Comments

Frank Wilhoit February 18, 2021 9:16 AM

The near-unanimity of the State legislators is really puzzling to me, because if anything is “bad for business”, it is “data privacy”; and even if there were a correspondingly strong grassroots demand for it, at least the Republican members have become (after deacdes of determined effort) entirely insulated from public opinion. Perhaps the legislation itself is purely symbolic and will have no practical effect. How say you, Occam?

Adrian February 18, 2021 10:13 AM

Once a few states have restrictive privacy laws, the big surveillance capitalists will complain that the patchwork of rules is too difficult to contend with (despite the fact that they already deal with such a patchwork globally). The feds will pass a new, less restrictive privacy law that trumps all the state laws.

Perhaps the state senators know this and figure that they can score voter points for looking like they’re doing the right thing while actually accelerating the institution of more “business friendly” ones.

Winter February 18, 2021 10:14 AM

@Frank Wilhoit
“if anything is “bad for business”, it is “data privacy””

I think the answer is in the article:

A coalition of consumer advocates, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and Consumer Reports say that Virginia’s goals are in the right place, but they argue the CDPA doesn’t go far enough to provide meaningful protection.

This is a toothless (opt-out) law to prevent laws that give real protection (opt-in).

Fed.up February 18, 2021 12:26 PM

Unfortunately, It will fail for the same reasons that GDPR and CCPA failed. The UK ICO ruled that data mining did not result in Brexit and that the Cambridge Analytica brightly colored hair scientist who testified before Parliament was really a shop clerk from H&M. There is a great article in Bloomberg if you want to search it out. FB recently cut a deal censoring the UK ICO but here’s her report https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-taken/2618383/20201002_ico-o-ed-l-rtl-0181_to-julian-knight-mp.pdf

Data mining does not result in conversion. In retail this means that it doesn’t turn a click or view into a sale. Nor can it change people’s minds. It does make people very polarized and annoyed. One of the world’s biggest retailers doesn’t even have an advertising department.

GDPR was a great start but it didn’t outlaw the nefarious activity connected to cookies and tracking tech. The law needs to be updated to define the types of cookies and tracking technology and outlaw or restrict the usage. No more cookie banners. Instead the GDPR and CCPA laws need to be updated whenever a new tracking tech appears.

There is acceptable use of this technology as a means of authentication by banks, schools, employers and government. But it makes no sense in advertising at present. Data mining is on par with Bitcoin where it’s value is intangible and more like a Ponzi scheme than anything else.

Data mining is primarily being used to hurt people. And Virginia’s law does nothing to stop that because it excludes employees. Flo is a period and pregnancy app that got in trouble for selling data. Who would want to buy this data? After the data transfers through a few different owners it ultimately would be useful to employers who do not want to hire pregnant employees nor even husbands of those pregnant employees. Employers are inconvenienced by maternity leave. Many employees never return. The costs to the employer are exorbitant in lost productivity and very high healthcare costs. Now with the virus no one wants to hire someone with kids at home. But Flo is probably selling a data to brokers who turn the user’s likelihood of getting pregnant into a score and then other brokers buy that data and repackage it and it changes hands multiple times until it makes into recruiting tools and the employee cannot find a job in corporate America.

I cannot remember the last time I worked with someone who got pregnant at work.

I also find it duplicitous that we feign shock and horror at Ghislaine Maxwell when TikTok has been found to copy clipboard contents, including photos. Meanwhile it’s mostly used by children. But no one in the US has enough moral turpitude to even tell the truth about it.

On the bright side I find the targeted advertising often very comical. For a long time Maserati considered me a potential customer. One time Walmart tried to sell me a real birds nest from Asia, machete knives and very recently BB&B tried to sell me a heated coffee cup holder for my shower. I have to admit I clicked on some of these adverts for entertainment purposes but i bet these retailers think that these clicks mean their advertising is working when they are just getting punked by their tracking tech contractors.

Artificial intelligence works with structured data in retail. But I’m not convinced that machine learning is possible with unstructured noisy data. Programmers force the associations using keywords. But that’s not science nor artificial intelligence when a human makes that association.

The way to end this tracking nonsense is outlaw it. Data privacy laws are meaningless otherwise.

Why is Virginia doing this? To force Congress to address it. Federal law cannot overturn state law UNLESS it offers more protection to the consumer. So whatever Congress comes up with has to have more teeth. The State laws are just costly annoyances to data mining companies and a way for States to make some money suing the FAANGS and fining them.

xcv February 18, 2021 12:49 PM

But no one in the US has enough moral turpitude to even tell the truth about it.

I was accused in Washington State of verbally insulting a street hooker, which is considered “crime involving moral turpitude” even without a conviction, and an absolute lifetime bar on firearms ownership or obtaining a U.S. passport.

It’s considered a felony on my record even without a conviction, and without the indictment of a grand jury.

On the bright side I find the targeted advertising often very comical

They advertise pistols and concealed handgun classes to me, even though as an adjudicated felon, having been deemed a social undesirable (“slug”) as well as “a mental defective” — I fall in the category of “prohibited persons” — still serving out a lifetime of police supervision and beatings and confiscations of other items deemed “dangerous” or valuable under their unwritten rules of lifetime probation.

God damn those crooked cops to hell! Oh that they would receive even on this earth in this life just a small taste of that eternal torment to be inflicted on them! How they will scream in agony! How the whole world will shrink in horror of their torment as those crooked cops begin to serve the just punishment for what they have done!

Grima Squeakersen February 18, 2021 1:07 PM

Um, I don’t think that phrase means what you seem to think it means, gentlepersons. Perhaps you meant “moral fiber”?

“Legal Definition of moral turpitude

1 : an act or behavior that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community
2 : a quality of dishonesty or other immorality that is determined by a court to be present in the commission of a criminal offense a crime involving moral turpitude — compare malum in se

Note: Whether a criminal offense involves moral turpitude is an important determination in deportation, disbarment, and other disciplinary hearings. Past crimes involving moral turpitude usually may also be introduced as evidence to impeach testimony. Crimes such as theft, perjury, and vice crimes have been found to involve moral turpitude.”

Merriam-Webster Legal Definitions
https://www.merriam-webster.com/legal/moral%20turpitude

Grima Squeakersen February 18, 2021 1:15 PM

@Fed.Up re: “why is ‘Virginia’ doing this?” That is a farcical attribution of incentive if ever I saw one. Pay much attention to why politicians do anything? They almost invariably want an issue upon which to hang their hats come next election, most preferably one that can be sold to voters as “doing something”, while not actually doing anything that might jeopardize campaign contributions from the business community.

@All, the prototype for non-functional privacy regulation was the “do not call” list. I predict this attempt will be equally effective.

xcv February 18, 2021 2:29 PM

Grima Squeakersen

the commission of a criminal offense a crime involving moral turpitude — compare malum in se

Something is not “evil in itself” — and therefore not technically a crime at all — but it goes on your record regardless on the prosecutor’s say-so as an infamous crime without a conviction or even an indictment to bring such a charge or accusation in the first place.

It’s another life-ruiner, car-trasher, and home-wrecker, because now the law is on the side of legal marijuana with the Mafia and other organized crime cárteles under court rules of lawfully permitted extortion, legalized bribery, moralization of stupidity, and legally sanctioned contract killings and attempted murders.

It’s that pot smoking D.A. Pete Holmes — how many murders has that m*f*cker commissioned across state lines straight out of the Seattle City Attorney’s office? While the cops were distracted by all that free surgery being offered on a compulsory basis in the CHAZ/CHOP zone at Harborview Medical Center and the Swedish Hospital?

Oompaloompa February 18, 2021 2:51 PM

Ultimately this is not at all about advertising. This is about Cybersecurity and National Security. Data mining is nefarious. Apps are malware.

Apps involved with scraping, repackaging and selling data are black hats. Data mining is just a form of hacking.

Phone manufacturers could stop the scraping and leaking if they wanted to. FB is being sued for using phone cameras to spy on users. The device manufactures pretend that your email and messaging is secure, yet the notifications on your device is ingested into your clipboard and leaked.

You would think that Cybersecurity professionals would want this to stop because we cannot possibly protect anything so long as this continues.

Instead India banned nearly 300 apps in the last few months because the phones are helpless to stop their scraping. Really Tim?

A lot is going to change. Texas is ultimately being destroyed because of data mining. They have nearly 300 power plants. I bet the majority of their systems were designed and maintained by unqualified outsourced and offshored contractors. Maybe even some who wanted to hurt the USA. Remember that Embassy in Houston was shuttered a few months ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is sabotage or an attack underway. Even their water systems are failing due to lack of forecasting.

Meanwhile that Wipro clerk in India who stole $900 Million from Citibank didn’t even lose his job. Why? Because the US has no jurisdiction and the FBI probably cannot even question him.

We have outsourced ourselves to death. Data mining’s primary purpose is to exclude Americans from jobs. It is redlining on steroids.

Keep pretending that Data Privacy is somehow about advertising as people die in Texas. At least now that Elon Musk has moved there he probably has Zuckerberg’s address, so there’s that to look forward to.

Oompaloompa February 18, 2021 9:44 PM

Testimony from Roaring Kitty today about how it got involved in GameStop investing, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sXNRttPfeSI

He is apparently very intelligent, technically savvy, communicative and adept at marketing and sales. Yet after he graduated college in 2009 he remained unemployed for 10 years. In 2019 he got a job in the Fortune 500 developing curriculum for financial services sales training. He appears to be very industrious and responsible. He is married with a child and he takes care of his extended family.

When you watch him talk about not being able to find a job despite being a college graduate in Boston, it is apparent this happened through no fault of his own. I have heard this story repeatedly from highly educated young people that cannot get an interview. Many possess advanced degrees. The solution is not wiping out college debt. The solution is meaningful laws outlawing malicious cookie and tracking tech.

Data mining compiles information on what people do and who they know. It doesn’t identify who we are or what we are capable of. It doesn’t even accurately measure our views. Yet this garbage data is used by recruiting apps to destroy Americans.

We deserve to be the masters of our own destiny.

Good on Australia for taking a stand against this oppression. Great editorial. https://nypost.com/2021/02/18/facebook-australia-dispute-the-struggle-between-governments-and-corporations/

Clive Robinson February 19, 2021 12:46 AM

@ Oompaloompa,

Do not conflate issues.

It’s not Facebook -v- Australia over privacy.

What it is all about as I’ve been warning on this blog for years is the “failed business policies of Rupert ‘the bare faced lier’ Murdoch and family” and their effect on News International.

News Intetnational is loosing money, prestige, status, and sanity in the senior managment. It is becoming more and more of a laughing stock as time goes on.

I suggest you look into the associations of the articles author and that of the web site.

In short, Facebook is a private corporation, not a “common carrier” it has no more legal duty to Australia than any other private company not based in Australia.

Under the very malign influance of Rupert Murdoch and Co, Australia has brought the encumbrant Australian Government into significant distepute. With a piece of nonsense that is actually a significant repression of “free speech” and an illegal taxation upon it.

Put simply Rupert Murdoch wants to be paid for other peoples Intelectual Property and this not the first or the last time he’s tried this nonsense.

At a minimum, Rupert want’s to be paid when other people in effect give him acknowledgement, that is provide links to the web sites he is desperately trying to make money out of and failing appallingly at.

His original thought that people would pay money to see “click bait” articles he and his organisations staff had stolen from other places, failed. Thus he had to take down his “Pay Walls” just to get “visitor numbers up” to try and justify ludicrous advertising rates etc. The fact that the advertisers are not as stupid as Murdoch and Co means that his web presences are bankrupting him and his printed media sales are droping as old folks die, because younger people “don’t do newspapers” even when you give them away for free as a Russian Gentleman used to do with the “Evening Standard” in the UK pre-COVID.

The nonsence about sensoring Australian Government is even more laughable. The Australian Government has chosen to use the services of a private company without paying anything in any way what so ever towards the company to push out Government propaganda and some information. The Private Company owner is well within their rights to say “not any longer”.

As I keep pointing out these social media sites are not Publically Owned and they only have the same legal responsabilities any other private entity from outside Australia or any other nation has and no more. That is they do not have a “common carrier” status and Australia could if they wanted to block Facebook from Australia, it’s not as though other Governments have not done so.

So Rupert Murdoch told the Australian Government to make a private company transfer it’s assets to his private company because he’s an incompetent business man…

The Australian Goverment is so stupid, desperate or both they said yes to Rupert Murdoch.

However Facebook said NO, and pointed out that Facebook had no contractual relationship with either the Australian Government or Rupert Murdoch and thus what they were doing was the equivslent of an illegal subsidy to Rupert Murdoch.

Thr Australian Goverment “doubled down on stupid” so Facebook said fine no more free advertising for Murdoch, and no more propaganda free loading by the Australian Government. Both of which Facebook are fully within their rights as a Private Company to do under the most fundemental rules of contracts (look up “consideration”).

Now The Australian Government has two choices just like any other consumer of private services,

1, Accept the Hobbsons Choice.
2, Walk away.

But as the head of a Nation State, they have another option if they are realy dumb enough to “Double double down on stupid”… Which is to order other private companies to block Australian Citizens the right to use Facebook by stopping all Facebook traffic entering or leaving Australian territorial areas. The net result will be that it will turn many Australian Citizens against their desperat/stupid Government…

And for what? To prop up an evil incompetent thieving old man in his senility and his totally inept and incompetent family…

The Australian Government are realy stupid if they think it’s something they can win, because they can not, if Facebook decide they do not like the nich little market Australia is, they can just pull the plug entirely, rather than to the limited extent they have so far.

But another thing to consider, “Why were the Australian Government so stupid as to put so much stuff on any private company organisation without legaly binding contracts?”…

ATN February 19, 2021 3:34 AM

@Clive

Facebook -v- Australia over privacy

I really do not want to defend Facebook, but for me, it looks like a contract passed between an individual and a company, providing a lot of facilities to the individual in exchange of all the details of his private live (for whatever use the company can monetise), is a valid contract.
I.e. the individual should be able to enter such a contract.
At least, if it is not considered valid in a country, that should be clearly stated by the law, before the company enters this kind of business.
It is far too easy for the individual to enter the contract and use all the facilities, and then claim the contract invalid while continuing to use the facilities.
Now there are a lot of things I do not like, like changing the contract after it has been accepted by the costumer, but usually those changes did not modify the substance of the contract.
I would accept a law which defines what happens after the individual exit the contract, and override what is written in the contract.

@fed.up:

GDPR (and CCPA?)

Should either declare the previous type of contract either valid or not, not say “the individual should still use all facilities” while the company “is no more allowed” to apply the contract which has been clearly described before the individual entered such contract.

Data mining is on par with Bitcoin where it’s value is intangible and more like a Ponzi scheme than anything else.

The value of stuff is only defined by the amount people are ready to pay for it at that time.
The value of 1 Kg of gold should be lower than 1 Kg of copper because copper is a lot more useful than gold. Gold is only a very long Ponzi scheme.
Moreover you define “value” probably in your own currency, are you talking of your currency value before or after the current “money printing related to an illness” happening now?

Denton Scratch February 19, 2021 4:36 AM

@Fed.Up:

“Moral turpitude” means lack of morality, not moral uprightness. FWIW, I don’t think I’ve heard of any other kind of “turpitude”.

Re. GDPR and cookie popups:
The cookie provisions in GDPR always seemed to me to expose a lack of understanding on the part of the drafters. Those popups are a spectacular example of perverse incentives; I am forced to click in order to view a page, which means that I am effectively opting-in to anything the page does in response to that click.

And I suspect that many of those banners are actually served (or provided) by third-party data-collection firms.

I don’t need the banner-warning anyway; my browser blocks 3rd-party cookies, 3rd-party JS, evercookies and so on. GDPR has inflicted these horrible obstacles on the web, for no purpose. Now that the UK is out of the EU, I hope the ICO will revise their interpretation of GDPR to remove the silly cookie rules.

Meanwhile many US websites decline to serve pages to me based on my EU geolocation, rather than fix their practices to become compliant.

xcv February 19, 2021 5:10 AM

Denton Scratch • February 19, 2021 4:36 AM
@Fed.Up:
“Moral turpitude” means lack of morality, not moral uprightness. FWIW, I don’t think I’ve heard of any other kind of “turpitude”

Look it up in the dictionary. You’ve lost your gun rights like a felon, passport forever revoked, eternal probation under constant police supervision.

You’ve got to have a little backbone to call a spade a spade or something, but I don’t think there’s a lack of morality implied by the use of the term in federal court.

Some D.A. wants to fuck your life over for good on some minor insignificant technicalities and it seems a good thing to ruin your life at the time so that’s what they do.

No defense in court is possible for “crimes involving moral turpitude” and conviction is by fiat at the request of the prosecutor without a trial.

Cassandra February 19, 2021 5:16 AM

@ATN

it looks like a contract passed between an individual and a company, providing a lot of facilities to the individual in exchange of all the details of his private live [sic] (for whatever use the company can monetise), is a valid contract.

I believe the notion of ‘click-through’ acceptance of terms and conditions forming a contract is an open question for (at least) some jurisdictions. The conditions for a valid contract to exist, as itemised in the law of England and Wales, and many USA state laws might not be fulfilled; and furthermore contract law cannot override fundamental rights (e.g. contracts whereby one of the contractees purportedly voluntarily agrees to become a slave are invalid).

Large companies are getting an easy ride, because they can afford more expensive (presumably ‘better’) lawyers than most individuals; and are able to lobby lawmakers to enact ‘business-friendly’ laws.

Up to now, society has been happy to allow the rules around the handling of people’s private information mainly to be determined by unelected companies, especially advertisers; and police and intelligence services. Regulation (if any) is in catch-up mode. I can’t predict how things will play out.

Cassandra

Cassandra February 19, 2021 5:35 AM

@Grima Squeakersen

“Legal Definition of moral turpitude

1 : an act or behavior that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community
2 : a quality of dishonesty or other immorality that is determined by a court to be present in the commission of a criminal offense a crime involving moral turpitude — compare malum in se

I can’t quibble with the dictionary definition, but I will point out that my (cynical/realistic) reading of ‘accepted standard of the community’ is in fact ‘accepted public standard of the community’. What people do in private and/or when they are certain they won’t get caught can be very different to the public community standards. Many people are hypocrites, behaving in ways consistent with them believing that ‘rules are for other people’ – a kind of ‘personal exception’.

One of the things the Internet has facilitated is the blurring of the line between private and public, and made it difficult to define a community: an online community is not necessarily geographically constrained. This means (amongst many other things) that online, one can discover behaviours that violate your community’s standards while not violating someone-else’s community’s standards. Determining jurisdiction becomes complicated. Just look at the complications of Thailand’s lèse-majesté laws depending on who writes something critical of the Thai monarchy: their nationality, where they are, where the server is, and where the readers are.

It is going to be ‘a while’ before international regulations and laws around online practices and behaviour, including privacy, are clear and understood by all.

Cassandra

ATN February 19, 2021 6:08 AM

@Cassandra:

‘click-through’ acceptance of terms and conditions

How the individual accepts the contract is nearly irrelevant, once they use the service every day there is a contract in place.
You can claim the contract is invalid, but then have to say it is invalid on both sides – and tell the individual to stop using the service (and close the contract by force, disable that service from Internet).
It would have unacceptable consequences to have the country (laws) rewrite the terms of any contract, without acceptance needed from both sides of the contract.
Note that I am not against declaring the contract (Facebook vs individual) illegal, but I want clarity and accept that it means Facebook can no more be used by anybody subject to that law. Again, I do not care about Facebook, I have a physical live and not much of a virtual life.

Clive Robinson February 19, 2021 6:31 AM

@ ATN,

I really do not want to defend Facebook,

Neither do I, but likewise I do not want a low life like Rupert Murdoch running a national government and other paid for mouth pieces (see the article) for his own personal profit.

The article set it’s self out as stopping a US Corporate taking over the Aus Gov, the irony or sick joke of it, is this only happened because Murdoch and Co’s US Corporate News International had already done so…

Fun fact a James Bond film about a Newspaper and Media tycoon starting WWIII to get media rights in China had an arch villain called Elliot Carvar, it’s fairly well known that the character was based with only minor changes on Rupert Murdoch…

Sometimes you have to chose between two evils, the law does this nearly all the time. Personally the sooner the pair of them get their own little barbeque in hell to rest on for eternity the happier I would be but that is beside the point. It’s why it’s the legal aspects I’m trying to stick to not the justice or emotive ones.

ATN February 19, 2021 7:30 AM

@Clive:

It’s why it’s the legal aspects I’m trying to stick to

I think we can agree the law makers should do their job, define what is acceptable in such a contract, so that competitors companies can create something nation wide (being sure to be protected by laws), and not provide big companies outside of jurisdiction a way to do what they want and take the whole market.
That assumes the laws are respected, and the justice system is usable without having extremely large pockets full of money.
Then you can say to people inside the jurisdiction: The Facebook vs individual contract is invalid, you can no more use their services, use the local equivalent instead.

On the fake news / newspaper / TV debate, I think the initial rapporteur (in front of what is happening) should do a better job (citing sources, showing proofs) and be paid by each final reader (a very small amount, using whatever micro-payment system), and be subject to laws if he is clearly lying. Maybe a reputation system can be built by third party company, with another micro-payment system.
You can tell: I do not believe what is free, I do not believe it is free in the first place anyway.

Fed.up February 19, 2021 10:39 AM

@ALL

I attended a FB sponsored presentation about Cambridge Analytica but it was really about their hidden agenda which is censorship and mind control. Everyone is missing the point, if FB controls the narrative then everyone on their platform should believe their news. FB can make a lot of money if corporates and government believe that FB has the ability to perform mind control. But that’s a falsehood. They don’t. Mark claimed that Russia/USA convinced the UK to vote for Brexit and again he claimed that Russia got Americans to vote for Trump. The USA actually spent $50M+ on investigating that nonsense and found no evidence. Like Brexit, the Mueller Russian investigation tore the USA apart. Yet in the time of COVID when no one is shopping anymore except for essentials, Mark can no longer claim that advertising is FB’s business strategy. Australia is pushing back against censorship and FB controlling their narrative. The same thing is happening in the US.

So far as cookie banners. They do nothing. Even if you opt out, they don’t stop tracking. The tech is too complex. The Regulators are incapable of investigation or enforcement. We cannot expect them to do what Security Researchers don’t fully grasp either.

GDRP actually made data privacy and protection more elusive for Europeans. It is a great example of a law doing more harm than good. Multinational corporates just send all of their data to the USA where it is abused to an extent unimaginable in Europe. FB and Microsoft own the transatlantic undersea fiber which transfers it all into their cookie jars.
https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/28/18244357/microsoft-facebook-marea-cable-16qam-20-percent-speed-boost

So while Microsoft is saying that no customer data was accessed in this ongoing hack, what about this mined data which conceivably aren’t considered customers but their data is traveling over their fiber and may reside in their data center too? Someone in the press should ask Microsoft if their latest breach disclosure includes non-customer data too? Last week there was an announcement of a LinkedIn associated password dump. Were they passwords for LinkedIn or passwords that LinkedIn scraped? Which company (outside of Microsoft) does LinkedIn primarily share data with? People who work in sales often have LinkedIn open on their corporate issued laptops, so this is scary if it was scraping. And it may even be the vector by which Microsoft continues to find additional hacks. Compromised passwords are scraped and sold passwords.

I wonder if the SW hack is really ‘corporate’ espionage from within the USA? Someone that either wants to take out Microsoft or Microsoft is cutting off.

Sometimes the biggest companies in the world do really stupid things. Leadership digs in so deep they cannot see a way out. The Financial Crisis in 2008 was a great example. These CEO were such egomaniacs they couldn’t even see when they were destroying their companies or the global economy.

Microsoft needs to come clean and even identify all of the tracking they are performing on their customers and non-customers – including the embedded tags/tracking in their office products. What companies do these tags communicate with?

Clive Robinson February 19, 2021 12:59 PM

@ ATN,

I think we can agree the law makers should do their job

Yes I wish they would do the job “we the voters” want thrm to do, but frequently don’t.

On a more philosphical side, the law is primarily about loss or harm to tangible property. Loss or injury to “life” is almost always equated in terms of “property” reduced to a “financial measure” in what many call civil law and “loss of liberty” for the body of the “directing mind” in what is also commonly called criminal law.

Whilst that was fine for something like a couple of thousand years so idiot came up with the idea not of “natural entities” we ordinarily call living beings, but “legal entities” that are companies or like companies, that have a quasilegal existance. The problem is that a company has two issues as far as criminal punishment is concerned,

1, Firstly it has no body to imprison as punishment.
2, Secondly it has no singular “directing mind” where blaim can be laid “without doubt”.

Which over the years has alowed some spectacular abuses of power and property without punishment of the very probably guilty.

Keeping that in mind spin forward to around a quater of a millennia ago, when an idea originaly designed to protect inventors of tangible devices got expanded to include the writers of works such as books and music and later in some places intangible devices such as algorithms or methods.

Well the laws regarding what is politely called “Intellectual Property” quickly developed their own highly undesirable side effects, some that are realy “naked theft by lawyer” which is a form of abuse that Monarchs used to have that is “naked theft by government” dressed up in fancy terms as “eminent domain”. Or more simply in both cases “Might is Right” or banditary, that they have tried to disguise as “For the Common Good” which it almost always is not.

Well IP laws are creaking at the seams as they try to align them more and more with a veritable torrent of “information” others see as “property”… And sadly those who belive in the “exceptional” philosophy of “might is right” are leading changes in all sorts of undesirable ways.

What they are trying to do is uterrly crazy from a more rational view point. Information has no tangible form, however you can impress or modulate it on matter and energy.

To see why take two pages of paper that are of the same size colour etc and a small quantity of ink. Using the same amount of ink you could write or print as many different pieces of information as you like. The only difference is the patern the molecules of ink make on the paper. If you could suck the ink off of the paper and put it down in a different patterb, you can present an infinity of information in small finite chunks. Well technology wise we have got close to that idea with the likes of e-paper. The information it’s self has no tangible physical form just an impressed pattern, that could be produced on thousands of different materials or even patterns. Obviously the smaller a pattern is in area the more information can be impressed in any given area, 2-D Bar codes the size of an A4 page with sensible gutters can hold a supprisingly large amount of information quite stably for what could be many millenium to come.

Thus you get to a philisophical point which is at what point does information become the equivalent of property and more importantly why? Then bearing in mind it’s total lack of physicality how do you decide who owns it and again why?

Trust me when I say in general the only people who have thought about it seriously are those who believe they have “Exceptional Rights”. Which basically means their reasoning is “I own it forever and you will rent it till you are dead and beyond or I take it away from you”…

Thus we need more people thinking in not the opposite way as that just implies a transfer of ownership, but in different ways…

Some once thought the Internet would “Make information free” well I think it’s safe to say it’s not had that effect at all, in fact it has alowed others to lock information up to build private empires.

Thus the lesson to learn from that is it’s not going to be technology or people imbuing it with the mystic ability to give rights without question. Rights only come at the point of a weapon, be it a gun or legislation and regulation backed up with the equivalent of a gun in the form of “guard labour”.

Thus we are in a very real war to control those who give orders to the guard labour.

Just to add spice to it, some idiot in the US thinks it’s a good idea to alow corporations to set them selves up as their own “independent states eithin a state”… Which means they will have sovereignty thus “Might is Right” legislation making ability and all the abuses that leads to.

JR February 19, 2021 4:50 PM

@ Clive

When John Perry Barlow wrote his Declaration of Cyberspace in 1996 he was basing it on his history with the Grateful Dead. https://www.eff.org/cyberspace-independence

Until Jerry passed away the Dead used to allow anyone to record (tape) their shows and trade the tapes afterward so long as it was free. We just paid for our blank tapes. It was a perfect world where the music freely flowed and the Dead trusted that no one was controlling or surreptitiously profiting from it. Barlow, their lyricist thought that the Internet could operate the same way.

But around 2003 I began discussing data privacy with Barlow and I convinced him that PII in some cases did need legal controls. To say he disliked law is an understatement. I got a CA Senator interested in the topic too then. Barlow got on a plane for SF in 2004 and I assumed he was going to meet with EFF. We never discussed it again and here we are nearly 2 decades later in a much worse place.

The Grateful Dead were founded in Palo Alto. So was FB. I think that would have freaked Jerry out.

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.