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Section 230 Isn‘t Why Omegle Has Awful Content, And Getting Rid Of 230 Won‘t Change That

Last year, I co-authored an article with my law school advisor, Prof. Eric Goldman, titled ‘Why Can‘t Internet Companies Stop Awful Content?‘ In our article, we concluded that the Internet is just a mirror of our society. Unsurprisingly, anti-social behavior exists online just as it does offline. Perhaps though, the mirror analogy doesn‘t go far enough. Rather, the Internet is more like a magnifying glass, constantly refo

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Baltimore‘s Aerial Surveillance Program Has Logged 700 Flight Hours, One (1) Arrest

The Baltimore PD‘s eye in the sky program continues. First (inadvertently) introduced to the public in 2016, the camera/Cessna system, made by a company called Persistent Surveillance Systems, flew above the city capturing up to 32-square miles of human and vehicle movements using a 192-million-megapixel camera. The only upside to the residents of Baltimore not being informed of this development is that they weren‘t spending their

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New York State Leaders Finally Realize U.S. Broadband Availability Data Is Hot Garbage

We‘ve noted for years how, despite a lot of pretense to the contrary, the federal government doesn‘t actually know where broadband is or isn‘t available. The FCC usually doesn‘t independently confirm that ISP-provided data is accurate, and the agency declares an entire area "served" with broadband if just one home in a zip code has service. Efforts to fix this problem have historically been undermined by telecom lobbying,

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Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side Stephen T. Stone breaking down Trump‘s astonishing demand that his government should take a cut of a TikTok sale: He asked for a bribe. He literally asked for whatever company buys TikTok (if that happens) to pay hi-I mean, the Treasury a substantial amount of money from the sale in exchange for the right to buy TikTok in the first place. All the other shit is important, yes, but

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This Week In Techdirt History: August 2nd - 8th

Five Years Ago This week in 2015, we wrote about how the TPP would override five years of democratic discussion about patents in New Zealand, and then got a look at the latest leak of the agreement which showed the US fighting hard to permit patent and copyright abuse, opposing provisions in support of the public domain, trying to include rules that would kill any future Aereo clones, and generally making copyright mandatory but public rights

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Console Exclusive Games Have Given Way To Console Exclusive Game Characters

Editor‘s Note: Originally, this article was set to run before the article of Crystal Dynamics defending this decision... but somehow that didn‘t happen. You can read that article here if you like, or if you haven‘t already, you can read this one first, and recognize that time has no meaning any more, so the linear publishing of articles is no longer necessary... or maybe Mike just screwed things up. One of those. For anything

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Content Moderation Case Study: Social Media Services Respond When Recordings Of Shooting Are Uploaded By The Person Committing The Crimes (August 2015)

Summary: The ability to instantly upload recordings and stream live video has made content moderation much more difficult. Uploads to YouTube have surpassed 500 hours of content every minute (as of May 2019), making any form of moderation inadequate. The same goes for Twitter and Facebook. Facebook‘s user base exceeds two billion worldwide. Over 500 million tweets are posted to Twitter every day (as of May 2020). Algorithms and human mod

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Focals ‘Smart‘ Glasses Become Dumb As A Brick After Google Acquisition

Time and time again we‘ve highlighted how, in the modern era, you don‘t really own the hardware you buy. Music, ebooks, and videos can disappear on a dime without recourse, your game console can lose important features after a purchase, and a wide variety of "smart" tech can quickly become dumb as a rock in the face of company struggles, hacks, or acquisitions, leaving you with pricey paperweights where innovation once stood. The l

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Revisiting The Common Law Liability Of Online Intermediaries Before Section 230

On February 8, 1996, President Clinton signed into law the Telecommunication Act of 1996. Title V of that act was called the Communications Decency Act, and Section 509 of the CDA was a set of provisions originally introduced by Congressmen Chris Cox and Ron Wyden as the Internet Freedom Family Empowerment Act. Those provisions were then codified at Section 230 of title 47 of the United States Code. They are now commonly referred to as simply &

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Daily Deal: The Complete 2020 Learn Linux Bundle

The Complete 2020 Learn Linux Bundle has 12 courses to help you learn Linux OS concepts and processes. You‘ll start with an introduction to Linux and progress to more advanced topics like shell scripting, data encryption, supporting virtual machines, and more. Other courses cover Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 (RHEL 8), virtualizing Linux OS using Docker, AWS, and Azure, how to build and manage an enterprise Linux infrastructure, and much more

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FTC Commissioners Are Upset About Section 230; Though It‘s Not At All Clear Why

Another day, another bunch of nonsense about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The Senate Commerce Committee held an FTC oversight hearing yesterday, with all five commissioners attending via video conference (kudos to Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter who attended with her baby strapped to her -- setting a great example for so many working parents who are struggling with working from home while also having to manage childcare duties!)

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Trump Issues Ridiculous Executive Orders Banning TikTok And WeChat

While he had said he would do it last weekend, and then said he‘d wait until September 15th (but that he wanted a finder‘s fee if TikTok was sold to Microsoft), last night the Trump White House issued two executive orders regarding apps from Chinese companies. The first one claims it‘s banning TikTok and the second one says it‘s banning WeChat (which isn‘t even that popular in the US, though it is hugely popular in

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Congress To Consider National Right To Repair Law For First Time

About five years ago, frustration at John Deere‘s draconian tractor DRM culminated in a grassroots "right to repair" movement. The company‘s crackdown on "unauthorized repairs" turned countless ordinary citizens into technology policy activists, after DRM and the company‘s EULA prohibited the lion‘s share of repair or modification of tractors customers thought they owned. These restrictions only worked to drive up costs f

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Appeals Court Upholds Ruling Saying PACER Overcharged Users

A lawsuit against PACER for its long list of wrongs may finally pay off for the many, many people who‘ve subjected themselves to its many indignities. The interface looks and runs like a personal Geocities page and those who manage to navigate it successfully are on the hook for pretty much every page it generates, including 0.10/page for search results that may not actually give users what they‘re looking for. Everything else is 0

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Crystal Dynamics Explains Spider-Man PS4 Exclusivity By Saying A Bunch Of... Words, I Guess?

We had just been talking about the upcoming Marvel‘s Avengers multi-platform game and its very strange plan to make Spider-Man a PlayStation exclusive character. In that post, I mentioned that I don‘t think these sorts of exclusive deals, be they for games or characters, make any real sense. Others quoted in the post have actually argued that exclusive characters specifically hurt everyone, including owners of the exclusive platform,

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Content Moderation At Scale Is Impossible: Twitter Locks Accounts For Fact Checking The President

Another day in which we get to explain how content moderation is impossible to do well at scale. On Wednesday, Twitter (and Facebook) chose to lock the Trump campaign‘s account after it aired a dangerous and misleading clip from Fox News‘ "Fox Friends" in which the President falsely claimed that children are "almost immune" from COVID-19. People can debate whether it was appropriate or not for Twitter (and Facebook) to make those

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Georgia School District Inadvertently Begins Teaching Lessons In First Amendment Protections After Viral Photo

There‘s this dumb but persistent meme in American culture that somehow the First Amendment simply doesn‘t exist within the walls of a public school district. This is patently false. What is true is that there have been very famous court cases that have determined that speech rights for students at school may be slightly curtailed and must face tests over "substantial disruption" of the speech in question in order to have it limited.

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Federal Judge Calls Out Qualified Immunity‘s Contribution To Racist Policing

If you only read one qualified immunity decision this year, make it this one. (At least until something better comes along. But this one will be hard to top.) [h/t MagentaRocks] The decision [PDF] -- written by Judge Carlton W. Reeves for the Southern District of Mississippi -- deals with the abuse of a Black man by a white cop. Fortunately, the man lived to sue. Unfortunately, Supreme Court precedent means the officer will not be punished. Bu

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Daily Deal: The Python 3 Complete Masterclass Bundle

The Python 3 Complete Masterclass Bundle has 7 courses to help you hone your Python skills. You‘ll learn how to automate data analysis, do data visualization with Bokeh, test basic script, network automation, and more. It‘s on sale for 30. Note: The Techdirt Deals Store is powered and curated by StackCommerce. A portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals helps support Techdirt. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by

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Judge Rejects Devin Nunes‘ SLAPP Suit Over The Esquire Article He Really, Really Doesn‘t Want You To Read

A federal judge has happily dismissed one of Devin Nunes‘ many SLAPP suits. This isn‘t much of a surprise given what the judge had said back in May regarding Nunes‘ Iowa-based SLAPP suit (reminder: Iowa has no anti-SLAPP law) against Esquire Magazine and reporter Ryan Lizza. The lawsuit was over this article that Devin Nunes really, really doesn‘t want you to read: Devin Nunes‘s Family Farm Is Hiding a Politically E

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State Department Announces That Great Firewall For The US; Blocks Chinese Apps & Equipment

Forget banning TikTok, the Trump State Department just suggested it wants to basically ban China from the internet. Rather than promoting an open internet and the concept of openness, it appears that under this administration we‘re slamming the gates shut and setting up the Great American Firewall for the internet. Under the guise of what it calls the Clean Network to Safeguard America, last night Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a

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Gullible Maine & DHS Intel Officers Believed Teen TikTok Video Was Serious Terrorist Threat

We‘ve been noting for a few weeks that much of the hysteria surrounding TikTok is kind of dumb. For one, banning TikTok doesn‘t really do much to thwart Chinese spying, given our privacy and security incompetence leaves us vulnerable on countless fronts. Most of the folks doing the heaviest pearl clutching over TikTok have opposed efforts at any meaningful internet privacy rules, have opposed funding election security reform, and hav

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In 10 Years Of Existence, The Long-Running French Farce Known As Hadopi Has Imposed Just 87,000 In Fines, But Cost Taxpayers 82 Million

The French anti-piracy framework known as Hadopi began as tragedy and soon turned into farce. It was tragic that so much energy was wasted on putting together a system that was designed to throw ordinary users off the Internet -- the infamous "three strikes and you‘re out" approach -- rather than encouraging better legal offerings. Four years after the Hadopi system was created in 2009, it descended into farce when the French government st

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