22 Lansdowne Crescent, Notting Hill, London W11, where Jimi Hendrix died on Sept 18, 1970 at the age of 27. The then Samarkand Hotel, the house now bears a plaque reading “Turkish Embassy.” Photo D.E.
Beach at Brighton, UK, August 2013
“I would rather have a rectal examination on live TV by a fellow with cold hands than have a Facebook page.” – George Clooney, Sept 2009
“To the engineers, I say this: we built the Internet, and some of us have helped to subvert it. Now, those of us who love liberty have to fix it.” – Bruce Schneier, Sept 2013
Update (Sept 9). More evidence of the damage to online privacy politicians can cause without any help from spooks or decryption… TorrentFreak is running a story about British PM David Cameron and his alarming online content filter. Mobile carriers in the UK must have the filter turned on by default to block content that may be considered “harmful” to children. As the story points out: “The filter mainly targets adult-oriented content, but one provider now says that VPN services also fall into this category as they allow kids to bypass age restrictions.” In other words, the use of a VPN service like WiTopia, which I describe at the end of this post, may turn out to be illegal. Without the anonymity provided by tools like VPNs (virtual private networks), the public cannot expect to have any reasonable measure of privacy on the Internet.
Update 2 (Sept 9). ISOC has issued a statement strongly condemning the US government’s attack on the Internet’s core encryption technologies. An excerpt:
“The Internet Society believes that global interoperability and openness of the Internet are pre-requisites for confidence in online interaction; they unlock the Internet as a forum for economic and social progress; and they are founded on basic assumptions of trust. We are deeply concerned that these principles are being eroded and that users’ legitimate expectations of online security are being treated with contempt. … Security is a collective responsibility that involves multiple stakeholders. In this regard, we call on:
This summer, the Snowden NSA revelations greatly altered priorities in the battle for an otherwise enduring goal: keeping the Internet secure and open for use by us ordinary folk.
True, some things never change. Persistently the enemy of reason and fair play, Verizon will have its day in court on September 9, when it begins arguments before the D.C. Circuit as to why the FCC’s network neutrality rules should be torn up into little pieces, cremated and cast into the Chesapeake Bay. The carrier claims the FCC has no possible grounds for imposing such rules; is acting capriciously by trying to do so; and is threatening Verizon’s First Amendment rights into the bargain. As Harold Feld of Public Knowledge wrote in his policy blog:
“Just like Verizon FiOS decides whether or not to carry Al Jazeera America, and on what terms, Verizon argues it has the right to decide whether or not to go to AlJazeera.com, and on what terms.”
Abuse as a feature, privacy as a bug
Which brings us to Facebook and another unsettling story about risks to privacy. Facebook has once again given not just movie stars and world-renowned cryptographers like Bruce Schneier but a billion other people compelling reasons to worry about their privacy. Not that this is news. Abusing everyone’s privacy – in part by changing the abuse policy regularly – is a Facebook feature not a bug. This month it’s not even changing policy, just “clarifying” it. As the LA Times noted:
“The new language says users automatically give Facebook the right to use their information unless they specifically deny the company permission to do it. At the same time, Facebook made it more complicated to opt out.”
(continues from previous post…)
Counsel for TekSavvy in a strong finish
After Zibarras was given time to address Fewer’s arguments with further dramatic rejoinders (opposing counsel’s views could make Canada a “haven for piracy”), the floor went to TekSavvy’s counsel, Nick McHaffie.
McHaffie had by this point received a number of nods from the bench as to his role that day. Several of the nods went to the fence posts, so by the time he rose, we had a pretty good idea of what was coming – especially given the awkward position TekSavvy found itself in as a “non-party.” Continue reading
In my previous post, I predicted that the presiding judge (Kevin Aalto, technically a prothonotary of the Federal Court) will ultimately grant the Voltage motion requesting that he issue a disclosure order to TekSavvy. Over at the HuffPost, that opinion was seen to be part of a larger body of current opinion:
TekSavvy File-Sharing Lawsuit: Voltage Pictures Will Likely Get Their Way In Court, Observers Predict
[...] The case is being closely watched by consumers’ advocates because it is one of the first of its kind in Canada and the very first since the federal government instituted a new copyright law last year [...]. A “court order looks inevitable,” tech blogger and occasional HuffPost contributor David Ellis wrote on his blog.
While that prediction may very well come true, it’s important to understand two things about the way the case unfolded in the courtroom last week. First, Justice Aalto was clearly torn about the complex issues raised by the motion to disclose, and in no hurry to get to the next step. Second, Nick McHaffie, counsel for TekSavvy, made a surprisingly strong, even vehement case for attaching what he saw as crucial safeguards to any order – the term of art for those safeguards being “fence posts.” (I was glad to see the HuffPost also cited Teresa Murphy’s views on the case, as she works tirelessly on cases like this to keep information flowing and people connected.) Continue reading
TekSavvy CEO Marc Gaudrault, COO Pierre Aubé and marketing director Tina Furlan talking to a reporter. The ISP’s counsel Nicholas McHaffie shed his robes after stealing the limelight in the last half hour of Tuesday’s hearing at the Federal Court of Canada.
Correction (June 27) concerning BMG Canada Inc. v. John Doe. In my haste to get this post finished, I misrepresented the import of this well-known precedent for the Voltage case in the particular context of Tuesday’s hearing. My thanks to Nick McHaffie and Marc Gaudrault for bringing this inaccuracy to my attention. See revised passages below in the para starting “To no one’s surprise…” (section 2, Chicken/egg).
<< Executive summary >>
Opening: “I’ve done my reading, but I’m not particularly tech savvy. [...] It’s unlikely I will render a decision at the end of the hearing today.” –Justice Kevin Aalto.
“Copyright has been literally unenforced forever.” –Voltage counsel James Zibarras.
“We have a record of Voltage using speculative invoicing in the United States.” –David Fewer, counsel for intervenor CIPPIC.
“How can John Does come forward [...] without thereby accepting guilt?” –TekSavvy counsel Nicholas McHaffie.
Closing: “It has been a very interesting day.” –Justice Aalto.
Canada’s first mass piracy lawsuit is shaping up to be a mess.
Court order looks inevitable. You heard it here first: I predict the presiding judge will accede to Voltage’s request to issue an order requiring TekSavvy to divulge the names and addresses of 1,000 or more subscribers who are suspected infringers. But the case is so fraught with issues – and a bizarre Catch-22 – he will feel obliged to erect a series of Draconion “fence posts” around the order to prevent the plaintiff from lapsing into one of its old defendant extortion schemes. (For anyone who fell behind in their reading, check out the posts I wrote starting in December - Infringement assault on TekSavvy: Voltage Trolls come north. The latest motions, affadavits, cross-examinations and other paperwork are posted over at the TekSavvy site.) Continue reading
“What do [Canadians] think of this country’s ‘television’ system? Do they feel that the
public interest is being served? I speak of ‘television’ for lack of a better word, because technology has outpaced language.” –JP Blais on pending CRTC review of TV policy
In his speech at the Banff Festival on June 12, Chairman Blais indicated the CRTC plans to undertake a top-to-bottom review of how to manage “television” in the digital age. The Chairman brings a tremendous amount of credibility to this exercise, which he’s earned in his first year at the CRTC helm (a Globe editorial called his speech “very promising” and “visionary”). But even this well-placed friend of the consumer is going to have a difficult time rescuing Canadian broadcasting from its current state of arrested development.
Here are a few of the challenges. Continue reading
“It is absurd to suggest that, in today’s highly competitive video marketplace, obtaining some level of exclusivity is anticompetitive.” –Time Warner’s response to recent charges of anticompetitive behavior
“They are not paying for exclusivity. They are saying you can sell to X, to Y and Z, but you are forbidden from selling to this new class, called A.” –Richard Greenfield, market analyst, BTIG Research
In my previous post, from way back on June 8, I tried to explain some features of the Netflix value proposition, along with the battle that’s developed between Netflix and our conglomerates. That battle revolves around two topical points of contention: the Bell-Astral baloney about needing ever more concentration to fight off the American demons; and the outrageous use of data caps by the conglomerates to protect their legacy video businesses. I then said:
In Part 2, I’m going to add a few more comments about why the Netflix value proposition isn’t just about content, and challenge the idea that it’s going to need ”a lot of exclusive shows” (Pete Nowak’s take).
So here goes.
Nope, content isn’t always king I hear people say they’re not interested in subscribing to Netflix because much of its library consists of old movies and TV shows. But Netflix isn’t a poor man’s version of cable. If it were, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. “Old” content does not necessarily make an OTT streaming service any less original or innovative. Continue reading