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Comment Re:Not a Great Analogy (Score 1) 456

The mine should have not been allowed to close in the first place.

Not allowed? How do you "not allow" private property owners to stop incurring the expense of pulling underpriced dirt out of a hole on their own land? Take the land at gunpoint? Then operate the mine subsidized by tax money to be competitive with Chinese peasant labor? To what end? Why don't we nationalize the entire economy then, Mister Trotsky?

Comment Re:I question a key point from TFA (Score 2, Insightful) 144

You're right on both parts, essentially. I think they also were monitoring calls originating in the US that were made to foreign numbers they believed to have ties with terrorism, too, but honestly it's hard to really figure out what the truth is and was with so much fear-mongering and hyperbole going on.

No, the reason why it's hard to find out the truth is because the government has attempted to cloak the entire process under a "states secrets" privilege. When you decide, as the elected officials of the country, to hide every aspect of your executive plans from your electors, the judicial system, and Congress, you should not be surprised if "hyperbole and fear-mongering" enters the vacuum.

Oh, and the program itself wasn't really new, it's been around forever. Bush & Co. just tweaked the rules around a little bit -- a move that I think was less about invading the privacy of Americans (which they've been able to do for several decades now) and more a matter of removing a bottleneck. The whole secret wiretap deal has to be approved by a secret court, I think there's a 24 or 48 hour window in which they can start a wiretap and then seek approval by this secret court. Well, in the wake of 9/11, they were using this quite a bit, and I'm of the belief that they circumvented the court not because they wanted to be Big Brother but because they knew that most these wiretaps would NOT result in any information but felt that at the time it was best to cast as wide a net as possible, immediately, and later worry about narrowing things down from "possible" to "likely".

This is all supposition on your part. Reassuring supposition, but as absent of proof as the most paranoid theories. If it were the case, there's a very simple procedure the administration could have followed: it could have gone to Congress and asked for the "paperwork", as you call it, to be reformed. That paperwork is there for a reason: it is so we can keep track of who follows the law, and we are nation under the law, not under men.

As it is, we know that there was a new "President's Surveillance Program", that differed substantially enough from previous practice to be described as such. We know, thanks to Mr Klein, that there was an installation in San Francisco whose abilities far exceeded those required for lawful interception. We have a group of telecom companies who seemed so unsure of their own legal position that when asked for the simple, legal authorization documents to clarify the lawfulness of their actions, they lobbied for (and got) blanket retroactive immunity, using the argument that they might owe billions in fines (a possibility that could only have occurred if the numbers of those wiretapped were counted in the hundreds of thousands).

What's a more sensible attitude in the face of apparent law-breaking by the highest levels of government, working in concert with our largest corporations? A genial "well I guess they had their reasons," shrug or a demand that the other branches of government use their power and the responsibility to uncover that illegality?

Comment Re:freelegoporn.com is not cybersquatting (Score 2, Insightful) 183

I firmly believe that what you say is not true -- you don't have to litigate every trivial instance of your trademark being violated. AFAICS, this is an urban myth that developed from the potential (but usually unlikely) threat of genericisation through overuse, and the utility of claiming it to be the case by IP lawyers.

I really don't, for instance, believe the Lego porn is going to lead to people using "lego" to refer to any other kind of brick. This is because I don't believe any of Lego's competitors are going to stand up in court and say "Well, *of course* we should be able to refer to our bricks as legos. Did you not see them fail to go after that pornography site that used such obviously fake Lego bricks?" That's why I ask for evidence that what you're saying is true.

Of course, if you are right, please wait five years, and then start your own lego brick company, citing the lack of any court action against this slashdot post as evidence that the Danish company lost the mark years ago.

Censorship

A Black Day For Internet Freedom In Germany 420

Several readers including erlehmann and tmk wrote to inform us about the dawning of Internet censorship in Germany under the usual guise of protecting the children. "This week, the two big political parties ruling Germany in a coalition held the final talks on their proposed Internet censorship scheme. DNS queries for sites on a list will be given fake answers that lead to a page with a stop sign. The list itself is maintained by the German federal police (Bundeskriminalamt). A protest movement has formed over the course of the last several months, and over 130K citizens have signed a petition protesting the law. Despite this, and despite criticism from all sides, the two parties sped up the process for the law to be signed on Thursday, June 18, 2009."
Hardware Hacking

Build Your Own Open Source Twittering Power Meter 31

ptorrone writes "Open source hardware company 'Adafruit Industries' has released a 'Tweet-a-watt' kit. It's an open source power monitoring kit that mods an off-the-shelf power meter which can 'tweet' (publish wirelessly) the daily KWH consumed & Cumulative Kilowatt-hours to your Twitter account, Google App Engine, Facebook, IRC, whatever ... They recently won the 'GreenerGadget' design competition and have now released an open source hardware kit."

Comment Re:I am not an Aussie... (Score 1) 308

>> So why in the hell would you spend money to meddle in foreign politics that don't affect you in any way?

> Because people outside Australia may very well end up being affected by it. Western governments have a habit of citing other governments' policies as a way to make those policies more palatable to their own citizens. The British have CCTV cameras at every street corner, let's also put them on our streets. Software patents are allowed in the U.S., let's harmonize the legislation. Australia thinks of the children and censors the Net, we should do the same!

> For instance, even though I'm not in the U.S., I donate to the EFF. It's a global world. We're running out of places where we can hide from these things.

This is exactly right, and why EFF tries to work internationally too: for instance, last week we wrote about how the interpretation of New Zealand's Section 92A law could affect other countries and smuggle three strikes rules through. New Zealand's language originally came from the US (via Australia), but the interpretations of the law have been very different. If New Zealand took one pro-three strikes stance, it would be quickly used as an argument for doing the same thing in other states.

Other countries can also be an inspiration. I know that the French have been inspired by New Zealand activists successful campaign to fight off Section 92A; the Australian battle against Net censorship will be noted by politicians elsewhere who might otherwise think that blocking sites would be a kneejerk vote-winner.

Government

President Signs Law Creating Copyright Czar 555

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "President Bush has signed the EIPRA (AKA the PRO-IP Act) and created a cabinet-level post of 'Copyright Czar,' on par with the current 'Drug Czar,' in spite of prior misgivings about the bill. They did at least get rid of provisions that would have had the DOJ take over the RIAA's unpopular litigation campaign. Still, the final legislation (PDF) creates new classes of felony criminal copyright infringement, adds civil forfeiture provisions that incorporate by reference parts of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, and directs the Copyright Czar to lobby foreign governments to adopt stronger IP laws. At this point, our best hope would appear to be to hope that someone sensible like Laurence Lessig or William Patry gets appointed."
Privacy

Submission + - Interview with EFF on their case against AT&T (salon.com)

ntk writes: "Glenn Greenwald from Salon has a long, informative interview with Cindy Cohn, the EFF attorney leading the suit against AT&T over their warrantless wiretapping of their customers. It talks about why the White House is pushing for retroactive immunity against the telco, what the suit has revealed so far, and how little Congressfolk appear to know about how Internet traffic is being monitored."
Democrats

Submission + - Senator Holds Fast Against Telco Immunity (wired.com)

Danny writes: "Looks like the White House hasn't got its wish quite yet. Senator Chris Dodd has announced he'll put a hold on any Senate legislation that includes retroactive immunity for telcos involved in the dragnet warrantless interception of phone and net communications. There's still time to contact your own members of congress to see if they too will oppose amnesty for lawbreaking companies."
Politics

E-Voting Report Finds Problems with Modern Elections 165

JonRob writes "The Open Rights Group has released a report on challenges faced by voting technology. Using the May 2007 Scottish/English elections as a testbed, researchers have collated hundreds of observations into a verdict on voting in the digital age. 'The report provides a comprehensive look at elections that used e-counting or e-voting technologies. As a result of the report's findings ORG cannot express confidence in the results for the areas we observed. This is not a declaration we take lightly but, despite having had accredited observers on location, having interviewed local authorities and having filed Freedom of Information requests, ORG is still not able to verify if votes were counted accurately and as voters intended.' The report is available online in pdf format for download."

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