Five Years Ago
This week in 2014, it was slightly refreshing to see the new NSA boss refrain from Keith Alexander’s sky-is-falling hyperbole when talking about the fallout of the Snowden revelations. We continued to learn more about already-published documents — such as the fact that the FBI and CIA were joining the NSA in the use of “backdoor searches” — as well as getting new revelations, such as details on how the FISA Court (which incidentally also this week issued a memorandum letting bulk metadata collection continue, had given the NSA incredibly broad powers to spy on almost any country. The EFF was launching a new lawsuit against the agency too, this time over its procedures for dealing with zero-day vulnerabilities, and over in the other major arena of federal government secrecy, a court ordered the DOJ to release the other secret drone strike memo it had referenced in documents the previous week.
Meanwhile, in the wake of Aereo’s shutdown, the CEO of CBS was twisting reality to call the ruling “pro-consumer”, and we noted how the uncertainty it created may have killed the all-important Cablevision ruling about remote DVRs, but it was impossible to be sure.
Ten Years Ago
Speaking of the Cablevision ruling, it was this week in 2009 that the Supreme Court refused to hear the case and left the appeals court ruling in place. We were just beginning to get our heads around the scope of automated copyright settlement letter shakedowns, as well as the ridiculous copyright situation faced by academics who want to share their work. Microsoft, Yahoo and Real were all sued for making a misstep in the music copyright maze, the RIAA scored an easy and expected legal win against Usenet.com while Jammie Thomas officially appealed the constitutionality of the award in her case, and L’Oreal was continuing its crusade to hold eBay responsible for its users’ actions. This was also the week that a district court infamously blocked publication of an unofficial sequel to Catcher In The Rye, reminding us that copyright is one area where the government doesn’t blink about banning books.
Fifteen Years Ago
Even all the way back in 2004, it was barely news to discover that lots of big companies routinely share customer data without permission or even disclosure. It was perhaps even less surprising to learn that people were opposed to the RIAA suing downloaders, or that CAN SPAM was still a failure at stopping spam (especially with 20% of Americans admitting they’d bought stuff from spam). Also not especially surprising was the latest failure of broadband-over-power-lines or, sadly, the Senate passing yet another slavishly pro-Hollywood bill easily via voice vote. But, though still not exactly “surprising”, it was encouraging and inspiring to see the EFF kick into high-gear with its bad-patent-busting efforts that continue to this day.
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