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      The Kids Online Safety Act isn’t all right, critics say / ArsTechnica · Monday, 14 August - 11:00 · 1 minute

    The Kids Online Safety Act isn’t all right, critics say

    Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

    Debate continues to rage over the federal Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), which seeks to hold platforms liable for feeding harmful content to minors. KOSA is lawmakers' answer to whistleblower Frances Haugen's shocking revelations to Congress. In 2021, Haugen leaked documents and provided testimony alleging that Facebook knew that its platform was addictive and was harming teens—but blinded by its pursuit of profits, it chose to ignore the harms.

    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who sponsored KOSA, was among the lawmakers stunned by Haugen's testimony. He said in 2021 that Haugen had showed that "Facebook exploited teens using powerful algorithms that amplified their insecurities." Haugen's testimony, Blumenthal claimed, provided "powerful proof that Facebook knew its products were harming teenagers."

    But when Blumenthal introduced KOSA last year, the bill faced immediate and massive blowback from more than 90 organizations—including tech groups, digital rights advocates, legal experts, child safety organizations, and civil rights groups. These critics warned lawmakers of KOSA's many flaws, but they were most concerned that the bill imposed a vague "duty of care" on platforms that was "effectively an instruction to employ broad content filtering to limit minors’ access to certain online content." The fear was that the duty of care provision would likely lead platforms to over-moderate and imprecisely filter content deemed controversial—things like information on LGBTQ+ issues, drug addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, or escape from abusive situations.

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      Illinois just made it possible to sue people for doxxing attacks / ArsTechnica · Friday, 11 August - 19:40

    Illinois just made it possible to sue people for doxxing attacks

    Enlarge (credit: gladder | iStock / Getty Images Plus )

    Last Friday, Illinois became one of the few states to pass an anti-doxxing law , making it possible for victims to sue attackers who "intentionally" publish their personally identifiable information with intent to harm or harass them. (Doxxing is sometimes spelled "doxing.")

    The Civil Liability for Doxing Act, which takes effect on January 1, 2024, passed after a unanimous vote. It allows victims to recover damages and to request "a temporary restraining order, emergency order of protection, or preliminary or permanent injunction to restrain and prevent the disclosure or continued disclosure of a person's personally identifiable information or sensitive personal information."

    It's the first law of its kind in the Midwest, the Daily Herald reported , and is part of a push by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to pass similar laws at the state and federal levels.

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      A nearly 20-year ban on human spaceflight regulations is set to expire / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 27 July - 11:00

    A crew of six passengers, including former professional football player and television anchor Michael Strahan, stroll past the Blue Origin New Shepard booster they rode into space in December 2021.

    Enlarge / A crew of six passengers, including former professional football player and television anchor Michael Strahan, stroll past the Blue Origin New Shepard booster they rode into space in December 2021. (credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images )

    In 2004, Congress passed a law that established a moratorium on federal safety regulations for commercial astronauts and space tourists riding to space on new privately owned rockets and spacecraft. The idea was to allow time for new space companies to establish themselves before falling under the burden of regulations, an eventuality that spaceflight startups argued could impede the industry's development.

    The moratorium is also known as a "learning period," a term that describes the purpose of the provision. It's supposed to give companies and the Federal Aviation Administration—the agency tasked with overseeing commercial human spaceflight, launch, and re-entry operations—time to learn how to safely fly in space and develop smart regulations, those that make spaceflight safer but don't restrict innovation.

    Without action from Congress, by the end of September, the moratorium on human spaceflight regulations will expire. That has many in the commercial space industry concerned.

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      TikTok CEO fails to convince Congress that the app is not a “weapon” for China / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 23 March, 2023 - 22:21

    TikTok Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

    Enlarge / TikTok Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. (credit: Kent Nishimura / Contributor | Los Angeles Times )

    For nearly five hours, Congress members of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce grilled TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew over concerns about the platform's risks to minor safety, data privacy, and national security for American users.

    “The American people need the truth about the threat TikTok poses to our national and personal security,” committee chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wa.) said in her opening statement, concluding that “TikTok is a weapon.”

    Rodgers suggested that even for Americans who have never used the app, “TikTok surveils us all, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is able to use this as a tool to manipulate America as a whole.”

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      Biden’s TikTok ultimatum: Sever ties with China or face US ban / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 16 March, 2023 - 16:12 · 1 minute

    Biden’s TikTok ultimatum: Sever ties with China or face US ban

    Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto / Contributor | NurPhoto )

    After US President Joe Biden and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) spent years trying to work out a deal with TikTok that could address national security concerns, Biden seems to have given up. Yesterday, TikTok confirmed that the Biden administration issued an ultimatum to the app’s China-based owners to either divest their stakes or risk a TikTok ban in the US, Reuters reported .

    Biden’s demand comes just one week before TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Wall Street Journal confirmed that Chew is already in the US and is working with “experienced Washington advisers” to help him defend TikTok against its harshest critics in Congress next Thursday.

    Chew told The Journal that forcing a sale does not address national security concerns any better than the deal that TikTok had already worked out with the CFIUS. Under the deal that Biden seems to be shrugging off now, TikTok has already invested billions in moving its US users’ data to US servers and hiring independent monitors to ensure that Americans’ TikTok feeds can’t be manipulated and that their data can’t be accessed by China authorities.

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      Congressman confronts FBI over “egregious” unlawful search of his personal data / ArsTechnica · Friday, 10 March, 2023 - 18:57 · 1 minute

    Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.)

    Enlarge / Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) (credit: Bill Clark / Contributor | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. )

    Last month, a declassified FBI report revealed that the bureau had used Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to conduct multiple unlawful searches of a sitting Congress member’s personal communications. Wired was the first to report the abuse , but for weeks, no one knew exactly which lawmaker was targeted by the FBI. That changed this week when Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) revealed during an annual House Intelligence Committee hearing on world threats that the FBI’s abuse of 702 was “in fact” aimed at him.

    “This careless abuse by the FBI is unfortunate,” LaHood said at the hearing, suggesting that the searches of his name not only “degrades trust in FISA” but was a “threat to separation of powers” in the United States. Calling the FBI’s past abuses of Section 702 “egregious,” the congressman—who is leading the House Intelligence Committee's working group pushing to reauthorize Section 702 amid a steeply divided Congress—said that “ironically,” being targeted by the FBI gives him a “unique perspective” on “what’s wrong with the FBI.”

    LaHood has said that having his own Fourth Amendment rights violated in ways others consider “frightening” positions him well to oversee the working group charged with implementing bipartisan reforms and safeguards that would prevent any such abuses in the future.

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      MPA & RIAA Deployed 60+ Lobbyists in 2022, Piracy Top of The Agenda / TorrentFreak · Thursday, 5 January, 2023 - 18:49 · 4 minutes

    agreement A quote attributed to former UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill suggests that democracy is actually the worst form of government – except for all the others.

    It’s a depressing take on the political gold standard, but the full quote adds more nuance. Churchill said that when the people elect ministers and express their needs to them, those in power are shaped, guided, and controlled as servants of the people – not their masters.

    People in the multi-billion dollar lobbying industry couldn’t agree more.

    Down the Lobbying Rabbit Hole

    At this very moment, a GoFundMe campaign launched by the Concept Art Association has the primary goal of raising $270,000. The campaign hopes to pay a lobbyist $187,500 to “educate government officials and policymakers” on a new threat to the creative industries – AI-generated artwork.

    At the time of writing, the campaign has raised $203,300, enough to retain a lobbyist for a whole year. The Concept Art Association says that some of the money will go to the Copyright Alliance, which already lobbies the government on behalf of its own members. Some recently expressed concerns that AI-generated works collide with copyright law.

    RIAA Lobbying – AI, DMCA, Piracy and Beyond

    Other members of the Copyright Alliance include the RIAA, which recently reported several AI-music mixing platforms to the United States Trade Representative, hoping to have them listed as upcoming threats in the USTR’s ‘Notorious Markets’ report.

    According to a 2022 lobbying disclosure report , RIAA lobbyists raised AI as an issue with the government. Other issues included the Notorious Markets report, intellectual property ‘theft’ in general, enforcement of IP law, issues related to the DMCA, and proposals related to technical measures, aka content filtering.

    According to OpenSecrets data covering the period January 2022 to end September 2022, the RIAA appeared in 15 government lobbying reports with a total declared lobbying expenditure (covered by its associates) of almost $5.4 million.

    The last time the RIAA spent more was back in 2018, and before that, 2011.

    Pfizer (17), Intel (18), and Comcast (18) appeared in more copyright, patent and trademark-related lobbying reports than the RIAA. None could match the 24 reports that pushed PhRMA , the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, to the top of the lobbying list, but in third place overall, the MPA wasn’t too far away.

    MPA Lobbying – From Copyright to Z

    According to reports compiled by Open Secrets, the MPA lobbied on 22 separate issues between January and the end of September 2022.

    Copyright, Patent and Trademark reports featured the MPA ten times, Trade seven times, with Defense, Disaster and Emergency Planning, and Immigration chalking up two each.

    Specific lobbying issues included illicit streaming devices, technological protection measures, right to repair, voluntary initiatives regarding content protection, and others related to the internet – domain names, ICANN accountability, WHOIS, and domain abuse.

    The MPA sent lobbyists to the Executive Office of the President, the State Department, Department of Justice, Homeland Security, the House of Representatives, the National Security Council, and the Senate.

    The Department of Commerce also makes an appearance in connection with the MPA’s efforts to weave piracy issues into the cybersecurity order .

    The Office of the United States Trade Representative appears in several reports, at least in part linked to the MPA’s Special 301 and Notorious Markets submissions . In fact, no other entity in the United States appeared in more USTR-related lobbying reports than the MPA.

    Overall, lobbying expenditure of $2.57m was attributed to members of the MPA, roughly half of the RIAA’s $5.4 million. Both deployed 32 lobbyists each and, as always, the ‘revolving door’ was in full effect.

    The Revolving Door

    When government regulators, Congressional staff, or individual members of Congress take on new jobs with lobbying firms or private sector organizations (in some cases, those they used to oversee), Open Secrets lists those people as ‘revolvers’. The term also covers ‘reverse revolvers’ – people who leave the private sector to work in government.

    Of the 32 lobbyists deployed by the MPA, 71.88% (23) are listed as revolvers. Out of 32 lobbyists deployed by the RIAA, 78.13% (25) received the same label.

    RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier previously served as Chief Counsel for Intellectual Property to the Judiciary Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives and according to his bio, has “worked on every major copyright bill considered in the past three decades.”

    RIAA COO Michele Ballantyne previously worked as Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton while Chief Content Protection Officer Brad Buckles was head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

    MPA Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin served as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs. Patrick Kilcur, Executive Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs, served in the United States Senate and was named by The Hill as a “Top Lobbyist” in 2018 and 2019.

    Revenues and Tax

    The RIAA reported revenues of $28,132,459 in 2020, less than half of the MPA’s $62,895,695 . Since 1953 and 1950 respectively, both the RIAA and MPA have enjoyed tax-exempt status.

    The MPA still lobbied the government on tax issues in 2022 because, quite frankly, it would be madness not to, especially given overseas competition these days.

    It’s a bit of a complex system for ordinary people to grasp but when the movie industry pays less tax , in part thanks to schemes like these , not only do more films get made, but ordinary taxpayers get an opportunity to help fund films, pay to watch them when they come out, and pay sales tax on top.

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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      TikTok would be banned from US “for good” under bipartisan bill / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 13 December, 2022 - 23:11 · 1 minute

    TikTok would be banned from US “for good” under bipartisan bill

    Enlarge (credit: Chesnot / Contributor | Getty Images Europe )

    In September, President Joe Biden announced that TikTok would remain accessible in the US once a deal could be worked out to assuage national security concerns. At that time, Biden said it would take months for his administration to weigh all the potential risks involved in inking the deal. Among detractors of the brewing deal, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) emerged, alleging in a Washington Post op-ed that any deal that Biden arranged with the Chinese-owned social media platform “would dangerously compromise national security.”

    Now, Marco and Gallagher have teamed up with Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) to introduce new bipartisan legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives, formally calling for a ban on TikTok. It’s the only way, lawmakers feel, that TikTok can truly be stopped from collecting sensitive data on Americans for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and censoring content to influence elections, sow discord, or potentially even "indoctrinate" users.

    “The federal government has yet to take a single meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok,” Rubio said in a press release . “We know it’s used to manipulate feeds and influence elections. We know it answers to the People’s Republic of China. There is no more time to waste on meaningless negotiations with a CCP-puppet company. It is time to ban Beijing-controlled TikTok for good.”

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      Aktueller Stand zur Jahresendveranstaltung

      nd · / CCCEvent · Monday, 3 May, 2021 - 08:00 · 1 minute

    English version below

    TL;DR: Wir versuchen ein physisches Event zu veranstalten. Es wird aber definitiv einen virtuellen Teil geben. Mehr Infos später im Jahr.

    Es ist noch sehr früh im Jahr, vor allem für Blogposts zum Congress. Dennoch möchten wir euch jetzt schon über den Planungsstand zu einem möglichen Event Ende des Jahres informieren. Auch wenn noch überhaupt nicht klar ist, wie ein Event Ende 2021 aussehen könnte, möchten wir versuchen, dieses Jahr ein physisches Event zum üblichen Zeitpunkt zu veranstalten. Ob das klappt ist zum jetzigen Zeitpunkt allerdings noch völlig offen.

    Unabhängig davon wird es einen virtuellen Teil geben.

    Wir gehen davon aus, dass wir Ende des Sommers (August/September) weitere Informationen für Euch haben. Sobald es soweit ist, findet Ihr die Infos auch wieder hier im Events Blog.

    Stay tuned.

    English version:

    Status of the Event at the End of 2021

    TL;DR: We’re trying to make an on-site event happen. There will be, in any case, an online part. More info later in the year.

    It’s an early time in the year, especially for blogpost regarding the congress. Nevertheless we want to inform you about our plans regarding an event end of the year. Even it’s not clear how an event end of 2021 could be like, we are going to try to make an on-site event happen at the usual time of the year. If this will be possible is not sure at this point.

    Nevertheless, there will be an online part.

    We’re optimistic that we’ll have more information for you at the end of summer (August/September). As soon as we have, you’ll find it here on the CCC Events Blog.

    Stay tuned.

    Photo by Kuma Kum on Unsplash