Techdirt (47)

Court Tells Sheriff's Dept. Shackling Kids Above The Elbows Is Excessive Force

You wouldn't think it would take a federal court decision to make this clear, but here we are. A school resource officer in Kentucky who handcuffed young children acted unreasonably and violated the children's constitutional rights, a federal judge ruled this week. Two children, ages 8 and 9, were ...

Neighbor Sues For $2.5 Million After Renovation Looks Too Much Like Their Own House

Copyright on home design has always been a really sketchy idea. Earlier this year, we wrote about a disturbing trend of housing copyright trolls and have had some other similar stories over time. For reasons that are beyond me, the Berne Convention requires copyright on architecture, and that ...

Chicago Alderman's Plan On City Budget Crisis: Let's Just Charge Uber And Lyft More To Fix It

Big city budgets are hellaciously complicated affairs. That much is obvious, but the actual level of management of a budget likely goes far beyond what the average member of the public realizes. Even with that stipulated, the city of Chicago's budget is an absolute mess. Budget shortfalls abound for ...

Australia's National Rape Hotline Run By Insurance Company, Who Demands All Sorts Of Private Info

Australia is providing a fairly stunning case study in how not to set up a national hotline for sexual assault, rape, domestic abuse and other such situations. It has a service, called 1800Respect, which lets people call in and be connected to trained counselors from a variety of different call ...

White House Cyber Security Boss Also Wants Encryption Backdoors He Refuses To Call Backdoors

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recently pitched a new form of backdoor for encryption: "responsible encryption." The DAG said encryption was very, very important to the security of the nation and its citizens, but not so important it should ever prevent warrants from being executed. ...

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New York Considers Barring Agreements Barring Victims From Speaking

In the wake of the news about Harvey Weinstein's apparently serial abuse of women, and the news that several of his victims were unable to tell anyone about it due to a non-disclosure agreement, the New York legislature is considering a bill to prevent such NDAs from being enforceable in New York ...

DOJ Continues Its Push For Encryption Backdoors With Even Worse Arguments

Early last week, the Deputy Attorney General picked up the recently-departed James Comey's Torch of Encroaching Darkness +1 and delivered one of the worst speeches against encryption ever delivered outside of the UK. Rosenstein apparently has decided UK government officials shouldn't have a monopoly ...

Utah Senator Wants To Revive The State's 'Porn Czar' Office To Combat The Threat Of Women's Magazines

Todd Weiler, a state Senator in Utah, has appeared on our pages before. When last we checked in with the good senator, he was quite oddly attempting to purge his notoriously prudish state from the dire threat of pornography. His plan was more than a bit heavy-handed in that it centered on mandating ...

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our winning comment on the insightful side comes in response to the president's recent threats against NBC, with Geno0wl racking up the votes to take first place: Could you even imagine Trump's base brush this off as a flippant remark. But flip back a year and imagine the shit-fit the ...

This Week In Techdirt History: October 8th - 14th

Five Years Ago This week in 2012, while Hollywood was wining and dining New Zealand politicians to help get their copyright demands into the TPP, the similarly bad provisions from the dead ACTA were unsurprisingly appearing in CETA. The RIAA was continuing to share bogus math, this time about the ...

Google Fiber Gives Up On Traditional TV, And Won't Be The Last Company To Do So

While Google Fiber was initially hailed as the be-all-end-all of broadband disruption, the bloom has come off the rose in recent months. Last fall, Google executives began to have doubts about the high cost and slow pace of the project, resulting in a not-yet cooked pivot to wireless and the ...

Monster Energy Loses Trademark Bid To Push Around Japanese Software Company

There must be something about using the word "monster" in one's business that turns that business into a true monster from a trademark bully perspective. Readers of this site will be familiar with the two largest offenders along these lines, Monster Cable and Monster Energy Corporation. It's the ...

DreamHost Wins Challenge Against DOJ's Overbroad Data Demands

DreamHost has been fighting the DOJ and its breathtakingly-broad demand for information on all visitors to an anti-Trump website. This has gone on for a few months now, but the origin of the DOJ's interest in the DreamHosted disruptj20.org site traces all the way back to protests during Trump's ...

Statute Of Limitations Has Run Out On Trump's Bogus Promise To Sue The NY Times

A year ago, we wrote in great detail about just how ridiculous it was that then Presidential candidate Donald Trump's lawyers had threatened to sue the NY Times over a story about two women who claimed that Trump had groped them inappropriately. Trump insisted to the NY Times that none of it ...

Another Ridiculous Lawsuit Hopes To Hold Social Media Companies Responsible For Terrorist Attacks

Yet another lawsuit has been filed against social media companies hoping to hold them responsible for terrorist acts. The family of an American victim of a terrorist attack in Europe is suing Twitter, Facebook, and Google for providing material support to terrorists. The lawsuit is long and ...

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Trump May Not Be Serious About His NBC Threats... But He May Have Violated The First Amendment

By now, you've almost certainly heard about President Trump's multiple tweet attack on NBC for having a story he didn't like. A few times, Trump has suggested that NBC should "lose its license" because he doesn't like the company's reporting. Separately, he said during a press conference the rather ...

DOJ Staffers: The T-Mobile Sprint Merger Will Reduce Competition And Should Be Blocked

We've already noted how, despite some empty promises by Sprint and Japanese-owner Softbank, the company's attempted merger with T-Mobile will be a notable job killer. How bad will the damage be? At least one analyst predicts the total number of jobs lost could be more than the total number of people ...

Australian Police Ran A Dark Web Child Porn Site For Eleven Months

Thanks to an investigation by Norwegian newspaper VG, a long-running child porn operation by Australian police has been uncovered. An IT specialist at VG was monitoring forum activity and only stumbled on law enforcement's involvement on accident. In comparison to the FBI's takeover of the Playpen ...

Real Life Soccer Player Besieged By Requests To Play For Foreign Team Due To Video Game Error

Video games have been steadily becoming more realistic since their first creation. Conversations about this progress has mostly centered around graphical enhancements and tech such as virtual reality that strive to better immerse the player in the fictional world in which they play. But graphical ...

Internet Archives Liberates Old Books Using Never Used Before Provision Of Copyright Law

Section 108 of copyright law doesn't get very much attention . It's the part of the law that grants some fairly narrow exceptions to copyright for libraries and archives. In short, it was a recognition that libraries and archives are good and important things, and copyright law under the 1976 ...

Accenture The Latest To Leave Sensitive Customer Data Sitting Unprotected In The Amazon Cloud

What is it exactly that makes not storing sensitive customer data unprotected on an Amazon server so difficult for some people to understand? Verizon recently made headlines after one of its customer service vendors left the personal data of around 6 million consumers just sitting on an Amazon ...

Investment Fund Manager Tries To Bury Past Screwups With Sketchy Libel Suit Court Order

More libel-related bullshittery happening on the internet. And, again, Eugene Volokh is on top of it. Between him, Paul Levy of Public Citizen, and Pissed Consumer, we've seen a huge amount of shady-to-completely-fraudulent behavior by lawyers and rep management firms exposed. This is more of the ...

Australian Government Claims That Facial Recognition Systems Increase Privacy...

Via Josh Taylor, we learn of the recently released "Intergovernmental Agreement on Identity Matching Services", which is a fancy way of saying that the federal government and Australian state and territory governments had agreed to work together on a big face recognition surveillance system. But the ...

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Still holding on to that old cassette collection? Yeah, they're cool. Sure. But at some point you're going to need to digitize them or risk losing them entirely to time. This $21 Audio Cassette to MP3 Music Converter hooks up to your laptop and allows you to convert tapes to MP3 files for easy ...

Emails Show ICE Couldn't Find Enough Dangerous Immigrants To Fulfill The Adminstration's Fantasies

When you've got an official narrative to deliver, you need everyone to pitch in to keep it from falling apart. No one can say ICE didn't try. The Trump administration -- bolstered by supporting statements conjecture from DOJ and DHS officials -- has portrayed undocumented immigrants as little more ...

Groups Battle Trump FCC's Claim That One ISP In A Market Means There's Effective Competition

While the lack of competition in residential broadband gets plenty of well-deserved attention, the business broadband market in the United States may be even worse. Just one of three companies dominate what's dubbed the business data services market, which connects everything from cellular towers to ...

Court To Guy Who Sued News Stations Over His Facebook Live Video: Pay Their Legal Fees... And Maybe Sue Your Lawyers

If the name Kali Kanongataa doesn't ring a bell, he was the man who sued roughly all of the news for copyright infringement earlier this year. The whole episode stemmed from Kanongataa having put the birth of his child up on Facebook through the site's live streaming function in 2016. Many, many ...

New 'Coalition For Responsible Sharing' About To Send Millions Of Take-Down Notices To Stop Researchers Sharing Their Own Papers

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about a proposal from the International Association of Scientific Technical and Medical Publishers to introduce upload filtering on the ResearchGate site in order to stop authors from sharing their own papers without "permission". In its letter to ResearchGate, STM's ...

Supreme Court Leaves Troubling CFAA Rulings In Place: Sharing Passwords Can Be Criminal Hacking

For many, many years now, we've talked about problems with the CFAA -- the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act -- which was passed in Congress in the 1980s in response to the Hollywood movie War Games . It was a messed up moral panic back then, and over the years it's been abused widely in both civil and ...

Twitter Temporarily Blocks Campaign Ad... Getting It Much More Attention

We've argued repeatedly that it's a bad idea to demand that internet platforms like Twitter and Facebook be more proactive in policing content on their services, because it will lead to really bad results -- especially in the political realm. There's been a really dumb move over the past few months, ...

DOJ Says No One Has Any Right To Question The Adminstration's Handling Of Records, Not Even The Courts

Frequent FOIA requesters CREW and NSA are trying to obtain a court ruling forcing the Trump administration to stop standing in the way of transparency and accountability. Their complaint , filed earlier this year, accuses the Trump administration of not just serious impropriety, but of actually ...

Miami Beach Police Unaware Of The First Amendment, Arrest Guy For Twitter Parody Account

Back in 2014, the police in Peoria, Illinois raided the home of a guy, Jon Daniel, suspected of running a Twitter account parodying Peoria's mayor, Jim Ardis. Despite knowing no laws had been broken, Ardis pushed hard to prosecute the person for daring to mock him on Twitter. It didn't end well. A ...

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Deputy AG Pitches New Form Of Backdoor: 'Responsible Encryption'

The DOJ is apparently going to pick up where the ousted FBI boss James Comey left off. While Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues building his drug enforcement time machine, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein is keeping the light on for Comey's prophesies of coming darkness. Rosenstein recently gave a ...

Analysts Predict Sprint, T-Mobile Merger Will Be A Massive Job Killer

For much of the year, Sprint has been trying to butter up the Trump administration to gain approval for a merger with T-Mobile. Sprint's previous attempts at such a merger were blocked by regulators, who correctly noted that reducing wireless competitors from four to three would raise rates and ...

Treasury Department Wing Latest To Be Accused Of Domestic Spying

Some more domestic spying taking place, this time by financial regulators. While the US Treasury Department is well within its legal wheelhouse to investigate domestic financial wrongdoing, its Office of Intelligence and Analysis is only supposed to monitor financial activity occurring outside of ...

Three Energy Bills Look To Increase Fourth Amendment Protections For Americans

Senator Ron Wyden has introduced a trio of energy bills for the Senate's consideration. The three bills each have their own area of focus. One bill would direct the Department of Energy -- along with state entities -- to upgrade the flexibility and reliability of energy grids, thus limiting ...

Nintendo Nixes Live Streams For Its Own Creators Program For Some Reason

In 2014, following nearly a full year of waging an intellectual property war on YouTubers doing "let's play" videos with its games, Nintendo unleashed upon the world what would eventually become its "Creators Program". Through the program, YouTubers would be allowed to put videos including Nintendo ...

Techdirt Podcast Episode 140: WTF With Tim O'Reilly

The rapid forward march of technology has long bred two leading camps of onlookers: the techno-optimists and the techno-pessimists. Honest people on both sides, however, must admit that technological innovation has had both positive and negative effects. Internet legend Tim O'Reilly is one of the ...

ICE Demands Journalists 'Return' Snitch Hotline Data It Left Exposed For Three Days After Being Notified

Daniel Rivero and Brendan O'Connor of Splinter recently acquired documents pertaining to ICE's snitch program -- a "see something, say something" but for suspected undocumented aliens. What's contained in these documents is nasty, petty abuse of a crime victim hotline by Americans who don't mind ...

Harvey Weinstein Tries Every Possible Response To Explosive NY Times Story

Last week, the Hollywood Reporter broke the story that famed Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein had seriously lawyered up, hiring three high profile lawyers: David Boies, Lisa Bloom and Charles Harder to deal with two apparent stories that were in the works -- one from the NY Times and another ...

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Lindsay Lohan's Parents Want Her To Sue A Senator Who Made Fun Of Lindsay

Over the past few years we've written about some really dumb lawsuits filed by actress Lindsay Lohan. There was that time she sued E*Trade for $100 million because it had a baby in its commercial, named Lindsey, who was described as a "boyfriend-stealing milkaholic," which she insisted must be a ...

Cyberstalking Case Highlights How VPN Provider Claims About Not Keeping Logs Are Often False

When the Trump administration recently decided to gut consumer privacy protections for broadband, many folks understandably rushed to VPNs for some additional privacy and protection. And indeed, many ISPs justified their lobbying assault on the rules by stating that users didn't need privacy ...

Proposed Bill Would Exempt Customs And Border Protection From FOIA Compliance

To build a wall, you've got to break a few laws. That's the message being sent by a new bill, which helps pave the way for the eventual construction of a border wall by exempting the CBP and US Border Patrol from a large number of federal laws. H.R. 3548 would give the CBP a free pass to ignore all ...