A new social micro-blogging network, Ello, is flooded with users during its beta. Ello is predicated on not selling its users out or selling them stuff. Glenn Fleishman suggests it already needs to be held to the fire.Read the rest
On Aug. 13, 2014, police in Ferguson, Missouri, assaulted and arrested two journalists for allegedly failing to exit a McDonald's quickly enough while on a break from covering the protests. Since then, police actions against journalists in Ferguson have escalated in severity and frequency. Many have been tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets and at least nine more have been arrested.
It should go without saying that these arrests are a gross violation of the reporters' First Amendment rights, and attempts to prevent journalists from lawfully doing their job on the streets of Ferguson are downright illegal. We will be documenting each journalist arrest below and are filing public records requests for the arrest records of the journalists who have been assaulted, detained, and arrested in Ferguson. All requests are publicly available on MuckRock.
August 19, 2014
- Lukas Hermsmeier of Bild: source | records request.
- Ryan Devereaux of the Intercept: source | records request.
August 18, 2014
- Ansgar Graw of Die Welt: source | records request.
- Frank Hermann of Der Standard: source | records request.
- Scott Olson of Getty Images: source | records request.
- Kerry Picket of Breitbart News: source | records request.
August 17, 2014
- Rob Crilly of The Telegraph: source | records request.
- Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated: source | records request.
- Neil Munshi of the Financial Times: source | records request.
August 13, 2014
- Antonio French, St. Louis alderman and citizen journalist: source | records request.
- Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post: source | records request (by J. K. Trotter).
- Ryan J. Reilly of The Huffington Post: source | records request (by J. K. Trotter).
We insist that the St. Louis County Police Department, Ferguson Police Department, and Missouri Highway Patrol cease and desist from violating the Constiutional rights of reporters covering the protests, and respect the court document they all signed agreeing that the media and members of the public have a right to record public events without abridgement. This document is not necessary, as the First Amendment provides that right to all members of the media and public, but it's an indication of how the police have decided to ignore the law.
Freedom of the Press Foundation is monitoring the situation and will be filing requests and updating this blog post for as long as necessary.
[Editor's note: Guest contributor Runa A. Sandvik is a privacy and security researcher, working at the intersection of technology, law and policy. She is a Forbes contributor, a technical advisor to the TrueCrypt Audit project, and a member of the review board for Black Hat Europe. Prior to joining the Freedom of the Press Foundation as a full-time technologist in June 2014, she worked with The Tor Project for four years.]
Online retailer Amazon is accused of hooking millions of dollars from underage users making unauthorized in-app purchases. The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit Thursday charging that the company willingly allowed kids to set up purchases without the consent of their parents.
Though most were for smaller ammounts, some of the charges ranged as high as $99, and typically were for game weapons, clothes and other virtual bullshit installed on its Kindle Fire gadget.
"Amazon’s in-app system allowed children to incur unlimited charges on their parents’ accounts without permission," FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez wrote in a press release issued by the comission. "Even Amazon's own employees recognized the serious problem its process created. We are seeking refunds for affected parents and a court order to ensure that Amazon gets parents' consent for in-app purchases."
Amazon's in-app purchase system, established in 2011 to help the firm catch up with competitors Apple and Google, was relatively rudimentary and lacked locks or passwords to prevent unuathorized users racking up huge bills. Within a month, internal emails show that Amazon was aware of "problems" that were "clearly causing problems for a large percentage of our customers," according to the FTC's lawsuit.
Amazon only added passwords months later, and did not apply them to purchases of less than $20 for a year. Even then, according to the suit, Amazon did not disclose that doing so once would enable further purchases for more than an hour.
The FTC settled a similar lawsuit with Apple earlier this year, when the company agreed to institute stricter policies and paid $32.5m in restitution. Amazon, informed of the pending lawsuit, said that it had no plans to change its system as Apple had, and would fight the action.
"We have continuously improved our experience since launch, but even at launch, when customers told us their kids had made purchases they didn't want we refunded those purchases," Amazon's associate general counsel wrote in a response to the commission.
Part of the FTC's suit, however, alleges that the refund process itself is intentionally obscure and "rife with deterrents including statements that consumers cannot, in fact, get a refund for in-app charges."
Games aimed at youngsters are at the heart of the controversy, as they are typically free to download and play, only to bombard the user with enticements to pay for the virtual bullshit. The enticements are often clevery designed to "blur the lines between what costs virtual currency and what costs real money," writes the FTC, using visually similar icons and other psychological manipulations to generate unfair and unexpected charges.
Earlier this week, UK regulators ordered Electronic Arts to stop marketing its sleazy mobile game Dungeon Keeper as free-to-play after gamers complained that it was effectively unplayable without in-game paid upgrades.
News of the Weird (6/8/14)
(1989) In the mid 1980s, convicted South Carolina murderer Michael Godwin won his appeal to avoid the electric chair and serve only life imprisonment. In March, while sitting naked on a metal prison toilet, attempting to fix a TV set, the 28-year-old Godwin bit into a wire and was electrocuted. [Orlando Sentinel, 3-8-89]
(1991 and later) Gary Arthur Medrow, 47, was arrested in March in Milwaukee (the latest of his then-30-plus arrests over 23 years) for once again causing mischief by telephoning a woman and trying to persuade her to physically pick up another person and to carry her around a room. In the latest incident, after repeatedly calling, he told her another woman had been impersonating her, had been in an accident, and had been seen carrying someone away (and that Medrow needed evidence that she should could or could not do that). He had previously talked cheerleaders, motel workers, and business executives into lifting and carrying. [Milwaukee Sentinel, 3-18-91]
(1988) And finally, there was ol’ Hal Warden, the Tennessee 16-year-old who was married at 15 and granted a divorce from his wife, 13. Hal had previously been married at age 12 to a 14-year-old (and fathered children with both), but the first wife divorced Hal because, she told the judge, "He was acting like a 10-year-old." [The precise citation is inaccessible, but various marital reports on the Wardens are available, e.g., Associated Press, 2-21-1987]
NBC released a preview clip from a widely-promoted Brian Williams interview with whistleblower Edward Snowden, which airs tonight, Wednesday May 28, at 10pm EDT. The hour-long interview is the former NSA contractor’s first US television interview since leaking NSA documents to reporters. Read the rest
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US intel chief's insane new secrecy directive forbids intel employees from "unauthorized" contact with reporters
The US Director of National Intelligence has issued a Directive [PDF] that forbids most intelligence community employees from talking to journalists about “intelligence-related information” unless they have explicit authorization to do so.
Intelligence community employees “must obtain authorization for contacts with the media” on any intel-related matters, and “must also report… unplanned or unintentional contact with the media on covered matters,” according to the Directive signed by James Clapper.