Friday, 23 April 2010


US Convicts Nigerian 419 Email Scammer (TechDirt, 22 April 2010) - speaks for itself.

Google search in court

In the story below, I am troubled by two things:

- the assumption that a diversity of items being available proves that each of them are rarer to come by (here a yellow hat). How a Google search can help assessing this baffles me. Statistics of sale would be more relevant. Education of judges in how to use Google and how Google gathers its information?

- why indeed a judge can 'google' but not juries?

Judges Allowed To Use Google To 'Confirm Intuition' In Cases (TechDirt, 23 March 2010)


Just a few additional links about posts published earlier on:

"Copyright A Priority For The DOJ; But Identity Fraud Has Fallen Off The List" (TechDirt, 8 April 2010)

which contrats with the EU Parliament's perception: Parliament threatens court action on anti-piracy treaty (Euractiv, 10 March 2010)

and the side effects of wanting more inforcement in non-democratic countries: "Careful What You Wish For: Greater IP Enforcement In China Being Used Against Foreign Companies..." (TechDirt, 8 April 2010)

Social networking and risks

Social networks put careers at risk, survey finds (Euractiv, 1 February 2010) with employers looking on the internet profile of applicants! Question of education about impact of the internet in people's lives.

Social networks put minors at risk, EU warns (Euractiv, 10 February 2010), a campaign which echoes ENISA reports about the use of internet/virtual worlds by minors. Again, education

EU to slam new Facebook privacy settings (Euractiv, 09 February 2010) and in French "Les réglages de confidentialité de Facebook dans le collimateur de l'UE" (Euractiv, 09 February 2010)

Hyping issues up: distortions when it comes to internet

1 - "The Real Problem With Internet Comments Isn't Anonymity" (TechDirt, 12 April 2010). That I would agree; people before internet could be anonymous for the better or for the worse (blackmail...). They could also be discovered and were accepting the risk; so why not now? Why the internet should change anything in us allowing anonymity? What we need is better education for people to understand the impact of their behaviours and better policing, but not an end to anonymity.
"Judge Who Was Revealed As Anonymous Commenter Sues Newspaper For $50 Million" (TechDirt, 8 April 2010)
"Israeli Supreme Court Says There Is No Legal Way To Reveal Anonymous Commenters Online" (TechDirt, 1 April 2010)
Columnist Claims Anonymity Is Bad For Our Country (TechDirt, 31 March 2010)

2 - "Dear Journalists: There Is No Cyberwar" (TechDirt, 9 April 2010). I don't completely agree. Governments use and will use the new technologies to attack and the disruptions will be different.

3 - As Cyberbullying Moral Panics Heat Up, Actual Rates Of Cyberbullying Decreasing (TechDirt, 9 April 2010). Well yes and no. Cyberbullying is a problem like its off-line version, but it is probably not so much of a problem as it is made up.

Similar distortion in the understanding of the law in order to catch behaviours we find offensive but which are not necessarily legal:
Son Gets Mom Charged With Harassment Over Facebook Account Hijacking (TechDirt, 8 April 2010) - apparently, the son lets the computer logged in; that is unauthorised access in the UK!
And if this is true, it is even worse: Sarkozy Kicks Off Criminal Investigation Into Blog/Twitter Reports He Had An Affair (TechDirt, 7 April 2010)

4 - or distortion in the use of the law: "Court Says President Bush Violated Wiretapping Laws With Warrantless Wiretap" (TechDirt, 31 March 2010) with Wired having published the decision from NorthDistrict Court of California

This affair echoes two others about procedure and the difficulties to conceptualise it:
"Leaving Your WiFi Open Decreases Your Fourth Amendment Rights To Privacy?" (TechDirt, 10 February 2010) - I can't see how there is less privacy if you leave your mobile phone or your landline accessible to people from the outside
"Duh, Don't Leave A Thumb Drive With Child Porn Plugged Into A Shared Computer" (TechDirt, 22 April 2010) - no expectation of privacy for a US court when the thumb drive is plugged in. I would agree (like Masnick and unlike Kerr with whom I seem to disagree quite a lot - he writes on VWs). Kerr argues the thumb drive is like a suitcase in a public space; inaccurate if it is plugged in as everybody can see what's in it, like an open suitcase (aka Masnick).

and see "Les points-clés du projet de loi Loppsi" (LeMonde, 09 February 2010)

Circulation of information and saving of

The Economist On Why Copyright Needs To Return To Its Roots (TechDirt, 20 April 2010). The argument is that the Statute of Queen Anne granted copyrights for only 14 or 21 or 28 years maximum. It was not during the artist/writer's lifetime. Well, I would like to introduce a nuance here: the life expectation of people was probably at the time around 40 years old. If one writes the book in their twenties and one adds 14 years, that is roughly 34 minimum, so prettry much the author's lifetime. What is true though, is that the limited period made it impossible to transfer the copyrights to the descendents/heirs.
for life expectancy: which cites a book

Related to this is the post on TechDirt. The clip is cleverly made, but I am still not convince completely by it. No one has ever been able to copy what one wants without 1) acknowledging the author..., 2) in some cases (commercial use mostly), ask permission from the author. So yes copying can be theft, but not always. "Copying Is Not Theft" (techDirt, 15 April 2010)
Incidentally, acknowledging an author was not an inherent practice to writers. It started when the library of Alexandria opened and started to collect 'books'. They needed to reference the books and started to enquire about their authors... In parallel, in order to get all the books of the world at the time, the scribs did not hesitate to copy the books without permission and then they would reference them.
See also: "Content Creation Is An Evolutionary Process" (TechDirt, 22 February 2010) and the more recent post: "Innovation By Imitation: Study Shows That Success Comes From Imitation" (TechDirt, 22 April 2010)
and the very interesting comment/analysis of another's post: "Understanding What's Scarce And What's Not..." TechDirt, 09 February 2010

The Library of Congress seems to want to save all Twitter feeds on the grounds that ordinary people participate, giving historians a unique insight into day-to-day moods and understanding of issues. Not bad, but I wonder to which extent: it violates privacy, it is that useful for historians. Library Of Congress To Store Your Inane Twitter Chatter For All Eternity (TechDirt, 16 April 2010)

Google and China

Rob Hanlon and Stephen Frost, CSR Asia, on 31 Mar 2010, criticised Google's HR motives to withdraw from Mainland China. The core of their arguments is nothing new: Google was not making any profit, to stay would have been counterproductive to their business model; to withdraw in the name of HR is not helpful to China's HR activists and it is an illusion to believe a foreign company can influence China's policies on whether to censor or not.

Well, at the end of the reading, frankly, I am less than convinced by their arguments. I have no doubt that Google withdrew because it was not making enough money, but I do not think it is the only motive. I completely disagree with their stand about people/companies not being able to influence others including foreign governments. This is saying that nobody is responsible for whatever happens and history defies such argument. As we are talking about HR, let us think about Nelson Mandela. He was the catalyst of a whole movement who changed the course of history. Gandhi did the same against the then British Empire which power we forget the might.

Google's answer to the criticism is poorly drafted I think. The HRW's response is much more interesting as it points towards the weakness of Hanlon and Frost's arguments.

All the reports are on the Business and HR website at

For the earlier report on Google closing its site: Google Shuts China Site in Dispute Over Censorship (NY Times 22 March 2010) and different comments on the Business and HR website:

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Beware The Seductive Power Of Surveillance

TechDirt - 5 April
Refers to an article by Jesse Hirsh

same as previous post: common sense means that surveillance will exist and that we need to assess the risks and stop treating the internet as something different than the telephone, for HR purposes

See the previous interview of Thomas Berners-Lee: "Web under threat from 'snooping' authorities" (TechDirt, 04 December 2010)

Once Again, A Court Overturns Internet Ban For Convicted Criminal

TechDirt, 5 April 2010 -

technology seems to make people lose their common sense. Would we agree to a ban on using the telephone because the offender committed the offence with it?

Are Computers in Africa Really Weapons of Mass Destruction?

I am as skeptic as Kevin Donovan about the correctness of the analysis made in Foreign Policy. Yes, it is true that Africa does not use the latest softwares, but nor does Europe and a lot of other countries. And to use the nicknamed Nigerian scam as an example supporting the argument seems rather week. Nigeria has not been the only country sending that type of scam and if 'Western' people were not so gullible, maybe the wave of those scams would not have reached that scale at the time.

Monday, 5 April 2010

EU divided on ways to defeat online child pornography | EurActiv

EU divided on ways to defeat online child pornography | EurActiv

The EU Commission wants members states to filter content, but Germany is not particularly happy about it and wanted that it will refuse to do so, should there be a directive in that sense. The new EU treaty forbids member states to filter content on justice and home affairs. How will this provision be interpreted?