We don't know how much Village Roadshow paid to buy Australia's new censoring copyright law

Australia just passed into law one of the world's most censoring copyright law, which allows the country's media giants like Village Roadshow to use one-sided administrative process to get court orders to censor any website whose "primary effect" is infringement, then use those orders to force search engines to delist any site so blocked, and then recycle those orders to block for any site or service that "provides access" to a blocked site or service. Read the rest

Trump's FCC seems to have ended the practice of releasing its ISP speed-tests, leaving Americans in the dark about what they're paying for

When Trump's FCC Chairman Ajit Pai killed Net Neutrality (by deliberately ignoring comments from actual humans in favor of comments left by obvious bots), he said that removing regulation from telcos would boost investment, finally ending the US's status as the worst broadband nation in the world. Read the rest

Here's the secret details of 200 cities' license-plate tracking programs

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Muckrock teamed up to use the Freedom of Information Act to extract the details of 200 US cities' Automated License Plate Recognition camera programs (ALPR), and today they've released a dataset containing all the heretofore secret data on how these programs are administered and what is done with the data they collect. Read the rest

ICE and the DEA have secretly hidden cameras in some streetlights

Government procurement data reveals that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Agency have each spent tens of thousands of dollars on products from Houston's Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC, which specializes in fake streetlight housings designed to conceal surveillance cameras. Read the rest

Is this the full list of US cities that have bought or considered Predpol's predictive policing services?

Predpol (previously) is a "predictive policing" company that sells police forces predictive analytics tools that take in police data about crimes and arrests and spits out guesses about where the police should go to find future crimes. Read the rest

Your wireless carrier is definitely throttling video, but not because of network congestion (Verizon's the worst)

Northeastern University assistant computer science prof Dave Choffnes built an app called Wehe that monitors network usage and throttling; it has users in 161 countries and has been used to produce one of the most comprehensive looks at video throttling by wireless carriers. Read the rest

Trump's Interior Secretary is now blacking out nearly all details of his calendar

Ryan Zinke (previously) is one of Trump's most notoriously scandal-haunted cabinet members; as Secretary of the Interior he presided over the catastrophic failure of the federal government to intervene in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria (he did, however, award a $300,000,000 grid-repair contract to a two-man shop from his hometown where his son had been given a cushy job). Read the rest

The platforms control our public discourse, and who they disconnect is arbitrary and capricious

Look, I'm as delighted as you are to see Alex Jones' ability to spread hatred curtailed -- because in a world where all the important speech takes place online, and where online speech is owned by four or five companies, being kicked off of Big Tech's services is likely to be an extinction-level event. Read the rest

Avowed "utopian anarchist" Elon Musk is also one of the top donors to the GOP "Protect the House" PAC

Elon Musk, an avowed utopian anarchist, is one of the top fifty donors to the Republican Protect the House PAC, having funneled $38,900 to support the group's mission of protecting Republican Congressional seats. Read the rest

Thanks to 2016's trade secret law and algorithmic justice, America's courts have become AI-Kafka nightmares

In 2014, the Alice decision made it much harder to patent software in the USA; in 2016, Congress passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act, creating the first federal trade secrets statute: the result of these two developments is that software companies aggressively switched from patents to trade secrets as a means of controlling competition and limiting inspection and criticism of their products. Read the rest

Trump won't stop tearing up official papers so the White House archives employ a staff to tape them back together for the National Archives

Trump is notorious for his "filing system": when he is finished with a piece of paper, he tears it into tiny pieces and throws it away, which is fine if you're a CEO (maybe), but is radioactively illegal under the Presidential Records Act, because the President works for the public, and is required by law to archive their official papers and save them for public scrutiny. Read the rest

Laramie County, Wyoming Sheriffs' department blocks public records requests for their prison phone monopoly deal

Every crappy thing in the world is beta-tested on people who have little or no power, perfected, and brought to the rest of us -- CCTV starts with prisoners, moves to mental institutions, then to schools, then to blue-collar workplaces, then airports, then white-collar workplaces, then everywhere. Read the rest

Amazon has been quietly selling its facial recognition system to US police forces, marketing it for bodycam use

Amazon bills its Rekognition image classification system as a "deep learning-based image and video analysis" system; it markets the system to US police forces for use in analyzing security camera footage, including feeds from police officers' bodycams. Read the rest

Should I use an algorithm here? EFF's 5-point checklist

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Jamie Williams and Lena Gunn have drawn up an annotated five-point list of questions to ask yourself before using a machine-learning algorithm to make predictions and guide outcomes. Read the rest

NSA report discloses that the agency tripled its surveillance of Americans in 2017

One effect of the Snowden leaks is that the NSA now makes an annual disclosure of the extent of its domestic surveillance operations; that's how we know that the NSA collected 534 million phone call and text message records (time, date, location, from, to -- but not the content), which more than triples its surveillance takings in 2016. Read the rest

Oakland passes groundbreaking municipal law requiring citizen oversight of local surveillance

Oakland, California -- a city across the bay from San Francisco whose large African-American population has struggled with gentrification and police violence for decades -- has a long reputation for police corruption and surveillance. Read the rest

Trump's finance watchdog wants to make the taxpayer-funded database of crooked banks go dark

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is Elizabeth Warren's gift that keeps on giving -- one of the most effective US government agencies, handing out real punishment to banks that break the law, fighting loan-sharks that prey on poor people, and maintaining a database of vetted consumer complaints against banks that have ripped them off. Read the rest

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