasing legitimate players away. In any game like this unsanctioned RMT devalues the time and effort of players who do not choose to violate the ToS. It erodes their interest in the game because the emotional and neurochemical rewards they receive for making bells, finding items, or whatever they do are diminished by the knowledge that other people got those same things without all the effort by cheating. It can be reclaimed if they see the admins punishing the cheaters, but otherwise they become disillusioned with the game, are less likely to purchase expansions or future entries in the series and less likely to promote the game to friends and family. It hurts the players and Nintendo to ignore this sort of behavior.

  • Nov 09, 2019 @ 05:29am

    Consistency is key

    If, and it's a big if, they are/were consistent about this, I could almost see their point. If, for example, some other player made a pro-LGBT statement during one of their events and they banned him, too. Then, they could say, "Look guys, we support the LGBT community, but we were pretty clear before. Keep it game-focused at events." Best, for them, is if some Chinese player made pro-nationalist statements or statements against the protesters at an event, and they banned him, as well.

    I can see the point they're trying to make. None of us would bat an eye if they banned a player for statements supporting neo-Nazis or some other unacceptable (in the West) social opinion, but it's all sort of the same thing. If they didn't ban the neo-Nazi supporter, everyone would be up in arms about that, too. Either the players have the ability to speak out about whatever they want at these Blizzard hosted events (regardless of who might find it offensive) or they have a content neutral policy (keep it game focused, stay away from politics of all sorts). Otherwise, they wind up having to arbitrate which opinions are allowed and which aren't, and that's not a place they want to be. However, that all depends on them being very consistent with their policy. Bans for that sort of thing, regardless of the stated opinion, and only time will tell if they will be. For all I know, there are already historical examples of them not doing this, but as I pay no attention to Blizzard e-sports events, I wouldn't know.

  • Aug 21, 2019 @ 07:25pm

    Re: Re: Blame goes anywhere but here

    Even if we discount the failed War on Drugs due to its racial bias from inception, incarceration in general, as practiced in the US, hasn't worked well. Recidivism rates are high for a whole host of reasons - not least of which is how hard it is for ex-cons to get a job, which is usually a requirement of their parole. Prison sentences in the US are, at absolute best, a time out during which the criminal cannot commit crimes against other "law-abiding citizens" because they don't have access to them. More often, they are advanced and continuing education in how to commit crime. Our post-prison system of halfway houses and parole are just as flawed. Statistically, they do a terrible job re-integrating convicts who have served their time back into society at large.

  • May 25, 2019 @ 05:30am


    Not that I'm defending civil asset forfeiture or the War on Drugs, but if you begin with the premise that the War on Drugs needs to be fought in the first place, their strategy makes a certain sense. There's been some legitimate academic research into the structure of drug dealing operations. If we look at them as businesses, the thing they most resemble are fast food chains. Arresting corner boys is like arresting the guy at the register at McDonalds. He'll be replaced in short order, and there's a never-ending stream of people to replace him. It doesn't hurt the McDonalds. Even if you arrest the guy at the top of local distribution, you've arrested the local branch manager or at best the regional manager. It stings more than the lowly dealer, but not much. Someone from within gets promoted and business continues. The actual CEO is not only outside your local jurisdiction, he's outside the US. However, if you seize a significant amount of their revenue, the local distributors can't pay their franchise fees back up the chain and may be unable to pay for further supplies. The problem here is two-fold. One, police are never successful at seizing that amount of the money, so instead of crippling the franchise, it's really just a local business tax. Two, even if they were successful, the corporation would just fire the local branch manager and start a new franchise in the same area. Of course, none of this changes that civil asset forfeiture is a violation of the Constitution, that the War on Drugs is a fool's errand, and that undoubtedly a lot of people get swept up and have their property seized that aren't connected to drug trafficking at all.

  • May 09, 2019 @ 04:02am

    Re: Re:

    Do they have a bigger warchest than NBC Universal? Absolutely. Bigger than NBC + ABC + CBS? Probably. Bigger than all the TV production companies + movie production companies + music production companies + video game production companies + book/magazine production companies? Absolutely not.

  • May 06, 2019 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re:

    I found out about this afterwards (shows you how long it's been since I left Facebook). That's a step in the right direction, but I doubt it's particularly successful long term, at least so long as Facebook continues to try to create a globally family/child friendly environment since there's no universally agreed upon definition for it.

  • May 06, 2019 @ 10:39am

    Which is, more or less, why large scale social media isn't likely to last and probably isn't good for us, or maybe we're not good enough for it. You can't cram a billion people from all over the world into one gigantic room (digital or otherwise) and not expect endless problems. It's why Reddit will probably outlast Facebook. If I don't like a specific topic, I don't ever go to the subreddit for it. Why would I? That, in turn, allows each subreddit to mostly moderate its much smaller userbase as it sees fit. They never have to try to make one size fits all content rules because they didn't cram a billion people in one big room. They made a bunch of rooms, let users make an endless supply of new rooms, and then let them wander freely between rooms. Meanwhile Facebook, by its very nature, can never escape the hunt for one size fits all, because it's just one big room.

  • Apr 20, 2019 @ 04:39am

    Re: Re:

    I largely agree with you, but I think you just answered your own implied question of why this happens. Take this case, or 9/11 or some other awful terrorist act (whether foreign or domestic). In nearly every case, the perpetrator is unavailable for suit either because their dead or outside U.S. jurisdiction. The surviving family is grieving the senseless loss of a loved one and cannot get justice of any sort (precisely the sort of emotionally wrought situation in which we can expect people to lash out like injured wild animals). Someone comes along and says, "The people responsible for this should be made to pay," by which they mean monetarily, but the family hears that as a call to justice. Said someone convinces them that Twitter or Google or whoever provided material support for this act, and while the direct perpetrator is unavailable this other target is not. Said someone has a a license to practice law, documents proving they are expert in this field (which presumably the family is not) and so the suit is filed. We shouldn't be ashamed that grieving survivors lash out in an admittedly misguided pursuit of justice. We should be ashamed that the "professional" legal counsel that advised them to do this isn't slapped down and sanctioned for their horrendous legal advice, for keeping those wounds open even longer, all in the long-odds hopes of a big pay day.

  • Apr 19, 2019 @ 04:17pm

    Re: Sue almost anyone else for almost anything

    Only ambulance chasers. The vast majority of lawyers either represent powerful/wealthy people/corporations (the exact people who would be targeted by these lawsuits) or more normal people on an as needed basis (the lawyers who write wills, handle divorces, etc). The number of lawyers who file large damage, contingency-fee cases like this are relatively small. They're just the ones who make the news (for all the wrong reasons) and give everyone else a bad name.

  • Apr 19, 2019 @ 01:56pm

    Re: This isn't rocket science!

    If (and it's a huge if) you could argue that two smaller competitors out of four couldn't meaningfully compete with the two larger companies, then perhaps you could argue that by merging they would reach a size that would allow them to do so. In this specific case, I think that argument is laughable, as you said and historical evidence suggests that shrinking the number of competitors in the wireless market is just awful for everyone except maybe shareholders.

  • Apr 19, 2019 @ 07:18am

    Re: 1stAmmending

    I think the more relevant question is, what good is a Supreme Court that repeatedly refuses to answer important constitutional questions. The top court has always had a reserved, cautious approach to what cases it hears, as it should, but for the last several decades we've seen that trend start to shift to something that looks a lot more like cowardice at times.

  • Apr 17, 2019 @ 12:29pm


    I keep seeing this, and while I agree that effectively geo-fencing the EU is the likely result, I don't think we should call it a case, because it's a disaster in the making. I think it will happen because the vast bulk of the internet (by site count rather than userbase) won't have any choice but to do so, but it will be awful for the global economy and the health of the internet as a whole.

  • Mar 30, 2019 @ 10:26am

    Re: What to advertise and to whom

    There are times and ways in which targeted ads make at least some sense (even if they are creepy). If I know that you just bought a bunch of diapers, and that based on specifically which diapers you bought I can reasonably assume you have a six month old - I can reasonably target you ads for bottles, bottle nipples, teething toys, children's books and videos, baby food, etc all based on a single purchase. That, as you note, is a far cry from reasonable ad targeting based on your web search history. Targeted ads make way more sense based on things linked to purchase history (things you've proven you're willing to spend money on) than interest history, and you can build reliable models about that sort of thing. For example, if I run a business that sells auto wax and car-washing accessories and the like, I initially target my adds at people who just bought a new car. Over time, it turns out, my ads are way more successful when targeted at people who bought new sports or luxury vehicles than economy cars or family SUVs, so I tweak my ad strategy to only target them. That's smart business, but sending you adds for auto wax because you googled images of an Aston Martin is insane. That's probably well more than half my money wasted.

  • Mar 29, 2019 @ 04:24am

    Re: Really??

    That's a fair argument (or at least one fairer than in the article), but let's suppose I (a hypothetical bad actor) break into your home and steal your hypothetical Playstation 4. Most certainly illegal, and selling it would likewise be illegal, but I turn around and list it on E-bay. Now, E-bay likely has hundreds or thousands of PS4s listed at any given moment, all legal and aboveboard. Nothing about my listing indicates that it's stolen property and should be removed, rather than something I bought or received as a gift and no longer want. There's nothing to differentiate my listing from all the perfectly legal listings. Should E-bay be liable if someone innocently buys the stolen PS4 from me? Obviously, no because such a notion would result in the entire site shutting down, and a useful, lawful service would be lost for everyone. This precedent, however, says otherwise. Now, admittedly, Airbnb would have an easier (though still by no means easy) way of checking if any given Sacramento listing was legal or not than Ebay would have checking to see if your PS4 was stolen, but the precedent doesn't make that distinction. It pays lip service the distinction, but ultimately says the facilitation of a transaction is what deprives Airbnb of its CDA 230 coverage. You may dislike Airbnb, perhaps even for very valid, rational reasons, but the court precedent isn't based on those reasons. As a result, it implicates all manner of websites (Ebay, Amazon, GoFundMe, Patreon, Youtube, Kickstarter, etc) who would have to shut down all or portions of their service if this precedent becomes widespread because the threat of liability is to great for them to bear, but that would deprive everyone of their valuable and legal service.

  • Mar 14, 2019 @ 05:14am

    Re: Then there's the other problem with FB...

    But that's not a Facebook problem. That's an internet problem. One of the great utilities of the internet is how easy it makes it to find other people with similar interests or views, whether that's political views or your shared interest in a specific cult-classic movie, or whatever. All Facebook did was extend that to your offline life. They found a way to compile data and suggest that you might know and want to reconnect/keep in touch with certain people, and with often scary accuracy. If FB dies or is killed, that won't kill MAGA idiocy, or the preponderance of idiots in general. They've always been here, and the internet makes it easy for them to find one another and organize. The genie is out of that bottle. FB may monetize their idiocy, but if it was gone tomorrow, they'd just move to Reddit or YouTube or whatever moves in to replace the vacuum left behind by FB.

  • Feb 27, 2019 @ 09:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Building a Community

    That resonates with me. As I said, I don't know my neighbors, and have no particular interest in knowing them. I like the fact that I'm not pressured into participating in my local community, so I don't think it's rose colored glasses so much as noting a difference between my parents and their peers and myself and my peers. In the context of the podcast, though, if there's no participation in the local community in general, then getting them to engage about news of the local community the way we do here is a non-starter. To use the example from the podcast of the polluting factory, if I work an hour away (as you suggest) why should I care more that 500 people near me will lose their jobs if the factory closes than I would care about 500 people hundreds of miles away? Their proximity may have knock-on effects (increased crime, decreased revenue for local services, etc.) but I can always just move and maybe reduce my commute if it becomes an issue. While the 500 people who work at the factory may have a personal incentive to pay attention to that news, by your own admission, probably plenty of them don't live in that same community. Is it possible we've outgrown the need for local/community news and what we should focus on instead is issue news so that everyone can seek out news that matches their interests?

  • Feb 26, 2019 @ 04:02pm

    Re: Re: Building a Community

    I agree with those points, to be sure, but there seems to be more to it than that. I get why people don't engage in local politics, but people don't seem to engage locally at all beyond very superficial things. Sure, you shop at your local grocery store, you go to your local restaurants, etc. But, when I grew up we at least knew in passing everyone living on our street. Now, I don't know any of my neighbors at all. People were actively engaged in local organizations (churches, boy scouts & girl scouts, rotary club, etc.) People are still involved with those organizations, but it's no longer as prevalent as it was. Your neighbors, both individuals and businesses are strangers. That's what I'm not sure about. I'm not sure what the catalysts for that cultural shift were, but without it, I don't see much hope for locally focused news outlets.

  • Feb 26, 2019 @ 03:29pm

    Building a Community

    When you were talking about building a successful and healthy community, while I assume in many ways what you were talking about was what you've accomplished here at TD, the thing that it sounded most like were good Twitch channels. Not necessarily the big-money channels, though some of them would certainly qualify, but the good ones. The ones were you go not only to watch the content and listen to the streamer's commentary, but to actively engage with the regulars.

    Sadly, I think your guest had you on one point. At least for now, the pendulum may swing, the concept of geographical communities have lost a lot of relevance. I'm not entirely sure why that seems to be the case, but local politics haven't taken a back seat to national politics so much as they've been stuffed in the trunk and forgotten. People don't engage their physical neighbors. One reason for this, I think, is that the internet is amazing at helping people find online communities of people that share their niche interests, and it's on demand. You can engage when you want, how you want, with people that share your interest/concerns, and ignore everything else. The community principle at work in TD, or any given subreddit, or a Twitch channel works because it's oriented around a common interest. For geographically local news providers to create a community, they'd have to first re-engender an interest in that local community.

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