Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, our first place winner on the insightful side is That Anonymous Coward with a response to our comment about how copyright filters work:

No this is the way copyright filters work when the law is completely unbalanced in favor of one side.
No penalties for being wrong.
No penalties for lying.
No penalties for assuming everything belongs to you.

Corporations have proven time & time again they can not be trusted. They have lied, claimed the sky is falling and the government keeps rewarding them with larger umbrellas for their actions.

One wonders what would happen if we used the corporations estimates of the damage they might suffer as the basis for an award to people silenced unfairly.

In second place, it’s Richard M responding to the the US Navy’s firing of a captain who expressed his concerns about the coronavirus:

Chain of Command Problem

I am hearing a lot the he should have done this via his chain of command rather than including others in his letter.

I call bullshit on that one. They only reason he would have sent the letters out was if his superiors were not taking care of the problem.

This is a guy that is charge of a aircraft carrier. That is not a post they give to just anyone, he was a highly regarded carrier officer. There is no way in hell he would just jump out and start sending letters like he did unless the people above him were failing to take care of the situation like they should have.

From what I have read and considering there is probably no evidence one way or the other his superiors were more worried about keeping staffing up than making sure the sailors were safe.

His point about not being at war does seem to be addressing this exact issue. Since we are not currently in a shooting war. Did the navy think having the carrier down for a week or two before they could replace the crew was going to cause some country to attack us? Seriously?

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start with a comment from Stephen T. Stone about another person getting fired for telling the truth, in this case the Inspector General who brought the Ukraine whistleblower complaint to congress:

If telling the truth about your boss can get you fired, you’re being fired not for telling the truth, but because the boss didn’t want you telling the truth to anybody. That should tell you a lot about the ethics of your boss — and your own ethics, if you choose to play along, and especially if playing along puts lives (including yours) at risk of injury or death.

Next, it’s Sok Puppette with a close look at the EARN IT act:

Hmm. It actually may be worse than that, because it appears to apply beyond what you’d think of as “platforms”.

The recklessness and “best practices” requirements are applied to all providers of “interactive computer services”. The definition of “interactive computer service” is imported by reference from 230. That definition is:

The term “interactive computer service” means any information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system that provides access to the Internet and such systems operated or services offered by libraries or educational institutions.

The part about “system… that enables computer access” sweeps in all ISPs and telecommunication carriers, as well as operators of things like Tor nodes. And “access software provider” brings in all software tools and many non-software tools, including open source projects.

Under 230, those broad definitions are innocuous, because they’re only used to provide a safe harbor. An ISP or software provider is immunized if it doesn’t actually know about or facilitate specific content. No ISP and almost no software provider has any actual knowledge of what passes through or use its service, let alone editing the content or facilitating its creation, so they get the full safe harbor, with minimal or no actual cost to them. And anyway nobody has been after them on 230-ish issues, so including them doesn’t hurt.

Under EARN-IT, those same definitions would be used to impose liability, so now those parties actually get burdens from being inside the definition. That’s worse than a repeal of 230. It doesn’t just remove a safe harbor; it opens an avenue for positive attack.

This commission could decide that it’s a “best practice” for ISPs to block all traffic they can’t decrypt. Or it could decide that it’s a “best practice” not to provide any non-back-doored encryption software to the public, period.

Or, since those might generate too much political backlash at the start, it could start boiling the frog on the slippery slope by, say, deciding that it’s a “best practice” not to facilitate meaningfully anonymous communication, effectively outlawing Tor, I2P, and many standard VPN practices.

Then it could start slowly expanding the scope of that, possibly even managing to creep into banning all non-back-doored encryption, without ever making any sudden jump that might cause a sharp public reaction.

Back on the platform side, over time the rules could easily slide from the expected (and unacceptable) “best practice” of not building any strong encryption into your own product, to the even worse “best practice” of trying to identify and refuse to carry anything that might be encrypted. Start by applying it to messaging, then audio/video conferencing, then file storage… and then you have precedents giving you another avenue to push it all the way to ISPs.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is an anonymous response to someone who thought the signatures on the arrest warrants for reporters that Jerry Falwell Jr. managed to get issued looked a little sloppy:

I could understand how dealing with someone like Falwell could lead one to drink….

In second place, it’s Stephen T. Stone with a response to the red light camera company that says coronavirus is killing its business:

I can sum up exactly how I feel about this news with one emoji: 🎻

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start out with an anonymous commenter providing an amusing addendum to the story about paranoid people burning down 5G towers:

The idiots in Birmingham didn’t even burn down a 5G cell tower, it only had 2, 3 and 4G.
https://twitter.com/tomwarren/status/1246829900880850950

Finally, we’ve got one more response to the US Navy situation, which ultimately resulted in the resignation of Acting Secretary Thomas Modly, and while I admit I don’t entirely see the connection to the clip that Bobvious linked, I’m enough of a Blackadder fan that I had to include it:

The USS Barbra Streisand

Manned by a Modly crew.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Jo-8ObCqs0

That’s all for this week, folks!

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Author: Leigh Beadon

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