Young Journalist contest: win admission to the HOPE hacker conference

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This summer, NYC's Pennsylvania Hotel will once again fill with joyous hackers as 2600 Magazine celebrates the 11th Hackers on Planet Earth conference (HOPE): I'm giving a keynote, and if you're a student or young journalist, you can win admission to the conference by writing an article about subjects of interest to the event. Read the rest

It's getting harder and harder to use gag clauses to silence laid off workers in America

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In America, it's common practice to make severance pay for laid-off workers contingent on signing a "nondisparagement clause" that prohibits workers from ever speaking ill of their former employers -- some contracts I've seen even prohibit revealing the existence of these clauses, combining silence with secrecy. A winning combination if you're a rapacious corporation engaged in legally questionable labor practices. Read the rest

Web Sheriff's legal scare strategy: throw everything at the wall, hope something sticks

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Web Sheriff has been retained by the mysterious celeb(s) at the center of the super injunction over an olive-oil threesome in a paddling pool, and as we learned, merely mentioning that such a thing exists is enough to lure them out of their caves and onto your doorstep, from which vantage they will endlessly pastebomb a series of legal threats, each more bizarre and incoherent than the last. Read the rest

Prestigious Pets of Dallas wants $1M from customers who said they overfed a fish

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If you hire Prestigious Pets of Dallas, TX to take care of your pets, you have to sign a sleazy nondisparagement contract through which you promise not to complain in public about the company's service. Read the rest

DDoSers sell attacks for $5 on Fivver

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Many years ago, EFF co-founder John Gilmore and I were discussing the prevalence of botnets, which are commonly used to launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that overwhelm websites with floods of traffic; John said that if the botnets were really on the rise at the reported rate, we should expect to see a massive crash in the price of DDoS services, following simple supply/demand logic. Read the rest

Smart-meter vendor says that if we know how their system works, the terrorists will win

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Phil Mocek filed a public records request to find out how Seattle's new smart meters -- supplied by Landis and Gyr -- will work. As Mocek writes, these meters are based on "unspecified and unverifiable sensors that monitor activity inside of private property and can communicate collected information in real-time to unspecified machines in remote locations, the workings of which are obscured from ratepayers, with interfaces used by [the city] that require specialized equipment and are thus completely unavailable to ratepayers for personal use or monitoring and verification of information communicated, is already shrouded in secrecy and seemingly proceeding despite repeated voicing of public concern and complete lack of public justification of expense." Read the rest

Nintendo claims ownership over fans' Minecraft/Mario mashups

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Nintendo continues its long-running campaign of legal harassment against its biggest fans: this time, they're targeting fan-videos showing gameplay from the official, licensed Mario/Minecraft mashup pack for the Wii U. Read the rest

China's comment army posted 488m things last year

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The Chinese government's comment army generates nearly half a billion comments a year on apps and social networks, doing all it can to sway opinion in favor of the party. The vast message-managing operation spans the globe, reports Paul Mozur.

The common belief that they are paid 50 cents per post leads people in China to call them the Fifty Cent Party.

A new study says those people are closer to the government than previously thought.

The study, from researchers at Harvard University, says the legions of online commenters are not all freelancers paid by the post. In fact, it says that most are government employees, preaching the principles of the Chinese Communist Party on social media while carrying out their jobs in the local tax bureau or at a county government office.

The key technique is distraction — don't rebut, change the subject — all driven by a growing belief among authorities that direct censorship is too crude and obvious. Read the rest

Apple rejects game about Palestine because political messages disqualify games from consideration

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Liyla and the Shadows of War (Google Play link) is a game about a child's struggles living in the Gaza strip, and Apple says it is ineligible for consideration for inclusion in the Ios App Store because it would be "more appropriate to categorize your app in News or Reference for example." Read the rest

Arts commissioner enraged over Mark Ryden's 'anti-Christian' work in Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art

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Our pals at the excellent art magazine Hi-Fructose partnered with MOCA, which curated what appears to be an incredible pop surrealism retrospective opening next week at the Virginia Museum of contemporary Art. Last week, one of the commissioners on the Virginia Beach Arts and Humanities Commission saw a painting by renowned artist Mark Ryden and flipped out. From WAVY:

“Look at this, she’s got a saw in her hand cutting off a piece of ham with the words on the ham ‘Corpus Christi.’ That is Latin for body of Christ, and the hand is dropping down and eaten by rats.” Loyola says. He also pointed out that the girl is wearing a first communion dress with a crucifix around her neck, and a figure of Jesus on a bottle of wine. Also there’s a rabbit pouring a teapot with blood is coming out.

“This is very anti-Christian and anti-Catholic. I was shocked to see this,” he says...

“She is holding the severed head, and blood is spraying up and showering her in blood. Is this what we are subsidizing at MOCA?” Loyola asks...

(MOCA executive director Debi Gray responded,) “Art is intended to be controversial. Too some degree it’s intended to spark dialog, and I am delighted it has fulfilled our mission."

Loyola countered, “I’m responding to her false claim. Obviously she feels she can do what she wants with taxpayer money. Not on my watch.”

Loyola is concerned that Ryden, in his work, pokes fun of religion.

“I am really not poking fun at religion.

Read the rest

What is Obscenity? The Story of a Good For Nothing Artist and her Pussy

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Earlier today I posted the news that Megumi Igarashi (pen name Rokudenashiko) was found guilty of obscenity for distributing a digital file containing a 3D scan of her vulva. Today also marks the publication of her graphic novel memoir, What is Obscenity?, a beautiful little book (with a cover design by Chip Kidd) that uses comics, color photos, and current events to tell Rokudenashiko's story of how she creates pussy-themed art that has the power to frighten government officials into arresting and censoring her.

A graphic memoir of a good-for-nothing Japanese artist who has been jailed twice for so-called acts of obscenity and the distribution of pornographic materials yet continues to champion the art of pussy. In a society where one can be censored, pixelated, and punished, Rokudenashiko asks what makes pussy so problematic?

Rokudenashiko (“good-for-nothing girl”) is a Japanese artist. She is known for her series of decorated vulva moulds, or "Decoman," a portmanteau of decorated and manko, slang for vagina. Distributing a 3D scan of her genitalia to crowdfunding supporters led to her arrest for alleged violation of Japanese obscenity laws.

Read the rest

Homeland Security wants to subpoena Techdirt over the identity of a hyperbolic commenter

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This week, Techdirt's Tim Cushing published a story about the Hancock County, IN Sheriff's Department officers who stole $240,000 under color of asset forfeiture. Read the rest

How standardizing DRM will make us all less secure

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After decades of fighting for open Web standards that let anyone implement software to receive and render online data, the World Wide Web Consortium changed course and created EME, a DRM system that locks up video in formats that can only be played back with the sender's blessing, and which also gives media giants the power to threaten and sue security researchers who discover bugs in their code. Read the rest

Chinese censorship: arbitrary rule changes are a form of powerful intermittent reinforcement

China's Internet censors are capricious and impossible to predict -- but this isn't because China's censors are incompetent, rather, they're tapping into one of the most powerful forms of conditioning, the uncertainty born of intermittent reinforcement. Read the rest

China's Internet censors order ban on video of toddler threatening brutal cops

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China's Internet censors have ordered the country's social media companies to block further sharing of a viral video that shows a toddler threatening members of the notorious urban management police squad with a long pole, telling them to leave his grandmother alone. Read the rest

How British journalists talk about people they're not allowed to talk about

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The "super-injunction" (previously) is a weird feature of English and Welsh law through which the very wealthy can hire bulldog lawyers to get judges to pass an order prohibiting any newspaper or journalist from disclosing true facts about them, on pain of jail-time. Read the rest

Texas: prisoners whose families maintain their social media presence face 45 days in solitary

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According to a new offender manual from Texas Department of Criminal Justice, prisoners whose families maintain a social media presence to call attention to their incarceration will be liable to harsh punishment, including up to 45 days in solitary, loss of privileges, and extra work duty. Read the rest

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