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This Week In Techdirt History: December 16th - 22nd


Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, NSA revelations continued to trickle out, such as the unsurprising fact that the agency had cracked standard mobile phone encryption, and that along with the GCHQ it was spying on UNICEF. But the backlash also started to come hard from all three branches of government: a judge ruled that bulk metadata collection is likely unconstitutional, the White House's task force issued surveillance reform recommendations that were surprisingly much more substantial than we expected (though Marcy Wheeler — then and now one of the best reporters out there keeping a close eye on the feds — wondered if this was just to stall constitutional analysis), and seven members of the House Judiciary Committee demanded a DOJ investigation into James Clapper for lying to congress (though at least one representative called this a disgrace).

The NSA was in a generally unhappy place of course, and one reporter told the story of an official calling for reforms to the first amendment because of how mean the press was being to the agency — though they must not have been talking about CBS, which turned over an entire episode of 60 Minutes to NSA apologia and propaganda, or the Wall Street Journal, whose editorial board called Snowden a sociopath and opposed any rollback of NSA programs.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, Hasbro finally dropped its lawsuit against Scrabulous, ending a long and stupid saga. EMI was in a copyright pretzel, using Coldplay's copyright to take down a mashup video that (misleadingly) compared the songs by Coldplay and Joe Satriani at the heart of a copyright lawsuit. The RIAA was still aggressively suing students, and record labels were caught disobeying a court order about how it could use student info it had acquired (by demanding money instead of only seeking injunctive relief), and then by the end of the week the RIAA had officially decided to abandon its mass lawsuit strategy — because it had negotiated secret three-strikes deals with various ISPs.

Meanwhile, more votes lost by Diebold machines in Ohio were discovered, which I mention because...

Fifteen Years Ago

...Why were Diebold machines still in use in 2008 anyway? This same week in 2003, the company's problems were already pretty clear. California was considering banning them from selling voting machines at all, and it was revealed that they had employed at least five convicted felons in management positions. More and more people were calling for a paper trail for the electronic votes, which Diebold offered to add to its machines — at a ridiculous jacked-up price because, as internal memos revealed, they figured the customers had no choice but to pay.

This was also the week that the CAN SPAM bill was signed into law, effectively legalizing spam while not being particularly effective in restricting or controlling it. Google also quietly launched its book search feature, and this alongside some other recent launches was making more people realize that Google was going to be something much bigger and different than just a web search engine.


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