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Interior Department Putting Even More Effort Into Dodging FOIA Request

The Department of the Interior is still trying to remove the word "freedom" from "Freedom of Information Act." The first step is removing the word "information." Earlier this year, the DOI tried to sneak past a rewrite of FOIA by hiding a request in the federal register. It would only apply to the DOI, hence the lack of legislative noise or heads up to the public. Under the guise of "ensuring compliance" with the law, the DOI wanted the power

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If China Is A Glimpse Of Our Future Surveillance Nightmare, Maybe Hong Kong Shows How To Fight It

Techdirt has been covering the roll-out of the extraordinarily comprehensive digital surveillance systems in China for many years. It‘s hardly news that the Chinese authorities continue to deploy the latest technologies in order to bolster their control. Many of the same approaches to surveillance are being tried in the special administrative region of Hong Kong. A British colony for 156 years, it was handed back to China in 1997 on the un

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Report Says DHS Can‘t Manage Internal Misconduct Because The DHS Just Doesn‘t Do Anything About Internal Misconduct

The long history of abuse and misconduct by DHS components stretches back for years. Agencies like ICE, CBP, and the TSA have never not been abusing their power to violate rights, circumvent the protections of the legal system, or just treat everyone like garbage for national security reasons. Why has nothing gotten better? Well, if you‘re the DHS, you‘ve tried nothing and you‘re all out of ideas. The latest report [PDF] by t

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Supposedly Disadvantaged Conservatives Not Exactly Rushing To Support Josh Hawley‘s Anti-Section 230 Bill

Senator Josh Hawley‘s ridiculous and unconstitutional bill to remove CDA Section 230 protections from internet giants was clearly designed to appeal to conservative voters who have been fed a nonstop myth that the big internet platforms are "targeting" them for their conservative views, when the reality is that the platforms are mostly targeting trolls, harassers, Nazis, and assholes. If those factors are disproportionately impacting Repub

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Daily Deal: The Complete Learn to Code Master Class Bonus Bundle

The Complete Learn to Code Master Class Bonus Bundle has 11 courses to get you up to speed with popular programming languages. You‘ll learn about C++, Python, Google Go, JavaScript, and more. It‘s on sale for 25. Note: The Techdirt Deals Store is powered and curated by StackCommerce. A portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals helps support Techdirt. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team. Permali

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Indian Gov‘t Uses National Security Law, Bad Information To Block Twitter Accounts All Over The World

US social media companies are continuing to act as proxy censors for governments around the world. This is adding some bizarre twists to stories of social media content takedowns as governments target posts by non-citizens located thousands of miles away. India may have abandoned a fake news law, but it still acting as though unverified news is a threat to national security. In a case covered by Kevin Poulsen for The Daily Beast, an American c

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Australia Says Media Companies Can Be Sued Over User Comments On Facebook

It‘s no secret that Australia has taken a very different view towards intermediary liability than the US, saying (for example) that search engines can be responsible for search results it had nothing to do with, and even that they can be held liable if you are offended by the images that show up next to yours in an image search. So perhaps the latest such case in Australia shouldn‘t be a surprise. A court has ruled that media compani

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Robocalls Swamp Hospitals As The Trump FCC Pretends To Fix The Problem

Despite endless government initiatives and countless promises from the telecom sector, our national robocall hell continues. Robocalls from telemarketers continue to be the subject the FCC receives the most complaints about (200,000 complaints annually, making up 60% of all FCC complaints), and recent data from the Robocall Index indicates that the problem is only getting worse. As robocallers get bolder, they‘re increasingly targeting i

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Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is an anonymous comment that does a great job at summing up much of the content moderation question: The real problem is not that YouTube is too big to fix, but rather that the Human race is too large to moderate. In second place, it‘s Thad with a response to Marco Rubio‘s accusation that Huawei is using patent troll tactics: Perhaps, but the difference between Huawei

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This Week In Techdirt History: June 16th - 22nd

Five Years Ago This week in 2014, it was becoming increasingly clear that the government had no idea how to solve a problem like Snowden, and we all got to see more details about things like the NSA‘s aggressive language about data collection, its gamification of spying, and the fact that it was accessing insane amounts of data directly from overseas cables. But some progress was made as the House overwhelmingly voted to take away one of

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The Paywall Conundrum: Even Those Who Like Paying For News Don‘t Pay For Much News

For years, we‘ve tended to mock newspaper paywalls -- not because we don‘t want to see news publishers get paid (that would actually be good!), but because it just doesn‘t seem like a really sustainable way to build a news product for nearly every publication. In other words, nearly all media paywalls are destined to fail -- often spectacularly -- because they can‘t generate nearly enough paying subscribers. There are exc

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Guy Pushing Hawley‘s ‘Viewpoint Neutrality‘ Concept In The Media Used To Write For White Supremacist Site

Senator Josh Hawley‘s law to wipe out CDA 230 protections for internet platforms unless they apply to the FTC for a special certificate, which they can only get if they show ‘clear and convincing evidence" that their moderation practices are "politically neutral," is dumb in many, many ways. But one of the most ridiculous parts is that it literally requires internet platforms to give extra weight to Nazis, and to punish any site that

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As The DOJ Continues To Complain About Encryption, Cellebrite (Again) Announces It Can Crack Any IPhone

On Monday, June 17, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said this during his speech to the National Sheriffs‘ Association: In recent years, criminals have become more and more adept at using technology to avoid law enforcement in what we call ‘going dark.‘ While ‘going dark‘ has many manifestations, some of its greatest impacts are in the areas of encryption, in assuring the security of information. But, as you

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Daily Deal: Mondly

We all remember our old language classes from high school, filled with dry vocabulary and rehearsed sentences that make you come off about as convincing as a gas station burrito. Mondly takes a different approach to getting you fluent with the language of your choosing. Using state-of-the-art speech recognition, Mondly knows how to listen to your words and phrases and only gives positive feedback if you speak clearly and correctly. Combine this

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Before Demanding Internet Companies ‘Hire More Moderators,‘ Perhaps We Should Look At How Awful The Job Is

Earlier this year, we wrote about a powerful piece by Casey Newton at The Verge detailing what a horrific job it is to be a content moderator for Facebook. It was eye-opening. The moderators told me it‘s a place where the conspiracy videos and memes that they see each day gradually lead them to embrace fringe views. One auditor walks the floor promoting the idea that the Earth is flat. A former employee told me he has begun to question

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After Decades Of Demanding China ‘Respect‘ US Patent Law, Senator Rubio Pushes Law That Says US Can Ignore Huawei Enforcing Patents

For well over a decade we‘ve discussed the short-sightedness of the US repeatedly demanding that China "respect" US intellectual property, because China has only turned that around on the US, and used Chinese patents as a way to block American competitors from entering the Chinese market. Things seemed to go up a notch recently, after the US government expanded its attempts to block Huawei from the US market, and Huawei suddenly remembered

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Explainer: How Letting Platforms Decide What Content To Facilitate Is What Makes Section 230 Work

There seems to be some recurrent confusion about Section 230: how can it let a website be immune from liability for its users‘ content, and yet still get to affect whether and how that content is delivered? Isn‘t that inconsistent? The answer is no: platforms don‘t lose Section 230 protection if they aren‘t neutral with respect to the content they carry. There are a few reasons, one being constitutional. The First Amend

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UK May Have Finally Ditched Its Absurd Porn Filter Plan

As we‘ve noted for years, internet filters don‘t work, routinely censor legitimate content by mistake, and implementing them is a massive waste of money, time, resources, and precious calories. In the UK, that‘s been a lesson that has been painfully difficult to learn. The UK has long implemented porn filters in a bid to restrict anybody under the age of 18 from accessing such content. New age verification controls were also

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Caterpillar Now Going After All The Cats For Trademark Cancellations

A couple of weeks back, we discussed the story of Caterpillar Inc., famous manufacturers of tractor equipment, deciding to bully Cat Cloud Coffee, makers of you‘ll-never-guess-what, all because the former had long ago trademarked "CAT" as a truncated brand. At issue specifically is Cat Cloud‘s use of the word "cat" on clothing and merchandise it sells, with Caterpillar claiming there is the potential for public confusion with its o

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Google CEO Admits That It‘s Impossible To Moderate YouTube Perfectly; CNBC Blasts Him

Over the weekend, Google CEO Sundar Pichai gave an interview to CNN in which he admitted to exactly what we‘ve been screaming over and over again for a few years now: it‘s literally impossible to do content moderation at scale perfectly. This is for a variety of reasons: first off, no one agrees what is the "correct" level of moderation. Ask 100 people and you will likely get 100 different answers (I know this, because we did this).

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No, Your Kid Isn‘t Growing Horns Because Of Cellphone Use

This week, the Washington Post grabbed plenty of attention for a story that claimed that kids are actually growing "horns" because of cell phone use. The story, which leans on 2016 and 2018 research out of Australia, was cribbing off of this more nuanced piece by the BBC on how skeletal adaptation to modern living changes are kind of a thing. The Post‘s more inflammatory take was accompanied by a wide variety of other stories proclaiming t

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Self-Described Feminist Loses Lawsuit Against Twitter For Banning Her Account

A California court has tossed a self-described feminist‘s lawsuit against Twitter for being kicked off the platform. [h/t Adam Steinbaugh] Meghan Murphy was banned from Twitter for violating the terms of use with tweets stating "men aren‘t women tho" and "how are transwomen not men?" She also posted tweets referring to certain transgender women as "men," which contained personal information about their previous male identities. Twi

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Daily Deal: Machine Learning & Data Science Certification Training Bundle

Take a deep dive into Machine Learning and Data Analysis across 8 courses and 48 hours of content for only 25 for a limited time. The Machine Learning and Data Science Certification Training Bundle will introduce you to Python, TensorFlow, Keras, and R data science. You‘ll explore deep neural networks (DNN), convolution neural networks (CNN)and recurrent neural networks (RNN), harness the power of Anaconda/iPython for practical data scienc

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Can‘t Have Copyright Enforcement Without Destroying Privacy Protections

Last week, Tim Geigner wrote about the Spanish soccer league, La Liga, getting hit with a GDPR fine because its mobile software just happened to sneakily include a surreptitious surveillance feature, turning on users‘ microphones to try to capture who was watching/listening to unauthorized broadcasts of matches. I wanted to write a little more on this, inspired by a comment from Professor Annemarie Bridy, who pointed out that anti-piracy e

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