posted 15 days ago on techdirt
A week and a half ago, we wrote about a story from Ken "Popehat" White revealing a highly questionable subpoena from the DOJ sent to the Libertarian website Reason.com, concerning some silly comments made by users there. The comments were talking about killing the judge who was presiding over the Ross Ulbricht/Silk Road trial, but were the usual comment nonsense that no one takes seriously. Except... the DOJ sometimes gets a little overzealous whenever comments even obliquely mention killing judges. As we mentioned, a few years ago, we were contacted by the US Marshals service under similar circumstances -- but never received a subpoena. When we told them that we wouldn't be removing the comment, they said they understood and we never heard anything else. With Reason, things appear to have gone a lot farther since there was a subpoena. But, now White is raising a further issue: did the DOJ also get a gag order on the subpoena preventing Reason from speaking about it. He quotes two anonymous sources while admitting that's not particularly trustworthy. Instead, let's focus on the other evidence which is fairly compelling. At the top of the list: when White called the US Attorney in charge of the investigation, he suggested there was a gag order: First, AUSA Velamoor told me during our call on June 5, 2015 that he "believed" there was a gag order. I was skeptical at the time because it doesn't make sense to issue a subpoena to a libertarian news organization before you have the gag order in hand.... Second, in thinking about the call with AUSA Velamoor, I remember that he asked me when someone gave me the subpoena. In retrospect, that inquiry makes sense if he obtained a gag order after issuing the subpoena, such that the timing of the disclosure was legally significant. At the very least, this suggests that the DOJ had thought about a gag order, whether or not it actually got it. But that leads us to the second, rather compelling bit of evidence. Reason's absolute silence on this: Third, Reason has now gone ten days without commenting on the story. This story — the federal government using grand jury subpoenas to uncover anonymous commenters — is squarely in Reason's wheelhouse, and would normally provoke justifiable outrage from them. A slight delay in commenting was consistent with them waiting until their lawyers figured out what was going on; this prolonged silence strongly suggests compulsion. In fact, it actually goes a step further. Reason didn't totally go without comment. It actually posted the following message to its site: Please refrain from any discussion of the subject of the article at Popehat.com and its contents on our site. Thanks. Once again, that would tilt the scales in favor of a gag order. And, as White notes, if there is a gag order, that's insane and it's quite likely that Reason is challenging it in court -- though it can't talk about it. Yet. Unless the government has evidence we don't know about — and there's reason to doubt that — it is shocking and outrageous that the U.S. Attorney's Office sought a gag order and continues to enforce it. Think about it. This is an order telling an American publication that writes about freedom and abuse of government power that it can't talk about an abuse of government power. It is classic prior restraint, which is one of the most disfavored forms of censorship in American law. As White further notes, there are very, very few cases in which such a gag order is allowed, and it's very, very difficult to believe that any of those apply to a situation with some angry commenters on a website. And... to make matters even more stupid, this gag order is particularly ridiculous in light of the fact that Popehat has already written about the story and it's been covered by tons of other media outlets as well. The government did not merely seek an order gagging a magazine about a subpoena designed to pierce the anonymity of people commenting about a controversial case on a political website. The government has, apparently, continued to insist that the gag order be maintained even after the existence and content of the subpoena has been very widely publicized. What conceivable justification can there be now to prohibit Reason.com from discussing the subpoena, the gag order, and their significance? At this point, the gag order on Reason doesn't prevent the commenters from learning anything. The only thing it prevents is Reason discussing, and criticizing, and questioning the government's decision to subpoena commenters and gag them. As White rightly notes, this appears to be a frightening abuse of power, now being used to restrict further discussion of an initial abuse of power. Both abuses deserve widespread scrutiny.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 15 days ago on techdirt
Over the years, we've certainly seen plenty of ridiculous attempts to overclaim trademark writes, often for the sake of censorship. While it's not always the case, generally speaking, it's smaller, less sophisticated companies and trademark holders who do this. Larger companies do have a habit of trademark bullying on the margins, but they tend to know better than to send absolutely insane trademark threats just because someone mentions their brand. Apparently, IMAX is an exception to that general rule. IMAX apparently believes that merely mentioning IMAX without a license is infringing on its trademark. Even if you're a media company writing about a product and you interview someone who says something nice about IMAX. Because IMAX is wrong. Also: IMAX. You see, our friends over at Ars Technica recently wrote a review of the SteamVR offering, and it included a quote from a game designer, Denny Unger, who was talking about how cool SteamVR is and said: "It’s like saying, 'I have an IMAX theater in my house.' It’s so much better that we can get away with a cumbersome setup." That quote also did become a part of the headline to the story, which appears to be what tipped off IMAX's elite crack squad of trademark censors, who proceeded to send Ars Technica this ridiculous letter which states: IMAX Corporation has been the owner of the federally registered trademark in the United States and Canada since 1970. Any unauthorized use of our trademark is expressly forbidden. We believe that your incorrect reference to IMAX when describing this product is misleading to readers as we do not believe that it is possible for a virtual reality system to replicate the experience of an IMAX theatre, which is provided by cutting edge projection and sound technology on screens up to 35.72 metres. We request that all future articles regarding this "room-scale" virtual reality system make no reference to our registered trademark. Ars Technica's response to this ridiculous threat is perfect. It points out, first of all, that the quote mentioning IMAX is actually praising IMAX: In other words—Unger thinks SteamVR is awesome, and to express its awesomeness, he compared it to IMAX, another thing he clearly thinks is awesome. But then explains some rather basic things about trademark law that you would think a company the size of IMAX would already know. First of all, this isn't a story about IMAX, and it contains just one (nice!) reference to IMAX. The statement wasn't Ars' speech at all, but one that an Ars writer chose out of many possible interview quotes. But that's all a bit of an aside, because the important point is that despite Ruby's fantastical interpretation of what a trademark means, we're actually allowed to say whatever we want about IMAX. I can say IMAX screens look like SteamVR, or that they look like my 47" Vizio TV, or that they remind me of purple bunnies. We can review IMAX directly, we can compare it to other products, we can love 'em, we can hate 'em—all without their permission. The standard in trademark law is to determine whether there's infringement by detecting whether there would be a "likelihood of confusion" between two products. But again, we're very far away from that test here. That standard would only apply if we were selling movie tickets; there are no consumers who confuse reading an article about virtual reality with going to the movies. And, you know what, I don't think enough people have compared IMAX to purple bunnies. Ars Technica's Joe Mullin also points to our own article about how, if anyone is messing with IMAX's trademark, it's IMAX itself, which for years now has been installing much smaller screens but still calling them IMAX, confusing lots and lots of people. It's been years since we mentioned that, and I don't think we otherwise would have had need to do so if IMAX itself hadn't reminded us of this little fact. So, yeah, IMAX, maybe send your staff to some remedial trademark school, because the media can absolutely say IMAX without your "authorization." IMAX. IMAX. IMAX. IMAX.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 15 days ago on techdirt
There's no shortage of competitors in the anti-piracy field. Most of the manual labor involved in issuing DMCA takedowns has been handed over to proprietary software -- turning this into a high-margin, low-effort business for content protection companies. Some are only occasionally competent. Some are frequently horrific. And some are like Guard Content. Though claiming to be located mere blocks away from the Simpsons family in "Springfield, USA," almost every word on its site appears to be only a fair approximation of English, suggesting either outsourcing or a location far removed from the proverbial heart of the nation. Guard Content's "Contact" page clarifies that the Springfield it calls home is actually in Illinois, but it does so in reverse while leading off with wording that suggests this may actually be the address of the company that created the website. And it wraps this up with "You are welcome!" which is no "Thank you! Come again!" but will have to do. This address doesn't actually exist. East Princeton Ave. in Springfield, IL, only covers addresses from 600-1100, due to it being located between 6th and 11th Street. There is no "13 E Springfield Ave." The area code (646) traces back to Manhattan, NY, further separating this contact information from reality. But it all comes together when you view the site registration info, which puts the site owner at "Iaran 5, Alabama, AL 36006" and lists a Ukrainian email address. The Ukrainian email address makes more sense when any attempt to purchase Guard Content's services leads you to this: But this is the Age of the Internet. Physical locations don't matter. The real question is: DOES IT WORK? Let's take a look at the sales pitch. Our organization different from other organizations that agents of our company work with clients on strategies to protect against piracy individually. Excellent. Plenty of personal contact and a tailored application of Guard Content's "strategies," if I'm reading that more correctly than it's written. Let's see some specifics: We use a special anti-virus program that scans the Internet every day in search of stolen online products and goods. Now, you're probably thinking to yourself, "I have content I'd like to protect, but since my offerings aren't viruses, will this service work for me?" I DON'T KNOW. I can only assume the internet continues to get safer every day, thanks to Guard Content's constant anti-virus scanning. It hits all the best places, too, like warez sites, "auction sites," cyberlockers and the always-popular "orrent sites." Let's dig a little deeper. How does this powerful anti-virus software find infringing material? Our software will scan the Internet open spaces in search of copyright infringement, and our agents will receive and process the information. Ah, so it's not just the sites. It's the space between the sites. Got it. Then we will send DMCA takedown obtained to get the content that really violated copyrights. Presumably, content only slightly violated will be left untouched. All information is carefully checked by our experts and the customer is always informed and is aware of all the events and happenings. Well, I have my doubts about, well, several of these claims actually, but this last one in particular. We'll see why in a moment. But it should work well, considering the service starts at $80/mo. and tops out at $400/mo. It seems expensive, but not so much when you consider a "team of experts" is willing to serve you a physically-impossible "27 hours a day, 7 days a week." And, if nothing else, let's remember why we're all here: Napster or something. A lot of people remember situation, when MP3 files was stolen illegal from computer of sound record company and owners lost not just files, they lost millions. This example of internet piracy, and it is not the most horrible one. Guard Content's "team of experts" seems to have all of three clients at the moment, but we're going to focus on Rob Percival, who doesn't seem to be getting his money's worth, despite receiving a majority of Guard Content's attention. Rob Percival successfully Kickstarted a set of "complete iOS developer courses," which he now sells through Udemy and other outlets. I know this because Guard Content tried to have his Kickstarter page delisted by Google. The DMCA notice also targeted several legitimate outlets connecting potential buyers with Percival's offerings. It also attempted to delist pages at Reddit, Apple.com, makeuseof.com and Quora, where Percival's courses are discussed and recommended. Not content with "saving" Percival from additional sales, Guard Content also targeted a random developer's LinkedIn page. And, for no apparent reason (other than completely misunderstanding what Chilling Effects does), Guard Content asked for the removal of 13 of its previous takedown requests from the DMCA archival service. This isn't an anomaly. Guard Content does consistently low-quality work for Percival, either by duplicating previous requests or by targeting pages based on little more than the presence of words like "iOS," "Udemy" or "online course." In another request, it tried to take down Kickstarter pages for two iOS developers, as well as two pages of courses at Udemy.com offered by other developers. Other stupidity/ineptitude contained within this DMCA takedown request include demands to remove stories from Businessweek and MacWorld, as well as the demand for the takedown of the entire PeerTorrent.com domain. Fortunately for everyone involved, Google is less stupid than Guard Content's requests. The legitimate links remain live and accessible via the world's largest search engine. But this is a "service" Guard Content charges actual money for -- and, in Percival's case -- it would be doing more harm than good if it weren't for the recipient of the requests being vastly more competent than the sender. I've let Rob Percival know about Guard Content's blundering efforts on his behalf. I assume he'll probably find his anti-piracy dollars are better spent elsewhere. An easy, accessible system for combating infringement is a generally a good thing. The problem is twofold: this means anyone can file a request, no matter their personal level of competence. Secondly, low quality "services" are not only taking advantage of this option, but they're taking advantage of their customers. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 15 days ago on techdirt
Okay, look. We've really tried to ignore Chuck Johnson. It's pretty obvious that he's the kind of guy who does a bunch of the stuff that he does to get more attention. We've never covered his various hilarious legal threats, though you can see a bunch of them nicely cataloged at this website. If you're not aware, you can do some Google searches, but suffice it to say that he plays a "journalist" on the internet, and he's somewhat infamous for the various stunts he pulls, combined with his penchant for threatening people with libel, as well as for many of his biggest stories being, well... ridiculous. A few weeks ago he threw something of a public tantrum because Twitter kicked him off its service. He had a lawyer in Missouri, John Burns, send a ridiculous threat letter to Twitter, based on an interpretation of the law that might be described as "crazy" by some and... "wrong" by many others. But, now, by all accounts, it appears that Johnson has actually filed a defamation lawsuit in Missouri against Gawker (who is currently fighting a big (and much more important) lawsuit concerning the Hulk Hogan sex tape excerpt that it published). The lawsuit is equally as nutty as most things associated with Chuck Johnson, but go ahead and read it. The one thing that's important to note is that there hasn't, yet, been confirmation that it's actually been filed, but at the very least someone put work into it. By all public appearances, the only reasons that this was filed in Missouri was because... that's where Johnson could actually find a lawyer willing to file something so ridiculous (the same lawyer who made the silly threats against Twitter) and, perhaps, because Missouri lacks a real anti-SLAPP law. It has one, but it only applies to petitioning the government. All the more reason to support a federal anti-SLAPP law. We can go through all the reasons why the lawsuit is likely to fail, but, come on, we've got other stories to write as well, so we'll just pick out some of the highlights. Missouri?!? WTF? There is no legitimate reason to file this lawsuit in the state court in Missouri. Johnson is in California. Gawker is in NY. And no, the fact that it's kind of "in the middle" doesn't count. This lawsuit will almost certainly be thrown out over the venue choice. The rationale in the lawsuit is laughable: Because Plaintiffs have been injured in the State of Missouri, the matter is properly before a circuit court of Missouri. Venue is determined solely by statute. State ex rel. Selimanovic v. Dierker, 246 S.W.3d 931, 932 (Mo. banc 2008). Because the matter alleges torts, including defamation and invasion of privacy, venue is proper in this Court. That's unlikely to fly. As Adam Steinbaugh notes in his write-up (the link above), the case will almost certainly get dumped for "lack of personal jurisdiction." At the very least it won't stay in state court as it meets all the easy criteria for removal to federal courts (parties in different states, over $75k at stake...). Steinbaugh also wonders if Gawker might try to jump into federal court and file for declaratory relief in a state where it can use an anti-SLAPP law, but that's not actually as easy as it may sound for a variety of reasons. The standard for defamation: As we've discussed many, many times, if you're a public figure, the standard for defamation is very high (as it should be). The statements need to be done with "actual malice," meaning that Gawker published false stuff, knowing it was false and that it would harm Johnson. That's not happening. That's not defamation: Among the things that Johnson complains about is a Gawker claim that he is the "web's worst journalist." That's clearly a statement of opinion. No court is likely to find that defamatory. Intermediary liability to the rescue: Johnson also claims that Gawker reporters "solicited" defamatory comments. That's protected by CDA 230 and should get tossed out. From the lawsuit: It is very common for initiators of writings (such as Defendants Howard and Trotter) to create content amongst other non-initiating content creators, and to directly respond-to and collaborate with non-initiating content creators, instigate and solicit responses from non-initiating content creators, and adopt the conclusions of or otherwise advertise or approve of the content of non-initiating content creators as signified through text content or by hyperlinking to additional locations on the same webpage or the webpages of other stand-alone writings. Yeah, that's not how the law works. False things about false light: The lawsuit makes "false light" claims in addition to defamation. There's a problem with that. For the most part, Missouri does not recognize "false light." It's not absolutely true, but mostly true, as noted in a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling that notes that it has left open the possibility of false light in future cases, but that it absolutely will not allow attempts to just pile on a false light claim that is nothing but an attempt to allege defamation in another form. This is not false light and Missouri's courts have rejected basically all false light claims for decades. In the end, this may be more of the same nutty trolling from a nutty troll, but now that it's (supposedly) actually hitting the judicial system, it's worth highlighting yet another attempt to use defamation law to silence the press. What's almost hilarious about this is that Johnson often holds himself out as a strong supporter of the First Amendment. Funny stuff.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 15 days ago on techdirt
More Stingray secrecy. MuckRock has been tangling with Boston's police department for several months over the release of Stingray-related documents. So far, the BPD has managed to keep these out of MuckRock's hands. The first response it offered when denying Mike Katz-Lacabe's request was filled with boilerplate and nearly nonsensical legalese. The information you have requested is exempt from disclosure by MGL c. 4s. 7(26)(f) and (n). Disclosure of the information contained in these documents would not be in the public interest and would prejudice the possibility of effective law enforcement. More specifically, the protection of such investigatory materials and reports is essential to ensure that the Department can continue to effectively monitor and control criminal activity and thus protect the safety of private citizens. There's a healthy debate to be had about whether Stingray surveillance is in "the public interest," but that debate necessarily includes the public, and the denial of this request cuts the public out of the loop. Arbitrarily deciding whether or not a document is in the "public interest" shouldn't be left entirely in the hands of the agency seeking to withhold information -- any "prejudicing" of "possibly effective law enforcement" notwithstanding. MuckRock appealed this decision. The state stepped in and told the Boston PD that it couldn't just issue boilerplate without explanation in response to these requests. Your response states that the Department is withholding the responsive records because disclosure would not be in the public interest and would prejudice the possibility of effective law enforcement. You also state that withholding such information is essential to ensure that the Department can continue to effectively monitor criminal activity. However, this response does not explain how these requested records pertain to an ongoing investigation, confidential investigative techniques, or witness statements and also fails to demonstrate how disclosure of these particular records would prejudice investigative efforts as required by Exemption (f). With regard to Exemption (n), this response merely cites the exemption and does not address the security-related rationale needed to justify withholding records under this exemption. As a result, the Department has failed to satisfy its burden of proving with specificity why the responsive records may be withheld in their entirety under Exemption (f) and Exemption (n). The statutory exemptions are narrowly construed and are not blanket in nature. See Reinstein v. Police Comm'r of Boston, 378 Mass. 281, 289-90 (1979). Any non-exempt, segregable portion of a public record is subject to mandatory disclosure. G. L. c. 66, § 1O(a). The Department is advised that a records custodian is required to not only cite an exemption, but to specifically explain the applicability of the exemption to the requested records in order to comply with the Public Records Law and Regulations. Accordingly, the Department is hereby ordered, within ten (10) days of this order, to provide Mr. Katz-Lacabe with the requested records. If the Department maintains that any portion of the responsive records are exempt from disclosure it must, within ten (10) days, provide to Mr. Katz-Lacabe a written explanation, with specificity, how a particular exemption applies to each record. Well, the Boston PD has fulfilled the letter of the state's order, and has provided Mike Katz-Lacabe with a more verbose answer, albeit one that is completely unchanged in terms of results. No documents will be released but, hey, at least the explanation runs an additional half-page! More specifically, disclosing the existence of and capabilities provided by the type of equipment/technology referenced in your request would reveal sensitive technological capabilities possessed by the Department, and other members of the law enforcement community, and may allow individuals who are the subject of investigation wherein this equipment/technology is used to employ countermeasures to avoid detection by law enforcement. This would not only potentially endanger the lives and physical safety of law enforcement officers and other individuals, but also adversely impact criminal investigations. Additionally, the information contained within the requested documents could be used to construct a map or directory of jurisdictions that possess the investigative capabilities, thereby providing further information for potential suspects that could be used to evade detection. Through public disclosures, the use of this technology will be rendered essentially useless for future investigations. In order to ensure that such and any information related to its functions, operation and use, is protected from potential compromise it is not subject to disclosure as a public record. As MuckRock's Shawn Musgrave points out, the BPD has dropped its unexplained (n) exception ("likely to jeopardize public safety") in response to the state's clarification orders, but it still is claiming the documents sought are "investigatory materials," even though they really aren't. Mr. Katz-Lacabe has already filed a subsequent appeal to the state. He contends that his request for fiscal documents and non-disclosure agreements — which all state and local law enforcement agencies are required to sign with the FBI prior to acquiring cell phone tracking devices — do not qualify as investigatory materials. And they aren't. The FBI issues a slightly-tweaked boilerplate itself -- the NDAs it forces local law enforcement agencies to sign. Fiscal documents reveal little about capabilities and, depending on the extent of the redactions -- very little about what, if any, equipment is in the possession of these agencies. None of the requested documents come anywhere close to providing specifics about past or ongoing deployments. The BPD's extreme reluctance to release these documents could very well trace back to the non-disclosure agreement it won't release. It may also be concerned that fulfilling this request could result in the release of actual investigatory materials by mistake -- a concern many agencies share after FOIA requests have resulted in "oversharing" by inexperienced FOIA response staff. No matter what the rationale for the full non-disclosure, the BPD's reliance on these exemptions for these specific documents is clearly bogus. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 16 days ago on techdirt
Churchix may sound like yet another niche GNU/Linux distro aimed, perhaps, at those who want to free their software as well as their souls, but it turns out to be both godly and down-to-earth (found via @latentexistence): Churchix is a face recognition event attendance desktop application. Churchix identifies event attending members in videos and photos. All you need to do is enrol high quality photos of your members into the software data base, then connect a live video USB camera or upload recorded videos or photos -- and Churchix will identify your members! Nothing remotely creepy about your church attendance being recorded automatically, of course, since presumably notes are being kept in more ethereal spheres anyway. But if you're not convinced, the makers of Churchix, Skakash, have more secular locations where you could deploy its facial recognition system. As well as obvious ones like airports and border areas, other possible uses include in casinos, where Skakash suggests there are three classes of people you might want to track: blacklisted individuals, employees and VIPs. That's a rather telling categorization, because it basically says it doesn't matter whether you are an unwelcome or welcome visitor, or simply there as an employee, the system is designed to keep an eye on you, all the time. That's a hint of where things might be going: a world where everyone is tracked using facial recognition in commercial and public spaces, not just the criminals. The recent walkout by privacy organizations from multi-stakeholder talks because of a failure by companies using face recognition to agree to any privacy-protective code of conduct shows that it will probably take a miracle to avoid that fate. Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+ Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 16 days ago on techdirt
After the revelation that the St. Louis Cardinals are being investigated by the FBI for hacking into the Houston Astros' networks and grabbing a whole bunch of proprietary statistical and scouting data, much of the speculation centered around one or two rogue employees, who may have used old passwords to get into the Astros' systems. Those systems had been set up by the Astros' new GM, who was a former Cardinals employee and who presumably just reused his passwords. With that speculation in mind, the focus then turned to how the feds might look to use the CFAA to go after those employees for having committed a federal crime. All of that would be serious enough in and of itself, except some of the details coming out of the investigation and some of the expert opinions on which laws may be brought to bear are making all of this look much more serious than even most people's first take. Much of the speculation that only an employee or two will face punishment under the CFAA has taken the form of something like this, from Alexander Southwell, a cybersecurity expert for law firm Gibson Dunn. Southwell said the most likely charge would involve violation of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The Cardinals would be unlikely to face criminal charges unless it could be proven that the team, and not an employee or group of employees, was behind the act, Southwell said. “The entity can’t be held responsible for the acts of rogue employees,” he said. But not everyone agrees with that. Much in the way that Sarbanes-Oxley was constructed to keep high-level executives from shirking their responsibility for the actions of the businesses they oversee, there are laws on the books that could be used to go after the Cardinals' leadership not only if they had direct knowledge of this alleged hack, but also if they should have known about it but didn't. Serious negligence would have to be proven on the part of the higher-ups still, but the bar is lower. Here's the take from Nathaniel Grow, an Assistant Professor of Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. The alleged hacking may have also violated the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, which criminalizes the theft or misappropriation of trade secrets. The data allegedly accessed by the Cardinals would appear to satisfy the legal definition of a trade secret, which covers any information that provides a business with a competitive advantage over its competitors and is not generally known by the public (for example, the recipe for Coca-Cola). The Astros’ proprietary statistical analysis and internal scouting reports would almost certainly qualify as trade secrets under this definition. . . Under the EEA, anyone who steals, copies, or downloads someone else’s trade secret information without permission faces a monetary fine and possible jail sentence of up to 10 years in prison per offense. Perhaps more significantly, however, the EEA would also potentially allow the government to charge the entire Cardinals organization with criminal activity. As Section (b) of the law provides, “Any organization that commits any offense described in subsection (a) shall be fined not more than $5,000,000.“ In order to charge the entire organization with criminal activity, however, prosecutors would likely have to show that high-level Cardinals executives were aware of the hacking, or at least should have known that it was going on. If that is the case, then the entire team could face criminal prosecution. But if the hacking were simply carried out by a few lower-level team officials, without the knowledge of any higher-ups, then any organization-wide criminal case would be unlikely. Complicating all of this further is the combination of Major League Baseball's antitrust status, which in part hinges on the notion that MLB acts as an umbrella organization under which the franchises operate. One of the questions that's been raised is whether or not the EEA could be invoked in this situation due to that organizational architecture. After all, two different people might own McDonald's franchises, but it would hardly make sense if one sued the other for stealing "trade secrets" when they're both McDonald's. Are the two teams competitors or are they different entities within the same organization? Either way, the more that comes out, the more it's becoming clear that the FBI has someone or some people in the Cardinals organization dead to rights. The question is going to end up being how many are punished and under what laws they are prosecuted. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 16 days ago on techdirt
UK's The Register has noticed an Apple job posting for a rather unusual position: in-house journalist. Better surround that word with scare quotes, because it's entirely unclear how both writing for a company and being an ethical journalist are supposed to work together. The role requires a bachelor's degree in journalism or "a related field", more than five years of newsroom experience and "a deep knowledge of multiple content categories". "They will have great instincts for breaking news, but be equally able to recognise original, compelling stories unlikely to be identified by algorithms," it said. It added: "Successful editors will be ambitious, detail-oriented journalists with an obsession for great content and mobile news delivery." Not surprisingly, the ad fails to mention anything about independent journalism. So when news breaks about its nemesis Google's Android, or factory conditions in China, we can be sure Apple News will be scrupulous in its complete lack of coverage. While this foray into company-sponsored "journalism" looks to be about as credible as Verizon's short-lived exploration of the medium (in which topics like net neutrality and government surveillance -- the things EVERYONE was/is writing about -- were verboten), the more interesting part of the The Register's article is the second half. Apple has introduced its own "News" app, and now it's looking to fill it with content. Other people's content. Presumably handpicked from thousands of Apple-friendly bloggers and journalists. Mike Ash received an emailed "invitation"/"agreement" from Apple informing him that his RSS feed was headed towards Apple's News app, with or without his permission and that if he had any problem with the terms of the agreement he never had a chance to agree to, he should opt out. When your RSS content is included in News, here are the terms that will apply: You agree to let us use, display, store, and reproduce the content in your RSS feeds including placing advertising next to or near your content without compensation to you. Don’t worry, we will not put advertising inside your content without your permission. You confirm that you have all necessary rights to publish your RSS content, and allow Apple to use it for News as we set forth here. You will be responsible for any payments that might be due to any contributors or other third parties for the creation and use of your RSS content. If we receive a legal claim about your RSS content, we will tell you so that you can resolve the issue, including indemnifying Apple if Apple is included in the claim. You can remove your RSS feed whenever you want by opting out or changing your settings in News Publisher. Some of those receiving similar emails may have tuned out during the fine print recitation and missed the last line. If you do not want Apple to include your RSS feeds in News, reply NO to this email and we will remove your RSS feeds. Apple obviously doesn't understand the word "agree." When you make something opt-out only, there's no agreement being made. A certain percentage of those targeted by these emails will never read them. Others may never receive the email at all. And yet, Apple claims they've "agreed" to these terms. Others that fail to see the opt-out wording will also be considered "agreeable." As Ash puts its, this isn't an "agreement" in any sense of the word. While providing an RSS feed cedes a certain amount of control over content distribution (in all honesty, Apple never needed to half-assedly ask for permission to add the feed to its News app), it doesn't automatically entitle Apple to pile on additional stipulations that can only be disagreed with by the recipient taking additional steps -- rather than taking affirmative actions that would indicate a willingness to comply with the "agreement's" terms. I want everybody to know about the ridiculous stunt Apple is trying to pull here. I'd have been perfectly happy if they had just sent me an e-mail saying they were going to include my feed, and if I didn't like it I could e-mail to opt out. I'd even be happy if they didn't even give the option to opt out! After all, having an RSS feed in the first place is an implicit opt-in to that sort of thing. But trying to dictate terms on top of that while telling me that I automatically agree to them unless I opt out is unacceptable, even if the terms themselves are relatively benign. This is no way to run a service… or a business. It's very likely Apple carpet-bombed the internet with similar emails, opting-in plenty of strings-attached content without the creators' permission or actual agreement. This is nothing but laziness, tinged with a hint of entitlement. To be "selected" by Apple for its News app is apparently supposed to be an honor. Making it opt-out saves it the hassle and expense of staffing a response team to handle opt-in emails. But that would mean sending actual invitations, rather that presuppositions that let Apple do what it wants without the explicit permission of those whose content it's using. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 16 days ago on techdirt
The infamous Wow signal that might have been an extraterrestrial message from aliens from 1977... still hasn't been completely explained. There are actually many mysterious and invisible messages flying around everywhere. Some people have tracked down the origins of a few of these signals, and the answers are probably not as exciting or dramatic as some might have hoped for. Maybe we just haven't been listening long enough.... Shortwave radio fanatics have been listening to "numbers stations" for decades now. These transmissions come from unlicensed stations that are probably international spies communicating something for years, and these audio one-time pads probably won't be deciphered anytime soon. [url] The Russian radio station known as UVB-76 transmitting at 4625 kHz sent its last message from the outskirts of Povarovo in 2010. The station changed locations and its call sign to 'MDZhB' and remains a mystery for what its real purpose is. Or maybe it's all some kind of dream and everyone is actually dead. [url] The mystery of terrestrial microwave signals called 'perytons' has been solved. These signals are not related to fast radio bursts from the cosmos, but from a microwave oven door opening before its timer went off. Derp. [url] After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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A few years ago, law professor Mark Lemley wrote a paper arguing that one key way to deal with the problem of software patents was to get the courts to go back to actually applying existing law that effectively forbade the use of "functional claiming." In short, "functional claiming" means using a patent to claim ownership over an entire function -- i.e., traveling through time, buying something with one click -- rather than a specific invention on how to do the function. Existing patent law (namely 35 USC 112(f)) says that patents can have functional claiming, but with very specific limitations: An element in a claim for a combination may be expressed as a means or step for performing a specified function without the recital of structure, material, or acts in support thereof, and such claim shall be construed to cover the corresponding structure, material, or acts described in the specification and equivalents thereof. This is legal speak, but in English, it's supposed to mean that you can put a functional claim in your patent, but it can only cover what's described in the actual patent specification. In short, you can claim the function, but you then need to lay out the explicit cases where it applies, by saying what it's a "means" for. So, "a means for traveling through time" would be a functional claim, but it would only be allowed if you then explained the explicit case in which that applied, such as "using this particular machine built out of wood and string and in order to prevent catastrophe" or whatever. And here's where patent lawyers got sneaky, and the courts let them get away with it. They basically started putting language into patents to avoid invoking 112(f). Specifically, the courts became so focused on the magic word of "means" that rather than saying "a means for x" patent lawyers would just write "a computer programmed to" -- but would then make the same functional claim: i.e., "a computer programmed to let people travel through time." Because that patent didn't use the term "means" the courts argued that it wasn't functional claiming, and thus it didn't need the more limited specification. This is -- for fairly obvious reasons -- a big problem. Especially in the software patent world. Thus, by using sneaky language, software patents (especially) were able to do very broad functional claiming, which is where many of the patent disputes come in today. And the courts completely let them get away with this. Well, until yesterday (mostly). In what has the potential to be an important ruling, the appeals court for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) (perhaps sick of always being wrong on patent cases) went the other way and rejected such bogus functional claiming in the Williamson v. Citrix case concerning some old patents from At Home -- but only takes one step towards fixing the problem where it could have gone much further. Here, CAFC explicitly rejected its own earlier precedents, starting with the Lighting World case, in which it allowed that the absence of the word "means" was enough to get around the limitations of 112(f). The court no longer accepts that as a "strong presumption" that 112(f) is not implicated: Our consideration of this case has led us to conclude that such a heightened burden is unjustified and that we should abandon characterizing as “strong” the presumption that a limitation lacking the word “means” is not subject to § 112, para. 6. That characterization is unwarranted, is uncertain in meaning and application, and has the inappropriate practical effect of placing a thumb on what should otherwise be a balanced analytical scale. It has shifted the balance struck by Congress in passing § 112, para. 6 and has resulted in a proliferation of functional claiming untethered to § 112, para. 6 and free of the strictures set forth in the statute. Henceforth, we will apply the presumption as we have done prior to Lighting World, without requiring any heightened evidentiary showing and expressly overrule the characterization of that presumption as “strong.” We also overrule the strict requirement of “a showing that the limitation essentially is devoid of anything that can be construed as structure.” Unfortunately, the court doesn't go as far as it could have gone. It still grants a presumption that the lack of the word "means" suggests that the limitations of 112(f) don't apply, and thus you wouldn't have to specify the "means." All it does is lower the standard to "rebut" that argument, making it easier for someone to argue, instead, that even though you didn't use "means" you really were trying to do the same thing in order to get a functional claim (while avoiding the limitations). That's useful, but still will allow many functional claims that don't use "means" to pretend they're not functional claims. As noted in a partial dissent by Judge Reyna, this ruling still leaves in a big problem in the way "means" is interpreted. That is, while this ruling rejects this attempt to get around the avoidance of the use of "means" to avoid the limitations in 112(f), it still makes it pretty easy for others to do so, by still focusing on this idea that "means" is a magic word that suddenly brings 112(f) into play. Instead, as Citrix argued in the case (and as others have suggested), it would be much better to not look for magic words, but rather to just recognize when someone is making a functional claim and rejecting it if there is not a truly limited specification to go with it. Still, it's nice to see CAFC rejecting its own bad standards that have helped make broad patents more powerful. This is a step in the right direction, and one that hopefully will go further in future rulings.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 16 days ago on techdirt
It seems like every presidential election cycle, which comes around far too often and lasts for far too long for my taste, there inevitably ends up being some kind of row between some musicians and some politicians over music used at campaign events. The targets of these disputes tend to be Republican candidates, due to the political demographics of musicians as a general thing, but Democrats have been targeted as well. And, as we've mentioned in the past, other than creating a stir in the media and hoping the target campaign relents, there's roughly shit-all these musicians can do about it. But that stir can often times be enough, especially if the musician uses the opportunity to pimp a rival candidate. Like Bernie Sanders, for example. Apparently when walking ego Donald Trump decided that he was going to announce his candidacy for President of these United States, his campaign decided to use Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" at the event. Neil not only wasn't pleased, but he used the opportunity to boost the candidate he does endorse. "Donald Trump was not authorized to use 'Rockin' In The Free World' in his presidential candidacy announcement," said Young's manager in a statement. "Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States Of America." As it turned out, as it usually does, Trump was authorized to use Young's music through an ASCAP license. That said, maybe it's time politicians learned to take the extra step and clear things with musicians before using their music, if for no other reason than to protect against the backlash becoming an advertisement for a rival campaign. Campaigns are very much like brands, after all, and the last thing a brand wants to do is get a competitor's name in circulation. That's got to be doubly so when the rival "brand" is someone like Bernie Sanders who, think whatever you like of him, is starving for more name-recognition on the national level. A couple of simple phone calls from the campaign office would likely inoculate against this sort of thing happening, where now every quote from Young on this dust-up mentions Young's support of Sanders. All that being said, Young has somehow managed to make Trump the sympathetic figure in this whole story. A press secretary for the real estate mogul said Wednesday that Trump would respect the wishes of Neil Young and no longer use "Rockin' In the Free World," which Trump featured Tuesday during his announcement that he was seeking the Republican Party's nomination for president. Trump press secretary Hope Hicks said Wednesday that "despite Neil's differing political views, Mr. Trump likes Neil very much." It's a good way to spin the ending of this story for Trump's team, appearing so reasonable and agreeable to Young's antics, which come off looking petty. Still, no reason to let your campaign's music choice give the artist an opportunity to pimp Bernie Sanders. There are enough conservative musicians out there making music. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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There's been an awful lot of discussion about the role of Facebook on journalism these days. I'm actually a lot less concerned than many who have been complaining that Facebook's growing importance is somehow "dangerous" for the future of news. The simple fact is that a huge percentage of people (especially young people) currently get their news via Facebook. But, at the very least, we should be concerned when Facebook starts to play the role of the arbitrary editor, simply deleting stories it doesn't like. Jim MacMillan, a photojournalist who is currently the Assistant Director for the Center for Public Interest Journalism at Temple University happened upon a somewhat tragic scene last month, of a 68-year-old woman struck and killed by one of those "Duck Boats" (the rickety half bus/half boat things that are -- for reasons I still don't get -- popular with tourists). The story made headlines in part because of claims that the woman was too focused on her mobile device to notice that she was walking in the road against the traffic light. MacMillan just happened to be there, and while he notes that he's been out of the "breaking news" photojournalism business for years, he recognized an opportunity and snapped a few photographs and posted them to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter: Police hang a tarp after a person was caught under #RideTheDucks boat at 11th and Arch just now. Looks very serious: pic.twitter.com/FOvgs3PuMY — Jim MacMillan (@JimMacMillan) May 8, 2015 The reason that I only linked to the Twitter version is because the other ones are gone. According to MacMillan, Facebook silently deleted the other two with no explanation: I posted the photo to my Instagram account and clicked the button to share to Facebook. But while discussing the incident with a colleague last night, I scrolled back and discovered that both posts had been deleted. MacMillan notes that he was careful to post a photo that did not show the actual body, but rather the police putting up the tarp: In the most recent incident, I saw the victim’s body between the right, rear wheels and it was clear that she was dead, but I posted a more sensitive picture of police on the other side of the vehicle and captioned it only to say: “Police hang a tarp after a person was caught under ‪#‎RideTheDucks‬ boat at 11th and Arch just now. Looks very serious.” We do things like this to eliminate the possibility that loved ones will learn of the death from anyone but official sources and to spare viewers the traumatic effects of graphic imagery whenever possible. In other words, I was operating conservatively within standard practices of photojournalism. That was my best effort to be sensitive to the victim while responsible to the public's right to know that there had been another fatal accident involving a Ride the Ducks boat. As MacMillan notes, it's particularly ridiculous that Facebook didn't even inform him of this or give him any chance to respond or protest the silent deletion of his journalistic work: But why would Facebook take down this image? Who might have complained? And shouldn’t I have been offered the opportunity to respond? In an update, MacMillan notes that people from Facebook are claiming they have no record of a takedown at all -- leading MacMillan to wonder if he really posted them at all. Yet, he also notes that the way it got onto Twitter was because he has an IFTTT recipe that reposts all his Instagram/Facebook posts to Twitter. The fact that the image is on Twitter certainly suggests he did, in fact, post them to Facebook. Either way, there are legitimate concerns about how Facebook's policy works in terms of taking down stories. The company has certainly had problems in the past, and this is going to be a concern going forward. You're relying on someone else's platform, and they can do what they want with it. While I'm less worried than many others about Facebook's impact on journalism, it does seem like the company really ought to very, very clear and transparenty how it handles taking down content. Many other sites make sure that they, at the very least, inform users of any takedowns and even provide clear processes for challenging the decision. Here, assuming MacMillan is correct, the content was just removed. If the content really was just removed, it should call into question the credibility of journalism found on Facebook.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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We've written enough about former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden that you should already know to take what he says with a large grain of salt. He will say basically anything to further his argument, no matter how false or disingenuous. He doesn't appear to care. He's admitted that September 11th gave him permission to reinterpret the 4th Amendment. He's claimed that terrorist attacks that weren't prevented were proof for why the NSA should keep collecting metadata. He lied about whether he and others lied about the CIA's torture program. He claimed that the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's exec summary of the CIA torture report would be the tipping point for terrorists attacking us (how'd that work out?). He's argued that no one who thinks Ed Snowden is a whistleblower should be allowed to work in government. He claimed that Senator Feinstein was too emotional about the CIA torture program to judge it effectively. And on and on and on. And then there's this. Last fall, we wrote about a WSJ op-ed that Hayden co-wrote with former Attorney General Mike Mukasey, completely ripping apart the USA Freedom Act. The headline was: NSA Reform That Only ISIS Could Love It claimed that the USA Freedom Act would "hobble the gathering of electronic intelligence" and predicted gloom and doom as a result: For starters, the bill ends the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of what is called telephone metadata. This includes the date, time, duration and telephone numbers for all calls, but not their content or the identity of the caller or called, and is information already held by telephone companies. The bill would substitute a cumbersome and untried process that would require the NSA, when it seeks to check on which telephone numbers have called or been called by a number reasonably associated with terrorist activity, to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA court, and then scurry to each of the nation’s telephone-service providers to comb through the information that remains in their hands rather than in the NSA’s. Nothing in the bill requires the telephone companies to preserve the metadata for any prescribed period. Current Federal Communications Commission regulations impose an 18-month retention requirement, but administrative regulations are subject to change. It isn’t hard to envision companies that wish to offer subscribers the attraction of rapid destruction of these records, or a complaisant bureaucracy that lets them do it. The bill’s imposition of the warrant requirement on the NSA would be more burdensome than what any assistant U.S. attorney must do to get metadata in a routine criminal case, which is simply to aver that the information is needed in connection with a criminal investigation—period. He points to the rise of ISIS and says that "the last thing" that Congress should be doing is pushing "a major new bill exquisitely crafted to hobble the gathering of electronic intelligence." Of course, we all know that was hogwash, but as if to underline that point, let's see what the very same Michael Hayden has to say after the USA Freedom Act passed and became law. Now, all of a sudden, he thinks the bill is so weak that it's an opportunity to mock privacy advocates because this was "all" that they could get: If somebody would come up to me and say “Look, Hayden, here’s the thing: This Snowden thing is going to be a nightmare for you guys for about two years. And when we get all done with it, what you’re going to be required to do is that little 215 program about American telephony metadata — and by the way, you can still have access to it, but you got to go to the court and get access to it from the companies, rather than keep it to yourself” — I go: “And this is it after two years? Cool!” He's actually right about that second point -- which is why we've been saying repeatedly that USA Freedom needs to only be a starting point for real reform. However, given that Hayden's position on the bill flipped entirely within a period of eight months, it should emphasize that whenever you see Hayden fearmongering, it's bullshit. He's just doing that as a cynical political ploy to help the surveillance state get or keep its surveillance powers.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 16 days ago on techdirt
The process for shoving through dangerous corporation-driven trade agreements has been a bizarre procedural mess, but unfortunately it took another step forward earlier today. As we've reported, at the end of May, after some tinkering, the Senate voted in favor of giving the President "fast track" authority (which effectively cedes Congress's Constitutional powers over international commerce to the President). There had been a brief hiccup in that process until the Senate agreed to tie the fast track bill (officially known as "Trade Promotion Authority" or TPA) to a separate program known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which helps provide training programs for workers displaced over trade. At that point, everyone thought that the fight was now entirely about the House. And, in a surprise move, late last week the House overwhelmingly rejected the TAA part, with many Democrats voting against it -- even though it's a program they support. The claim was that they voted against it as a protest over the fast track provision, which they didn't like -- though, oddly, right after that they did a "show vote" approving fast track, even though it was procedurally meaningless. The original plan was then to pull another procedural trick to re-vote for TAA on Tuesday of this week, but after realizing they simply didn't have the votes, that vote was pushed off until at least July 30th. However, supporters of the big trade deals apparently huddled yesterday and finally came up with a plan B: they would separate out the TAA and TPA but with a promise from Republicans that they would come back together later, and the President more or less said he wouldn't sign the TPA unless TAA came with it. Either way, this plan B has now gone into effect and narrowly succeeded in the House with a 218 to 208 vote, meaning that even though we thought this was done in the Senate, the fight now returns there. The Democratic Senators who voted for the combined package originally now need to see if they trust everyone to also support TAA if they vote for TPA. Yes, it's a confusing mess -- but basically this fight now goes back to the Senate with a pretty good chance that there will be enough votes to give the President fast track authority. There are some questions on that front, but it's close enough that someone is likely to cave. And then it appears we're right back to the fight over the TAA. If it's true that the President really won't accept TPA without TAA, the House still needs to pass TAA and that wasn't possible as of Tuesday. This is a procedural move that moves the process forward, but it's still not a done deal that the trade agreements will happen. Of course, there is the risk that the President will go back on his word and because he's so desperate to get the TPP agreement approved, that he'll accept the TPA without the TAA... and that will truly screw over his own party while helping Republicans massively, since they hate the TAA program. The question, really, is how badly the President wants that trade agreement. Is he willing to screw over his own party to make it happen? In short: this fight isn't over yet, and for now it goes back to the Senate... but it will probably also return to the House before long, and may involve the President. And, so, we wait...Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 16 days ago on techdirt
Running out of space on your tablet, phone, or computers can be frustrating, and losing all of your pictures, videos and important files can be downright heartbreaking. With Pogoplug Personal Plan you can store an unlimited amount of your data from all of your devices. You can back up your Macs, PCs, iOS and Android devices, and stream your music and videos wherever you are. There is no file size limit and an easy one-click backup for every device. The Pogoplug Personal Plan is available in the store for 34% off of the 1 year subscription or 67% off for the 3 year subscription. Note: We earn a portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 16 days ago on techdirt
So we already wrote about the absolutely ridiculous Sunday Times piece which claimed that Russia and China had "cracked" the encryption Snowden used on his documents (or, maybe, he gave them to them...) and thus all hell had broken loose and the UK had to remove "agents" from Moscow. Of course there were all sorts of holes in the story, which didn't make much sense. All of the "evidence" was just anonymous quotes from government officials, much of which contradicted itself. And, of course, there were the outright factual errors. When finally confronted about this, the reporter who wrote the story, Tom Harper, admitted straight up, that he was just "just publishing what we believe to be the position of the British government." When questioned about the evidence, he said that you shouldn't challenge him, but the UK government -- as if his job as a "reporter" was just to write down what they said, not actually search for the truth. It appears that this attitude -- "we are stenographers for the government, rather than reporters seeking evidence and truth" -- comes straight from the top at the Sunday Times. Someone emailed Sunday Times editor Martin Ivens pointing out the many problems with the article, and got a short reply that says that all of these questions should be taken up with the British government, rather than the Sunday Times. Really. Dear Mr Douglas, I think you should address your remarks to 10 Downing St. If you think they have lied to us then so be it. Yours faithfully Martin There are... so many problems with this, but let's just address the two big ones. First, in suggesting that they ask the British Government (10 Downing St.), Ivens is flat out admitting what his reporter said earlier in the week: they were just acting as stenographers, and have no independent evidence to back up the story they wrote. That's not the role of a journalist. A journalist is supposed to be seeking out the truth. Yet, here, Ivens is basically saying that the Sunday Times has no evidence to back up its claims. The second big problem is the "if you think they have lied to us then so be it." That, also, is an astounding statement for a journalist to take. If someone tells a journalist that you got a story wrong and your sources lied to you, the last reaction you should have is "so be it." The reaction should be "oh shit" and then revisiting the issue carefully to make sure you actually got the story right. Instead, here, the Sunday Times position is "meh, who cares." Incredible.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 16 days ago on techdirt
Look, you don't get to be the best at something without being fully committed to it. Sports, science, doing that thing where you make farty noises using your armpits to gross your mom out, all of them require not just talent, but the kind of dedication it takes to put in the work to being the best. Comcast has that dedication. You might have thought that after its abysmal customer service record helped torpedo its merger with Time Warner, discouragement would have set in. And maybe if customer after customer after customer publicly lambasted Comcast for doing what it does best, that the company would have been forlorn and simply given up. Well, you'd be wrong. Being the best at pooping on your customers isn't something Comcast is willing to give up on. This was most recently evidenced when the company simply took the email address of one customer and gave it to a new customer of the same name, and only corrected the mistake once the news got involved. In April, another Kathleen Cox, who lives in Michigan, signed up for a Comcast account. The company took the Florida's Kathleen Cox's e-mail account and gave it to the woman in Michigan. "It has been crazy," said Cox. "It is frustrating that's what it is." It means all of her e-mail contact information went away, but it also resulted in Cox getting the other woman's bill. "Your bank, your doctor, everybody you know that had your email address for 13 years," said Cox. "All gone." Keep in mind, Kathleen Cox the Florida edition is a current customer. No matter, new customer means -- yoink! -- there goes the email address you've been using for a decade. But, hey, mistakes happen, especially when you're a Comcast customer, so let's give our friends there a chance. I'm sure the company was johnny-on-the-spot in helping get this resolved, right? The problem apparently wasn't fixed until the news station got involved. "Everyone says 'within 24-72 hours,' and nothing happens," Cox told First Coast News. Cox said she spoke to 18 Comcast agents who promised to fix the problem. It took "more than a month" to finally get it solved, according to the report. It's starting to look like the only way to get a customer service issue successfully resolved with Comcast at this point is to involve someone in the media. For Florida Cox to be promised a resolution in a few days and have it take a month, all the while she's missing out on emails sent to her in a time when email is perhaps the primary method for communication throughout the day, has to be immensely frustrating. I imagine the folks at Comcast, who have in the past been willing to do a mea culpa, must have their tails between their legs. "We have apologized to Ms. Cox for the inconvenience and frustration this has caused her. Our customer care has worked with her to resolve the issue," Comcast told the station. Just another win for customer service, I guess. In the meantime, all the Joe Smiths out there probably want to go with a different email service. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 16 days ago on techdirt
As Techdirt has reported, data retention laws are being introduced around the world. One of the less obvious but most pernicious effects of this development is the banalization of surveillance it brings with it. People begin to find it normal that they are spied on by their government whatever they are doing, and accept without a murmur that the police can do so without a warrant. A good example of what this can lead to has surfaced in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), where the police are pushing for new powers: The NSW Police Force would no longer require a judge's sign-off to gain access to the bank statements of people they suspect are engaging in criminal conduct under a police proposal before the NSW government. The proposal would change the status quo, which requires a magistrate or registrar of a court to sign off on a "notice to produce" before police can force banking institutions to hand over documentation, such as a suspected criminal's bank statements. What's significant is that in the article quoted above, which appears in The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia's new data retention laws are explicitly cited as a justification for the move: [The head of NSW Police's Fraud and Cyber Crime Squad] likened the proposal to the way telecommunications metadata -- such as the time a call was made, to whom, and for how long -- is sought from telcos, which requires only the sign-off a senior officer before companies, such as Telstra or Optus, divulge such information. Although the request from the police has not been granted -- so far, at least -- it's a sign of where things are going. It's also a great demonstration of the slippery slope: once you agree that warrantless access to personal data is acceptable in one sphere, it's much harder to argue against it in other situations. Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+ Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 17 days ago on techdirt
It's safe to say no domestic surveillance program will be escaping legislators' attention in the post-Snowden era -- at least not for the forseeable future. It's only been a couple of weeks since news of the FBI's secret spy plane fleet made national headlines and there's already legislation in the works aimed at setting some… um… ground rules. In a bill announced Wednesday, Wyden joins Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller on the Protecting Individuals From Mass Aerial Surveillance Act, which if passed would require warrants for the government to analyze and collect data gathered en masse via domestic airplane or surveillance drone. “Technology has made it possible to conduct round-the-clock aerial surveillance. The law needs to keep up,” Wyden said in a statement. “Clear rules for when and how the federal government can watch Americans from the sky will provide critical certainty for the government, and help the unmanned aircraft industry reach its potential as an economic powerhouse in Oregon and the United States.” It's not just the FBI's flying spies being targeted by this bill. It's also looking to dial back the US Marshals Service's use of airborne IMSI catchers, a.k.a. "dirtboxes," as well as targeting surveillance drones, picking up where 2013's stalled Drone Privacy Act left off. Hopefully, the bill will force a bit more transparency about use of these surveillance techniques. A warrant requirement is a nice thought, although it's hard to imagine what sort of warrant would cover a "search" that involves flying a plane in continuous circles over a small area of a city. Considering the lowered expectation of privacy in public areas, the warrant requirement is going to be a tough sell. If it does stick, it will at least ensure deployments are targeted, rather than just exploratory. There's an opportunity here to force better and more detailed reporting of deployments, as well as significantly limiting the use of flying surveillance vehicles by eliminating exploitable loopholes. The bill also would prevent government agencies from running footage obtained by drones or planes through facial/pattern recognition software in hopes of stumbling across untargeted suspects. It also would forbid law enforcement agencies from bypassing restrictions and reporting requirements by hiring private contractors to perform their illegal surveillance for them. Five years ago, this sort of legislation would be dead on arrival, with deferential nods to terrorism and the War on Drugs replacing any serious consideration of the public's privacy. Thanks to the Snowden's leaks, any bill seeking to limit domestic surveillance now has a fighting chance, with even the reluctant administration forced to make more concessions to privacy than it would under other circumstances. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 17 days ago on techdirt
We've mentioned some wind power projects before, but wind is still a relatively small contributor to total energy production in the US. Sure, there are some problems with not having wind available 24/7 -- as well as people complaining about bird deaths and a ruined view. Still, there are some solutions to some of these problems, and it might be nice to generate more electricity without burning fossil fuels. The Department of Energy is looking at bigger and better wind turbines to generate more wind energy. Towers over 100 meters tall could increase wind energy supply in the US beyond 5% of the nation's electricity demands. [url] GE has an interesting design that improves wind turbine efficiency. A dome shaped attachment allows the blades on the turbine to harness more wind energy -- not by an amazing amount, but any improvement is a good one to make things more cost effective. [url] Vortex is a bladeless wind turbine design from a Spanish company that oscillates in resonance with the wind. It doesn't have as many moving parts, so it's cheaper to build -- and doesn't kill birds or bats. If you'd like one, you can get a desktop scale model in its crowdfunding campaign. [url] After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 17 days ago on techdirt
If we accept the premise that law enforcement and intelligence agencies encroach on personal freedoms and rights in "the public interest" -- i.e., to ensure the safety of non-criminals -- then we have to ask ourselves how this raid of medical marijuana dispensary fits into this thought process. [via CJ Ciaramella] Santa Ana (CA) cops raided a pot dispensary -- not because the items for sale were illegal under local laws -- but simply because it was unlicensed. Sure, having the proper paperwork in place is important, but this dispensary was in line to receive authorization from the city -- a process delayed by the locality's faulty licensing "lottery" system, which was gamed by businesses who "stuffed" the selection box by purchasing multiple bids. The PD performing the raid treated this lack of proper paperwork like it was the Zeta Cartel operating under its nose. The video captured by the dispensary's cameras shows heavily-armed cops -- some wearing ski masks -- smashing through two doors and yelling at the peaceably-assembled customers to lie on the floor. Then -- somehow -- it gets worse. The cops tear the place apart, strip cameras from the walls and yank the DVR off the shelf in the back room. They play darts, sample the presumably-cannabis-laced goods, and otherwise fuck around. Why? Because there is absolutely no danger present, despite the use of ski masks, weapons and tactical gear. This is "public safety" being ensured by a raid on a sitting duck that threatened no harm to the surrounding community. The final result of all this noise and damage? Tickets for violating a city ordinance. But despite their expertise, the cops missed a couple of cameras. And that's going to hurt them. Especially when one female cop is caught on camera disparaging one of the owners -- an amputee confined to a wheelchair -- by stating she wanted to kick her in the "nub." (Enjoy the first few seconds of this video, where a cop attempts to break down a set of metal PULL doors by hammering them in the wrong direction with his ram.) The police department has responded to the recording that got away with nonsensical claims that the released footage is "non-chronological" and "edited." I can't even imagine what the full footage shows, other than there being a bit more breathing room between unprofessional actions and misconduct on the part of the raiding officers. This is the charade of drug enforcement: cops raiding a dispensary for code violations, rather than its potential ability to diminish the safety of other Santa Ana residents. And doing it in full battle gear, as though it expected a hail of gunfire in response to its backdoor-smashing entry. The entire incident is pathetic, bordering on nauseating: a pointless, vulgar display of power that wreaked havoc on a local business simply in order to issue two citations. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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As we just mentioned, it looks like there aren't enough votes in Congress to give the President and the US Trade Rep the "fast track" authority they want to cram massive trade agreements down the throats of the American public. Nancy Pelosi, whose statement last week helped signal that it was a real possibility that support for fast track would no longer be likely, has now penned an op-ed for USA Today claiming that fast track is on its last legs, highlighting that Congress (not the executive branch) has the power to regulate commerce with foreign countries. Meanwhile, supporters of trade have put into motion an attempt to salvage fast track, which may lead to a vote as soon as tomorrow -- but seems like a risky gambit that may not succeed. Meanwhile, the NY Times presents the argument that with the failure of fast track, and very likely TPP with it, it could greatly diminish the US's influence in Asia. This argument has been made for a long time, and it's... questionable at best. The article dutifully quotes the "40% of the global economy" line that supporters of the TPP throw out every other hour or so, but that's really overstating the impact of the TPP. Still, there is a legitimate argument that stronger trade relations between the US and these Asian countries is good for the global economy. But -- and this is the important part that isn't mentioned -- you don't need the TPP to do that. Furthermore, this ignores the real reasons why the TPP failed. Rather than being about further opening up trading relations, the USTR ramped up the process that has been popular among lobbyists over the past couple of decades: using supposedly "free trade" deals to sneak in all sorts of regulatory schemes that will strongly pressure countries (including the US) to either change laws in certain ways, or block changing laws in other ways. That is, rather than free trade, these deals are actually the opposite. They're backdoor protectionism in the name of lobbyist-driven regulation. And here's the thing that's amazing. In all of this, no one is talking about how to actually fix this. Pelosi talks about getting a "better deal" for the American middle class. And, sure, that would be great. But the real problem here is that these trade agreements became the playthings of giant corporate lobbyists, rather than democratically driven ideas. If the TPP and other agreements like TTIP and TISA are really so vital to America's interests, and the interests of the "global economy," then let's have the negotiations and the debate out in public. Other international bodies, like WIPO, have long allowed such negotiations to happen publicly. It may not be how the USTR and its counterparts have negotiated such agreements in the past, but there's no reason they can't change now. Rather than continuing down this path of loading a ton of crap on the TPP tree, just to force through a few simpler free trading principles, why not conduct the negotiations openly, so that the public in all of those countries know what's going on and can see the reasoning behind these deals? The only reason not to do this is to argue that the public is simply too dumb to understand why these deals are supposedly so important. And if that's your argument, then you're arguing against democracy. If the USTR believes it's representing democracy, then, at the very least, it should lead the way in saying that these trade negotiations will be conducted publicly and in a much more transparent way.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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The ACLU has received another document dump from the government as a result of its FOIA lawsuits, with this bundle dealing with the CIA's activities. This isn't directly related to the late Friday evening doc dump announced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which dealt more with the CIA's counterterrorism activities leading up to the 9/11 attacks, but there is some overlap. Most of what the ACLU is highlighting from this pile of documents is the CIA's domestic surveillance activities. Ideally -- and according to the agency's own directives -- the amount of domestic surveillance it should be performing is almost none at all. It is charged with collecting and disseminating foreign intelligence and counterintelligence. It is allowed to track certain activities of Americans abroad, but for the most part, it is not supposed to be a domestic surveillance agency. Despite this, the CIA has done so repeatedly. Back in the 70s, the Church Committee uncovered domestic surveillance by the agency, targeting anti-war activists and political dissenters, as well as multiple joint programs with the FBI that -- over the course of thirty years -- resulted in the interception and opening of millions of pieces of US first class mail. Under Executive Order 120333, the CIA's domestic powers have expanded. No one knows to what extent the CIA performs domestic surveillance thanks to heavy redactions, but it appears to be just as widespread today, thanks mainly to its connection at the FISA Court: the FBI. Although EO 12333, AR 2-2, and Annex B prohibit the agency from engaging in electronic surveillance within the United States, the CIA can nevertheless ask the FBI to do its bidding: By partnering with the FBI, the CIA has done things like collect Americans' financial records in bulk under Section 215. A just-released Annex hints at other surveillance powers as well: Annex B explains that the CIA may "use a monitoring device within the United States under circumstances in which a warrant would not be required for law enforcement purposes if the CIA General Counsel concurs." Unfortunately, other details have been redacted, so it's not clear exactly what sort of "monitoring devices" the CIA is using. It appears to believe that -- despite its foreign priorities -- it can engage in any sort of warrantless domestic surveillance US law enforcement agencies can. And it appears its domestic activities aren't all that limited. The ACLU has obtained Inspector General's reports that detail the extent of the CIA's US-focused spying activities. The heading "Intelligence Activities Conducted by CIA within the United States" is followed by "dozens" of redacted pages. So, lots of bad news for privacy and civil liberties enthusiasts, with presumably more to come once some of this heavy redaction is cleared away. On the bright side, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is moving towards tackling the CIA's activities under Executive Order 120333. While this may not result in sweeping changes to the agency's programs, it should at least provide more insight into its domestic activities. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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This new FCC is really quite interesting. After years and years of never actually doing anything to push back against anti-consumer policies by the big telcos, in the last few months it seems like that's all the FCC does. Today's move? Proposing a $100 million fine against AT&T for its bogus practice of throttling "unlimited" customers. As you may recall, AT&T offered "unlimited" mobile data connections, but eventually killed off that offering. To avoid getting in trouble for bait and switch, AT&T grandfathered in those who previously had the unlimited plan... but then started throttling those accounts to try to pressure people into moving to a different plan. The FTC is already suing AT&T over this, and just last month we noted that AT&T had made some changes in response to FCC pressure. However, this new move by the FCC is a big one -- saying that it thinks the company's throttling practice flat out broke the old open internet rules (the transparency part of the rules -- which the court did not throw out). AT&T, as it's doing with the FTC case, has already indicated that it's going to fight this fine, so expect years to go by before any fine is actually paid. The full FCC notice is worth a read. The key point is pretty basic: don't call it unlimited when it's very, very limited: The imposition of set data thresholds and speed reductions is antithetical to the term “unlimited.” AT&T was aware that its continued use of the word unlimited to describe its data plans was likely to mislead consumers, as evidenced by the focus group studies conducted by AT&T around the time the Company implemented its MBR [maximum bit rate] policy. Further, since its MBR policy was implemented, the Commission and the Company itself received many complaints from AT&T unlimited data plan customers who felt misled about the services they expected to receive when they purchased unlimited data plans. We find that AT&T’s use of the term “unlimited” to label plans that were, in fact, subject to significant speed restrictions after subscribers used a specific amount of data is apparently inaccurate and misleading to consumers. As evidenced by the many complaints we have received about the MBR policy, consumers entered into contracts for these “unlimited” plans with the mistaken belief that they had unlimited amounts of high speed data sufficient to use any website or application, regardless of how much data they used in a month. We thus conclude that every time AT&T described such a plan to a customer as “unlimited,” it misrepresented the nature of its service. It did so in every monthly billing statement for an unlimited plan and every time a term contract for an unlimited plan was renewed. The Transparency Rule requires accuracy in all statements regarding broadband provider’s network management practices, performance, and commercial terms, and providers are prohibited from “making assertions about their service that contain errors, are inconsistent with the provider’s disclosure statement, or are misleading or deceptive.” We further find that AT&T’s apparently misleading use of the term “unlimited” to label its plan impeded competition because it prevented consumers from fully comparing AT&T’s plan to other similar plans. This inured to AT&T’s benefit and to the disadvantage of its competitors. While AT&T describes its plan as “unlimited,” its competitors describe almost identical plans as offering “unlimited talk and text” with a set amount of LTE data. Without adequate disclosures, the average consumer would consider these plans to be significantly different, when in fact they are not. A consumer was likely to mistakenly assume that the AT&T “unlimited” plan offers more high-speed data than the competing plan, thus hindering fair competition between AT&T and its competitors. Continuing to offer the plan to renewing customers under the original “unlimited” label falsely advertised that the data plan was the same plan customers originally bought before the MBR policy was implemented. You can also read FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai's dissent in which he (really) quotes Kafka's The Trial and claims that the FCC is changing the rules as it goes. A government "rule" suddenly revised, yet retroactive. Inconvenient facts ignored. A business practice sanctioned after years of implied approval. A penalty conjured from the executioner’s imagination. These and more Kafkaesque badges adorn this Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL), in which the Federal Communications Commission seeks to impose a $100 million fine against AT&T for failing to comply with the apparently opaque “transparency” rule the FCC adopted in its 2010 Net Neutrality Order. In particular, the NAL alleges that AT&T failed to disclose that unlimited-data-plan customers could have their data speeds reduced temporarily as part of the company’s approach to managing network congestion. Because the Commission simply ignores many of the disclosures AT&T made; because it refuses to grapple with the few disclosures it does acknowledge; because it essentially rewrites the transparency rule ex post by imposing specific requirements found nowhere in the 2010 Net Neutrality Order; because it disregards specific language in that order and related precedents that condone AT&T’s conduct; because the penalty assessed is drawn out of thin air; in short, because the justice dispensed here condemns a private actor not only in innocence but also in ignorance, I dissent. Pai points out that AT&T did put out a number of warnings that its plan might include reduced speeds... but it still called the plans unlimited. Either way, this should keep plenty of telco lawyers employed for many years...Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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For the last few months, we've been discussing a few different legal disputes over the nature of drivers for services like Lyft and Uber, and whether or not they should be classified as "employees" or "contractors" (or W-2's or 1099s -- based on what kind of tax forms they get). Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity has said such drivers are employees and a judge in California appears to be leaning that way as well. However, leapfrogging that process, California's Labor Commission has now declared an Uber driver an employee, rather than a contractor. You can read the full ruling to see the reasoning. The actual dispute isn't all that interesting -- involving whether or not Uber should be paying a woman directly or a corporate entity she set up. But the key part is the analysis of "employee" v. "contractor." And under the Labor Commission's analysis, it very, very, very broadly defines these relationships. Basically, it lists out the usual factors about how much control the parties have over the job, who supplies the tools, the kind of occupation, the degree of permanence and all that... and then just says "yup, employee." Here's are the key parts, plus some analysis... Defendants argued that they exercised very little control over Plaintiff's activities. However, the Borello court found that it was not necessary that a principal exercise complete control over a worker's activities in order for that worker to be an employee. "The minimal degree of control that the employer exercised over the details of the world was not considered dispositive because the work did not require a high degree of skill and it was an integral part of the employer's business. The employer was thus determined to be exercising all necessary control over the operation as a whole." (Borello, supra, 48 Cal.3d at pp. 355-360.) That seems backwards. Basically the commission is saying "sure you own your own car, but that's not enough." But it's comparing it to a case involving an actual taxi company where the drivers owned their own cars -- but that still involved much more control by the taxi company over the drivers and what they did as compared to Uber, where you just have an app and can turn it on and off at will. By obtaining the clients in need of the service and providing the workers to conduct it, Defendants retained all necessary control over the operation as a whole. The party seeking to avoid liability has the burden of proving that persons whose services he has retained are independent contractors rather than employees. In other words, there is a presumption of employment. (Labor Code 3357; Borello, supra, at pp. 349, 354.) But under that theory anyone selling goods on eBay or Etsy should be considered employees as well. And that's crazy. It shouldn't be a presumption of employment just because someone is using your platform. Ownership of the vehicle used to perform the work may be a much less important factor in industries other than transportation. Even under the traditional, pre-Borello common law standard, a person making pizza deliveries was held to be an employee of: the pizzeria, notwithstanding the fact that the delivery person was required to provide his own car and pay for gasoline and insurance. (Toyota Motor Sales 0. Superior Court (1990) 220 Cal.App.3d 864, 876.) Again, this isn't saying anything other than "well, we don't really care who owns the car" even though the rules state that who provides the equipment is a key part of determining the status of the relationship. "The modern tendency is to find employment when the work being done is an integral part of the regular business of the employer, and when the worker, relative to the employer, does not furnish an independent business or professional service." (Borello, supra, at p. 357.) Plaintiff's work was integral to Defendants' business. Defendants are in business to provide transportation services to passengers. Plaintiff did the actual transporting of those passengers. Without drivers such as Plaintiff, Defendants' business would not exist. Again, that kind of analysis would wipe out eBay and Etsy. Just because someone is using your platform, it doesn't make them an employee. And Uber is not in the business of providing transportation. It provides a service to connect drivers to riders. That's a key distinction -- one the Labor Commission basically dismisses: Defendants hold themselves out as nothing more than a neutral technological platform, designed simply to enable drivers and passengers to transact the business oft transportation. The reality, however, is that Defendants are involved in every aspect of the operation. Defendants vet prospective drivers, who must provide to Defendants their personal banking and residence information, as well as their Social Security Number. Drivers cannot use Defendants' application unless they pass Defendants' background and DMV checks. This seems ridiculous. By this argument, Uber would be better off if it did not vet the backgrounds of its drivers? How does that make sense? Furthermore, if you were hiring a contractor for something like, say, fixing your roof, wouldn't you "vet" their background, check their contractor's license and the like? How does that make them any more of an employee? Defendants control the tools the drivers use; for example, drivers must register their cars with Defendants, and none of their cars can be more than ten years old Defendants refer to "industry standards" with respect to drivers' cars, however, it is unclear to what industry, other than the "taxi" industry, Defendants are referring. Defendants monitor the Transportation Drivers' approval ratings and terminate their access to the application if the rating falls below a specific level (4.6 stars). That's an odd definition of "control." Yes, they have standards, but that's not "control." Again, going with the roofer example, I might want to make sure that the roofer is using modern tools that will guarantee a better job, and I might make sure that they're up on the various building "industry standards" to make sure they'll do a good job. And I might fire them if they're doing a crappy job on the roof. Still doesn't make them an "employee." While Defendants permit their drivers to hire people, no one other than Defendants' approved and registered drivers are allowed to use Defendants' intellectual property. Drivers do not pay Defendants to use their intellectual property. Again, so what? No one other than approved contractors are allowed up on my roof and they don't pay a fee to access my roof. The passengers pay Defendants a set price for the trip, and Defendants, in turn, pay their drivers a non-negotiable service fee. If a passenger cancels a trip request after the driver has accepted it, and the driver has appeared at the pick-up location, the driver is not guaranteed a cancellation fee. Defendants alone have the discretion to negotiate this fed with the passenger. Defendants discourage drivers from accepting tips because it would be counterproductive to Defendants' advertising and marketing strategy. To be honest, this is the only point in the entire argument that even has some resonance, in that Uber does control the pricing. But that, alone, hardly seems to be enough to determine an employer relationship. Would that mean that a service like Fiverr -- where creative people agree to do things for $5 -- creates employees just because it sets the price. There are all different ways to create a marketplace and setting the price shouldn't determine the nature of the relationship. Plaintiff's car and her labor were her only assets. Of course, that's kind of everything involved here. And if she's providing all of those assets, it seems like a pretty strong argument for contractor, rather than employee. Plaintiff's work did not entail and "managerial" skills that could affect profit or loss. Aside from her car, Plaintiff had no investment in the business. Defendants provided the iPhone application, which was essential to the work. But for Defendants' intellectual property, Plaintiff would not have been able to perform the work. It's that "but for" line that's really ridiculous. Sure, the Plaintiff absolutely can drive people around without Uber. Or she could have signed up for any one of a number of similar platforms like Lyft or Sidecar. Or she could do deliveries for Postmates, Shyp, Instacart, Doordash or more. In light of the above, Plaintiff was Defendants' employee. Therefore, the Labor Commissioner has jurisdiction to adjudicate the instant matter. In light of the above, I'm not sure that there can be platforms on the internet that help people make money without them being declared employees. Sell music on iTunes? You might be an Apple employee. Sell toys on eBay? You might be an eBay employee. And yes, I recognize that some people will argue that Uber drivers may not be the best job in the world and they're very much at the whims of Uber (ignoring all the other companies in the space they can go work for instead...). But this kind of decision really, really hurts everyone, including Uber drivers. It will mean vastly fewer opportunities for those drivers, and much greater controls over those drivers. It will lead to much less flexibility, fewer freedoms and a much more limited role for those drivers. There is a reasonable argument to be had that perhaps we need a new form of classification that is somewhere between the traditional 1099 or W-2 worker, but it's hard to see how the Labor Commission came to this conclusion without throwing out many, many, many contractor positions and suggesting that they might all be employees. That's very dangerous for a part of the economy that is currently thriving and rapidly growing. This move to "protect" workers has a high likelihood of doing the exact opposite, creating many fewer work opportunities for everyone, and making a service that many people like to use a lot worse. And, again, I know that some people don't like Uber because of some of its business practices, but whether or not you "like" Uber should be separate from this particular question. The people celebrating this decision don't seem to recognize how much damage it actually does to their own position. Either way, Uber has already appealed the decision and it will be quite some time before any final ruling is issued.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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