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

Restaurant owner acquitted after foiling police sting

Restauranteur John Horvatinovich refused to serve beer to two undercover teenagers, then let his followers know about the failed sting by sharing a picture of the underage police informants. Next thing he knew, he faced a year in jail for his tweet. Read the rest

Trump's first 4 days: a ban on disclosing scientific facts and felony charges for journalists

It's only been a handful of days since Donald Trump took office, but we're already getting strong signals about the sort of administration he intends to run: workers at US government agencies have been banned from making any public disclosures of the research they conduct at public expense until new political minders can be installed to ensure that these facts don't contradict Trump's official narrative; and six journalists have been charged with felonies for covering the protests during the inauguration.

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Six essays on media, technology and politics from Data & Society

danah boyd writes, "Yesterday, a group of us at Data & Society put out six essays on 'media, technology, politics.' Taken together, these pieces address different facets of the current public conversation surrounding propaganda, hate speech, and the US election. Although we only allude to specifics, we have been witnessing mis/disinformation campaigns for quite some time as different networks seek to manipulate both old and new media, shape political discourse, and undermine trust in institutions and information intermediaries. In short, we are concerned about the rise of a new form of propaganda that is networked, decentralized, and internet-savvy. We are also concerned about the ongoing development of harassment techniques and gaslighting, the vulnerability of old and new media to propagate fear and disinformation, and the various ways in which well-intended interventions get misappropriated. We believe that we're watching a systematic attack on democracy, equality, and freedom. There is no silver bullet to address the issues we're seeing. Instead, a healthy response is going to require engagement by many different constituencies. We see our role in this as to help inform and ground the conversation. These essays are our first attempt to address the interwoven issues we're seeing. 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

Good Comic Book Legal Defense Fund gear for #GivingTuesday

Charles from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund writes, "CBLDF is raising money to prepare for a busy 2017 this #GivingTuesday by offering exclusive Comics Are For Everybody merchandise created by Jordie Bellaire (@woahjordie) and Steven Finch (@fonografiks). Comics should be an art form that welcomes and encourages all voices and viewpoints. CBLDF's efforts to protect the First Amendment are essential in creating a climate ensuring that remains the case." Read the rest

UK regulator rules joke about Queen having sex "breached rules"

British regulators determined that a joke about Queen Elizabeth II having sex "breached" broadcasting rules.

The edition of the show, which aired in April this year, featured a panel of comedians who are given a subject which they have to prove is not funny. If the audience does laugh, the subject passes to the next contestant.

Panellist Russell Kane was asked to explain why there was nothing funny about why the Queen, who has four children, must have had sex at least four times in her life.

“Four times we have to think of republicanism as we imagine four children emerging from Her Majesty’s vulva,” said Kane to audience laughter.

Ofcom ruled that the quips, uttered on BBC Radio 4, were "not justified". Moreover, "the potential for offence was increased by the fact that these remarks were broadcast on the Queen's 90th birthday".

The show, Don't Make Me Laugh, was cancelled in the wake of the controversy, which led to a staggering 12 people writing in to complain.

I can't immediately find a clip of the segment in question, so you'll instead have to make do with some amusing media navelgazing over a previous instance of British lese majeste, wherein the line "I'm so old my pussy is haunted" was repeated in Streisand-esque fashion in a watchdog show.

No sanctions were reported other than Ofcom's stern telling-off. But whatever you do, don't talk about Queen Liz getting into bed with Donald Trump.

UPDATE: I believe this is the episode in question, but haven't got a timestamp for you yet:

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Google and Facebook's "fake news" ban is a welcome nail in the coffin of "software objectivity"

In the wake of the Trump election -- a triumph of fake news -- both Google and Facebook have announced that they will take countermeasures to exclude "fake news" from their services, downranking them in the case of Facebook and cutting them off from ad payments in Google's case. Read the rest

The free-speech activist duty of journalists during the coming Trump years

Donald Trump promised to shut down the free press if elected (the fact that the laws he wants to "open up" don't exist makes him an ignoramus, but not a harmless one) and his first official post-election act was to block the press and then to call for politically motivated reprisals against his press critics. Read the rest

Harvey Milk's "Hope" speech is worth a revisit today

This excerpt from Harvey Milk's famous "Hope" speech, given at the start of the last anti-LGBT backlash, is brimming with timeless wisdom and inspiration. Another excerpt from the full speech: Read the rest

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.

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Trump wants America to be like England, "where you can actually sue if someone says something wrong"

Trump wants to end criticism of Trump. But more than that, he wants to silence the women he boasted about groping.Specifically, he wants America to be more like England, where "they actually have a system where you can sue if someone says something wrong."

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German prosecutors drop investigation against comedian who insulted Turkish president

German prosecutors have dropped an investigation into comedian Jan Boehmermann over a ribald poem he wrote about Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reports the BBC.

Boehmermann's televised performance quipped that Erdogan fucked goats, among other insults, leading to an official complaint and an investigation.

Boehmermann is a satirist and television presenter well-known for pushing the boundaries of German humour.

The poem was broadcast on ZDF television. The comedian was later given police protection.

Mr Erdogan has drawn much criticism in Turkey and internationally for attacking political opponents, including harassment of journalists. Many accuse him of authoritarian methods, stifling legitimate dissent and promoting an Islamist agenda.

The Turkish government cited an ancient lese-majeste law making it illegal to insult foreign heads of state. Though saying the law should be scrapped, German Chancellor Angela Merkel approved the inquiry and was critical of Boehmermann.

In the resulting uproar over free speech, however, both Merkel and prosecutors came under withering criticism—and stories about Boehmermann and his work only proliferated.

Other people who have quipped about Ergodan's alleged affection for quadrupeds include UK foreign minister Boris Johnson.

Previously: German chancellor allows prosecution of satirist who insulted Turkish president Read the rest

China bans mentions of newly discovered species of beetle from social media

The Rhyzodiastes (Temoana) xii is a newly classified species of beetle, indigenous to China's Hainan Island, whose name is a tribute to Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Read the rest

In Madagascar, pineapple jokes are a form of dangerous, soon-to-be-banned dissent

Madagascar, one of the world's poorest nations, is led by president Hery Rajaonarimampianina, who infuriated his people by insisting that the economy was doing well and that naysayers couldn't "provide evidence that the country was getting poorer." Read the rest

Snowden publicly condemns Russia's proposed surveillance law

Edward Snowden has taken to Twitter to condemn Russia's proposed "Yarovaya law," which provides prison sentences of 7 years for writing favorably about "extremism" on the Internet, criminalizes failure to report "reliable" information about planned attacks, and requires online providers to retain at least six months' worth of users' communications, 3 years' worth of "metadata" and to provide backdoors to decrypt this material. Read the rest

Salt Lake City apartment complex threatens tenants with eviction if they don't "Friend" the building

The landlords at City Park Apartments stuck memos on their tenants' doors last week, outlining a "Facebook addendum" requiring tenants to Friend the building on Facebook or lose their lease. Read the rest

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