But the FCC has apparently seen this complaint for what it is and acted accordingly, basically informing the company politely in a letter that it needs to shut up and go away:"In this instance we regret that you were not satisfied with attempts by FCC staff to facilitate a more satisfactory resolution of the underlying issue. At this point, you might want to contact the company directly to see if you and the company can arrive at a resolution that is more acceptable to you. You will receive no further status on your complaint from FCC staff." While the net neutrality rules don't specifically cover interconnection, they do give the authority for the FCC to resolve complaints on a case-by-case basis. In this case, the FCC clearly found nothing wrong. And that's a good thing; one narrative of incumbent mega ISPs before the rules were passed was that the FCC would run amok, competitors would abuse the rules, and we'd be wandering a minefield of unintended consequences and protracted legal battles, decimating the telecom landscape as we know it. Yet here, the FCC quickly saw a stupid complaint and shot it down with minimal fuss.
Obviously that's only one complaint, and we'll need to watch the FCC closely to see just what trips the agency's definition of anti-competitive behavior. But so far so good, and none of it has required "heavy handed regulation." Simply having rules in place has already helped on the interconnection front, with companies like Netflix, Cogent, Level 3 and the mega ISPs (Comcast, AT&T, Verizon) getting along famously simply due to the threat that a regulator might just do its job.
CNS, meanwhile, insists it's going to proceed and file a formal net neutrality complaint, for whatever that winds up being worth (and it won't be much).
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China Looks To Quell Dissent With 'Citizen Scores,' A Number That Tracks Purchases, Opinions And Social Circles
China's plan to control the hearts, minds and internet connections of its citizens continues unimpeded. That's the great thing about authoritarian regimes: rollout of mandatory programs is usually only a problem of logistics, not opposition.
The Chinese government has mandated a rating system for all of its connected citizens. It looks like a credit rating but goes much deeper than just tying a measurement of financial risk to a number. It's a way of defining who someone in terms of the government's desires and aims. And its desires aren't all that honorable. Everybody is measured by a score between 350 and 950, which is linked to their national identity card. While currently supposedly voluntary, the government has announced that it will be mandatory by 2020...
In addition to measuring your ability to pay, as in the United States, the scores serve as a measure of political compliance. Among the things that will hurt a citizen’s score are posting political opinions without prior permission, or posting information that the regime does not like, such as about the Tiananmen Square massacre that the government carried out to hold on to power, or the Shanghai stock market collapse. This is where all the government's moves towards greater control of the internet comes to fruition. To keep "score," the government needs to tie IDs to online activity. Keeping the internet within the government's walls makes it that much easier. But it's not just online activity that will affect "citizen scores." It's almost every aspect of their lives. Also used to calculate scores is information about hobbies, lifestyle, and shopping. Buying certain goods will improve your score, while others (such as video games) will lower it. Chinese citizens who want to remain in the government's good graces will need to balance "negative" purchases with offsetting positive purchases, most likely domestic electronics and appliances.
As disturbing this is, the truly horrific aspect of the "citizen score" is that it can be influenced by friends and family members. It will hurt your score not only if you do these things, but if any of your friends do them. Imagine the social pressure against disobedience or dissent that this will create. The Chinese government is introducing a caste system -- one that will result in the shunning of people who can't be bothered to keep their dissenting opinions to themselves… or just enjoy certain leisure activities. Certain people will be considered too harmful to hang out with, thanks to the government's mandatory "citizen score." And with anyone able to check anyone else's "score," the pressure to ostracize low scorers will be greatly magnified.
Most disheartening is the fact that many citizens seem to view higher scores as status symbols. Sadly, many Chinese appear to be embracing the score as a measure of social worth, with almost 100,000 people bragging about their scores on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. The government's program feeds on the natural competitive desires of human beings. There may be no official leaderboard (YET!) but with millions of easily-accessed "citizen scores," anyone can enter this unofficial score-measuring contest. The government obviously realizes this, as it has tied perks to certain score tiers. Those with higher scores are rewarded with concrete benefits. Those who reach 700, for example, get easy access to a Singapore travel permit, while those who hit 750 get an even more valued visa. Klout, but for controlling the hearts and minds of a large populace.
And just in case anyone wants to feel superior about China's decision to grade its entire populace on a mandatory curve, let's not forget that employers and loan providers are using applicants' social media interactions to determine their worthiness -- including who they're friends with and what those friends are posting to Twitter, Facebook, etc.
The US government may not be calling for a "citizen score," but there have been pushes for a national ID, and government agencies are certainly using the same hiring "tools" as the private sector when considering job applications. The US government hasn't made many direct assaults on dissent, but it does perform a lot of this same tracking behavior in the interest of national security -- what with the TSA asking for bids on social media mining software and the DHS suggesting retailers voluntarily report "suspicious" purchases.
The Chinese government, however, is sending an implicit message to its citizens with this program: conform or be cast out. The smallest of carrots is dangled and members of the public -- in the interest of maintaining their own high scores -- will act as the stick.
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New Zealand Confirms That TPP Would Extend Copyright Terms In Many Countries, Block US Plans To Reduce Terms
So, now with the TPP concluded and no one willing to release the actual text, New Zealand has at least admitted that it and Canada caved and agreed to put "life plus 70" into the TPP. TPP requires New Zealand to move to 70 years as well, but allows for a transition to do this over time.
This change could benefit New Zealand artists in some cases, but the benefits are likely to be modest. Extending the copyright period also means New Zealand consumers and businesses will forego savings they otherwise would have made from books, music and films coming off copyright earlier. The net cost of extending New Zealand’s copyright term from 50 to 70 years will be small to begin with and increases gradually over 20 years, reaching a relatively constant level after that. Over the very long term, including the initial 20-year period, the average annual cost is estimated to be around $55 million. This is hugely problematic and, once again, shows how even if the TPP doesn't directly require changes to current US law, at the very least it locks in a very dumb provision that the US has already expressed interest in changing. And now we won't be able to because an unelected bureaucrat, negotiating behind closed doors with help from the MPAA & RIAA, pushed through provisions like this one.
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Een paar weken geleden kondigden we het al aan: Bits of Freedom trekt het land in. Onder leiding van de allereerste Bits of Freedom navigator, Nephtis Brandsma, wordt op dinsdagavond 13 oktober de eerste Bits of Groningen bijeenkomst georganiseerd. Maar wat is nou eigenlijk het plan? We laten Nephtis aan het woord.
“Onze ervaring met privacyvraagstukken is dat je regelmatig kampt met de vraag: wat nu? Het is niet altijd duidelijk hoe, waar en wanneer je verschil kunt maken. Door samen met een groep mensen een ‘lokale afdeling’ op te richten hopen we dit voor een deel op te lossen, en kleine maar concrete bijdragen te leveren.
Sinds de aankondiging van Bits of Groningen zijn we benaderd door activisten, academici, belangenorganisaties en, het allerleukst, door Bits of Freedom vrijwilligers in spe uit omgeving Groningen. Een positieve start dus!
We weten nog niet precies hoe Bits of Groningen eruit gaat zien. Dat hangt immers helemaal af van de vrijwilligers die zich willen inzetten. Maar dat we niet precies weten hoe Bits of Groningen vorm gaat krijgen, wil niet zeggen dat we geen ideeën hebben! Zo lijkt het ons leuk om samen een internetconsultatie in te vullen (zoals afgelopen zomer), brieven te schrijven, te brainstormen over publiekscampagnes, in lokale privacyvraagstukken te duiken, Privacy Cafés te organiseren, of op de verjaardag van George Orwell surveillancecamera’s te versieren met hoedjes. Die hoedjes, die zijn belangrijk.
Heb je ideeën die je graag wilt toevoegen of uit wilt voeren? Kijk je liever de kat uit de boom? Iedereen is welkom! Er is geen specifieke kennis vereist om aan te haken. Hoe diverser we zijn, hoe sterker we zijn als groep. Dus hopelijk tot snel!”
De eerste bijeenkomst zal plaatsvinden op dinsdag 13 oktober om 19:30 bij Café Kult, Steentilstraat 36/1 in Groningen. Stuur een mailtje via de mailinglijst om te laten weten dat je komt, of kom dinsdag gewoon binnenvallen.
Cops Dodge Warrant Requirement By Grabbing Two Weeks Of Data, But Entering Only 6 Hours Of It As Evidence
Today's novel legal argument: take a ruling on cell site location info warrant requirements and make it fit the warrantless data haul obtained earlier by submitting only the "quantity" the court has previously OKed.
To get a sense of where we're going with this, here's a bit from the opening paragraphs of the opinion: The defendants, Jason Estabrook and Adam Bradley, stand indicted for murder and related crimes arising out of a shooting that took place on July 7, 2012, in Billerica. They moved to suppress evidence of historical CSLI pertaining to Bradley's cellular telephone that the police initially obtained in July, 2012, without a search warrant but in compliance with 18 U.S.C. § 2703 (2006), and then, in November, 2013, reobtained pursuant to a warrant. The CSLI was sought twice. This is the first sign that something's not quite right. Historical cell site location information doesn't change. That's the thing about history. And yet, the police obtained it twice: once with a subpoena (which was wrong) and once with a warrant (the lawful way to do it).
You see, the Massachusetts courts had already created a bright-line (of sorts) for the acquisition of cell site location data. Under the state's interpretation of its Declaration of Rights, cell site location info carries with it a reasonable expectation of privacy. This status demands the use of a warrant. An earlier decision determined that small amounts (up to six hours) of CSLI can be obtained without a warrant, as the limited time period makes acquisition much less analogous to long-term tracking.
The police knew they could only get six hours of CSLI without a warrant, but they had already grabbed two week's worth using only a subpoena. But the officers had an angle… In this case, however, because the Commonwealth requested two weeks of historical CSLI, a search warrant was required, even though the Commonwealth proposes to use only six hours of the CSLI as evidence at trial. That's a very opportunistic reading of the court's intentions. If the police were so inclined, they could subpoena a year's worth of CSLI and trim it down to only the most incriminating six hours of data before presenting it in court. Or they could just go fishing with subpoenas, look over the collected data and see if they could match any six hours of it to an investigation or prosecution.
The court points out the flaw in this logic, which, let's face it, the cops knew all along. It is important to emphasize that, in terms of reasonable expectation of privacy, the salient consideration is the length of time for which a person's CSLI is requested, not the time covered by the person's CSLI that the Commonwealth ultimately seeks to use as evidence at trial. The warrant requirement is for the "asking," not the "telling," to put it elementary school terms.
Fortunately for the police, the twice-obtained CSLI didn't harm their case too much. The defense argued that other evidence -- including statements made to the police -- should be suppressed because it originated from tainted CSLI. The court, however, concludes that a great deal of evidence was obtained independently and that only a few moments from various interviews could be traced back to inferences drawn from the cell site location info.
The court also came to the conclusion that the warrant the police sought well after it already had the subpoenaed CSLI in hand was likely legitimate, rather than just a shoddy attempt to cover up its earlier misdeed. Over the course of several paragraphs, the court lists all of the information gathered by officers prior to their issuing of the subpoena and finds it adds up to probable cause that isn't overly-reliant on the already-acquired CSLI info. The court doesn't offer any speculation as to what actually happened here, but rather points out that the CSLI was still lawfully-obtained, and anything stemming from the latter acquisition cannot be suppressed.
While this obtain-twice, admit-once method of cell site evidence acquisition didn't pay off for the criminal defendants, it at least provides another citable example of how far law enforcement agencies are willing to go to bypass the mild logistical hiccup that is obtaining a warrant.
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A ways back, we brought you the delightfully dumb news that LMFAO, the band, had sent a cease and desist letter to Pigeon Hill Brewing Co. over one of its beer brews, the LMFAO Stout. At chief issue, according to the brand, was a misguided concern that drinkers of the stout would somehow think that the acronym in the beer's name meant that LMFAO the band had endorsed or was otherwise affiliated with the beer. This was dumb on any number of levels, but the primary reason is that LMFAO got its name from a common internet/texting acronym, rather than achieving any kind of originality in music-group-namesmanship.
Well, while nobody is talking details, the brewery recently publicly announced that the LMFAO Stout will keep its name and business will continue on as usual. After weeks of litigation, the Pigeon Hill Brewing Company posted on Facebook today stating that both they and the band LMFAO have reached an agreement regarding the fate of the LMFAO Stout.
Which, you know, yay, but why did it takes weeks of litigation and lawyerly conversations to conclude that everyone could live with a beer named LMFAO? Trademark law has a very handy provision that requires that marks be acquired and used ongoing in specific industries. LMFAO is a band. LMFAO Stout is a beer. There's no common marketplace here.
And, while it's a breath of fresh air to hear that two sides had legal representation that were able to work amicably to an end that got us back to exactly where we started, it isn't enough to simply congratulate everyone for not being jerks. This trademark thing is a problem the craft brewing industry is going to have to deal with eventually, or else they risk stifling the immense growth it's experienced in the past decade.
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