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This Week In Techdirt History - September 18th - 24th

van TechDirt - za, 09/24/2016 - 21:00

Five Years Ago

This week in 2011, the Pirate Party scored another big victory when it took 9% of the vote and a bunch of seats in parliament in Berlin. Their influence was badly needed across Europe, what with Italy proposing a one-strike law to ban people from the internet based on a single accusation of infringement (prompting questions about whether that was even legal in Europe), and the EU Commissioner straight-up asking big entertainment companies to step up their lobbying for more draconian copyright law.

Also this week in 2011: the now-tiresomely-ubiquitous "Keep Calm And Carry On" poster was at the height of its popularity, and the trademark battles were heating up.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2006, HP was still grappling with the massive spying scandal that hit it last week. First, more details came out that exposed even more elaborate spying and made the company look even worse, although it still wasn't clear whether or not California law actually made any of the activities illegal. Chairperson Patricia Dunn's pleas of ignorance began to fall apart when more documents suggested she was closely involved, and by the end of the week she resigned from the company only to be replaced by CEO Mark Hurd. But... additional leaked memos implicated him in the scandal too.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2001, Techdirt (and the world) was still reeling from the events of September 11th. The FBI was already moving to expand its wiretapping abilities, companies with poor taste were already moving to capitalize on the tragedy, scammers with even fewer morals were doing the same in their own way and, of course, the conspiracy theories were already flowing. Publishers of violent video games were delaying their launches, and after every store sold out of American flags it turned out they were pretty hard to find online in 2001.

Seventy Years Ago

The Cannes Film Festival is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions in the world of film, and generally seen as a bastion of movie artistry and creativity in a Hollywood-dominated world. The first ever festival was supposed to happen in 1939, until a pesky global conflict got in the way — but the dream survived the war, and the long-delayed Cannes Film Festival debuted on September 20th, 1946.



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Categorieën: Technieuws

Hurry Up: We're Taking Down Our Takedown Gear In A Week

van TechDirt - za, 09/24/2016 - 18:00

Support Techdirt and get Takedown gear! Last chance this year! »

Of all the t-shirts and other gear available in our super-early holiday sale, the popular Takedown design has the longest history: it was one of the first t-shirts we produced years ago as part of an early "reason to buy" project, it was later revamped with an improved graphical design for our Insider Shop, and then this year it was revamped once again with a slightly modified look for our sales via Teespring.

And now it's your last chance to get one in 2016! The current run ends on Monday, October 3rd — and after that we won't be taking reservations and can't promise when it will return, but it won't be until next year at the earliest.

So don't miss out and order yours today! Plus, consider picking it up now for the holidays and getting an early start on your gift-buying list — the reason we're holding this sale so early is to give lots and lots of time before Christmas for Teespring's sometimes-slow fulfillment. And don't forget to check out the other gear in our super-early holiday sale.



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Categorieën: Technieuws

[Ticker] EU 'baloney' and 'pate' in Brexit jibes

van EU Observer - za, 09/24/2016 - 11:05
France and Germany have mocked British FM Johnson for claiming it was "baloney" that, under EU law, the UK cannot have single market access without letting in EU workers. French finance minister Sapin said Friday: "If we want to make good European pate, then there are four freedoms that together make up the pate". Germany's finance chief Schaeuble offered to mail Johnson a copy of the EU treaty, Reuters reports.
Categorieën: Europees nieuws

De angst dat het ooit eens écht dichtbij komt

van Bits of Freedom - za, 09/24/2016 - 09:00

Mensen die opkomen voor grondrechten zouden een terreuraanslag toestaan. Die suggestie van de baas van de AIVD, Bertholee, is gewoon laag bij de grond. Foutje. Maar toch. Hij vraagt zich af of mensen die opkomen voor het recht op bescherming van privacy dat nog wel zo enthousiast zouden doen als zij het slachtoffer van een aanslag zouden zijn.

Geen idee wat er in jouw hoofd rondgaat, of in het hoofd van Bertholee, maar ik denk dat iedereen in Nederland al in meer of mindere mate het slachtoffer van terroristische aanslagen is. Of je brein nu de voorkeur geeft aan rationele of meer emotionele beslissingen, niemand zal onbewogen het nieuws over de aanslagen in Parijs, Brussel of Nice hebben gevolgd. Iedereen wordt geraakt door de chaotische berichtgeving, de heftige beelden en de beangstigende verhalen. Wie vermoed dat bekenden mogelijk onder de slachtoffers zijn, rust niet voor het bevrijdende I’m safe! doorgekomen is.

De angst die je na een aanslag voelt reikt echter veel verder en veel dieper. Die angst bepaalt mijn gevoel dagelijks. Als ik een vergeten koffer op het perron zie staan, dan is de eerste reflex er eentje van angst. De tweede is om even bij de informatie­balie langs te lopen – waarna natuurlijk alle alarmbellen afgaan en de treinenloop alsnog is verstoord. Die angst manifesteert zich op veel meer manieren, ook in de prominente aanwezigheid van zware wapens bij een bezoek aan de Tweede Kamer of bij het uitzwaaien van mijn geliefde op Schiphol. En in de media die ik raadpleeg, in de polariserende oproepen van politici, in het beeld dat van vluchtelingen wordt geschetst of het gesprek in de kroeg om de hoek. Dat verlammende is ook het doel van de aanslagplegers: de maatschappij ontwrichten.

Mijn angst zit hem ook in de manier waarop de beleidsmakers van ons land daarmee omgaan. Hoe ze – goedbedoeld of niet – ervoor kiezen om te morrelen aan de grondbeginselen van onze democratische rechtstaat. Aan het uitgangspunt dat de overheid met je doen en laten niets te maken heeft, tenzij er een concrete en gerichte verdenking tegen je bestaat. De maatregelen die voorheen als vanzelfsprekend niet eens overwogen werden, liggen nu als serieus voorstel op tafel. Ook dat is mijn angst: de angst om onze vrijheid te verliezen. Of dat nu gebeurt met de slechtste of met de beste bedoelingen.

En ja, wat als het écht dichtbij komt? Een vraag die me in het verleden vaker is gesteld: hoe denk ik over het langdurig bewaren van het doen en laten van iedereen in Nederland als mijn lieve dochter het slachtoffer zou zijn van een aanslag? Dat is ook een angst: als de mensen die ik lief heb geraakt worden, ben ik dan nog wel in staat om onderscheid te maken tussen mijn persoonlijke leed en het belang van onze maatschappij? Wanneer ben ik door schade en schande wijs geworden en wanneer is er slechts sprake van een vertroebeling van mijn wereldbeeld? Ben ik in staat om het verschil te zien? Maak ik me dan nog wel druk om de dingen die ik nu belangrijk acht?

Ik zou het niet weten. Geen idee of ik dan nog op mezelf zou kunnen vertrouwen. Waar ik vooral op hoop is dat mijn omgeving me in zo’n situatie scherp houdt en me er op wijst als ik me vooral laat leiden door boosheid en angst. Ik wil in staat blijven de grotere belangen te zien. En ik hoop ook dat mijn familie, vrienden en collega’s geen pas op de plaats doet, ook niet om mij te sparen, maar mijn onredelijkheid benoemt wanneer dat nodig is. Ik wil de betekenis van woorden als vrijheid, waardigheid en proportionaliteit nooit vergeten. Maar ook dat diezelfde omgeving mij wakker schudt als ik me teveel terugtrek, als ik mijzelf dreig te verliezen in mijn eigen narigheid.

Categorieën: Technieuws

Arguments Over Internet Governance Transition Get Even More Stupid

van TechDirt - za, 09/24/2016 - 04:39
So, yesterday, we noted that the Senate at least seemed to come (at least somewhat) to its senses in choosing not to include the ridiculous and dangerous proposal from Ted Cruz (and supported by Donald Trump) to block the transition of the IANA functions of internet governance away from the Commerce Department. I won't go into (once again) why this is important and not a problem, or even why Cruz's objections to it are so backwards that his plan will actually make it more likely that the "bad" result he keeps warning about will actually come to pass. You can reread the older articles on that.

However, with Democrats complaining about the Senate's Continuing Resolution and a vote on it being pushed off, the debate over the possibility of blocking the transition is still going on. Hell, Ted Cruz even pointed to Donald Trump's support of his plan as a reason to finally endorse Trump: Internet freedom. Clinton supports Obama’s plan to hand over control of the Internet to an international community of stakeholders, including Russia, China, and Iran. Just this week, Trump came out strongly against that plan, and in support of free speech online. Except, none of that is true. First, the plan does not hand over control to Russia, China and Iran -- and keeping IANA under the Commerce Dept. makes it A LOT MORE LIKELY that that coalition of countries is able to grab control of the IANA functions from ICANN and the US. But, uh, even more importantly, claiming that Trump is in favor of "free speech online" is laughable. This is the candidate who has repeatedly talked about "opening up our libel laws" to go after speech he doesn't like, has threatened to sue many publications for protected speech, and has flat out declared that we should turn off parts of the internet and anyone who responded with "freedom of speech" was "foolish." But, that's still not the craziest argument I've heard recently concerning the transition. The award there goes to Theresa Payton, who was a top IT staffer at the White House under George W. Bush and now runs a "cybersecurity" firm. She wrote a bizarre opinion piece in The Hill that, frankly, calls into question whether she understands what ICANN even does. She tries to argue that the transition will somehow make it easier for Russia to hack our election... because [reasons]. Changing who controls the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) so close to our presidential election will jeopardize the results of how you vote on Nov. 8 unless Congress stops this changeover. When the calendar hits Sept. 30, a mere 6 weeks before our election, the United States cannot be assured that if any web site is hacked, the responsible party will be held accountable. We cannot be sure if a web site is a valid. We cannot be sure if one country is being favored over another. These are all the things ICANN is responsible for and has worked perfectly since the Internet was created. Why change it now and so close to the election? Why does that matter to you as a voter?

Take a look at recent cyber activity as it relates to the election. The Democratic National Convention was breached comprising the entire party’s strategy, donor base, and indeed, national convention. Everything the DNC had done to prepare for a moment four years in the making (if not longer) was undermined by a hacker who had been in their system for some time but waited for the optimal moment to spring it on the DNC – opening day of the convention. The FBI and other U.S. agencies, as the headlines blare, suspect Russia is responsible for the hack. Recently, Vladimir Putin went so far as to say, "Does it matter who broke in? Surely what's important is the content of what was released to the public.”
Except, uh, ICANN has nothing to do with figuring out who hacks who. Nor is it the party that's figuring out if one country "is being favored over another" or if a "website is valid." That's not ICANN's job, and has nothing to do whatsoever with the IANA transition -- which will leave the internet working exactly as it has before. Honestly, this opinion piece does nothing to call the transition into question, but does a tremendous job in calling Theresa Payton's knowledge of technology and cybersecurity into question. ICANN does more than just assign and/or approve your website’s domain. ICANN has its own Security and Stability Advisory Committee, which “engages in ongoing threat assessment and risk analysis of the Internet naming and address allocation services to assess where the principal threats to stability and security lie, and advises the ICANN community accordingly.” They are equivalent to your security guard at the bank. Why change the security guard now when voter data is more vulnerable – and prized - than ever?

If ICANN changes hands, so do the security measures taken to protect the rightful owner of your web site. If a site was hijacked today – not an uncommon crime in the cyber world - to reassert yourself as the rightful owner, you would go through law enforcement channels, your domain provider, and yes, ICANN.
First of all, the "transition" in question isn't about transitioning all of ICANN. Just its IANA functions, which only have a symbolic connection to the US government. Second, Payton seems to not understand what ICANN does, what the ICANN SSAC does, or how internet security works. They are not the equivalent of the "security guard at the bank." You'd think the CEO and founder of a "cybersecurity" company would know that. And, after the IANA transition takes place, ICANN itself doesn't "change hands" nor does it change what the SSAC does, which isn't anything even remotely close to what Payton seems to think it does.

Don't trust me? How about Stephen Crocker, who heads ICANN's Board of Directors -- and also helped create the damn internet. You know how much of the internet was designed through "RFCs" -- "Requests for Comments" -- well, Crocker invented the RFC and wrote the very first one. I think he knows what he's talking about. And he and the head of ICANN's SSAC, Patrik Fallstrom, have responded to Payton with a nicer version of "you have no idea what you're talking about." The SSAC is not a “security guard” for the Internet. The SSAC has no enforcement power, and the value of its advice is based on the strength of the facts underlying such advice.

The Security and Stability Advisory Committee advises the ICANN community and Board on matters relating to the security and integrity of the Internet's naming and address allocation systems. Our recent work include advisories on a wide range of topics such as internationalized domain names, protecting domain name owners and operators, best practices for domain name registrars, analysis on the changing nature of IPv4 address semantics, and advice on matters pertaining to the correct and reliable operation of the root name system and other issues (see https://ssac.icann.org/ for more details). The SSAC neither operates as a security guard for the Internet, nor does it aspire to.

The IANA transition has no practical effect on the work and activities of the SSAC. Nor does the transition have any effect on the security and stability of website owners worldwide. The risk of compromise of a website owner does not increase as a result of the IANA transition, since ICANN and IANA do not control either the ownership of websites or the content on websites. Leading technical experts, industry associations, and civil society groups agree that allowing the IANA contract to expire is the best possible way to protect and promote the continued integrity of the Internet.

There is simply no relationship between ICANN and the current U.S. election process. Assertions of this sort are misleading and irresponsible. On the other hand, attempt to connect ICANN to the U.S. political process play directly into the hands of the enemies of an open Internet who would like to see ICANN and other Internet bodies put under the control of the United Nations or, worse yet, broken up into separate, government-controlled networks that do not interoperate smoothly around the world.
So, yeah. It seems that as we get closer to the transition, and since this issue has become "political," we're seeing stupider and ever more clueless attacks -- but they seem to only serve to make the people behind them look worse and worse. This shouldn't be a partisan issue. It shouldn't be a political issue. It shouldn't be an issue. Severing the minor link connection between IANA and the Commerce Department changes nothing practical in how the internet is governed, but takes a big weapon away from Russia and China in their quest to take control over those functions.

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For The Gander: Bahnhof Sends Copyright Troll Spridningskollen A Trademark Violation Settlement Letter

van TechDirt - za, 09/24/2016 - 01:25

We were just talking about Bahnhof, the Swedish ISP with a reputation for protecting its customers privacy, and its script-flipping battle with a copyright troll called Spridningskollen. At issue is that Bahnhof has for some time operated a website, Spridningskollen.org, and has applied for a trademark registration for it more recently. The copyright troll is new in town, so to speak, and Bahnhoff is relying on common law trademark rights while its application goes through the process, but that isn't keeping the ISP from continuing to give Spridningskollen a taste of its own medicine.

In a move laced with irony, Bahnhof has sent Spridningskollen a settlement letter on the basis of its trademark infringement.

Previously they accused Spridningskollen of trademark infringement and this week they followed up this threat with a more concrete warning. Giving the “trolls” a taste of their own medicine, Bahnhof sent them an invoice for the exact amount they also ask from accused pirates, to settle the alleged trademark infringement.

“You’re infringing our trademark ‘Spridningskollen.’ Bahnhof filed for the trademark on 2016-08-31, with the launch of the website Spridningskollen.org,” the settlement invoice reads.

Now, Spridningskollen will almost certainly not take Bahnhof up on its offer, but that isn't really the point. The point is that a copyright troll that wraps itself in the flag of anti-piracy, but which actually simply looks to bully settlement money out of the public, couldn't be bothered to come up with a name for itself that wasn't already in use and has now been served with the exact sort of settlement letter it itself wants to send to others. It's response to the letter is going to look bad either way. Bowing to its demands will be a public acknowledgement that the "anti-piracy" group violated another group's intellectual property. Not a good look. Fighting back against the letter, as it surely will, casts doubt on the legitimacy of its own threat-settlement letters and provides the public with a role-model example for what to do if they receive such a settlement notice.

It's a checkmate move, in other words. That Bahnhoff is asking for the exact amount that Spridningskollen plans to ask for in its own letters simply layers on a bit of snark to all of this. Which makes Bahnhoff an early favorite for the ISP doing the most to protect its customers from copyright bullies while entertaining the rest of us.



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Cop To Court: This Normal Behavior I Literally Observe All The Time Is Suspicious Behavior Justifying A Traffic Stop

van TechDirt - vr, 09/23/2016 - 23:45

In which the government argues that avowedly suspicionless behavior is reasonable suspicion.

Carlos Velazquez was pulled over by Officer Ken Scott, a "traffic investigator" patrolling the Ft. Bragg military base in North Carolina. Scott observed Velasquez make a right-hand turn at a stop sign, then reverse course when he encountered a gate preventing traffic from entering the Ft. Bragg Special Operations Compound. The stop resulted in the search of the vehicle and, eventually, the discovery of illegal drugs.

Velazquez moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that the stop was suspicionless. The government disagreed, but Scott's own testimony indicates it was a suspicionless stop. Scott claimed the stop was justified because he believed Velazquez was "intoxicated or lost." That last part Scott himself ignored, even during his testimony as the government's sole witness. The actions Scott viewed as "suspicious" during his justification of the traffic stop were also actions Scott had witnessed numerous times while patrolling the area around the military base.

Lamont Road ends at an intersection with Manchester Road. At the time of this incident, if a driver turned right from Lamont onto Manchester, he would encounter a closed gate with a "Do Not Enter" sign. Id. at 1:09:20-1:09:30. If a driver turned left from Lamont onto Manchester, the road would take him towards various training areas and, ultimately, the town of Southern Pines. Id. at 1:10:20-1:10:29.

Officer Scott described this area as wooded with no lighting with minimal, if any, phone and radio signals. Id. at 1:10:39-1:10:49. Officer Scott also stated that there are no individuals in that area at night. Id. at 1:11:16-1:11:22. Officer Scott also testified that he has often assisted individuals who were lost in the area, including those following GPS. Id. at 1:12:17-1:12:36. Officer Scott stated that he had often received calls of lost individuals utilizing GPS where the GPS would take them off the main road. Id.; id. at 1:17:01-1:17:15. He also stated that there are no phone signals and radios often do not operate in this remote area. Id. at 1:10:50-1:10:55.

Officer Scott did not provide any details on how many suspicionless stops he has performed after viewing behavior he admittedly finds unsuspicious. There's also nothing in the decision that indicates Scott observed anything about Velazquez's behavior during the stop that would have added to his suspicions. Instead, as the court points out, everything Velazquez did was entirely normal, given what Officer Scott had observed during previous patrols.

Here, the evidence demonstrates that Velasquez was driving on a public road shortly after midnight on a Saturday morning. When he reached an intersection, he stopped completely and proceeded to make a right turn. After encountering a fence informing him he was not allowed to proceed further, Velasquez turned his vehicle around and proceeded down a public, albeit remote, road. At no time did Officer Scott observe any erratic driving, traffic violations, or other conduct that indicated Velasquez was intoxicated. There is no indication that there were concerns that Velasquez posed a threat to the physical security of the base or personnel or that he was seeking unauthorized access to the Special Operations Compound. Officer Scott's decision to pull Velasquez over appears to have been based entirely on his presence on a public road at night and his right turn at the intersection of Lamont and Manchester Roads. Given that Officer Scott was aware that individuals frequently became lost in this area and that GPS systems would often cause individuals to make wrong turns, these facts are insufficient to establish that Officer Scott's stop of Velazquez's vehicle was supported by reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct.

No one likes to lose a drug bust, but offering up an argument that basically amounts to "the lack of suspicious behavior made me suspicious" is even worse than the government's routine insistence that driving from state to state on paved highways is suspicious because criminals often travel from state to state on paved highways.

While officers are generally free to make up their own traffic laws to initiate suspicionless stops, the officer here apparently failed to come up with anything better than "possibly [and suspiciously] lost" after interacting with Velazquez. The officer lucked into a drug bust, but "fortuitous discovery" isn't a recognized Fourth Amendment exception (or, at least, it shouldn't be one -- see also: "good faith").

There are few activities that separate citizens from their Fourth Amendment rights faster than driving but, at least in this decision, the rights didn't evaporate quite as quickly as Officer Scott may have hoped. Away goes the evidence. With that dismissed during oral arguments, the government decided there was nothing left to prosecute, so the charges have been dropped as well.

When Dirty Harry acolytes bitch about "technicalities" putting drug dealers back on the streets, these are the sorts of things they're often unknowingly referring to: law enforcement's inability to stay within the confines of the law and the Constitution.



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Categorieën: Technieuws

NYPD Says Software Built To Track Seized Property Can't Actually Do The One Thing It's Supposed To Do

van TechDirt - vr, 09/23/2016 - 22:03

It's not like the NYPD's earned enough trust to be given the benefit of a doubt, but it's latest excuse as to why it can't come up with requested data sounds about as believable as a soaking wet teen's explanation as to why the family car is currently lying at the bottom of the backyard pool isn't his fault.

The New York City Police Department takes in millions of dollars in cash each year as evidence, often keeping the money through a procedure called civil forfeiture. But as New York City lawmakers pressed for greater transparency into how much was being seized and from whom, a department official claimed providing that information would be nearly impossible—because querying the 4-year old computer system that tracks evidence and property for the data would "lead to system crashes."

The system that "tracks" this information (apparently by tossing input into a pile of unsearchable bits) was considered top of the line in 2012. Sure, technology moves fast but certainly not fast enough to turn something the NYPD claimed would "revolutionize" evidence/property tracking into a hulking pile of sullen, un-queryable data four years later. As Sean Gallagher of Ars Technica points out, the system was submitted for consideration for the 2012 Computerworld Honors, which hands out awards to leaps forward in information technology.

NYPD officials, responding to city's Public Safety Committee, explained that the top-dollar tracking system wasn't actually a system at all.

NYPD's Assistant Deputy Commissioner Robert Messner told the New York City Council's Public Safety Committee that the department had no idea how much money it took in as evidence, nor did it have a way of reporting how much was seized through civil forfeiture proceedings—where property and money is taken from people suspected of involvement in a crime through a civil filing, and the individuals whom it is seized from are put in the position of proving that the property was not involved in the crime of which they were accused.

Where accountability is needed most, it almost always seems to go missing. Asset forfeiture -- in multiple, mostly-nefarious forms -- is a law enforcement tool seemingly handcrafted for abuse and exploitation. When the NYPD isn't seizing cash and cars simply because Officer Smith thought he spotted a fleck of marijuana somewhere in a three-mile radius, it's taking ownership of people's personal belongings (phones, cash, etc.) simply because they happened to be in their pockets when they were arrested.

The NYPD's inability to quantify its sketchy takings isn't surprising. There's nothing to be gained from keeping a tracking system like this in working order. The more data the NYPD can provide to overseers, FOIL-wielding citizens, and meddling defense lawyers, the more likely it is that someone will uncover abuse of the forfeiture process.

The NYPD isn't satisfied with simply being a closed book -- it's actively engaged in removing pages. At some point, someone on the inside must have needed some information and found the tracking system unworkable. But the cost of fixing it -- both in terms of the money paid to contractors and the potential "harm" done to a very profitable program -- was likely considered too much of an expense to bear. So, when faced with demands for data, the NYPD excuses its lack of info production with "the database ate our homework."

What data has been pried loose from the unwilling NYPD already shows it willingly lies to city officials about its asset forfeitures, as the Village Voice reports.

The NYPD's testimony was also disingenuous: As part of a FOIL request filed by the Bronx Defenders, the NYPD had already compiled and released figures that show the staggering amounts that it has seized.

[...]

At the hearing, the NYPD claimed that it only legally forfeited $11,653 in currency last year — that is, gone to court and actually made a case as to why the NYPD should be taking this money.

[...]

In the accounting summaries which the Bronx Defenders submitted as part of its testimony, the NYPD reports that as of December 2013, its property clerk had almost $69 million in seized cash on hand. This amount had been carried over from previous years, showing an annual accumulation of seized cash that has reached an enormous amount. The documents also show that each month, the five property clerk’s offices across the city took in tens of thousands of dollars in cash, ultimately generating over $6 million in revenue for the department.

And where did the Bronx Defenders get its numbers? The same software the NYPD claims can't produce these numbers.

The report that the NYPD released appears to have been generated through the same use of their database that the department now claims is technologically impossible.

At the point of the database's inception, the NYPD claimed it would provide "cradle-to-grave" tracking of seized property. Apparently "cradle-to-grave" is about as meaningless a phrase as "unlimited data:" both terminate far sooner than their descriptors would indicate.

It may be the software can't handle complex queries encompassing the entirety of its seizure records, but that's not an acceptable excuse. The problem should have been caught and fixed by this point. I'm pretty sure the NYPD has some way of tracking seized assets since it seems to have few concerns about bouncing checks when spending the proceeds. But it's sure as hell not going to turn this over to opponents of its sketchy seizure programs without a fight. So when it became apparent the database would provide next to nothing in terms of accountability, the NYPD considered that a feature, rather than a bug.



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Categorieën: Technieuws

The Good, The Bad And The Misunderstood Of 'YouTube Heroes'

van TechDirt - vr, 09/23/2016 - 20:51

As you may have heard, YouTube has announced a new program called YouTube Heroes that offers the community incentives to help "create the best possible YouTube experience for everyone." There's one part of the system that set off alarm bells for every content creator on the site — see if you can guess which one:

Yes, one of the main pillars of the incentive system is moderation as both an activity and a reward: users can gain points by "reporting inappropriate videos accurately", and can then unlock the ability to mass-flag videos with a special moderation interface. Naturally, this freaked out creators who deal with abuse of the reporting system on a daily basis, and the response has been almost unanimously negative. But as with any incentive system, the details matter, and a video by Folding Ideas digs in to how the points and levels work and offers what I think is the most nuanced and accurate perspective:

Whether or not you watched the video, let's discuss its points. Firstly, though my initial instinct was that moderation was the primary goal of YouTube Heroes, the rewards make it clear this isn't the case: adding closed captioning or translated subtitles to videos is by far the most efficient way to rack up points. Internationalizing its huge library of videos, and making them accessible, is a big deal for YouTube and it makes sense that this is the main thrust of the program. In this sense (and perhaps this sense alone) it's a great idea.

There are still three main complaints, each of a different nature: one is based on a complete misunderstanding, one is legitimate but likely to never come to fruition, and one (yes, the moderation) represents a genuine concern, at least in part.

First, the misunderstanding: the graphics and vague language in YouTube's promotional video give the distinct impression that in addition to mass-flagging videos, 'Heroes' will gain the ability to moderate comments. Not only does this sound ripe for abuse (the YouTube commenting community is frequently toxic and hardly above gaming the system), it also irritated content creators who (unlike on many similar platforms) are unable to even designate their own community moderators for their YouTube channels. But: it isn't true. Heroes only gain the ability to moderate posts on a YouTube creators forum that is barely-known and comically hard to find (watch the video to see what I mean). So let's put that one aside.

Second, creators were similarly irritated to learn that high-level Heroes would gain the ability to talk to YouTube staff. If you've ever tried to speak to a human at YouTube or anything else connected to Google, you understand why. If even top content creators and channel operators still can't get in touch with anyone at YouTube, why should community busybodies get to? This represents an utter failure of YouTube on the creator-relations and communications front, but the reason it's so frustrating is the same reason it's likely not to matter, because who really believes these Heroes will get any kind of meaningful access? Many of you have been laughing non-stop ever since I wrote the words "talk to YouTube staff". So let's file this one away with the broader nightmare of Google customer service.

Finally, there's the real source of ire: incentives for the reporting of videos, and the potential ability to do so on a mass scale. The latter half has drawn the most fire, but it's actually the first half that's likely to matter more: mass-flagging videos is a slight bump in efficiency, but getting points for flagging them is a small incentive that could potentially balloon into an entire army of wanton community police. In theory there's still the safeguard that all flagged videos will be reviewed by YouTube staff (I know, there's that joke again) but, if the purpose here is to increase the quantity of flagged videos and identify "trusted" moderators, how effective will that screening really be? Besides, we've seen how easily that stuff can go wrong, such as with Facebook's removal of a famous war photo that we discussed in this week's podcast.

Will YouTube Heroes lead to a combination of widespread abuse (or wider-spread abuse) of the reporting system by angry trolls, and a general watering down of YouTube's content by zealous morality police? Possibly. But it's not clear that the incentives are meaningful enough compared to the ones that already exist (dickishness and righteousness, respectively) to really boost those activities. Then again, sometimes gamification like this has a deep psychological impact. It seems like the possible outcomes only range from "bad" to "nothing much".

Why did YouTube include moderation activities that it surely knew were unpopular, and at least have the potential to go awry, in the Heroes program? Why did it fail to explain the role of a forum that it surely knew was underexposed and underutilized, and use a graphic that strongly suggested comment moderation? Why did it promise to Heroes rewards that it probably can't deliver and already consistently fails to deliver to its top content creators? And why did it wrap all these things up with the one really positive idea — which also appears to be the main idea — of encouraging more subtitles and captions? I'm not sure — you'd really think they could have done a better job of designing and launching this program. But the truth is it's probably not going to be a disaster, and it might even do some good.



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Irish and Polish people march for abortion

van EU Observer - vr, 09/23/2016 - 20:12
Irish people have called a worldwide demonstration on Saturday to demand an end to Ireland's strict abortion laws.
Categorieën: Europees nieuws

NYPD Says Releasing Basic Stingray Contract Info Will Result In A Supercriminal Apocalypse

van TechDirt - vr, 09/23/2016 - 19:50

Secrecy still continues to shroud law enforcement Stingray use, in large part because courts have been far too receptive to the government's insistence that the release of any details at all would result in the expensive tech being rendered instantly useless.

The NYPD has decided to go past the usual "law enforcement means and methods" obfuscatory tactics and push a rather novel narrative about why it would be "dangerous" for IMSI catcher info to make its way into the public domain. (I mean more so… I guess.)

Joseph Cox of Motherboard reports the NYPD's latest opacity play involves hoodie-wearing males operating laptops in underlit rooms and comic book supervillain-esque levels of coordinated criminal activity.

In a recent case, the New York Police Department (NYPD) introduced a novel argument for keeping mum on the subject: Asked about the tools it uses, it argued that revealing the different models of IMSI catchers the force owned would make the devices more vulnerable to hacking.

In the words [PDF] of the NYPD's Gregory Antonsen, hackers would be able to crack open Stingrays like OPM records if the department were to turn over Harris Corp. contract info and nondisclosure agreements to the New York branch of the ACLU in response to its FOIL request. Also: terrorism.

The purpose of this affidavit is to explain the reasons that disclosing the Withheld Records would cause grave damage to counterterrorism and law enforcement operations, and so could endanger the lives or safety of New Yorkers.

Additionally, disclosing the Withheld Records would reveal confidential and non-routine criminal investigative techniques, which would hamper ability to conduct operations and would permit perpetrators to evade detection. Moreover, disclosure of the Withheld Records would jeopardize the ability of NYPD to secure its information technology assets.

After detailing the use of Stingrays to perform a variety of heartwarming investigations (tracking down a missing elderly person, rescuing someone from sex trafficking, etc.), Antonsen gets down to business. According to the NYPD's theory, any information released about the NYPD's IMSI catcher contracts could be "scrutinized" by bad guys who would be able to infer from extremely limited information the extent of the department's cellphone-tracking capabilities. It's basically the mosaic theory, but without the mosaic.

But the far stupider assertion is the one made without any supportive citations -- just a far-fetched hypothetical.

The CSS technologies are also critical and essential information technology assets. As such, all CSS technologies require periodic software updates. Public disclosure of the specifications of the CSS technologies in the NYPD's possession from the Withheld Records would make the software vulnerable to hacking and would jeopardize ability to keep the technologies secure. Of great concern is that a highly sophisticated hacker could use the knowledge of CSS technologies to invade the CSS software undetected, thus creating a situation in which law enforcement personnel are lured into a situation based on a misleading cell-phone location and are then trapped and ambushed.

The ACLU's Chris Soghoian has responded [PDF] to the NYPD's assertions. As to the claims that providing contract information would somehow result in sophisticated criminals finding ways to route around this surveillance, Soghoian points out that every Stingray device -- no matter its capabilities -- can be defeated by even the dumbest thug… and all without having to scour a redacted invoice for clues.

The most effective countermeasure, which can be used by anyone at no cost is to simply turn off a phone or put it into airplane mode. This will thwart tracking by any model of Stingray. Knowing the models of Stingrays that the NYPD uses does not make this countermeasure more or less effective. It is 100% effective regardless of which models of Stingrays the NYPD uses.

Soghoian went easy on the "but criminals will beat our IMSI catchers" argument. The "but we'll be hacked" argument is treated with all the respect it deserves: none.

It would be a serious problem if the costly surveillance devices purchased by the NYPD without public competitive bidding are so woefully insecure that the only thing protecting them from hackers is the secrecy surrounding their model names.

He also chides the NYPD for making claims the federal government isn't even willing to make.

The Harris Corporation, which in addition to manufacturing Stingrays has been awarded public contracts for securing the President's communications and supplying secure radios used by the U.S. Army, is clearly capable of designing secure products for its government customers that does not rely on keeping secret the mere existence of the devices for their security.

Soghoian also points out that the release of other information would similarly have zero effect on the devices' capabilities. Because they spoof cell towers, it does criminals no good to know how many the NYPD has or even where they tend to deploy them. A cellphone can't tell it's connected to a BS "tower." And just because the NYPD may be more likely to deploy them in certain areas does not guarantee that avoiding those areas will allow criminals to avoid detection.

And this wonderful paragraph snarkily deflates the NYPD's paranoid ravings its tech officers deploy as justification for continued secrecy.

Inspector Antonsen also claims that knowing the number of Stingrays owned by the NYPD may enable an extremely well-resourced criminal group to orchestrate a greater number of simultaneous hostage situations than the number of Stingrays available to the NYPD. Even assuming that such a sophisticated criminal group made the unlikely decision to rely on its knowledge of the number of Stingrays in the possession to use cell phones in executing such a hypothetical event, knowing that number will not help them as it is almost certainly the case that one, if not multiple, federal law enforcement agencies would step in and assist the NYPD with their own cellular surveillance technology. Moreover, this hypothetical is no different from saying that at some point some criminal group may be able to overwhelm the number of police cars that the NYPD owns or the number of police officers on the force.

It's hard to believe law enforcement is still throwing out these tired arguments after nearly a decade of incremental exposure of Stingray information. The NYPD wants publicly-available information (Stingray names, suggested retail prices) to somehow be the first cat successfully stuffed back into the bag. Since it has no legitimate arguments to justify this cat stuffing, tech officers are resorting to hypothetical scenarios even the most-handwavingest of sci-fi writers wouldn't feel comfortable inserting into their speculative fiction.



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Daily Deal: Microsoft MCSE Server Admin Certification Training Bundle

van TechDirt - vr, 09/23/2016 - 19:45
The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Server Infrastructure Expert certification demonstrates you have the expertise to work professionally as a network engineer, computer support technician, information security specialist and more. The $39 Microsoft MCSE Server Admin Certification Training Bundle gives you two years of access to over 100 hours of content 24/7. This bundle includes complete training for Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 certification exams, 70-410, 70-411, 70-412, 70-413, and 70-414. You will use labs, games, activities, assessments and printable study guides to gauge your progress, and you can chat with other students via the social learning feature.

Note: The Techdirt Deals Store is powered and curated by StackCommerce. A portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals helps support Techdirt. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team.

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EU admits 'unrealistic' to close TTIP deal this year

van EU Observer - vr, 09/23/2016 - 18:58
EU trade ministers said it was not realistic to finalise talks on the TTIP trade treaty before the end of the year. But they agreed to a similar deal with Canada and will take steps have it ratified.
Categorieën: Europees nieuws

Macedonia Copyright Collection Group Forces All Macedonian Music Off Of All Macedonian Broadcasts

van TechDirt - vr, 09/23/2016 - 18:46

This is a strange one, for sure. Often times when we discuss disputes from copyright licensing or collection groups, which will universally complain that they are not collecting enough money when given any opportunity, some will comment that the artists should just pull their music from all broadcasts if they're not happy with the arrangement. This kind of nuclear option is rarely, if ever, invoked for a whole host of reasons that include compulsory licensing arrangements and rules, the sincerity of the complaints from the licensing groups, and the simple business interests behind the benefits of having music heard on the radio.

But in Macedonia, one such licensing group has quite literally taken its musical ball and stomped home. This whole spat has been initiated by ZAMP, previously the sole music copyright collection organization in all of Macedonia, all because a second collection group has been started in the country, alongside more strict rules governing how much money ZAMP can collect for the artists it represents. As a result, ZAMP has informed Macedonia's broadcasters that they are henceforth banned from playing any music created by Macedonian artists, whom ZAMP claims to represent.

The ban came after the culture ministry gave a licence to the newly-formed SOKOM MAP association to collect songwriters’ and performers’ fees from TV and radio broadcasters.

“Their goal is to divide the authors and to put a hand on the money collected by ZAMP. Thus the new association, SOKOM MAP, has become an instrument in the culture ministry’s hands,” ZAMP said in a statement.

SOKOM MAP, the new collection group, has insisted that it is not in fact an arm of the Macedonian government, but another collection group representing artists. Based on a frustrating Google translation of SOKOM MAP's website, it appears to have nothing to do with the government at all, instead being a non-profit group representing songwriters.

Complicating all of this is a law in Macedonia that requires broadcasters to include 40% Macedonian-made music within their music broadcasts. Thus, broadcasters are currently screwed either way: they risk fines from ZAMP if they play Macedonian music, or risk fines from the government if they don't. To give you an idea of just who the broadcasters are afraid of most in this equation, they've pretty much universally bent to the demands of ZAMP.

“As of today, we decided to stop playing Macedonian music. Either way, we risk legal repercussions and steep fines,” one editor-in-chief of a regional radio station told BIRN under condition of anonymity.

And so, if you happen to be reading this in Macedonia at the time of this writing, you apparently can't hear any music made within that country on the radio. ZAMP took a dispute over how much money it got to collect as the only collection group in the country and managed to reduce that amount of money to absolutely zero by banning that music from broadcasts entirely. Seems like a recipe for new legislation that will further neuter ZAMP, as one imagines the artists it represents will be screaming bloody murder any moment now.

But, yeah, copyright doesn't hinder culture at all.



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Journalists Blaming Facebook For Decline Is Just As Tiresome As When They Blamed Craigslist & Google

van TechDirt - vr, 09/23/2016 - 17:40
The Guardian's Roy Greenslade recently published a column about "why Facebook is public enemy number one for newspapers in journalism." It's a bunch of complete nonsense. I won't go through the whole thing, but here's just a snippet: Facebook’s increasing dominance over advertising is causing the laying off of journalists, the people who produce the news that it transmits to its users.

The logical conclusion to that process is not only the destruction of old media, legacy media, mainstream media, whatever you want to call it, but the end of journalism as we know it.
Yeah. Okay. Let's be clear: this is bullshit. As Ben Thompson pointed out, the decline of newspaper revenue predates Facebook, by a lot:

FACT: Journalism's business model was screwed before Facebook earned a single dime pic.twitter.com/OF5nMM3T0u

— Ben Thompson (@benthompson) September 20, 2016 Indeed, it seems that as newspaper revenue has declined, screaming newspaper reporters have been looking for a "dot com" to blame, every step of the way, rather than looking inwardly at their own failures to adapt to a changing marketplace. I remember, not too long ago, when it wasn't Facebook that was killing the news business, but Craigslist. I mean, everyone said it was true: And, of course, after it was all Craigslist's fault, it was, undoubtedly, the fault of Google and its Google News product. That's why Europe is so busy trying to force Google to pay for newspapers that it links to. And, of course, once again, lots of media folks jumped on the blame Google bandwagon: A few notes on some of the above links. The "study" that is cited in some of the first batch about how Craigslist is "killing" newspapers was from the Pew Research Center -- the very same research shop that Greenslade points to in the link up at the top of this article blaming Facebook. Second, that first article in the second list, about Bob Woodward blaming Google... is also by Greenslade. Yet, in that case, Greenslade mocks Woodward for blaming Google (and very kindly provides a link to me mocking Woodward's silly claims.

So let's get a few things out of the way here: Newspapers are struggling. They absolutely are. But it's not "because" of Facebook (or Craigslist or Google). Newspapers were going to struggle with the rise of the internet no matter what, because it laid bare the basic coincidence that made newspapers profitable despite themselves. For many, many years, we've been pointing out that the true business of newspapers was a community business, rather than a news business. It's just that in the pre-internet days, newspapers had a bit of a monopoly on being able to build communities -- often local communities -- around the news. But they had very little competition in that business, other than maybe a few other local newspapers (though consolidation took care of that in most markets). The business, then, of newspapers was taking the attention they received from that community, and selling it to advertisers.

The internet structurally changed all of this, by creating all sorts of other areas where people could congregate and build communities. That's kind of what the internet is good at. And suddenly there's a ton of competition in the community space. But newspapers, incorrectly thinking they were in the "news" business, often made decisions that actively harmed the community aspect. They put up paywalls. They took away the ability to comment. They made it harder for local communities of interest to form.

So what happened? The communities and their (valuable) attention went elsewhere. And, these days, much of that "elsewhere" when it comes to communities is Facebook.

And, just like Google before it, Facebook has actually created a pretty valuable channel for sending people to your news website. Many publishers haven't figured this out yet -- or how to harness it. Hell, just a month or so ago, I was talking about how we here at Techdirt haven't figured this out at all (we get depressingly little traffic from Facebook compared to many of our peers). But you won't see us blaming Facebook for this. It's on us. Have our ad rates dropped off a cliff? Yes. Is that Facebook's fault? Hell no. Even if all the advertising money that used to go to newspapers and news sites magically shifted to Facebook (which it hasn't), then it would be because of a failure on the part of those news companies to offer a better overall product for advertisers.

It's time for publications to stop blaming every new technology site that comes along, and to focus on actually adapting, changing and finding new business models that work. It may not be easy. And many will crash and burn completely. But that's not the "fault" of these new companies at all.

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[Opinion] LGBT rights at stake in Georgia election

van EU Observer - vr, 09/23/2016 - 16:34
The Georgian Dream party says its pro-EU, but its demonisation of LGBT people for the sake of a few votes is a retrograde move on Georgia's European path.
Categorieën: Europees nieuws

Austrian Teenager Sues Parents For Posting Pictures From Her Childhood To Facebook

van TechDirt - vr, 09/23/2016 - 15:21

When we talk about young people filing lawsuits over "oversharing" of information and/or media on social media sites, schools are typically the targets of the suits. Inevitably, whether school personnel originally sought access to a student's social media accounts for good intentions or simply to be a slut-shaming dick, the contents within the accounts are then weaponized for humiliation purposes.

But a recent lawsuit filed by an eighteen year old woman in Austria must have parents the world over wincing. At issue wasn't some random person or school official attempting to shame the girl. It was just her parents' sharing photos of a family member and now they face a lawsuit.

A 18-year-old woman from Carinthia is suing her parents for posting photos of her on Facebook without her consent. She claims that since 2009 they have made her life a misery by constantly posting hundreds of photos of her, including embarrassing and intimate images from her childhood.

Legal expert Michael Rami was quoted by Austrian media as saying he believes she has a good chance of winning in court. The shared images include baby pictures of her having her nappy changed and later potty training pictures.

As a relatively new parent myself, I can assure you I'm paying attention. I haven't shared anything so intimate as potty-training photos of my two boys on social media, mind you, but who is to say what pictures my grown-up son might eventually come to feel is embarrassing? In the age of social media, I would think it's only pictures of our children that out-mass pictures of our food among those we share with our followers and friends. Well-meaning as we all might be, what happens if courts ill-prepared to tackle these kinds of disputes suddenly render this family sharing tortious?

To be fair to the young lady in question, it appears that her parents turned something of a deaf ear to her non-litigious complaints.

Despite her requests, they have refused to delete the photos - prompting her to sue them. "I'm tired of not being taken seriously by my parents", she said. Her father believes that since he took the photos he has the right to publish the images.

Because of our writing topics here at Techdirt, I'm basically thinking about intellectual property roughly all the time, but even I am having trouble imagining myself asserting this kind of defense as a father. I can imagine how frustrated the young lady must be at the callous attitude her parents have taken. But does it amount to something worthy of a lawsuit?

Well, Austrian law isn't as strict on matters of privacy and social media as other nations. As the article notes, the French government has gone so far as to warn parents against sharing photos of their children for fear of the social repercussions for them later in life. There's way too much hand-wringing in that kind of stance for my taste, but I can also see their point. I would hope, however, that the question comes down to delineating what qualifies as embarrassing content and what doesn't, rather than relying on any individual's interpretation. Otherwise, the courts could be a mess for a long time coming.



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[Ticker] EU ministers to issue Canada trade pledge

van EU Observer - vr, 09/23/2016 - 14:18
EU trade ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting in October to approve a declaration clarifying the remit of the EU-Canada free-trade agreement (CETA). They hope, in that way, to calm public concerns that the deal could lead to the lowering of social and environmental standards and to have CETA signed at an EU-Canada summit later next month.
Categorieën: Europees nieuws

De Week

van Bits of Freedom - vr, 09/23/2016 - 14:11

Noord-Koreaanse toestanden, vliegtuigjes vouwen en Hunted. Niet elke tweet wordt gezien, niet elke blog wordt gelezen. Daarom een stukje service van ons naar jou toe: mooie, ontroerende, zorgwekkende en/of hilarische linkjes over internetvrijheid die we deze week ontdekten en graag met je delen.

De if-I-were-you-I-would-reads

  • Met de hele wereld vliegtuigjes vouwen én naar elkaar gooien? Dat kan nu. Thank you internet.
  • In een interview met het FD (ook te bereiken via een Google-zoekopdracht) omschrijft Jaron Lanier,een virtual reality pionier, mogelijk gebruik van diezelfde technologie: ‘Ik noem dat geen advertenties meer, het is directe manipulatie. Dat is beangstigend. Het is directe gedragsverandering omdat we beschikbare opties voor mensen kunnen besturen. In zekere zin worden technologiebedrijven betaald om mensen te beïnvloeden. Met virtual reality is het niet door verleiding, maar via directe manipulatie.’ (Dank voor de tip, Bug!)
  • Hoe lang kan jij off the grid blijven? De trailer van het nieuwe tv-programma Hunted is uit. 17 oktober de eerste aflevering… Spannend!
  • Deze onderzoekers werken aan een manier om jouw emoties af te lezen – zonder dat je het door hebt. “All it takes is some RF signals mixed with a set of algorithms and a dash of machine learning process.
  • Rob Bertholee, het hoofd van de AIVD, had een paar pittige uitspraken in een interview met Huib Modderkolk in de Volkskrant, vorige week zaterdag. Wij boden hem een cursus Grondrechten aan. Er waren meer reacties, zo gaf hoogleraar Telecommunicatierecht Nico van Eijk tekst en uitleg in Nieuwsuur.
  • De jaarlijkse Privacyrede wordt georganiseerd door het Utrechtse Setup en werd dit jaar uitgesproken door Mireille Hildebrandt, hoogleraar ICT en Rechtsstaat aan de Radboud Universiteit. Heel lezenswaardig!
  • Deze week werd een lijst met .kp domeinnamen gelekt. Wat blijkt? Noord-Korea telt zo’n achtentwintig websites, waaronder een website over eten, een website voor ouderen en een website van een filmfestival.
Categorieën: Technieuws

[Ticker] Report: Next EU-27 summit on 3 February

van EU Observer - vr, 09/23/2016 - 12:36
The 27 EU leaders, minus Britain, will hold their next summit on post-Brexit reforms in Valetta on 3 February, according to the AFP news agency, citing an EU source. Malta takes over the EU's rotating presidency on 1 January for six months. The last summit, in Bratislava, produced a general "roadmap", including stronger border security and closer defence cooperation. The plan is to agree detailed reforms by March.
Categorieën: Europees nieuws

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