XXX in Tech
The internet is for porn–unless you live in Egypt. Reuters reports that the nation’s public prosecutor has announced that, in response to a 2009 court ruling, the nation is now required to block pornographic websites.
Somewhere, Rick Santorum just perked up his ears in interest.
Prosecutor Abdel Maguid Mahmoud ordered government authorities Read More
Despite what those skimpy bikini pics in your news feed might indicate, Facebook has really been cracking down on nudity recently. Even camel toes are inappropriate now! But what about cartoon imagery? Surely line-drawn naked bodies are art, are they not?
Actually…not. Turns out Facebook has become so prudish that they temporarily banned the New Yorker’s official page because one of its cartoons was deemed too racy.
It’s July 4th, which means you are either at a barbecue, planning to go to a barbecue later, or desperately searching for a barbecue to crash. However, the limited availability of green space and roof decks means you’re likely to find yourself in a situation that requires small talk with strangers. To that end, we’ve selected a few thematically appropriate conversation starters.
1. Russia’s parliament is considering creating an Internet blacklist for sites featuring “banned pornography, drug ads and promoting suicide or extremist ideas.” Certain elements of the U.S. Congress might try, but our all-American legislative gridlock isn’t likely to let it get far.
2. The European parliament gives ACTA the thumbs-down. Freeeeedom!
3. However, thanks to a recent injunction, you will not be free to buy Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus phone here in the good old U.S. of A. If the party gets boring, we recommend springing this one on an Apple fanboy.
Check Your Pseudonym At the Door
Yesterday, China’s authoritarian government unveiled yet another set of restrictions that might soon be levied on Internet users. In a document prepared by the National Internet Information Office (a division of China’s “powerful” State Council), the authorities proposed forcing users to register with their official ID card before they can log on to the country’s microblogging sites, which are called “weibo” in China. The new rule would also require an official ID for “all the blogs and online forums,” says PC World.
As Reuters notes, the country has been escalating censorship of Internet users over the past few months as the country gets ready for a leadership transition, which happens once a decade.
Tech startup personality and Rackspace Internet talking guy (seriously, what do you call Mr. Scoble, anyway?) Robert Scoble inadvertently ran afoul of Facebook’s vast, hydra-headed Cthulhu-armed cyber-nannyism today. This is news on a Saturday in early May:
…Robert Scoble, the well-known tech startup enthusiast, went to post a comment on a Facebook post written by Carnegie Mellon student (and TechCrunch commenter extraordinaire) Max Woolf about the nature of today’s tech blogging scene. Scoble’s comment itself was pretty par-for-the-course — generally agreeing with Woolf’s sentiments and adding in his own two cents.
But when Scoble went to click post, he received an odd error message…
Arrests, shutdowns of established file-sharing sites like Megaupload and legislation such as S.O.P.A. have driven users to seek a new breed of file-sharing destination. File-sharers are looking for security and privacy and they may have found it with newer solutions such as RetroShare and Tribler.
Naturally, since governments the world over are actively pursuing shutting down file-sharing in a variety of ways, anonymity and a lack of censorship are highly prized. TorrentFreak has more on why these and other options are gaining in popularity:
Law and Order
A proposed Oregon law that could have criminalized tweets about Occupy Wall Street has died in committee due to public outcry.
State senate bill 1534 would have made illegal the ”use of electronic communication to solicit two or more persons to commit [a] specific crime at [a] specific time and location.” The now-dead bill would have carried penalties for using Twitter, Facebook, etc. to call on others to engage in criminal activity as severe as the punishment for actually committing the act.
Oregon State Sen. Doug Whitsett, the chief sponsor of the bill, said he was targeting “flash mob crimes,” in which many people descend on a specific location at a specific time to commit a crime, a scenario that was actually not completely made up: a “mob” of four people who “may be using some of the social media such as Facebook and Twitter to schedule an event if you will” robbed a Victoria’s Secret in Georgetown last summer, and gang members in New York reportedly used Twitter to coordinate the annual “Crips Holiday.”
DAVID KARP DOESN’T SEEM LIKELY FOR POLITICS. When the Tumblr founder and CEO explains what happened over the weekend, he speaks about it in his typically blazing conversational speed, a full paragraph at a time, with the intensity of someone who’s been sequestered on a coding project for the last three days:
“Basically,” he blasts off, “we had this gathering of the internet in our office, we had seventy people and a bunch of politicians on the phone”—and then pulls back to divest himself of credit—”though we didn’t organize the effort, it was the Demand Progress guys. We just put them up in our office, where we had forty-plus people around. We were in here all day on Saturday. We basically showed up to just say, ‘hey, anything we can develop we’ll help develop, in direct communication with dozens of people,’ and basically all of these founders and people in tech companies are standing by following all this,’” and by ‘this,’ Mr. Karp is referring to a piece of legislation going through Congress—”developing, working to figure out how they can seed it in their communities—propagate it—and get it out there. We literally just finished the copy, we had our team of engineers help build it.”
And yesterday morning, these efforts went live, the center of which was a quirky, live collage of user-submitted photos from those with jobs in the tech/online platform entitled I Work For The Internet that provoked the call to Mr. Karp. That was at the beginning of the day.
It’s Holiday Party Season! And just like the rest of the world, massive tech companies have to have holiday parties as well. Except most holiday parties don’t make you sign an NDA—or non-disclosure agreement—just to get in the door. Like YouTube is apparently doing right now!
Tumblr’s 32.5 million users woke up last week to a vision of a dystopian future. ““WTF,” a frustrated fashionista working on her own startup wrote to Betabeat. “I can’t see any of my god damn archives. UGGGGHHH.”
Logging in to their dashboards, where they browse the stream of posts from the blogs they follow, users were greeted with text and images that were blacked out like the redacted sections of a classified briefing.
Those obscured blogs represented Tumblr’s take on American Censorship Day, a protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was going before a hearing of the Congressional Judiciary Committee that afternoon. The bill would allow companies to sue service providers like Tumblr or Facebook for hosting content like copyrighted music files or movies, a big reversal from the safe harbor provisions which had long defined internet piracy law.
The startup community, both entrepreneurs and the investors who back them, had been raising the alarm for several weeks about their concerns that this bill would cripple their ability to innovate and damage the internet economy. But if SOPA was the first real test of the political muscle of the entrepreneurs and small-business owners who are driving the tech sector, it was a test they would fail. Whether SOPA eventually becomes law or not, the issue provided a clear illustration to many in the startup world that they may be frighteningly unprepared to navigate the dangerous waters of Capitol Hill, where buttonholing trumps beta-testing and hard-nosed lobbying beats “likes.”
“We’ve got all these blogs and these Twitter followers, but when it comes to politics, I worry that we’re the tree falling in the wood and nobody is hearing us,” said Fred Wilson, New York’s most prominent venture capitalist and an outspoken opponent of the SOPA bill.