Taiwan will be the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex unions, reports the BBC, after a panel of judges in Taipei ruled(PDF) that equality rights guaranteed it. Legislators have two years to pass a bill that provides "equal protection of the freedom of marriage for two persons of the same sex" before the court extends current law to apply to same-sex unions. Two of the fourteen justices filed dissenting opinions, with a third recusing themselves.
BBC analyst Cindy Sui:
But it's still unclear how far parliament will go.
The LGBT community hopes legislators will simply amend the existing marriage laws to include same-sex couples, which would grant them the same rights enjoyed by opposite-sex couples, including in cases of adoption, parenting and inheritance - and making decisions for each other in medical emergencies.
However, they fear parliament won't do that and will instead pass a new law that recognises same-sex marriages but gives them only some rights, not equal treatment in all matters.
Photo: Reuters.Read the rest
Facebook was caught offering advertisers a direct line to psychologically vulnerable teens. Nitasha Tiku writes that this exposes the deeper danger of its insight into our lives: it's not the data that's the problem, it's how it could be "weaponized in ways those users cannot see, and would never knowingly allow."
The company had offered advertisers the opportunity to target 6.4 million younger users, some only 14 years old, during moments of psychological vulnerability, such as when they felt “worthless,” “insecure,” “stressed,” “defeated,” “anxious,” and like a “failure.” ...
If the users in question weren’t teenagers—or if the emotion wasn’t insecurity—Facebook’s public statement might have been sufficient; the uproar from privacy advocates may have been duly noted, then promptly forgotten.
Instead, as Kathryn Montgomery, a professor at American University and the director of the school’s communications studies division—who is married to Chester—tells WIRED, The Australian’s report served as “a flashpoint that enables you to glimpse Facebook’s inner workings, which in many ways is about monetization of moods.”
As Tiku points out: "It’s not a dystopian nightmare. It’s just a few clicks away from the status quo."
The fences you put up are meaningless if Facebook owns the land.
An EU court ruled against a seller of customized set-top boxes this week, with the judge saying that his preinstallation of certain Kodi Add-Ons makes the boxes illegal to offer.
Mr Wullems sells, over the internet, various models of a multimedia player under the name ‘filmspeler’. That device acts as a medium between a source of audiovisual data and a television screen. On that player, Mr Wullems installed an open source software that enabled files to be played through a user-friendly interface, via structured menus. In addition, integrated into the player were add-ons available on the internet whose function is to retrieve the desired content from streaming websites and make it start playing, on a simple click, on the multimedia player connected to a television. Some of those internet sites give access to digital content with the consent of the right holders, whilst others give access without their consent. According to the advertising, the multimedia player made it possible, in particular, to watch on a television screen, easily and for free, audiovisual material available on the internet without the consent of the copyright holders
It might seem a 'technical' outcome: it's still fine to sell boxes with open streaming software, the end-user just has to set up arrmatey.plugin their own damned selves. But "Who, whom?" is always important. Read the rest
The hit CG-animated movie opened to a strong $33m box office this weekend, but claims emerged that costs were kept low by firing people who refused to work without pay and that many animators were omitted from the film's credits in retaliation for leaving.
The production cost were kept low because Greg would demand people work overtime for free. If you wouldn't work late for free your work would be assigned to someone who would stay late or come in on the weekend. Some artist were even threatened with termination for not staying late to hit a deadline.
The animation department signed a petition for better treatment and paid overtime. When the letter got to Annapurna they stepped in and saw that artist were payed and fed when overtime was needed.
Over 30 animators left during the coarse of the production due to the stress and expectations. Most of them left before the paid overtime was implemented. This was met with animosity and was taken as a personal insult to the owners. Their names were omitted from the final credits despite working for over a year on this film.
No names are named (though the discrepancy between the VFX staff listed at IMDB and those on the movie itself is unusual) but this is a pervasive problem in animation. Sausage Fest is getting good reviews, so stands a reasonable chance of being a reputation-maker for many of those who can prove, one way or another, that they had a hand in it. Read the rest
A day after an expensive, multinational police effort to remove KickAssTorrents from the net culminated in the arrest of its founder and the confiscation of its domains, the inevitable happened. It's back online.
This morning the founder of kat.cr was arrested in Poland. It is another attack on freedom of rights of internet users globally. We think it's our duty not to stand aside but to fight back supporting our rights. In the world of regular terrorist attacks where global corporations are flooded with money while millions are dying of diseases and hunger, do you really think that torrents deserve so much attention? Do you really think this fight worth the money and resources spent on it? Do you really think it's the real issue to care of right now? We don’t!
You don't have to believe the rhetoric to understand how futile it is trying to push cybertoothpaste back in the cyberbottle. Effectively, all the attempt did here was turn an underground piracy site into a mainstream phenomenon, its mirrors linked to by every major news site on the internet. Read the rest
Artist Dennis Cooper reports that Google shut down his website, without explanation, erasing 12 years of work.
Along with his blog, Google disabled Cooper’s email address, through which most of his correspondence was conducted, he told me via Facebook message. He got no communication from Google about why it decided to kill his email address and blog. Cooper used the blog to post his fiction, research, and visual art, and as Artforum explains, it was also “a platform through which he engaged almost daily with a community of followers and fellow artists.” His latest GIF novel (as the term suggests, a novel constructed with animated GIFs) was also mostly saved to the blog.
“It seems that the only option I have left is to sue Google,” Cooper told Artforum. “This will not be easy for me for the obvious reasons, but I’m not going to just give up ten years of my and others’ work without doing everything possible.”
You're savvy, you know the drill. You don't have to blame the victim, a nontechnical person who had no idea how or why a data host could screw him. Just keep nagging everyone you know to keep multiple backups of everything and to be wary of becoming dependent on specific online services for reaching friends, colleagues, customers, and audiences.
Even people smart to these issues still get suckered, too. For example, consider your "cloud storage". Just as susceptible to Dennis Cooper's experience, which in the coming years many of us will also enjoy. Read the rest
A privacy trainwreck: Pokemon Go, the hit augmented reality game that's seeing kids and adults alike scouring the real world looking for monsters to nab, quietly gets "full access" to players' Google accounts. And check out the small print that goes with it. Read the rest
AMC claims that spoilers (and even predictions) of its show, The Walking Dead, infringe copyright. As spoilers are other people's descriptions of something they've seen, in their own words, this would put all unauthorized reviews and commentary in the same boat. But that hasn't stopped it issuing legal threats to fans.
Read the rest
AMC finally reached out to us! But it wasn’t a request not to post any info about the Lucille Victim or any type of friendly attempt at compromise, it was a cease and desist and a threat of a lawsuit by AMC Holdings, LLC’s attorney, Dennis Wilson. They say we can’t make any type of prediction about the Lucille Victim. Their stance is that making such a prediction would be considered copyright infringement. AMC tells us that we made some claim somewhere that says we received “copyright protected, trade secret information about the most critical plot information in the unreleased next season of The Walking Dead” and that we announced we were going to disclose this protected information. We still aren't sure where we supposedly made this claim because they did not identify where it was. ...
Basically what it all comes down to is if we post our Lucille Victim prediction and we're right, AMC says they will sue us. Whether there are grounds for it or not is not the issue, it still costs money to defend. That is the way our justice system works. Would we have defenses? Sure. But it also costs money to mount that defense.
Public schools should allow trandgender students to "use bathrooms matching their gender identity," reports CNN on guidance to be issued later today by the Obama administration.
The announcement comes amid heated debate over transgender rights in schools and public life, which includes a legal standoff between the administration and North Carolina over its controversial House Bill 2. The guidance goes beyond the bathroom issue, touching upon privacy rights, education records and sex-segregated athletics, all but guaranteeing transgender students the right to identify in school as they choose.
"There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. "This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies."
It's getting nasty out there, faster than I think anyone expected. Yesterday, one school district decided to permit students to carry weapons onto campus, with a school board member plainly suggesting they pepper spray transgender people who "follow" them into bathrooms.
The future, assumedly, seems to non-gendered bathrooms. It's an interesting architectural, legal and space-efficiency problem: not every venue can just peel off and throw away the stickers. Read the rest
The Associated Press reports that the Stonewall Inn, birthplace of America's most fabulous protest, will become the first national monument to LGBT rights in the U.S.
The gritty tavern, known colloquially as the Stonewall, became a catalyst for the gay rights movement after police raided it on June 28, 1969. Bar-goers fought back, and many more joined in street protests over the following days in an uprising widely credited as the start of large-scale gay activism in New York and around the word. Annual pride parades in hundreds of cities commemorate the rebellion.
The White House declined to comment. Yet Obama has paid tribute to the site before, most notably in his second inaugural address in 2013. In what's believed to be the first reference to gay rights in an inaugural address, Obama said the principle of equality still guides the U.S. "just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall."
Tweet tip! Things that Stonewall was not:
Apple has apologized to users whose phones were bricked by a recent update that interpreted third-party repairs as attempts to hack the device. It also released a new update that revives the dead handsets through iTunes.
Some customers’ devices are showing ‘Connect to iTunes’ after attempting an iOS update or a restore from iTunes on a Mac or PC. This reports as an Error 53 in iTunes and appears when a device fails a security test. This test was designed to check whether Touch ID works properly before the device leaves the factory.
Today, Apple released a software update that allows customers who have encountered this error message to successfully restore their device using iTunes on a Mac or PC.
We apologize for any inconvenience, this was designed to be a factory test and was not intended to affect customers. Customers who paid for an out-of-warranty replacement of their device based on this issue should contact AppleCare about a reimbursement.
This video depicts an angry cop lying about the law—"it's illegal to take photographs of me"—then, after he confiscates the camera but forgets to turn it off, his discussion with a fellow officer about now to "cover our ass." The Hartford Courant reports they're in some superficial degree of trouble over this, which is a start.
Read the rest
Michael Picard, 27, of East Hartford, was charged with creating a public disturbance and reckless use of the highway for the Sept. 11 incident in which a trooper can be heard saying on a recording of the encounter, "We gotta cover our asses."
Copyright shakedown company Rightscorp, which threatens suspected music sharers with lawsuits unless they give Rightscorp money, has agreed to pay $450,000 to settle claims it illegally targeted thousands of people with recorded messages.
Read the rest
Morgan Pietz, an attorney who played a key role in bringing down Prenda Law, sued Rightscorp in 2014, saying that the company's efforts to get settlements from alleged pirates went too far. Rightscorp's illegal "robocalls" violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a 1991 law that limits how automated calling devices are used. The class-action lawsuit claimed that some Rightscorp targets were receiving one robocall on their cell phone per day. It's generally illegal to have automated devices call cell phones.
Earlier this week, Pietz and his co-counsel filed court papers outlining the settlement. Rightscorp will pay $450,000 into a settlement fund, which will be paid out to the 2,059 identified class members who received the allegedly illegal calls. Each class member who fills out an "affidavit of noninfringement" will receive up to $100. The rest of the fund will pay for costs of notice and claim administration (about $25,000) and attorneys' fees and costs, which cannot exceed $330,000. Rightscorp will also "release any and all alleged claims" against the class members. The company had accused the 2,059 class members of committing 126,409 acts of copyright infringement.
Wall Street Journal columnist Geoffrey A Fowler: "There’s a fight brewing between giant tech companies and tinkerers that could impact how we repair gadgets or choose the shop where we get it done by a pro. At issue: Who owns the knowledge required to take apart and repair TVs, phones and other electronics?" Read the rest