Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Google takes 2 steps to protect user privacy; Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2017

Makeda Easter, Los Angeles Times; Google takes 2 steps to protect user privacy

"Google announced two new steps to protect user privacy — moving to scrub personal medical records from search results and halting its long-standing policy of scanning emails to deliver targeted ads.

Previously, Google surveyed the contents of emails to provide personalized ads to users of its free Gmail service. Although paying Gmail customers were never subject to such scanning, Diane Greene, a senior vice president at Google, told Bloomberg that there was confusion about the policy among businesses that pay for its service."

Key Government Privacy Watchdog Muzzled During Surveillance Debate; Slate, June 26, 2017

Andrea Peterson, Slate; Key Government Privacy Watchdog Muzzled During Surveillance Debate

"The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, or PCLOB, is a little-known agency that’s had an outsize influence in recent years on the debate over government spying. The board’s job is to make sure that when the executive branch takes action to defend the country, Americans’ privacy rights and civil liberties aren’t forgotten. To carry out that mission, the board has almost unparalleled access to classified information across the intelligence agencies. PCLOB uses that access to advise agencies on how to roll out surveillance programs while minimizing privacy and civil liberties violations, review programs already in operation, and raise the alarm when it uncovers problems.

But right now, despite the high stakes, the board is being held hostage by a personnel shortage...

The board is supposed to be led by a bipartisan group of five people: a full-time chair and four part-time members who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Due to a string of departures over the last year, it’s down to just one part-time member."

Snapchat's new Snap Map feature raises privacy concerns; ABC News, June 26, 2017

ABC News; Snapchat's new Snap Map feature raises privacy concerns

"A new update to the popular social networking app Snapchat that allows certain users of the app to track down your exact location is raising privacy concerns for parents and child safety advocates.

The new Snapchat feature, called "Snap Map," lets you decide whether or not to share your location with your friends in the app, or stay in "ghost mode," the app's default setting. If you decide to share your location, then an emoji representing you will appear to pinpoint your exact location on a map to your friends within the Snapchat app. The emoji marking where someone is on the map will "only update when you open Snapchat," the tech company explained in a blog post."

Facial Recognition May Boost Airport Security But Raises Privacy Worries; NPR, June 26, 2017

Asma Khalid, NPR; Facial Recognition May Boost Airport Security But Raises Privacy Worries

"JetBlue is pitching this idea of facial recognition as convenience for customers. It's voluntary. But it's also part of a broader push by Customs and Border Protection to create a biometric exit system to track non-U.S. citizens leaving the country...

[Adam Schwartz, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation] says facial recognition is a uniquely invasive form of surveillance.

"We can change our bank account numbers, we even can change our names, but we cannot change our faces," Schwartz says. "And once the information is out there, it could be misused.""...

Back at Logan Airport, passenger Yeimy Quezada feels totally comfortable sharing her face instead of a barcode.

"Even your cellphone recognizes selfies and recognize faces, so I'm used to that technology already," she says. "And, I'm not concerned about privacy because I'm a firm believer that if you're not hiding anything, you shouldn't be afraid of anything."

Amazon's Echo Show strips you of your last shred of privacy; CNet, June 27, 2017

CNet; Amazon's Echo Show strips you of your last shred of privacy

"I understand that privacy is as ancient a concept as civility, but Amazon's new Echo Show touchscreen/smart speaker takes the idea of nothing being private to a new level.

It has a feature called Drop In. It basically lets certain people snoop on you through your Echo Show."

Hillary Clinton Says Libraries Are Essential In Fight To Defend ‘Truth And Reason’; HuffPost, June 27, 2017

Hayley Miller, HuffPost; Hillary Clinton Says Libraries Are Essential In Fight To Defend ‘Truth And Reason’

"“The work you do is at the heart of an open, inclusive and diverse society,” Clinton told a crowd at the American Library Association’s conference in Chicago. “I believe libraries and democracy go hand-in-hand.”...

“You have to be on the front lines of one of the most important fights we have ever faced in history in this country: the right to defend truth and reason, evidence and facts,” she said...

The former first lady added that libraries are critical to the well-being of rural communities and provide invaluable resources to help immigrants and refugees learn English and “know their rights.”"

Spider-Man: Homecoming Cast and Crew Address Film’s Diversity; Comic Book Resources, June 26, 2017

Lisa Granshaw, Comic Book Resources; Spider-Man: Homecoming Cast and Crew Address Film’s Diversity

"Everything that’s been released so far about Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios’ upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming film has shown an impressive range of diversity among the cast. Its level of inclusion and representation is something not seen often enough in superhero films — or movies in general — and has not gone unnoticed before its July release...

Actor Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel), who plays Flash Thompson in the film, discussed how it felt to represent the Latino community in the well-known comic book franchise.

“It’s wonderful,” Revolori, who is American of Guatemala descent, told reporters including CBR. “I think the fact that when you see the film, there’s not a single line of exposition as to explain why I look the way I look and I think that’s wonderful that I just am in the movie. It’s not about being a certain race, it’s not about doing anything. I think that’s the kind of diversity we need in Hollywood now."

Some white ‘Star Trek’ fans are unhappy about remake’s diversity; Washington Post, June 23, 2017

Travis M. Andrews, Washington Post; Some white ‘Star Trek’ fans are unhappy about remake’s diversity

"Indeed, the ‘Star Trek’ series, as Manu Saadia put it in the New Yorker, has always been about inclusion, diversity and breaking down human-made social barriers. Saadia wrote:
Each successive “Star Trek” cast has been like a model United Nations. Nichols’s black communications specialist worked alongside George Takei’s Japanese helmsman and Walter Koenig’s (admittedly campy) Russian navigator. Leonard Nimoy’s Spock was half-human, half-Vulcan, and he bore traces of the actor’s own upbringing in a poor Jewish neighborhood in Boston. The Vulcan hand greeting, for instance, which Nimoy invented, is the Hebrew letter shin, the symbol for the Shekhinah, a feminine aspect of the divine. The original series aired only a few years after the Cuban missile crisis, at the height of the Vietnam War and the space race, and its vision of a reconciled humanity was bold. Nichols, who considered leaving the show after the first season, has said that she was persuaded to stay on by Martin Luther King, Jr., who told her that he watched “Star Trek” with his wife and daughters.
This isn’t the first time an entry in the “Star Trek” series has come under fire for including ever more diverse characters. Just last year, the film “Star Trek Beyond” portrayed Sulu as a gay man. It was the first time the series featured an openly gay character, and some fans were furious."

Three CNN employees resign over retracted story on Russia ties; Washington Post, June 26, 2017

Erik Wemple, Washington Post; Three CNN employees resign over retracted story on Russia ties

"CNN announced on Monday afternoon that three network officials are leaving their jobs over the incident: Frank, the reporter on the story; Eric Lichtblau, a recent CNN addition from the New York Times who edited the piece; and Lex Haris, the executive editor of “CNN Investigates.” The moves follow an investigation carried out by CNN executives over the weekend, with the conclusion that longstanding network procedures for publishing stories weren’t properly followed. “There was a significant breakdown in process,” says a CNN source. “There were editorial checks and balances within the organization that weren’t met.”...

Regarding the personnel changes, a CNN source said, “The individuals all stated that they accepted responsibility and wanted to resign.”...

Critics will long cite this episode as evidence that CNN is precisely what Trump has called it — “fake news.” Yet the departure of three journalists immediately following a mangled story provides a counterpoint to this particular slander. Purveyors of fake news, after all, don’t take drastic personnel moves following a bogus story. They rejoice in it."

Monday, June 26, 2017

Teaching Machines to Understand – and Summarize – Privacy Legalese; The Conversation US via Scientific American, June 24, 2017

Karuna Pande Joshi, Tim Finin, The Conversation US via Scientific American; Teaching Machines to Understand – and Summarize – Privacy Legalese

"As computer science researchers, we are working on ways artificial intelligence algorithms could digest these massive texts and extract their meaning, presenting it in terms regular people can understand."

5 Tools To Help Protect Your Privacy Online; KTLA.com, June 26, 2017

Rich Demuro, KTLA.com; 5 Tools To Help Protect Your Privacy Online

"There are lots of ways that websites track you online - here are 5 useful tools to help protect your privacy.
Insecure connections and trackers galore are just a few of the things we're up against when we surf online. Websites want to know our location, shopping habits, and more. Here are some of the tools you can use to take back at least some of your privacy."

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Google begins removing private medical records from search results; Guardian, June 23, 2017

Samuel Gibbs, Guardian; Google begins removing private medical records from search results

"Google has started removing private medical records from its search results, after adjusting its policy regarding personal information.

The change was made on Thursday to include the “confidential, personal medical records of private people” in the bracket of information Google may remove unprompted from search results. Other examples of such information include national or government issued identification numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and images of signatures.

The leaking of private medical records can be extremely damaging to the victims, both financially and emotionally, with future prospects affected and private lives of the vulnerable exposed. Given that Google’s indexing system will capture anything that’s publicly accessible on the internet, leaks such as those created by an Indian pathology lab which uploaded more than 43,000 patient records in December, including names and HIV blood test results, can be particularly damaging.

The last change to the removal policy was made in 2015 with the addition of “nude or sexually explicit images that were uploaded or shared without your consent” to cover so-called revenge porn."

Inspector gadget: how smart devices are outsmarting criminals; Guardian, June 23, 2017

Rory Carroll, Guardian; 

Inspector gadget: how smart devices are outsmarting criminals


"Richard Dabate told police a masked intruder assaulted him and killed his wife in their Connecticut home. His wife’s Fitbit told another story and Dabate was charged with the murder.

James Bates said an acquaintance accidentally drowned in his hot tub in Arkansas. Detectives suspected foul play and obtained data from Bates’s Amazon Echo device. Bates was charged with murder.

Ross Compton told investigators he woke up to find his Ohio home on fire and climbed through a window to escape the flames. Compton’s pacemaker suggested otherwise. He was charged with arson and insurance fraud.

All three men, besides pleading innocence, have one thing in common: digital devices may help put them behind bars and etch them in criminal history as some of the first perpetrators busted by the internet of things...

[Brian Jackson, a criminal justice scholar at the Rand Corporationwarned technology was outpacing debate over privacy. “The general public isn’t aware of the full capabilities. It’s a symptom of our love of technology and lack of detailed skepticism.”

Trump's Lies; New York Times, June 23, 2017

David Leonhardt and Stuart A. Thompson, New York Times; Trump's Lies

"Many Americans have become accustomed to President Trump’s lies. But as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them. So we have catalogued nearly every outright lie he has told publicly since taking the oath of office."

Friday, June 23, 2017

Elsevier Wins $15 Million in Copyright Suit Against Piracy Sites; Chronicle of Higher Education, June 22, 2017

Clara Turnage, Chronicle of Higher Education; Elsevier Wins $15 Million in Copyright Suit Against Piracy Sites

"A federal court has ruled in favor of one of the world’s largest science publishers in its lawsuit against websites that provide free, pirated access to millions of scholarly-journal articles, Nature.com reported on Thursday.

In a judgment handed down this week, Judge Robert W. Sweet of the U.S. District Court in New York City ruled for the company, Elsevier, in the absence of any representatives of the defendants, which include Sci-Hub, LibGen, and related sites, and awarded the publisher $15 million in damages for copyright infringement."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

What is the future of privacy, surveillance and policing technologies under Trump?; CBS News, June 22, 2017

Jonathan Ernst, CBS News; What is the future of privacy, surveillance and policing technologies under Trump?

"As developing policing technologies continue to outpace laws restricting their use, and as Mr. Trump and top members of his administration like Attorney General Jeff Sessions take a hard line against illegal immigration, terrorism and crime, experts in constitutional law and civil liberties fear the lack of an accompanying conversation on privacy protections could contribute to the erosion of Fourth Amendment rights.

The Fourth Amendment guarantees the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures."

"I think we will see a push from the Trump administration to expand surveillance powers, and that of course could directly implicate Fourth Amendment protections," said Christopher Slobogin, a professor at Vanderbilt University Law School who has studied and written on Fourth Amendment, privacy and surveillance issues for years.
"And they're going to push I think also for greater militarization of the police, which could affect Fourth Amendment issues," Slobogin added."

Many genetic testing sites ‘fail to outline privacy implications’; The Irish Times, June 22, 2017

Elaine Edwards, The Irish Times; Many genetic testing sites ‘fail to outline privacy implications’

"Many websites offering genetic testing for commercial purposes fail to outline the privacy implications of such tests, Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon has said.

Speaking at the inaugural Data Summit in Dublin organised by the Department of the Taoiseach, Ms Dixon outlined the challenges to privacy from the so-called digital revolution, but also the opportunities she said new European Union legislation would bring.

The commissioner noted “fantastically positive examples” of what data-driven technology had given us, including better understanding of climate change, combating hospital infections and identifying genetic markers for cancer.

However, Ms Dixon said context was king in assessing the circumstances in which data was being processed." 

Heads of national US teachers’ unions slam Israel’s proposed ban on political opinions in classrooms; Cleveland Jewish News, June 19, 2017

Cleveland Jewish News; Heads of national US teachers’ unions slam Israel’s proposed ban on political opinions in classrooms

"The heads of the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors jointly condemned a law proposed by Israel’s education minister that would bar the expression of political views in classrooms.

“The ‘code of ethics’ that the government of Israel is considering for the country’s academic institutions is a threat not only to academic freedom in Israel, but to Israel’s standing as a democracy,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten and AAUP President Rudy Fichtenbaum in a joint statement Monday. Both Weingarten and Fichtenbaum are Jewish.

The proposed code of ethics for institutes of higher education, spearheaded by Israel’s education minister, Naftali Bennett, has spurred a fierce debate in Israel about the role of politics in the classroom. An organization of Israel’s university chiefs has rejected the code as governmental overreach."

Make This Obstruction Thing Go Away; Slate, June 22, 2017

Dahlia Lithwick, Slate; Make This Obstruction Thing Go Away

"Much has been made of the fact that Trump fired his FBI Director James Comey either because of Comey’s Russia investigation or not because of it. Much has been made of the fact that he fired Sally Yates because he didn’t like the advice she offered about Michael Flynn and that he fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara because Bharara wouldn’t return his phone calls. Trump also makes endless businessman-y noises about his plans to fire Rod Rosenstein; Robert Mueller; and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions. And in the meantime, he surrounds himself with other lawyers, many of whom have no experience in government service but seemingly infinite experience in emptying his ashtrays. The personal attorneys he’s recently brought on to deal with the FBI investigation (which he claims doesn’t exist, incidentally) include a fellow who appears to be engaging in the same branding and get-rich side gigs that Trump dabbles in himself and another lawyer who was on the losing side of the massive Trump University suit for which the president had to pay $25 million to settle claims from students who alleged they’d been defrauded. Nobody should be surprised, then, that Trump’s personal lawyer is now doing work that should be done by the White House Counsel’s office. We also shouldn’t be surprised that some of the Trump ashtray-emptiers now have to hire their own ashtray-emptiers. Nobody’s ever said “no” to those guys either.

This pattern goes a long way toward explaining why most serious Washington lawyers want nothing to do with the president’s dubious criminal defense dream team. Lawyers who have been trained to answer to the Constitution first and their wealthy clients far later don’t want to be in the position of having to tell the world’s largest preschooler that sometimes no bendy straw for the juice box really means no bendy straw for the juice box."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Current copyright regime makes entertainment industry boring; The Daily Texan, June 18, 2017

Usmaan Hasan, The Daily Texan; Current copyright regime makes entertainment industry boring

"The current system of copyright and intellectual property protections quells artistic expression gives consumers the short end of the stick.
Mickey Mouse, as a property of Disney, enjoys bipartisan support in Congress. He was created in 1928, and under the existing copyright regime of the time, Disney’s right to Mickey should have ended in 1956 at the soonest, 1984 at the latest. Yet with some Disney magic, without fail, Congress expands copyright protections every time the Mickey is about to lapse into the public domain.
The hypocrisy coming from Disney is staggering. It has gained its immense wealth by monetizing properties in the public domain – like Cinderella, a centuries old fairy tale owned by no one – lobbying for copyright protections for those properties, and then reworking properties while constantly expanding the lifetime of their protections. It is a company that has managed to exercise artistic reinterpretation of cultural touchstones while making it nearly impossible for others to do the same. In fact, Disney has made its wealth by making movies on at least 50 works in the public domain."

Can words kill people?; Washington Post, June 20, 2017

Kathleen Parker, Washington Post; Can words kill people?

"Too much free speech is better than too little, the courts have decided.

But what rules apply when a teenager allegedly persuades her boyfriend to kill himself? Aren’t we free to say whatever we choose in a private conversation with another person?..

Carter may have been despicable for her damning encouragement, but we should be very clear: She didn’t kill anyone. Words do matter, but they’re not lethal."

How Privacy Purists Are Helping Criminals; Investor's Business Daily, June 20, 2017

Betsy McCaughey, Investor's Business Daily; How Privacy Purists Are Helping Criminals

"Privacy purists  across the political spectrum — including the libertarian  Cato Institute — are lining up against law enforcement. They argue that the Fourth Amendment guarantees Americans must be  "secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects" from unreasonable searches. That's a precious right.

But as the store owners robbed by Carpenter will tell you, there's also a need to be secure from criminals.

Not to mention terrorists.

The Carpenter case involves records of calls made in the past. What about a new technology police departments are using to track cellphone locations in real time? It can track fugitives, find abducted children, even foil terrorist attacks.

It's a suitcase-size device called a Stingray that mimics cell towers."

Cisco wants to balance privacy with security; SFGate, June 20, 2017

Marissa Lang, SFGate; Cisco wants to balance privacy with security

"It’s a common trade-off in cybersecurity: Do you want privacy, or do you want protection?

To be more secure, businesses typically have to accept some level of surveillance, inviting third-party companies to track traffic and monitor network data for intruders, threats or malicious software.

Cisco wants to do away with that choice."

Privacy-minded Firefox Focus browser comes to Android; Engadget, June 20, 2017

Jon Fingas, Engadget; Privacy-minded Firefox Focus browser comes to Android

"If you liked the privacy-centric surfing of Mozilla's Firefox Focus browser but wished it were available for your Google-powered phone, you're in luck. Mozilla has released an Android version of Focus that, like its iOS counterpart, blocks ad trackers to both limit nosy marketers and (in some cases) speed up browsing. You can also slap an "erase" button to remove what few traces of your activity are left."

GOP Firm Exposed U.S. Voters' Personal Data; The Atlantic, June 20, 2017

Aria Bendix, The Atlantic; GOP Firm Exposed U.S. Voters' Personal Data

"For two weeks in June, the personal information of nearly every U.S. voter was available on a publicly accessible Amazon cloud server after a marketing firm hired by the Republican National Committee (RNC) failed to password protect its data.

The BBC reports that the leak represents the largest breach of electoral data in the U.S. to date, leaving the information of nearly 200 million registered voters exposed. While the leaked files did not include voters’ Social Security or credit card information, they did include personal details, such as their birthdates, home addresses, and telephone numbers. In some cases, voters’ ethnicities, religions, and political views were also made available."

Derogatory trademarks aren’t about free speech. They’re about discrimination.; Washington Post, June 21, 2017

Robert S. Chang, Washington Post; Derogatory trademarks aren’t about free speech. They’re about discrimination.

"Unfortunately, Reyna’s hypothetical is an actuality of sorts. In Florida and other states, gun store owners have placed signs on their establishments declaring themselves to be a “Muslim Free Zone.” As the owner of one of the stores, Florida Gun Supply, said: “My goal is to make sure they don’t feel welcome here so I don’t have the need to discriminate in the first place.

Following Matal v. Tam, nothing will prevent the owner from obtaining federal registration of “Muslim Free Zone” as a trademark, accomplishing through speech what he might not be able to do through direct denial of service. For businesses not covered by Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, nothing will prevent the creation and federal registration of trademarks such as “No Gays Allowed” or, for that matter, “Whites Only.”

The federal government, though, should not be required to register these trademarks. The government should not be required to participate in discrimination.

This is where we are following the Supreme Court decision. This is the mischief that will come."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Free Speech at the Supreme Court; New York Times, June 19, 2017

Editorial Board, New York Times; Free Speech at the Supreme Court

"The Supreme Court reaffirmed core free-speech principles in two cases on Monday, both decided without dissent...

"The Patent and Trademark Office rejected the name under a provision in a 70-year-old federal law prohibiting the registration of trademarks that “disparage” any “persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols.”

Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said the law violates a “bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.” That’s the right call. The First Amendment bars the government from discriminating among speakers based on their viewpoints. In this case, the Trademark Office did that by blocking only registrations for trademarks it determined to have negative connotations. The free-speech clause doesn’t apply to the government’s own speech, but registered trademarks can’t be put in that category — otherwise the government would have to argue that it endorses each of the more than two million trademarks it has already registered.

The decision is likely to help the Washington Redskins, who lost their trademark protections in 2014 after years of complaints from Native American groups. At the time, this page supported the Trademark Office’s decision, and we still regard the Redskins name as offensive. Based on this case, however, we’ve since reconsidered our underlying position."

Criticized Team Names Get a Legal Lift, but the Price Could Be High; New York Times, June 19, 2017

Ken Belson, New York Times; Criticized Team Names Get a Legal Lift, but the Price Could Be High

"After years of mounting disapproval involving one of the N.F.L.’s most established and lucrative brands, the Redskins cheered the ruling, which the team most likely will use to seek the restoration of trademark protections the government took away in 2014 on the grounds the nickname was offensive.

“I am THRILLED!” the team’s owner, Dan Snyder, said in a statement. “Hail to the Redskins.”...

Still, while those who have resisted name changes might see a symbolic lift from the court, they will have to weigh whether keeping their names hurts their image or even their bottom line.

“What the Supreme Court has said is you don’t have to change your name if you don’t want to, because you can protect it with a federally protected trademark,” said Josh Schiller, a lawyer at Boies Schiller Flexner in New York who specializes in sports and media law. “But culturally, it is important to consider whether the name still offends people, and whether it will build good will around the mark.”"

EU seeks to outlaw 'backdoors' in new data privacy proposals; Guardian, June 19, 2017

Samuel Gibbs, Guardian; EU seeks to outlaw 'backdoors' in new data privacy proposals

"The ePrivacy directive change proposals seek to bring the 2002 law in line with the newer GDPR and attempt to keep pace with technological development. They also cover the tracking of users for advertising, the collection of metadata and behavioural data, an the explicit consent required to do so.

The amendments will have to journey through a multi-stage process including approval by the European parliament and European council before becoming law, but they were welcomed by privacy and security experts."
Julieta Chiquillo, Dallas Morning News; 

Why the Supreme Court protects offensive trademarks but not Texas plates with Confederate flag


"When Alito struck down efforts to equate the Oregon case with the one in Texas, he highlighted three points:
First, license plates have long been used by states to convey messages. Second, license plates are usually identified with the state because they are considered a form of government ID, one that is manufactured by the state and generally designed by the state. Third, Texas "maintained direct control" of the messages in its plates.
"None of these factors are present in this case," Alito wrote in The Slants opinion."

Job search ethics: The good, the bad, and the ugly; Science, June 14, 2017

David G. Jensen, Science; Job search ethics: The good, the bad, and the ugly

"It’s tough to write about ethics. There’s always a chance that I’ll sound like I’m preaching, which isn’t a great style for a columnist. And I’ve had my own job market infractions, so I’m not squeaky clean. But it’s an important topic, so here we go. The bottom line is that there’s a good way to handle certain elements of the job search, a bad way—and an ugly, dirty way. Follow the lessons in these examples to keep clean."

Monday, June 19, 2017

Restoring Privacy Protections for Californians; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), June 19, 2017

Kate Tummarello, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Restoring Privacy Protections for Californians

"Californians now have a chance to reclaim crucial online privacy protections.

Earlier this year, Congress narrowly voted to repeal federal privacy rules that kept your ISP from selling information about who you are and what you do online without your permission. Today, California legislators are introducing new state legislation—the California Broadband Internet Privacy Act, A.B. 375 (Chau)— that would effectively reinstate those rules for Internet users in California.

ISPs are our gatekeepers to the Internet, and we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our privacy to these companies just to get online...

With A.B. 375, we have a chance to protect our privacy from ISPs’ privacy violations in California.
Don’t let ISPs put their profits ahead of your privacy. Tell your state representatives to support A.B. 375 (Chau)."

Slants Win Trademark Case, Leader Tells Redskins to Drop Name Voluntarily; U.S. News & World Report, June 19, 2017

Steven Nelson, U.S. News & World Report; 

Slants Win Trademark Case, Leader Tells Redskins to Drop Name Voluntarily


"The 8-0 ruling likely clears the way for the Redskins football team to retain trademarks contested under that ban. But Simon Tam, the band's founder and namesake of Matal v. Tam, says the NFL team should change its name anyhow.

"Just because something is permissible, it doesn't mean it's the right thing," Tam told U.S. News after his band's victory. "I think it's their social responsibility to do that.""

The Supreme Court gives the country some necessary guidance on free speech; Washington Post, June 19, 2017

Editorial Board, Washington Post; The Supreme Court gives the country some necessary guidance on free speech

"THE UNITED STATES is engaged just now in a freewheeling debate about — freewheeling debate. Or, to put it more precisely, about how freewheeling debate should normally be. The struggle is being waged across various battlegrounds — college campuses, social media, New York theater, even the air-conditioned offices in which federal employees decide whether to protect trademarks, such as that of Washington’s National Football League franchise.

Now comes the Supreme Court with a strong statement in favor of free speech, to include speech that many find offensive. With the support of all eight justices who participated in the case (new Justice Neil M. Gorsuch being the exception), the court struck down a 71-year-old law requiring the Patent and Trademark Office to deny registration to brands that may “disparage” people or bring them “into contemp[t] or disrepute.” The ruling means that a dance-rock band may henceforth call itself “the Slants” on the same legal basis that, say, Mick Jagger’s bunch uses “the Rolling Stones” — even though many Asian Americans find the term derogatory and demeaning...

As the court’s decision reminds us, constitutional and decent are not the same thing."

The Slants Win Supreme Court Battle Over Band's Name In Trademark Dispute; NPR, June 19, 2017

Bill Chappell, NPR; The Slants Win Supreme Court Battle Over Band's Name In Trademark Dispute

[Kip Currier: A big 8-0 U.S. Supreme Court decision for Asian American rock band The Slants today. I met The Slants at an April 27, 2017 event, hosted by Duquesne University's School of Law and Mary Pappert School of Music, discussing conflicting aspects of U.S. trademark law (specifically, the Lanham Act's provision addressing "disparaging trademarks") and the 1st Amendment and freedom of expression. Some photos I took at that event:]




"Members of the Asian-American rock band The Slants have the right to call themselves by a disparaging name, the Supreme Court says, in a ruling that could have broad impact on how the First Amendment is applied in other trademark cases."

"Ripple Effect"; Bizarro, Go Comics, June 19, 2017

Dan Piraro, Bizarro, Go Comics; "Ripple Effect"

Amazon has a patent to keep you from comparison shopping while you’re in its stores; Washington Post, June 16, 2017

rian Fung, Washington Post; Amazon has a patent to keep you from comparison shopping while you’re in its stores

"Amazon was awarded a patent May 30 that could help it choke off a common issue faced by many physical stores: Customers’ use of smartphones to compare prices even as they walk around a shop. The phenomenon, often known as mobile “window shopping,” has contributed to a worrisome decline for traditional retailers.

But Amazon now has the technology to prevent that type of behavior when customers enter any of its physical stores and log onto the WiFi networks there. Titled “Physical Store Online Shopping Control,” Amazon’s patent describes a system that can identify a customer’s Internet traffic and sense when the smartphone user is trying to access a competitor’s website. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos is also the owner of The Washington Post.)...

As Amazon increasingly bridges the online-physical divide, regulators should be on the lookout for potentially anti-competitive behavior, said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.
“Amazon knows younger consumers increasingly want home delivery of grocery products and online ordering. But there are huge privacy issues,” he said. “Amazon has created a largely stealth Big Data digital apparatus that has not gotten the scrutiny it requires.”

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Theft of intellectual property is a crime; St. Cloud Times, June 17, 2017

Karen Cyson, St. Cloud Times, sctimes.com; Theft of intellectual property is a crime

[Kip Currier: Wow...do we ever need more Intellectual Property education and awareness; lots of misconceptions and confusion out there. 
(Brief aside: See this story I posted a few days ago highlighting widespread confusion between copyrights and trademarks.)

This Op-Ed by Karen Cyson presents a wildly unbalanced understanding of the checks-and-balances codified within U.S. copyright law; regardless of whether one is or is not swayed by the facts of the alleged infringement. One of the biggest issues I have with this piece is that copyright law is often much more grey, more dependent on the specific facts of each particular case than Cyson makes it out to be:

No mention at all about whether the defense/doctrine of fair use might be applicable.

No acknowledgement of the increasing role of transformativeness within copyright law.

No insights into the downsides of copyright for the quilting community. No benchmarking comparisons made between the fashion industry (where there is no copyright protection for designs, at present, though various bills have been introduced over the past several years) and the quilting community.

And no distinctions between "attribution" and "infringement".

For an informative, more balanced look at the issues, read Tech Dirt's Glyn Moody (2012) post 
What Quilting's Legal Battles Can Teach Us About Copyright  ]

"We all know copying is wrong. If someone else wrote it, designed it, sang it, filmed it, drew it or photographed it, it's wrong to copy their work. It's illegal...

Theft of intellectual property — anyone's — is a crime. You can quote me. With attribution.

This is the opinion of Karen Cyson, a child-care provider in Stearns County and 
coordinator of Central MN Mensa. Her column is published the third Sunday of the month."