Thursday, August 10, 2017

VidAngel seems to have a good answer for censorship, despite legal copyright battle right now

I’ve gotten a few emails from a streaming company called VidAngel which offers users the capability to filter content from other streams for objectionable material.  The company explains its service here

The service appears to give parents a way to monitor content their children see with voluntary means, as opposed to depending on censorship laws in the past like CDA and COPA that have been struck down.

Filters like this might be helpful to parents concerned about trafficking risks, now controversial.
But VidAngel has been in a legal battle over DMCA and copyright with several Hollywood studios, with legal issues to be covered another time.  Hollywood Reporter covers it here

I'm placing VidAngel's own short film explaining the legal mess on my Movies blog.  It's pretty complicated, and even involves North Korea. 
I did get a press release with these statements:

"We are once again disappointed by another decision by Judge Birotte that badly misconstrued VidAngel’s allegations. During the more than seven months it took the Court to rule, there were a number of highly-publicized events showing that VidAngel’s antitrust allegations are correct, including the Directors Guild of America’s assertion of its collective bargaining agreement with the studios to force Sony to cease offering clean content to home viewers. Such events notwithstanding, the Court inexplicably denied VidAngel’s request for leave to amend its counterclaim to allege additional facts in support of its claim. We are conferring with our attorneys and will announce VidAngel's legal response to the Court’s ruling as soon as possible."

The decision in the VidAngel case is one of many recent district court decisions across the country which have disregarded the admonition of Twombly, in which the Supreme Court expressly curtailed the role of the district court judge by limiting their ability to make factual determinations on motions to dismiss.  Here the judge disregarded that rule and further incorrectly drew inferences in favor of the studios when the law requires the opposite.  We believe there is a high likelihood the ruling will be overturned on appeal.”

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Senate introduces sex trafficking bill that compromises Section 230

Robert Portman (R-OH) and others have drafted a “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017”, which would expose Internet publishing platforms and websites more exposure to downstream criminal liability to user-generated content attempting to promote sex trafficking or actually offer prostitution.

The bill is said to be more restrained than the House version presented here on April 3, 2017.
Portman has said that the bill would only affect service providers who knowingly publish sex trafficking ads or facilitate them.

The potential for unintended consequences from this bill are considerable, as I have discussed today on my “BillBoushk” blog and will follow up on Wordpress soon. Law professor Eric Goldman takes up this matter in a blog post here
I've already emailed Electronic Frontier Foundation about this development, and noted that litigation against it could resemble those used against COPA, the Child Online Protection Act, a decade ago. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

California official arrested on c.p. charges when service provider set up sting

Here’s another sting case, this time a California Deputy Attorney General, as reported in “Milo News”, story.

This time, an ISP or hosting company tipped off the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  It’s not clear if the ISP itself could have screened for watermarks.vv 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

More teachers get arrested for child pornography possession, possibly by tracking from NCMEC

Local station WJLA in Washington continues to report arrests of school system employees arrested for abuse of minors or especially possession of child pornography.

A middle school English teacher in Fairfax VA, a young white male, was arrested for possession of child pornography, six counts, story here. This blog generally does not reproduce names of suspects until (or unless) they are convicted.

WJLA did not give details. But it appears likely that the offense was discovered by NCMEC by tracing IP addresses of downloaded watermarked images or videos, especially through P2P.  That seems likely because of the low number of charged counts in this case.  

I’ve had concerns that this sort of thing could happen with roommates or house guests or even Airbnb.  Comcast recommends owners set up separate guest accounts for Internet connections.  Verizon appears to offer OpenDNS, which can be used to prevent most unauthorized P2P.  

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

"Be Internet Awesome" video presents classroom exercise for children staying safe online

Google’s sign-on page offers a link to a video “Be Internet Awesome”  where a young male teacher conducts classroom exercises in Internet safety for kids, especially in situations where someone follows them.
The idea that something you say online just might be there for the rest of your life gets mentioned.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Weiner pleads guilty in sexting case connecting Hillary's fall, will be labeled s.o. for life

Anthony Weiner has plead guilty to sexting an underage girl.  Apparently the official charge was transmitting obscene material to a minor. 

He faces 21 to 27 months in prison and registration as a sex offender.  That could limit where he lives and make him unable to use the Internet or smart phones.  His life as he knew it is over.

Here is a story on “Above the Law”.

It is ironic, for me at least, that a “sex offender” issue would become entangled with Hillary Clinton’s emails, lead to Comey’s letter on Oct. 28, and possibly hand a national election to Trump.

I’ve documented how one of my own Internet postings was interpreted when I worked as a substitute teacher back in 2005.  I thought I had not heard the last of it, but what a way for this kind of thing to come back.

Here is an earlier detailed account of my own incident.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Federal judge rules c.p. images in "unallocated space" on a hard drive may be inadmissible

Following up on a story here on April 4, 2017.  Tom Jackman of the Washington Post reports that a federal judge in California has thrown out key evidence in the prosecution of a doctor for possession of child pornography.

The Geek Squad technician had found an image of a naked girl who appeared to be a child in the “unallocated” space of the hard drive.  The judge ruled that such an image in deleted space cannot be regarded as “possession” without other evidence.

Apparently this would mean that the subsequent searches of the doctor’s home and cell phone might have been illegal as well.

"The "Geek Squad City" in Kentucky (SW of Louisville) allegedly finds about 100 possible child pornography images a year.  But Best Buy denies that Geek Squad agents look for them pro-actively or are paid by the FBI to do so. It’s a little hard to see how so many images would be found accidentally.  Would a technician normally need to open the images?

Customers sign an agreement that they understand that any child pornography on a product will be turned over to authorities, as required by law.  But technicians could lack good legal judgment as to what constitutes child pornography, which sometimes might even be somewhat circumstantial.

Update: June 7. 2017

Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing the FBI over Geek Squad informants under the Fourth Amendment, story.