Distinguishing between "platforms" and "aggregators" in competition law

There's a lot of political will to regulate the Big Tech companies in both the US and the EU at the moment, which is a very welcome juncture to have arrived at after 40 years of antitrust inaction during which companies were permitted to grow by buying nascent competitors, merging with major competitors and cornering vertical markets -- all classic anticompetitive behaviors that Reagan and his successors legalized. Read the rest

Pete Buttigieg's prizewinning high-school essay praising Bernie Sanders: "the power to win back the faith of a voting public weary and wary of political opportunism"

In 2000, Mayor Pete won the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum's Profiles in Courage Essay Contest with an excellent essay praising Bernie Sanders as a unique American politician, whom Buttigieg described as "a powerful force for conciliation and bipartisanship on Capitol Hill" who provides "an answer to those who say American young people see politics as a cesspool of corruption, beyond redemption." Read the rest

Amazon's Ring surveillance doorbell leaks its customers' home addresses, linked to their doorbell videos

Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "A new investigation from Gizmodo just revealed that anyone, anywhere can get geographic coordinates of Ring devices from Amazon’s Neighbors App. Not only can someone find out where users live, they can use footage to track bystanders, locate children, and monitor people going into buildings, like clinics, for private appointments. Amazon sells these devices under the guise of keeping us safe. They’re lying. Their surveillance devices and network puts us all in danger. We need lawmakers to fully investigate the threats associated with Amazon’s dragnet and its impact on our privacy, security, and civil liberties. Fight for the Future has launched a campaign calling for Congress to investigate Amazon's surveillance practices. You can add your name here." (Image: Dan Calacci/MIT) Read the rest

Today: Take part in an interactive online screening of "The Crossing" for Human Rights Day

Today is International Human Rights Day, and Storylab has arranged for a special free online screening of "The Crossing: Your Impact on Modern Day Slavery," via the interactive Hubhub platform, which lets viewers annotate and discuss videos, with comments linked to specific moments in the video. The video includes a special introduction by Emma Thompson, the project's patron. Read the rest

The New Yorker's profile of William Gibson: "Droll, chilled out, and scarily articulate"

I first met Bill Gibson in 1999 when I was profiling him for the Globe and Mail as part of a review of his book "All Tomorrow's Parties." Since then, we've become friends and colleagues, and I genuinely treasure every chance I get to sit down with him, because he's both fantastically clever and incredibly nice. Read the rest

Librecorps: an organization that connects student free/open source software developers with humanitarian NGOs

Librecorps is a program based at the Rochester Institute for Technology's Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) initiative that works with UNICEF to connect students with NGOs for paid co-op placements where they build and maintain FOSS tools used by nonprofits. Read the rest

Model stealing, rewarding hacking and poisoning attacks: a taxonomy of machine learning's failure modes

A team of researchers from Microsoft and Harvard's Berkman Center have published a taxonomy of "Failure Modes in Machine Learning," broken down into "Intentionally-Motivated Failures" and "Unintended Failures." Read the rest

The blood of poor Americans is now a leading export, bigger than corn or soy

America is one of the only developed countries in the world that pays people to donate blood, much of it sold abroad (70% of the world's plasma is of US origin), and as commercial blood donations have soared, blood now accounts for 2% of the country's exports -- more than corn or soya. Read the rest

Popular Chinese video game invites players to "hunt down traitors" in Hong Kong

"Fight the Traitors Together" (motto: "Hong Kong is part of China and this can't be meddled with by outside power") is a web-game that has attained new popularity in mainland China; it invites players to locate with caricatures of real Hong Kong protest leaders and slap them or pelt them with rotten eggs. Read the rest

The student movements at the vanguard of Chile's protests are allied with former student leaders now serving in Congress

Chile's months-long uprising was led by student activists protesting neoliberal reform, galvanized around the seemingly trivial issue of public transit fare-hikes. Read the rest

Podcast: Party Discipline, a Walkaway story (Part 2)

In my latest podcast (MP3), I continue my serial reading of my novella Party Discipline, which I wrote while on a 35-city, 45-day tour for my novel Walkaway in 2017; Party Discipline is a story set in the world of Walkaway, about two high-school seniors who conspire to throw a "Communist Party" at a sheet metal factory whose owners are shutting down and stealing their workers' final paychecks. These parties are both literally parties -- music, dancing, intoxicants -- and "Communist" in that the partygoers take over the means of production and start them up, giving away the products they create to the attendees. Walkaway opens with a Communist Party and I wanted to dig into what might go into pulling one of those off.

The cop pulled the vice principal’s chair out from behind the desk and sat down on it in front of us. He didn’t say anything. He was young, I saw, not much older than us, and still had some acne on one cheek. White dude. Not my type, but good looking, except that he was a cop and he was playing mind games with us.

“Are we being detained?” Somewhere in my bag was a Black Lives Matter bust-card and while I’d forgotten almost everything written on it, I remembered that this was the first question I should ask.

“You are here at the request of your school administration.” Oh. Even when there wasn’t a fresh lockdown, the administration had plenty of powers to search us, ask us all kinds of nosy questions.

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In any other industry, emergency medical billing would be considered fraudulent

Last summer, MD/journalist Elisabeth Rosenthal's husband had a bike accident and was seriously injured and taken by ambulance to an emergency room. Read the rest

US pharma and biotech lobbyists' documents reveal their plan to gouge Britons in any post-Brexit trade-deal

Both Phrma (the lobby for the global pharmaceutical industry) and Biotechnology Innovation Organization (biotech lobbyists) provided letters to a US-UK government meeting to discuss post-Brexit trade terms, in which both organisations called for substantially higher British prices for essential medicines after Brexit. Read the rest

As the end nears for Yahoo Groups, Verizon pulls out all the stops to keep archivists from preserving them

We only have a few days left until Verizon kills off Yahoo Groups, and the volunteer archivists who've been battling with the company to preserve its legacy have just been dealt a crushing blow. Read the rest

Church nativity scene puts the holy family in cages, because that's how America deals with asylum-seekers like Christ

Jesus and his fam were refugees, so it's only fitting that the folks at Claremont United Methodist Church decided to put its nativity figures in cages behind razorwire. Read the rest

Antipolygraph.org publishes secret guidelines for the federal "Test for Espionage and Sabotage," a psuedoscientific feature of government life

George Maschke from Antipolygraph.org (previously) writes, "Thousands of individuals are annually compelled to undergo a pseudoscientific polygraph screening ritual called the 'Test for Espionage and Sabotage.' The administration guide for this procedure, which is marked 'For Official Use Only' is now publicly available." Read the rest

After sweeping election victories, Hong Kong protesters stage massive demonstrations marking their 6-month anniversary

Today, 800,000 Hong Kongers marched through the city in a demonstration commemorating their six months of protests. Thanks to landslide victories for pro-Democracy candidates in last month's election, today's march had an official police permit -- the first such permit issued since August. Read the rest

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