The Chinafication of the internet continues as the UK proposes blocking any service that hosts "illegal" or "harmful" material

Last year the US Congress passed SESTA/FOSTA, an "anti-sex-trafficking bill" that has resulted in the shuttering of all the services formerly used by sex workers to vet their johns, massively increasing the personal physical risk borne by sex-workers and reinvigorating the dying pimping industry, as sex workers seek out protectors. Read the rest

The Boston Globe on breaking up Big Tech falls into the trap of tech exceptionalism

The Boston Globe has published a giant weekend package of responses to Elizabeth Warren's proposal to break up the Big Tech monopolies. Read the rest

Record companies sue Charter because providing high-speed internet contributes to piracy

A new complaint against Charter Communications filed on Friday by Sony, Universal and Warner asks for legal redress for Charter's alleged failure to disconnect people repeated accused of copyright infringement; the complaint specifically lists the provision of a higher-speed tier of internet service as evidence that Charter was profiting from infringement. Read the rest

Grandson of legendary John Deere engineer defends right-to-repair and condemns Big Ag for "taxing customers"

Willie Cade's grandfather Theo Cade was one of John Deere's most storied engineers, with 158 patents to his name; he invented the manure spreader and traveled the country investigating stories of how farmers were using, fixing, modifying and upgrading their equipment; today, Willie Cade is the founder of the Electronics Reuse Conference, having spent a quarter-century repairing electronics, diverting e-waste from landfills and rehabilitating it for use by low-income schools and individuals. Read the rest

More than 130 European businesses tell the European Parliament: Reject the #CopyrightDirective

The EU's Copyright Directive will be voted on in the week of March 25 (our sources suggest the vote will take place on March 27th, but that could change); the Directive has been controversial all along, but it took a turn for the catastrophic during the late stages of the negotiation, which yielded a final text that is alarming in its potential consequences for all internet activity in Europe and around the world. Read the rest

What's wrong with blaming "information" for political chaos

David Perell's 13,000 word essay, "What the Hell is Going On?" presents a reassuring -- and contrarian -- view on how our current dysfunction in politics, media, and business has come to pass, drawing on orthodox economic theories about "information asymmetry" in a way that makes the whole thing seem like a kind of adjustment period between a middling old world and a fine new one. Read the rest

The story of how Buffalo's oldest, best-established Black neighborhood was literally wiped off the map is a perfect parable about systemic bias -- UPDATED

Update: See below for important corrections to this story

"Fruit Belt" is a 150-year-old predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo that has faced a series of systemic hurdles, each worsening the next, with the latest being the erasure of its very name, with the Big Tech platforms unilaterally renaming the area "Medical Park." Read the rest

One company bought all the retail outlets for glasses, used that to force sales of all the eyewear companies and jacked up prices by as much as 1000%

If you wear glasses, you might have noticed that they've been getting steadily more expensive in recent years, no matter which brand you buy and no matter where you shop. Read the rest

House Republicans propose poisoning Net Neutrality bill with Article-13-like liability

Last week, House Democrats introduced the Save the Internet Act, to enact the Net Neutrality protections favored by 83% of Americans; in response, Rep Greg Walden (R-OR, @repgregwalden, +1 (541) 776-4646) has proposed legislation rescinding Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, "the most important law protecting internet speech", which says that online services are not required to pro-actively censor user postings that might contain illegal speech -- a vital protection that made it possible for sites like this one to have comment sections, and also enabled sites like Youtube and Snapchat to accept photos and videos from the public. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren reveals her plan to break up Big Tech

Would-be Democratic Presidential nominee Elizabeth Warren (I've donated to her campaign, as well as Bernie Sanders') has published her latest policy prescription: a plan to break up Big Tech monopolists to protect the public's privacy and the interests of small-business competitors. Read the rest

Thanks to audiobooks, reading's popularity still strong in America

Reading remains solidly popular in America, with the latest figures from Pew showing that print book readership remains at same levels as they were in 2012: about 74% of Americans have read at least one book in the past year: 67% of readers have read at least one print book. Read the rest

German data privacy commissioner says Article 13 inevitably leads to filters, which inevitably lead to internet "oligopoly"

German Data Privacy Commissioner Ulrich Kelber is also a computer scientist, which makes him uniquely qualified to comment on the potential consequences of the proposed new EU Copyright Directive. The Directive will be voted on at the end of this month, and its Article 13 requires that online communities, platforms, and services prevent their users from committing copyright infringement, rather than ensuring that infringing materials are speedily removed. Read the rest

German Data Privacy Commissioner warns at new Copyright Directive will increase the tech oligopoly, make EU companies dependent on US filter vendors, and subject Europeans to surveillance by US companies

Ulrich Kelber is the German Data Privacy Commissioner, and also a computer scientist, and as such, he is uniquely qualified to comment on the potential consequences of the proposed new EU Copyright Directive, which will be voted on at the end of this month, and whose Article 13 requires that all online communities, platforms and services block their users from committing copyright infringement, even if the infringing materials are speedily removed after they are posted. Read the rest

EFF's roadmap for a 21st Century antitrust doctrine

40+ years ago, extremists from the Chicago School of Economics destroyed antitrust law, pushing a bizarre theory that the antitrust laws on America's books existed solely to prevent "consumer harm" in the form of higher prices; decades later, we live in a world dominated by monopolists who use their power to crush or swallow competitors, suppress wages, reduce choice, increase inequality and distort policy outcomes by making lawmakers and regulators dependent on their lobbyists for funding and future employment. Read the rest

Artists against Article 13: when Big Tech and Big Content make a meal of creators, it doesn't matter who gets the bigger piece

Article 13 is the on-again/off-again controversial proposal to make virtually every online community, service, and platform legally liable for any infringing material posted by their users, even very briefly, even if there was no conceivable way for the online service provider to know that a copyright infringement had taken place. Read the rest

Beyond "more copyright": how do we improve artists' lives and livelihoods through policy?

Last year while I was on tour in Australia with my novel Walkaway, I sat down for an interview with legal scholar Rebecca Giblin (previously), whose Authors' Interest project studies how we would craft copyright (and other policies) if we wanted to benefit creators, rather than enriching corporations; we talked about the power and limits of copyright to benefit authors, and how other policies, like antitrust, are crucial to getting authors their fair share. Read the rest

Even without explicit collusion, pricing algorithms converge on price-fixing strategies

Literally the only kind of monopolistic behavior that the US government is willing to prosecute is price fixing, and that's why it's so important to read Artificial intelligence, algorithmic pricing, and collusion, a paper by four Italian economists from the University of Bologna who document how price-fixing is an emergent property of pricing algorithms -- the systems online merchants use to price-match with their competitors. Read the rest

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