Tech at Night: Google isn’t wiretapping. The anti-IRFA is a good idea.

Tech at Night

I have to say, my initial reaction to accusing Google of wiretapping is absurd. Think about it: the whole concept of wiretapping is that you’re intercepting communications from person A to person B. If Google ads are wiretapping, them spam filtering would be wiretapping, since you’re also scanning an email to do that.

We’ve discussed in the past how Pandora was trying to get government to change the rules in its favor against copyright holders, because the government had previously tilted the scales in favor of broadcast radio against copyright holders, in the form of a proposed law known as IRFA. Pandora’s clearly wrong about that, as we should have a level playing field and not be picking winners and losers at all. But one good consequence could be a bill that would go the other way, an anti-IRFA: repealing the laws that favor broadcast radio to begin with. Just ditch the whole compulsory licensing system.

If it’s true that 83% of people in the UK never download from copyright infringers, and if the UK is like the US in that, then all the MPAA and RIAA hysterics about Google are overblown, I think. Once you’re talking about 17% of the population, you’re nearing the percentage of the population below the poverty line, who were unlikely to be big customers to begin with!

Note: I’m not defending copyright infringers here. I hate the freeloader culture. But blaming Google for them is not a sensible thing to do.

FCC probably shouldn’t try to be mandating specific technologies. We risk making our own Concorde: an overpriced, underused waste of money.

Oh hey, you know all that yelling about how the anti-hacking laws are unfair? It turns out they’re not that easy to abuse after all, as an angry middle school assistant principal found out.

Didn’t I say all along that NSA was using metadata to make charts of connections to search for threats? Why yes, I did.

That said, I think it’s reasonable that if we’re going to have NSA out there using FISA to do work on US-based firms, then changing the law to create a minimal, aggregated level of transparency is something we should do. The public should be able to make informed opinions on the subject of FISA.

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