Five Years Ago
This week in 2014, the NSA more or less admitted to spying on congress, garnering a stunning response from Rep. Peter King who apparently felt that they absolutely should be, and also that Rand Paul was a fearmonger for calling for James Clapper to be prosecuted. Meanwhile, as Obama's planned surveillance reform started looking more and more cosmetic and Dianne Feinstein let slip that her reform bill is mostly about protecting existing surveillance programs, we learned that congress hadn't requested a GAO report on the NSA in years. And the House Intelligence Committee was spreading its own FUD about the impact of Snowden's revelations, while Chuck Schumer was completely incorrectly claiming that Snowden could make his whistleblower case at trial.
Ten Years Ago
This week in 2009, Apple announced its big change to the iTunes store: no more DRM, but only in exchange for giving variable MP3 pricing options to record labels. Though a good move overall, there were disappointing aspects, like the 30-cents per song fee to remove DRM from already-purchased tracks, or the fact that Apple was (and remains) still a big fan of DRM in lots of other places. Veoh won another DMCA safe harbor case, this time against Universal Music, while MP3Tunes was continuing its fight with EMI. The RIAA was dumping its anti-piracy monitoring partner, but only in order to hire a different one — and folks were struggling to actually find any ISPs that had agreed to the agency's three-strikes plan.
This was also the week that we saw the beginning of the end for Google China, with the Chinese government calling out search engines for failing to block content.
Fifteen Years Ago
This week in 2004, fresh off the passage of the CAN-SPAM act, the new anti-spam law's impact was essentially nonexistent, nearly all spam was non-compliant even when from legitimate companies, and overall it seemed like the law was mostly designed to make Congress look good.
File sharing was on the decline, though not as much as payphones, while wi-fi was beginning its meteoric rise. While it looked like "DVD Jon" was off the hook for DeCSS, even in Norway, the RIAA was hiring ex-LEOs to bust down doors and scare unauthorized CD vendors, and a Belgian consumer group was suing the industry over CD DRM.
Meanwhile, the world was getting ready for the hotly anticipated Google IPO, and just about every bank wanted in on the action.