Techdirt is being sued by the "I invented email" guy and needs your money

Indie news outlet Techdirt is being sued for $15M by Shiva Ayyadurai, who claims to have invented email in 1978, eight years after Ray Tomlinson sent an email over ARPANET; Ayyadurai is represented by Charles Harder, a key figure in the Gawker-killing legal campaign that Peter Thiel financed, and who is also representing Melania Trump in her $150m lawsuit against The Daily Mail. Read the rest

The World Wide Web Consortium wants to give companies a veto over warnings about browser defects

Since 2013, when the W3C decided to standardize DRM for web videos, activists, security researchers and disabled rights advocates have been asking the organization what it plans on doing about the laws that make it illegal to bypass DRM, even to add features to help blind people, or to improve on browsers, or just to point out the defects in browsers that put billions of web users at risk. Read the rest

Enterprise firewalls are man-in-the-middling HTTPS sessions like crazy, and weakening security

A group of security researchers from academe and industry (including perennial Boing Boing favorite J Alex Halderman) have published an important paper documenting the prevalence and problems of firewalls that break secure web sessions in order to scan their contents for undesirable and malicious content. Read the rest

Gun violence researchers at UC Davis are racing to save the ATF's gun violence data before Trump blows it away

Magdalena Cerdá and Garen Wintemute are epidemiological researchers with US Davis's Violence Prevention Research Program; when they witnessed the Trump administration's mass-deletion of publicly funded EPA research, they feared gun violence stats would be next. Read the rest

Thailand's military-appointed Assembly unanimously passes an internet law combining the world's worst laws

On Dec 15, an amendment to Thailand's 2007 Computer Crime Act passed its National Legislative Assembly -- a body appointed by the country's military after the 2014 coup -- unanimously, and in 180 days, the country will have a new internet law that represents a grab bag of the worst provisions of the worst internet laws in the world, bits of the UK's Snooper's Charter, America's Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the dregs of many other failed laws. Read the rest

When tech leaders meet with Trump tomorrow, here's what they need to tell him

Execs representing the biggest tech companies in America are gathering for a meeting with Donald Trump tomorrow in New York; these companies have it in their power to spy on us, locate us, censor us, and terminally compromise the free and open internet. Read the rest

China's We Chat "shadow-bans" messages with forbidden keywords, but only for China-based accounts

The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab (previously) continues its excellent work, this time with a deep investigative piece on a sneaky form of censorship in China's popular We Chat service, where messages posted to group chats that contain words on a government blacklist are made invisible to other participants in the chat, while the original poster still sees it, giving the illusion that everyone's read the controverial message but no one found it worth commenting upon. Read the rest

Trumpism in Gambia: "marbles" election sparks internet shutdown

Deji writes, "Gambia is a small country but this story is pretty crazy. The president, who is seeking his 6th term, is using Trump rhetoric surrounding the 'rigging of elections.' People are voting by using marbles. Meanwhile, opposition activists and journalists have been arrested -- and the government STILL shut off the internet. It seems the president has lost his marbles." Read the rest

Amid a media blackout of the Standing Rock protests, law enforcement targets the rare journalists on the scene

Unicorn Riot is a media collective that formed in response to the lack of media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Tar Sands Blockade; their news comes direct from the front lines of some of the most significant and under-reported conflicts in the world, in the form of unedited livestreams from the conflict zone, and edited highlight reels after the fact. Read the rest

Turkish dictator fires 15,000 more public workers, shuts down 375 more NGOs and 9 more news outlets

Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues his massive, authoritarian purge of his country's public institutions, news media and civil society groups with a fresh wave of public-sector firings, bringing the total number of jettisoned public servants to 100,000. Read the rest

Facebook creates censorship tool to convince China to allow it to do business there

The New York Times reports that Facebook is completing work on censorship software to accommodate demands made by the Chinese government.

The social network has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas, according to three current and former Facebook employees, who asked for anonymity because the tool is confidential. The feature was created to help Facebook get into China, a market where the social network has been blocked, these people said. Mr. Zuckerberg has supported and defended the effort, the people added.

Filtering fraudulent propaganda is something he insists is both irrelevant and practically impossible, but explicitly censoring credible news comes so easily to him. Seems odd.

Some of us are still talking about Mark Zuckerberg as if he were the moronic child-man depicted in The Social Network, a nerd who must be sighed or screamed at until he Gets whatever human thing is escaping him. But it's long past time to accept that he's a powerful and self-aware adult businessman, as cynical as the best of them, who benefits to our detriment when we cast him in that role.

Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters Read the rest

Governments see social media as "a new front in warfare"

Propaganda, psychological warfare, and real-time surveillance were all on the agenda at the Sixth Annual Conference on Social Media Within the Defence and Military Sector. Read the rest

Petition: don't add all adult sites to the British national internet censorlist

The UK Conservative government is pressing on with their insane plan to block all adult sites (including ones that are legal for adults to access) for all UK internet users. Read the rest

Eleanor & Park: a terrifying YA romance that has rescued its readers and frightened their parents

Last week, the National Coalition Against Censorship honored Rainbow Rowell for her refusal to be back down on the frequent challenges to her multiple-award-winning, bestselling 2013 novel Eleanor & Park. I was there, and got a copy of the novel, and have read nothing since, and now that I've finished it, I find myself profoundly moved.

Kids explain how banned and challenged books helped them and even saved their lives

Banned Books Week has come and gone but we can be sure of one thing: the coming year will be marked by challenges to the same kinds of books that were controversial this year, and in years past.

Germany investigates Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook over failure to remove hate posts

Prosecutors in Germany have launched a formal investigation of Mark Zuckerberg and other executives at Facebook, the Munich prosecutor's office said Friday, over a complaint that Facebook broke German laws against hate speech and sedition by failing to remove racist hate-posts on the social media service.

Read the rest

Dr Seuss estate has crushed a kickstarter for a Seuss/Trek mashup

An all-star team of comics and science fiction people -- impressario Glenn Hauman, writer David "Tribbles" Gerrold, and illustrator Ty Templeton -- had their kickstarter for a Seuss/Trek parody "Oh, The Places You'll Boldly Go" unceremoniously shut down when the Seuss estate's notorious attack-lawyers threatened legal action, without any regard for the clear fair use at play. Read the rest

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