Five Years Ago
This week in 2013, the feds were begrudgingly loosening the reins on some secrecy in minimal ways, releasing a redacted version of their secret interpretation of the PATRIOT Act (which just a month ago they said could not be revealed) and declassifying some court filings in long-running cases against the NSA while still saying the state secrets mean the court should kill the cases. The 60 Minutes journalist who turned the show over to NSA propaganda was insulting all his critics while the show was giving even more airtime to lies from national security officials (and Rep. Mike Rogers was out doing his own anti-Snowden TV appearances). And we took a look at how if Snowden returned to the US to face trial, he wouldn't be able to make any kind of whistleblower defence — and noted that even though, in private, James Clapper was saying he wasn't worried about terrorists changing tactics following the leaks, in public we had four star generals screaming at reporters and NSA apologists calling for Snowden to be hanged.
Ten Years Ago
This week in 2008, Warner Music decided to play hardball with YouTube by removing all its music from the platform — or so it seemed. Later reports suggested that Google took the material down in response to Warner's demands for more money, because record labels just didn't have the leverage they thought in this fight. Though they were still doing fairly well in their battle to shoot down or compromise every innovative new music startup. And though it was just the previous week that the RIAA had announced an end to its lawsuit strategy, they were caught still suing — and excused their way out of it by insisting they couldn't stop lawsuits that were already in motion. Plus, a closer look at the voluntary three-strikes system the agency was touting as a replacement for the lawsuits revealed that the whole thing was more about sidestepping due process than stopping what they were doing, so at least some ISPs were pushing back.
Fifteen Years Ago
And just as three-strikes were the replacement for lawsuits, so too were lawsuits the replacement for RIAA subpoenas this week in 2003. Following the previous week's court ruling for Verizon that the agency can't just subpoena ISPs for customer info (which differed from a recent ruling for Charter, who went back to court to get that fixed), the RIAA decided to start filing lots of John Doe lawsuits first, and boy did they not waste any time getting started. There had been a lot of twists and turns in internet law throughout the year, and some more good legal decisions we feared would lead to bad laws. But at least one good decision affirmed that "DVD Jon" did nothing wrong by creating and releasing DeCSS.