Techdirt (55)

Texas Agency Says It Needs $1 Million To Hand Over Records On Prison Sexual Assault

Here we go again. Want to keep citizens away from their requested public records? Do what you can to ensure they can't afford it. Nathanael King sent a request via Muckrock to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He was seeking records on all investigations of alleged sexual abuse in Texas ...

Judge Kills AT&T's Attempt To Thwart Google Fiber Competition In Louisville

There's plenty of methods incumbent ISPs use to keep broadband competition at bay, from buying protectionist state laws to a steady supply of revolving door regulators and lobbyists with a vested interest in protecting the status quo. This regulatory capture goes a long way toward explaining why ...

A Google Tax Isn't Going To Give Publishers The Payout They Think It Will

Somehow newspaper publishers -- especially those located in Europe -- believe the road to recovery is paved with income siphoned off Google. There have been plenty of proposed "snippet taxes" and other demands Google pay online publications for sending traffic their way. So far, nothing has panned ...

Tech Journalists Keep Completely Missing The Point Of Cord Cutting

It has become the laziest "hot take" in technology media. Once a month or so, a writer decides to subscribe to as many streaming video services as possible. They then proudly declare that this whole cord cutting thing is a waste of time. Why? For whatever reason, these writers feel compelled to try ...

Moving On From Obviously Fake News To Plausibly Fake News Sites

Fake news is old news now. The hope has to be that we have all become slightly more suspicious when we read astonishing stories online . It also means that those peddling fake news have to work a little bit harder to make us fall for their tricks. Like this: Fake articles made to look like they have ...

FBI Terrorism Sting Nets Paranoid Schizophrenic Previously Found Incompetent By A State Court

It looks like the FBI has secured another anti-terrorism "win." Once again, the agency controlled the terrorism sting from beginning to end, ensuring the suspect communicated with no one but confidential informants and undercover agents. And, once again, the FBI has utilized the sort of person who ...

Federal Judge Upholds Magistrate's Ruling, Says Google Must Hand Over Data From Overseas Servers

Earlier this year, a Pennsylvania magistrate judge decided Google needed to turn over data to US law enforcement despite it being housed in overseas servers. The overseas housing was simply part of Google's data flow, which routes communications around the world for efficiency, rather than to keep ...

Daily Deal: School of Game Design

Love gaming? Want to build your own games? The School of Game Design is the place to start. With courses for developers of all skill levels led by expert instructors, The School of Game Design helps you learn game development and design at your own pace, giving you access to an enormous library of ...

Permission Culture Kills Off A Bunch Of Fun MLB 'Nickname Jerseys'

With the direction of intellectual property rights in America generally being driven down a one-way street towards expansionism, the associated culture of permission has ridden sidecar. Unlike intellectual property rights, however, permission culture is bound not by statute and legal interpretation, ...

Court Says Gov't Needs More Than The Assumption Someone Owns A Cellphone To Justify A Search

The DC Court of Appeals has shot some holes in a favorite law enforcement assertion: that cellphones are automatically containers of criminal evidence just because suspected criminals -- like nearly everyone else in the nation -- have cellphones. A criminal case involving a suspected getaway driver ...

YouTube Briefly Nukes Video Of Nazi Symbol Destruction For Violating Hate Speech Rules

Things have gone slightly crazy in the wake of the Charlottesville protests. What started as speech and ended in violence has prompted a number of reactions, many of them terrible. The president took three swings at addressing the situation: one bad, one a bit better, and one that erased the ...

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

We're going to pull another switcheroo this week and present things out of order, so that it's easier to give our first-place insightful winner its proper context. Thus, we start with our first editor's choice for insightful — a comment from DannyB responding to the MPAA's latest anti-piracy ...

This Week In Techdirt History: August 13th - 19th

Five Years Ago This week in 2012, while Amazon was realizing it had little choice but to get in on the patent portfolio buying game, Google was launching a prior art finder to help stop bad patents — though some worried it might be used by trolls to find targets. Meanwhile, Google also made ...

Welcome To The Technological Incarceration Project, Where Prison Walls Are Replaced By Sensors, Algorithms, And AI

At heart, a prison is a place where freedom is taken away, and inmates are constrained in what they can do. Does that mean a prison has to consist of a special building with bars and prison guards? How about turning the home of a convicted criminal into a kind of virtual prison, where they are ...

The Dangerous Rise Of Unproductive Entrepreneurship

For many years now, we've talked about Andy Kessler's concept of political entrepreneurs vs. market entrepreneurs. In Kessler's telling, market entrepreneurs are the kind of entrepreneurs that people usually think about -- the ones creating startups and high growth companies and the like. While not ...

Contractor Exposes Personal Information Of 1.8 Million Chicago Voters On AWS

At some point, it seems clear that if Chris Vickery comes a-callin', you've screwed up when it comes to keeping the private information of customers/voters secure. Vickery works for Upguard, a cyber-security consulting firm that regularly seeks out insecure sites and works with their owners to ...

Because Of Course There Are Copyright Implications With Confederacy Monuments

There's no issue of public interest that copyright law cannot make worse. So let me ruin your day by pointing out there's a copyright angle to the monument controversy: the Visual Artists Rights Act , a 1990 addition to the copyright statute that allows certain artists to control what happens to ...

NFL Tells ICE That Parody Shirts Are Counterfeits

For years now, we've pointed out that ICE -- Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- has this weird habit of acting as the private police force of various big sporting leagues, almost always timed to big sporting events. Every year, right before the Super Bowl, for example, ICE seizes a bunch of ...

Two Bollywood Film Producers Get Court To Block Tons Of Sites In India, Including Archive.org

How many innocents would you accept being caught up in an action designed to nab criminals? How many good people is it acceptable to throw into jail alongside the truly bad actors? Most people would agree that any action that penalizes the innocent in order to punish the guilty is a bad course, with ...

Louisiana's Criminal Defamation Law Abused Again, But This Time The Gov't Gets Away With It

Louisiana has a bad law that needs to be taken off the books. Previous court decisions have ruled the law unconstitutional but somehow it lives on to be a vehicle of harassment by law enforcement, often at the encouragement of government officials. This would be Louisiana's criminal defamation law. ...

'Smart' Lock Vendor Locks Hundreds Out Of Their Home With Bungled Firmware Update

So we've talked repeatedly about how the real "smart" choice in the era of "smart" internet of things devices is often -- dumber technology. Whether it's your smart refrigerator or TV leaking your gmail details or viewing data over unencrypted connections, your smart car opening the door to ...

As HBO Screams About GoT Episodes Leaking From A Hack, HBO Leaks Next GoT Episode Early

I love HBO's Game Of Thrones. I hate everything we have to write about it, however, because the stories are typically dumb in the usual ways that stories are dumb here at Techdirt. From HBO happily playing the evil villain in protecting the show's IP in the most overly-protectionist manner possible, ...

EFF Pioneer Awards: Chelsea Manning, Annie Game... And Me

So here's a bit of nice news. Yesterday EFF announced this year's Pioneer Award winners, and they included Chelsea Manning, Annie Game... and me. I'm humbled to win the award -- but especially to be included with Chelsea and Annie, both of whom have gone to amazing lengths, and often sacrificed ...

North Carolina Election Agencies First Learned They'd Been Hacked From Leaked Documents Published By The Intercept

At the time, the documents leaked by NSA contractor Reality Winner -- showing Russian interference in the recent election -- didn't seem to be of much importance. They showed something that had long been suspected, but also showed the NSA performing the sort of surveillance no one really disapproves ...

Palantir's Law Enforcement Data Stranglehold Isn't Good For Police Or The Policed

Palantir has made government surveillance big business. It's a multi-billion dollar company built mainly on government contracts. Its tech prowess and computing power have made it the go-to company for data harvesting and many of its most loyal customers are local law enforcement agencies. Mark ...

Former FCC Commissioner Tries To Claim Net Neutrality Has Aided The Rise Of White Supremacy

When last we checked in with former FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth, he was rather grotesquely using the Manchester bombing to try and launch a completely bizarre attack on net neutrality over at the Forbes op-ed pages. Furchtgott-Roth, who served as an FCC Commissioner from 1997 through ...

Daily Deal: Raspberry Pi Mastery Bundle

Raspberry Pi offers nearly endless programming and computing possibilities. The $34 Raspberry Pi Mastery Bundle offers 8 courses to help you learn the basics of how to program and build using the Raspberry Pi. You'll learn how to program the small LCD screen and display dynamic data, how to ...

Crowdfunded Billboards Shame Politicians For Selling You Out On Net Neutrality

Earlier this year you might recall that lawmakers voted along party lines to kill consumer broadband privacy protections. The rules, which large ISPs whined incessantly about, were relatively basic; simply ensuring that ISPs couldn't collect or sell your personal data without being transparent about ...

Aspiring Actor Forges Court Order To Delist Content, Gets Busted By Judge, Forges Court Order To Delist Article About Contempt Charges

Eugene Volokh has made a cottage industry of sniffing out bogus/fraudulently-obtained court orders demanding the delisting of unflattering content. Much of this seemed to be the work of desperate reputation management "gurus," who had over-promised and under-delivered in the past. Abusing the DMCA ...

FOIA Lawsuit Filed Over DOJ Data Complainant Is Pretty Sure Doesn't Even Exist

Benjamin Wittes of the Lawfare blog has filed a FOIA lawsuit against the DOJ, hoping to force the government to put its documents where the president's mouth is. Back in February, President Trump made the following assertion before a joint Congressional session: “According to data provided by ...

As A Streaming Future Looms, ESPN Is Damned If It Does, Damned If It Doesn't

So for years we've examined how executives at ESPN completely whiffed at seeing the cord cutting revolution coming, and personified the industry's denial that a massive market evolution was taking place. As viewers were beginning to drift away from traditional cable and erode revenues, ESPN ...

Once Again, Rather Than Deleting Terrorist Propaganda, YouTube Deletes Evidence Of War Crimes

It really was just last week that we were discussing the problems of telling platforms like YouTube to remove videos concerning "violent extremism" because it's often tough to tell the difference between videos that many people think are okay and ones that those same people think are not. But in ...

The MPAA Narrative About Piracy Flips To Danger From Pirate Sites Now That It Has Lost The Moral Argument

For years, years, the MPAA's public fight against piracy has chiefly consisted of a moral argument against it. Proclamations of the end of movies, the downtrodden future of filmmakers, and claims about piracy being equatable to outright theft were the tools of a Hollywood lobbier that itself ...

Wall Street Merger Mania Is Driving Us Toward One Single, Horrible ISP - Probably Named Comcast

Many consumers are still reeling from a Charter, Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable merger that left users with slower speeds, worse service, and higher prices. Other broadband consumers are still struggling with a bungled Frontier acquisition of Verizon assets that left users with ...

Impostor Sending Out DMCA Notices In Chaturbate's Name Now Targeting Techdirt URLs

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a long series of questionable DMCA notices I thought had been issued by online onanism portal Chaturbate. The takedown requests appeared to have been generated by a faulty algorithm with no human vetting involved. Many of those I examined appeared to target names ...

Daily Deal: The Complete Machine Learning Bundle

Dive into the world of self-driving cars, speech recognition technology and more with the $39 Complete Machine Learning Bundle. Over 10 courses, you will learn about pattern recognition and prediction and how to harness the power of machine learning to take your programming to the next level. ...

Stories Claiming DNC Hack Was 'Inside Job' Rely Heavily On A Stupid Conversion Error No 'Forensic Expert' Would Make

While we wait for the Mueller investigation to clearly illustrate if and how Russia meddled in the last election, there's no shortage of opinions regarding how deep this particular rabbit hole goes. While it's pretty obvious that Putin used social media and media propaganda to pour some napalm on ...

FCC Begins Weakening The Definition Of Quality Broadband Deployment To Aid Lazy, Uncompetitive ISPs

You may be shocked to learn this, but like most U.S. regulatory agencies, the FCC's top Commissioner spots are occassionally staffed by individuals that spend a bit too much time focused on protecting the interests of giant, incumbent, legacy companies . In the telecom market these folks usually ...

Proposed Law Would Turn US Borders Into Unblinking Eyes With A Thirst For Human DNA

Some senators are looking to turn US borders into the equivalent of London: cameras everywhere and a host of new incursions into travelers' and visitors' privacy. Cyrus Farivar of Ars Technica "outed" the not-yet-introduced bill -- titled "Building America's Trust Act" -- since the supporting ...

Saudi Government Looking To Jail More Citizens For 'Harming Public Order' With Their Religious Tweets

The internet may be an amazing communication tool, but it's also a handy way for governments to keep an eye on their citizens. Saudi Arabia uses the internet for multiple things -- mainly monitoring dissent and controlling communication. An expansive cybercrime law, coupled with longstanding ...

One Twitter Account's Mission To Make White Supremacists Very, Very Famous

After the ugly stain that was this past weekend, when a group of "protestors" took to the streets of Charlottesville to "protest" the removal of a statue commemorating some loser who lost a war because he was a loser, there has been an unfortunate strain of calls to crack down on speech rights of ...

Techdirt Podcast Episode 134: The Problems With SESTA And Why Section 230 Matters

Recently, we've been writing about SESTA, Congress' latest attack on Section 230 of the CDA, and helping to organize a campaign against it. But there's still a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation out there regarding the bill, so this week we're joined by Daphne Keller from Stanford's Center ...

Court Says CFAA Isn't Meant To Prevent Access To Public Data, Orders LinkedIn To Drop Anti-Scraper Efforts

Some good pushback against the CFAA has been handed down by a federal court. LinkedIn, which has frequently sued scrapers under both the CFAA and DMCA, just lost an important preliminary round to a company whose entire business model relies on LinkedIn's publicly-available data. hiQ Labs scrapes ...

The Snopes Fight Is Even Way More Complicated Than We Originally Explained

If you read our post a few weeks ago about the very messy legal fight between Snopes and Proper Media, you may recall that we spent many, many words explaining how the story was way, way, way more complicated than most in the media were portraying it. And significantly more complicated than how ...

Defending Hateful Speech Is Unpleasant But Essential, Even When Violence Is The End Result

A weekend full of ugliness has resulted in the predictable: calls for the government to step in and do something about "hate speech." For some reason, a bunch of people decided the removal of a statue commemorating the loser of the First American Civil War was something they simply couldn't abide ...

Broadband ISP Cox Will Now Charge You $50 More To Avoid Usage Caps, Overage Fees

We've noted repeatedly how large ISPs for years have happily abused the lack of competition in the broadband market by imposing arbitrary, unnecessary and confusing usage caps and overage fees. While ISPs had tried for a while to suggest these caps were "only fair," or necessary due to congestion, ...

DOJ Goes Way Overboard: Demands All Info On Visitors Of Anti-Trump Site

Not all search warrants are bad. Indeed, most of them are perfectly legitimate, and meet the qualifications under the 4th Amendment that there is probable cause of a crime being committed, and the warrant is narrowly tailored to seek out evidence to support that. But... not always. As Ken "Popehat" ...

Danish University And Industry Work Together On Open Science Platform Whose Results Will All Be Patent-Free

Here on Techdirt, we write a lot about patents. Mostly, it's about their huge downsides -- the stupid patents that should never have been awarded, or the parasitic patent trolls that feed off companies doing innovative work. The obvious solution is to get rid of patents, but the idea is always met ...

Lawyer: Yahoo Lost Sec. 230 Immunity Because It Didn't Hand Over Personal Info; Court: GTFO

Sometimes litigants start out with a good case... or at least a credible one. Then they ruin it by getting creative. The day-to-day work of adjudicating may be a bit dry, but novel legal arguments rarely provide anything more than entertainment for bystanders. Lawyer and author Thomas Hall ...

The Ultimate Virus: How Malware Encoded In Synthesized DNA Can Compromise A Computer System

DNA is a digital code, written not as 0s and 1s but in the chemical letters A, C, G and T -- a quaternary system. Nature's digital code runs inside the machinery of the cell, which outputs the proteins that are the building blocks of living organisms. The parallels between DNA and computer code are ...