Saturday, December 31, 2011

SOPA Track

From Mashable:
SOPA Track will tell you if your elected officials have expressly stated their support or disapproval of SOPA/PIPA along with the amount of money they’ve raised from pro and anti-SOPA organizations. An office phone number and links to each Congressperson’s social media profiles are also included.

I'm not too certain about the accuracy of SOPA Track regarding their allocation of contributors to "For SOPA" or "Against SOPA." Even if it is not as accurate as we would all like it to be it is a great start and kudos to Randy Meech for the idea and taking the time to develop it.

For more see an earlier post: An Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the United States Congress and see the discussions at Slashdot.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What not to do in a Customer Survey

I've seen a lot of sites that belong on my "what not to do list" but this is one of the worst I've seen in a while. I tried to leave a comment on MetroPCS but was unable to without answering numerous other questions. MetroPCS requires customers to answer all 30 questions in order to submit a comment.  I understand the desire to get customer feedback on a number of issues but this is ridiculous. So ridiculous that you have to wonder if they really want user feedback.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bloggers are not Protected by the First Amendement Freedom of Press Clause

Another travesty of justice, a blogger is sued by the company she is lambasting in her blog. The Federal judge rules that the blogger (Crystal Cox) in Finance Group v. Cox is not a journalist and is therefore NOT "entitled to the protections that media defendants enjoy in libel cases."

[Judge] Hernandez held that, under Oregon law, non-media defendants in libel cases are not entitled to any First Amendment protection and thus can be found liable even if they take reasonable care to assure the accuracy of their statements.

This minority view is rooted in the fact that all of the U.S. Supreme Court cases establishing First Amendment protections in libel cases involved news media defendants. While most state courts have held that the reasoning in these cases applies to non-media speakers, a few have clung to the view that private speech about matters of private concern is not constitutionally significant.
Troubling rulings paved way for blogger’s libel conviction

More than that, the Freedom of the Press clause, at the time of the signing of the US Constitution (1787) applied to all written pronouncements. There was no press as we know it today. Broadsides (analog cousins of today's blogs) could be published by anyone and were still be protected by the 1st A.

This ruling could be a horrible precursor of things to come. Libel is libel, but you needn't be hired by a news organization to be covered by Freedom of the Press. According to Judge Hernadez: “Without any controlling or persuasive authority on the issue, I decline to conclude that defendant in this case is ‘media,’ triggering the negligence standard.”

I would love to see if there are any positives to come out of this opinion. Investigative journalism cannot be the sole province of authorized entities.

UPDATE: 2/25/2012

See Finance Group v Cox

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

EU Cookie Compliance Regulations Remain

The UK continues to double down on their foolishly implemented cookie law.

You must provide clear and comprehensive information about any cookies you are using.

I completely respect the quest for privacy but asking people to sign off on cookie laws each time they come to a website is as foolish as to have people sign a form each time they enter a store that has a security camera. As mentioned in earlier posts one solution would be for consumers to digitally sign once and have it apply to all sites OR, more importantly, allow cookie use for basic site analytics and functions but restrict more invasive use that allows for the tracking of users across multiple domains.

For more read ‘Must try harder’ on cookies compliance, says ICO

Friday, December 16, 2011

An Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the United States Congress

Once again the US Congress, in all its wisdom, is trying to solve a problem - copyright infringement and piracy - but doing it poorly. I applaud the effort but rise in opposition. I quote from an open letter dated yesterday written by some of the greats (Vint Cerf, Esther Dyson, Alexandre McKinsie and 80 others)

If enacted, either of these bills will create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure. Regardless of recent amendments to SOPA, both bills will risk fragmenting the Internet's global domain name system (DNS) and have other capricious technical consequences. In exchange for this, such legislation would engender censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers while hampering innocent parties' right and ability to communicate and express themselves online.

Read the entire Letter at

EDIT 12/20/2011

Here's an excellent article on the topic: Don't Break the Internet published by the Stanford Law Review On-Line.

Directing the remedial power of the courts towards the Internet’s core technical infrastructure in this sledgehammer fashion has impact far beyond intellectual property rights enforcement—it threatens the fundamental principle of interconnectivity that is at the very heart of the Internet.


Court-ordered removal or replacement of entries from the series of interlocking databases that reside in domain name servers and domain name registries around the globe undermines the principle of domain name universality—the principle that all domain name servers, wherever they may be located across the network, will return the same answer when queried with respect to the Internet address of any specific domain name. Much Internet communication, and many of the thousands of protocols and applications that together provide the platform for that communication, are premised on this principle.
Indeed, this approach could actually have an effect directly contrary to what its proponents intend: if large swaths of websites are cut out of the Internet addressing system, those sites—and the users who want to reach them—may well gravitate towards alternative, unregulated domain name addressing systems, making it even harder for governments to exercise their legitimate regulatory role in Internet activities.