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Comment It's inevitable, so manage it (Score 4, Insightful) 168

This already happens and inevitably will become more common as Wikipedia's profile rises. WP might as well get out in front of it with policies that make it easier to police and verify.

Currently, PR firms who are hired by companies to raise their profile already add biased, poorly sourced puff pieces to Wikipedia. They are promptly shredded by the community and deleted in nine cases out of ten. They do, however, create a lot of work for Wikipedian volunteers, usually because the PR people in question know websites generally, but nothing about the rules and culture that govern Wikipedia. They also do not generally disclose up front that they have a business relationship with the company they're writing the article about.

There's an argument to be made that there's an advantage to replacing these PR firms with people who are already clued in to Wikipedia's culture and guidelines. They could communicate up front to a client what will and won't fly on WP, and the best way to add verifiable information about the company without running afoul of neutrality and verifiability guidelines. If all these paid editors do on behalf of their employer is add content and provide sources, as long as their work is in accord with policy I don't see a reason to care that they are getting paid.

There are freelance wackos and fanboys that attempt to sabotage or whitewash pages about companies and other institutions as it is. How are paid editors different? At least you could require them to declare their influences. Make stringent requirements about disclosure, and allow paid editors to edit and provide info in talk pages, but not to take any administrative actions on the pages they're paid to edit. Any violation results in a topic ban for that account.

Comment Re:They better bring along the police... (Score 1) 589

Wrong; the FCC is in the executive branch.

The precise status of the FCC as an independent federal agency is truly fascinating. It is outside of the executive departments, but technically part of the executive branch, but empowered, directed, and created by Congress.

This is also incorrect. The FCC has guys in "swat" uniforms with automatic weaponry.

Surprising and stupid if true.

Comment Re:I'd like to see em try it (Score 1) 589

The BSA's whole purpose is to get people in trouble for pirating software on behalf of their members. The FCC has no reason to care about anything outside of their domain, which is interference with the broadcast spectrum.

The only situation I can foresee where this is a problem that isn't already handled by some other protection is: 1) the cops know you've committed a crime and 2) have evidence in the open in your home but 3) can't show probably cause for a warrant and 4) you have a rogue transmitter going, or some other device that provides a plausible excuse for the FCC to show up and 5) you opt to let them look through your house, knowing you have evidence of a crime out in the open rather than take the fine and turn them away.

And again, if the police show up alongside the FCC, you can tell the cops to come back with a warrant. They don't get access to search your house just because the FCC is inspecting your transmitter.

Comment Re:I'd like to see em try it (Score 1) 589

Again: the cops have no right to enter. The FCC guy can inspect your device. The cops have nothing. Why is the FCC going to bring the police?

This keeps turning back to some conspiracy scenario where the cops know you have committed a crime and left evidence in plain sight, but can't get a warrant, but they know that you are violating FCC regulations and that you are going to let the FCC guy wander your house rather than give up the offending device or taking the fine.

Comment Re:I'd like to see em try it (Score 1) 589

Now THAT's what I call optimisim!

I know cynicism is totally awesome, but the people who are charged with determining these things take them pretty seriously. Every day/week/year in this country, criminal cases are dismissed on procedural grounds in order to preserve the rights of the accused. Like most things, you don't hear about the cases where the system works. The judicial system has some serious flaws, but it's a lot easier to do worse than to do better.

they can pretty much already tell if you have an interfering device from outside your house

Then why not present that evidence to a judge?

Because it isn't a legal proceeding, it's an administrative/regulatory one. When the FCC determines that a device is interfering, does it get a trial? No. The FCC is granted the power by the legislature to determine compliance with these particular regulations. They measure your EM and determine that it exceeds the established levels. You can appeal, but most of these rulings are like compliance with the 'Rulers Must be 12 Inches Act'. There's an objective standard that can be applied. Part of the reason they are granted such wide latitude is because their mandate is narrow; they can only charge people with failure to comply with regulations about noise and interference, or use of the public spectrum. They are rules that are very difficult for the average person to break by accident.

People are arguing that the proliferation of RF devices puts us at more risk of being abused somehow by the FCC. I'd say it does the opposite. The FCC says you have a RF device. You say: so does everyone else on the block. Where's your evidence that it is my device? If anything, the proliferation of RF devices means that any harassment by the FCC is going to be very obvious. If the FCC is repeatedly inspecting the one guy in the county with a transmitter rig, that's one thing. If the FCC repeatedly goes to the house of a random schmuck with a router and a cell phone, that is going to be subject to a higher degree of scrutiny.

Comment Re:They better bring along the police... (Score 1) 589

Since there were several other (what I considered to be) errors in the GP posting, and because we are talking about the role of a Federal agency, I presumed that they were talking about the Federal government. The point that I was attempting to clarify was that the police's ability to perform no-knock warrant service is not rooted in their being part of any particular branch of government- if some locality re-classifies their police as being under the legislature or some branch that bears no resemblance to the federal structure, the police are still the police.

Comment Re:Ripe for *AA abuse (Score 1) 589

Prove this interpretation doesn't exist, or if it doesn't exist now that it will never exist. In the absence of your ability to prove an absolute negative, I'll accept the realization that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure... not that sovereign immunity allows anyone victimized by the government to receive much of a cure.

To me it seems unnecessary, but I can see the position. This just seems like an overblown issue to me. There are many more serious ways that people can be threatened or abused by the government (no-knock warrants, for one), and there are an unlimited number of ways that the government could potentially abuse its power, most of which no one will ever notice. As someone pointed out, the police can pick you up and hold you for 24 hours on any pretense at all, which is a much more serious potential form of abuse. The cops could detail a cruiser to follow me, personally, around and cite me for every traffic violation I commit. The idea that the FCC is going to enter my house for no reason on the basis of the fact that I have a radio or a cell phone, and that this is somehow going to be an issue because I have committed a crime that can be seen by inspection that someone knows about but cannot get a warrant to investigate seems very tenuous to me, particularly when I can just say 'no thanks' and take the fine.

Comment Re:They better bring along the police... (Score 1) 589

Yes, but that still has nothing to do with authorization for no-knock warrants. The police can do that in certain jurisdictions because 1) they are the police, and 2) the local judicial branch has granted them that leniency.

But the FCC is not asserting the right to perform no-knock entry, so the entire issue is entirely moot anyway.

Comment Re:I'd like to see em try it (Score 1) 589

First of all, because it isn't clear that that would be allowed to happen. Since the FCC was not entering your home to look for pot, and has no powers related to regulating pot, the evidence might be inadmissible on the grounds that it was discovered in the course of an otherwise lawful inspection that was not related to the crime that you were charged with. The court could easily rule that a different standard applies for a private residence than a commercial property, because there is a much higher expectation of privacy.

Second, the FCC can't go digging around in your house arbitrarily. They can inspect equipment, not search. So the pot would most likely have to be in a spot where it could be seen in plain view.

Third, if the inspector entered your house under false pretenses- there was no reasonable expectation that a misbehaving device was on your property- then the evidence again might not be admissible.

Fourth, you can ditch your weed after the inspector leaves, but before the cops come. The inspector himself can not arrest you or impound anything. There might be legal implications for this.

Fifth, refusing to allow the FCC inspector to enter the house does nothing but get you a fine. If you know you have evidence of multiple felonies in your house, turn them away at the door and pay the damn fine. Refusing to allow the police to conduct a search that the law says they are allowed to search may be considered evidence of a crime, or something like that, but since the only thing the FCC can investigate is interference, and they can pretty much already tell if you have an interfering device from outside your house, no comparable situation seems to exist.

Comment Re:Why even say this? (Score 1) 589

It's a big administrative burden to place on the courts and the inspectors, given that most inspections are uncontroversial. Furthermore, because we're talking about public places, there's a reduced expectation of privacy- since the inspections are just visual, for a business, there is no more real invasion of privacy in having a fire marshal come in and look around than there is in having a customer or employee enter the premise.

With the FCC, the evidence that the transmitter is in place is available without making entry into anyone's property because it travels through the air as EM. Their argument is: we're chartered to inspect devices that emit EM of a certain type. We can tell without looking if such a device is present. Why have a judge rubber stamp that assessment over and over again (and it would be just that)? The FCC essentially has their evidence before they ever knock on a door; they are at that point trying to remedy the problem. They are given the specific authority to do that by the law.

I generally agree with you on government interference, but this appears to me to be a tempest in a teapot. Someone is saying 'if the FCC adopted an interpretation of the law that they haven't really put forth, and that seems to be in obvious conflict with the 4th Amendment, they could enter people's houses at random without a warrant, and then not do anything because they don't have any further regulatory power.' Um, ok. And the fire marshal could inspect my apartment building every day of the week if he wanted, just to make really, really sure the fire exits are clear. I just can't see an abuse of this law that isn't already protected against by existing law and the Constitution.

Comment Re:And under... (Score 1) 589

Yup. The alternative is anarchy: anyone can disregard any law they think is unconstitutional. The process of judicial review is well-established by case law and the Constitution. A bill becomes law- has the force of law behind it- when it is signed by the executive, having been passed by Congress. It remains in effect until it is either repealed by Congress, or ruled unenforceable by the Supreme Court. Even an "obviously" bad law, legally, must be followed until its repeal or reversal.

Comment Re:Ripe for *AA abuse (Score 1) 589

What does the RIAA gain by having an FCC agent enter someone's home? The FCC can't do anything unless they are violating FCC regulations. The RIAA can't 'come along' to look for evidence of copyright infringement. The RIAA gets a guy to go to your house and take readings to see if your router is generating interference. So what? If they do it frequently, it's harassment. If they look at your data, it's probably an illegal search.

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