I understand the urge to express free political speech, regardless of ideology. Like the rest of modern society, that now relies on technology that is not easily mastered, certainly not at the scale of Gettr. I feel some schadenfreude at the sheer weight of the Dunning-Kruger effect here yet no one deserves to have any more of their data leaked. https://threatpost.com/trump-gettr-social-media-hacked-day-1/167574/
I was fortunate to see Alaa Abd El Fattah speak both at PDF over the Summer and just last week at the Silicon Valley Human Rights conference. Every time I have heard him give a talk, I am impressed by his courage, conviction and the way he brings home the personal scale of much of what has happened as part of the Arab Spring. Alaa constantly serves as a reminder that technology alone is not enough, whether that is blogging or social networks; what matters is by whom and how these tools are used.
Even as Alaa spoke at SVHR, he was facing charges back home in Egypt for speaking out against the use of military courts and trials when the time has clearly come to restore the civil and criminal justice systems. Curt Hopkins at ReadWriteWeb has a bit more background both on the current charges and Alaa’s past activism. Upon returning to Egypt after SVHR, Alaa was imprisoned on these charges.
Apologies for the second day of just links. I was in a rush to get to the local CopyNight here in DC last night. I took a sick day from work today to try to final get over this cold and have been trying to keep blogging to a minimum, too, in order to maximize my rest.
Thankfully, tonight’s podcast is an interview I recorded last week so will got out with minimum effort as scheduled.
- Water may unlock a graphene based transistor , io9
- Judge blocks over broad child protection law in Massachusetts, Ars Technica
- Mozilla’s response to Firesheep, further urging to use SSL more broadly, Mozilla Security Blog
- B&N caught deleting customer’s files, blames user, Techdirt
- Mozilla delays Firefox 4 until early 2011, The Register
- Great Australian firewall is back, The Register
- Microsoft expands licensing program for NGOs, Slashdot
- Google won’t resume its Street View WiFi data collection, ReadWriteWeb
- Google admits to snagging emails, passwords with Street View WiFi snafu, Slashdot
- ACLU says net neutrality is necessary for free speech, Slashdot
- Jammie Thomas’ third trial is imminent, Ars Technica
- Judge Davis refuses request for “reasonable damages” jury instructions in Thomas-Rasset case, Recording Industry vs. The People
- Thomas-Rasset moves for court to consider constitutional due process issue, Recording Industry vs. The People
- US Senators ask USPTO to examine ACTA, Michael Geist
- Mom seeks judgment against Universal in “Dancing Baby” case, EFF
- Judge tells Righthaven it’s fair use, Ars Technica
- Problems with latest version of federal ID plan
Lee Tien at EFF has a good analysis of the problems raised by the latest proposal for a federal identity scheme. Compared to past plans, it shifts the emphasis from securing transactions to defining and ensuring authentication of users on the net. This raises concerns over surveillance, identity theft and the fate of anonymous speech online.
- New FCC sponsored report paints bleak broadband picture
Matthew Lasar at Ars Technica explains how some 14 to 24 million Americans are identified as being left out in the cold by this new report. He has some details on how this large swath of under served citizens was reached and it still uses some of the wonky tallying of counties with a minimum of broadband capable residents. The fact that this is a reversal from previous reports makes it difficult to draw too compelling conclusions but I am willing to give it more credit than not as it is consistent with my sense of the lack of real competition in the last mile of service provision.
- Free speech concerns raised by shutdown of blog hosting site
- Dropping blank media sales prompts collection agency to demand levy on mobile phones
- Google’s Chinese rival, Baidu, announces plan for its own Android-like mobile OS
- Origin of the HTML blink tag
Via Hacker News, I love that this ties back to Lynx, a text based browser I still use from time to time. It is also an excellent example of the odd thought process that often occurs to hackers. It also makes sense that the implementation was original an easter egg, the intent wasn’t to unleash untold eyestrain on the web but have a bit of a laugh. Funny how these unintended consequences arise.
- Senator uses copyright to block opponent’s use of her old web site
I am reading Netanel’s “Copyright’s Paradox” right now which is all about the fraught tension between free speech and copyright. Slashdot is one of many sources picking this story up today. It may be my current reading material speaking, but this seems like a very clear case of using copyright as a form of prior restraint, not having anything to do with its proper role as the “engine of free expression”.
- Near perfect 3D information storage, in the lab
Technology Review describes a system for reading and storing information that really does sound rather science fictional. A single bit encoded on a single molecule would seem to be pretty close to perfect density. Initially it is surprising that several developments here come from biography but then you have to wonder if related techniques operate or are instrumental to information processing in living systems.
- Open data analysis framework in the cloud
- Two Turkeys in conflict over Internet blocking
- Army will press charges against alleged WikiLeaks source
- Working towards a standardized power brick for laptops
- Seizure of DNS names of pirate sites by US fails
- Clarifying coverage of paper eroding quantum computing
Scott Aaronson has a must read post if you follow quantum computing as I do, in particular the Ars post on a paper that proposes to undermine one possible advantage of quantum computing. In a nutshell, what the paper shows is much more limited than Chris Lee made out, in particular the findings do not necessarily apply to all models or approaches to quantumcomputing.
- Intelligence analyst arrested over claims he leaked video to WikiLeaks
I debated not remarking on this and still feel that there isn’t anything particularly interesting here, despite the supposed role of WikiLeaks and Adrian Lamo. Manning clearly made a huge mistake outing himself as a source of leaks and arguably an even bigger one violating the trust placed in him as a member of themilitary.
- Australian police want to deputize Facebook
I have to agree with Curt Hopkins in his conclusion in this RWW post. It is enough that companies not break local laws, this is asking to much, that Facebook play an active role in reporting crime and enforcing local laws. Does anyone know if the Australian police have tried this before, by way of context, with Facebook or any other such service?
- Firefox Sync to be built into future version of the browser
I want to say I had read this suggestion before though I cannot find evidence of commenting on it previously. Ryan Paul has some details of a move that makes good sense given comparable features included or closely bundled with competing browsers.
- Canadian copyright firstly motivated by satisfying the US
Many have suspected that efforts like C-60 and C-61 were politically motivated, bowing to pressure from the US. Professor Geist links to a paper with some analysis that bears out this interpretation, including some quotes that make the prime motivation starkly clear.
- Microsoft patents fonts with feelings
I am at a loss for words or understanding of this patent that Slashdot explains. First, how is this even patentable? Are the animations described automated in some way, using natural language processing to associate some stock animations to words based on their meaning and context? Second and more importantly, who the hell would actually use technology like this? It would be like having Clippy assaulting every paragraph you push through the silly thing producing text/sprite hybrids that would constantly induce eye bleeding.
- Miro releases converter to help make WebM video
Cory at Boing Boing has the news, that of a bit of software from the fine folks who make the wonderful Miro player. Now we have Miro’s converter alongside the recent VLC release candidate. The standard appears to be taking off fast from a technology stand point. It should make whatever comes out of the patent rumblings all the more interesting if it ever comes to a head.
- French senator proposes outlawing anonymous blogging
Mike Masnick at Techdirt has the story, though there is not much more to it than the headline. I don’t know how strong free speech traditionally is in France but the stated reasons, ease of suing, seem a rather poor argument against the inherent value of being able to speak anonymously.
Ars Technica is one of many outlets commenting on a new paper by Wendy Seltzer, a copyright scholar and the person behind the Chilling Effects site. Chilling Effects is a warehouse of bogus takedown notices intended to illustrate how this practice stifles speech and expression.
It is not surprising that this practice of takedowns proven to be incorrect is at the core of Seltzer’s paper. Nate Anderson does a good job distilling this sixty page paper down to its core concepts. Essentially, the mandatory period that material must remain offline in the wake of a bogus takedown before it can be restored is a form of prior restraint. That is to say speech is suppressed before any discussion or adjudication can take place to determine whether that speech is legitimate. The cost of issuing a request is disproportionately low to the cost of recovering from an erroneous request. This encourages using takedowns regardless of any legitimate infringement claim.
The paper includes some reform proposals, any of which may help the situation considerable. Any one of requiring a burden of proof on issuance, adding a penalty on a successful counterclaim, or reducing or eliminating the 10 to 14 day wait period might be doable. I also wonder if a comparison between these proposals and SLAPP regulations, laws some states have passed to deal with litigation used to suppress speech or activity regardless of the ultimate merits in the claim.
Seltzer, however, urges a more extensive overhaul, not surprisingly. I agree with her reasoning, that the takedown regime operates much more on presumption of guilt, counter to much of the rest of our laws which assume innocence. I am also hugely concerned how this aspect has been modeled into the expansion of rights for copyright holders like what ACTA would require or with which the UK was just saddled in passage of the Digital Economy Bill.
Slashdot links to the story but uses some potentially misleading absolutes in their summary. Reading through the story, the veil of anonymity can still be pierced but only when a cause of action is proven and that anonymity is being used to avoid liability.
Still, this is a pretty clear endorsement of anonymous free speech online and good cause for celebration for those protected by the ruling. I would dearly love to see judges elsewhere undertake this same sort of push back, requiring that legislators enact john doe processes rather than having to deal with the the propped up and conflicting standards for the same that has emerged out of case law. Sadly, I think that ship has sailed for places like here, in the US.