September 25, 2006

Google Posts The Ruling [6:20 pm]

Now for the real fight: Google backs down, posts Belgian court ruling

Google has agreed to post a court order against the company on its Belgian Web site, dodging a potential fine of €500,000 ($639,000) per day for not doing so.

[...] The order now appears at www.Google.be and on the Belgian Google News Web site. The news site now features articles from Dutch and other international news outlets.

Google will appeal the entire ruling at a hearing scheduled for late November, according to the Associated Press story.

A screencap of the Google Belgium www page

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New v. Old Distribution Models [2:41 pm]

Apple, Disney in a Bind on Movie Downloads? - pdf

[Apple's Steve] Jobs would have liked a crowd of moguls to show up as a vote of confidence in technology he hopes will do for movies what iTunes did for music. But with only Iger on board, Jobs has just 75 films — all from Disney’s library — to offer consumers.

Jobs’ problem is that the rest of Hollywood still fears alienating retailers, especially Wal-Mart Stores Inc., that sell and rent DVDs, producing half of Hollywood’s revenue. Studios are reluctant for now to publicly endorse something that could speed the killing of the goose that lays the golden eggs.

“The other studios want to wait and see how it goes,” said Harold Vogel, an independent media industry analyst.

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Some Looks At Advertising [1:48 pm]

A variety of articles over the past few days give one pause:

  • This one from the NYTimes raises a few questions about privacy and the political process: Lost Horizons

    If there is a defining characteristic to [Ken] Mehlman and his tenure as Republican national chairman, it is his fascination with the communications and technological revolution that is sweeping American politics. This has produced once-unimaginable new ways to track down potential voters, by predicting voting habits based on where Americans live and the cars they drive and the magazines they read, and delivering tailored messages to different segments of an overly saturated electorate. Mehlman’s chairmanship has become an argument for the notion that the garrulous and instinctual political boss may be all but obsolete in this age of supersophisticated polling, data mining, niche marketing and microtargeting. In an arena that seems to value instinct, bravado, gall and undisciplined excess, Mehlman is empirical and deliberative. Why should a campaign manager direct resources based on a hunch when there is consumer data that can flush out Republicans living deep in Democratic enclaves? Why guess when you can measure what words will be most persuasive to the middle-class exurbanite voter marching on the StairMaster (watching, no doubt, the Republican ad that the Bush campaign placed on the closed-circuit gym channel after realizing that its voters were no longer at home watching the network news)?

    [...] Mehlman has for this election taken what the Republican Party assembled in Ohio in 2004 — a database of every voting-age resident that includes voting history, party registration, demographic data and consumer history — and expanded it, he said, to include every voting-age American in the country. “In Ohio, in ’04, we got the tip of the iceberg,” Mehlman said. “What we did over the last two years is we got the entire iceberg.” With that kind of data, Republican campaign workers in every state in the country can identify potential Republicans who may never have voted before and bring them to the polls. To help neighborhood organizers plot their door-to-door visits — and to make what might be a dreary exercise at least interesting — the Republican Party uses satellite pictures from Google Earth to chart the routes for house-to-house canvassing.

  • Then, the Boston Globe looks at the Lonelygirl phenomenon: Is this the future of advertising? - pdf

    Whether or not lonelygirl15 is art, it certainly owes its popularity to its willingness to blur the line between fact and fiction. It’s a strategy that, online and off, has been popping up increasingly, not only in underground publicity stunts but formal advertising campaigns. Over the past couple years, movie studios have started including fake websites in marketing campaigns for films like “Godsend” (godsend.com) and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (lacunainc.com), in each case portraying an ethically challenged medical clinic from the movie as a real-world enterprise. Corporate megaliths like Nike and the beverage giant Diageo have gotten in on the game as well, the former with a grainy online clip of Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho performing a series of literally unbelievable feats with a soccer ball, the latter with a parody music video, released straight to YouTube, featuring a posse of rapping, Smirnoff-swilling preppies.

    At the same time, companies are increasingly turning to so-called “word-of-mouth” advertising, in which products are hawked-sometimes by paid salespeople, sometimes just by volunteers-in ostensibly innocent everyday social interactions rather than traditional print ads or TV spots. In 2002, in a particularly controversial instance, Sony Ericsson dispatched 60 actors to tourist attractions to pose as sightseers and ask people to take their picture with a new camera phone before going on to extol its virtues-all without disclosing their connection to the company.

    [...] In early November, the Federal Trade Commission will hold hearings looking into the issues raised by new online advertising strategies, asking, among other questions, whether they mislead consumers.

    Yet ads that pretend not to be ads are hardly new. Fake word-of-mouth campaigns and hoax advertisements go back at least to the mid-19th century, and the rise of each new communication medium, whether it’s still photography, radio, or television, has presented new opportunities for advertisers to gull consumers. It’s an open question how exactly the Internet and today’s shifting media mix will change the advertising landscape. But growing concern about the efficacy of traditional advertising has left advertisers desperate for something more effective, and trying things they wouldn’t have before.

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Wrinkles in the YouTube/Warner Deal [9:14 am]

Warner Music’s YouTube pact raises rights issues - pdf

The easy part for WMG is delivering its existing catalog of videos for on-demand viewing through the site. Similar deals are already in place with the likes of AOL and Yahoo.

But making its recorded music available in user-generated videos created by the YouTube community is a much thornier proposition.

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September 22, 2006

ACAP? Why Not CC? [12:04 pm]

Why not? Because we want you to pay!! Publishers aim for some control of search results - pdf

Buoyed by a Belgian court ruling this week that Google (Nasdaq:GOOG - news) was infringing on the copyright of French and German language newspapers by reproducing article snippets in search results, the publishers said on Friday they plan to start testing the service before the end of the year.

“This industry-wide initiative positively answers the growing frustration of publishers, who continue to invest heavily in generating content for online dissemination and use,” said Gavin O’Reilly, chairman of the World Association of Newspapers, which is spearheading the initiative.

“This system is intended to remove completely any rights conflicts between publishers and search engines,” added O’Reilly, who is also the chief operating officer of Independent News & Media (INWS.I).

The cost of the project, known as the Automated Content Access Protocol, was not disclosed, though the publishers have budgeted 310,000 pounds ($583,700) to seek advice from third-party experts.

[...] In one example of how ACAP would work, a newspaper publisher could grant search engines permission to index its site, but specify that only select ones display articles for a limited time after paying a royalty.

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Living Your Life, Managing Your Death, Online [9:56 am]

Taking passwords to the grave

It’s a vexing, and increasingly common problem for families mourning the loss of loved ones. As more and more people move their lives, address books, calendars, financial information, online, they are taking a risk that some information formerly filed away in folders and desks might never recovered. That is, unless they share their passwords, which poses security threats.

“He did not keep a hard copy address book. I think everything was online,” said Talcott’s daughter, Julie Talcott-Fuller. “There were people he knew that I haven’t been able to contact. It’s been very hard.”

“Yahoo (his e-mail provdier) said it wouldn’t give out the information due to privacy laws, but my dad is dead so I don’t understand that,” she said.

But it’s not a question of privacy rights so much as property rights, said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

“The so-called ‘Tort of Privacy’ expires upon death, but property interests don’t,” he said. “Private e-mails are a new category. It’s not immediately clear how to treat them, but it’s a form of digital property.”

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Robert Samuelson On Internet Doublethink [7:55 am]

A Web of Exhibitionists - pdf

Exhibitionism is now a big business. In 2005 Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. bought MySpace for a reported $580 million. All these sites aim to make money, mainly through ads and fees. What’s interesting culturally and politically is that their popularity contradicts the belief that people fear the Internet will violate their right to privacy. In reality, millions of Americans are gleefully discarding — or at least cheerfully compromising — their right to privacy. They’re posting personal and intimate stuff in places where thousands or millions can see it.

[...] Up to a point, the blogs and “social networking” sites represent new forms of electronic schmoozing — extensions of e-mail and instant messaging. What’s different is the undiluted passion for self-publicity. But even among the devoted, there are occasional doubts about whether this is all upside. Facebook recently announced a new service. Its computers would regularly scan the pages of its members and flash news of the latest postings as headlines to their friends’ pages. There was an uproar. Suppose your girlfriend decides she’s had enough. The potential headline to your pals: “Susan dumps George.” Countless students regarded the relentless electronic snooping and automatic messaging as threatening — “stalking,” as many put it. Facebook modified the service by allowing members to opt out.

The larger reality is that today’s exhibitionism may last a lifetime. What goes on the Internet often stays on the Internet. Something that seems harmless, silly or merely impetuous today may seem offensive, stupid or reckless in two weeks, two years or two decades. Still, we are clearly at a special moment. Thoreau famously remarked that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Thanks to technology, that’s no longer necessary. People can now lead lives of noisy and ostentatious desperation. Or at least they can try.

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Plagiarism v. Copyright [7:40 am]

This should be a fun fight although, since minors are largely the chattels of their parents in the eyes of the law, it will also raise the question of who owns a child’s copyright: Students Rebel Against Database Designed to Thwart Plagiarists - pdf

When McLean High School students write this year about Othello or immigration policy, their teachers won’t be the only ones examining the papers. So will a California company that specializes in catching cheaters.

The for-profit service known as Turnitin checks student work against a database of more than 22 million papers written by students around the world, as well as online sources and electronic archives of journals. School administrators said the service, which they will start using next week, is meant to deter plagiarism at a time when the Internet makes it easy to copy someone else’s words.

But some McLean High students are rebelling. Members of the new Committee for Students’ Rights said they do not cheat or condone cheating. But they object to Turnitin’s automatically adding their essays to the massive database, calling it an infringement of intellectual property rights. And they contend that the school’s action will tar students at one of Fairfax County’s academic powerhouses.

[...] But three professors at Grand Valley State University in Michigan this month posted a letter online arguing that Turnitin “makes questionable use of student intellectual property.” The University of Kansas last week decided to let its contract with Turnitin expire because of cost and intellectual property concerns. And the intellectual property caucus of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, an organization of 6,000 college-level educators, is debating whether such services “undermine students’ authority over the uses of their own writing” and make them feel “guilty until proven innocent,” according to a draft position statement.

“There’s a lot of debate out there,” said Rebecca Ingalls, a University of Tampa English professor who has analyzed Turnitin. “These students are giving their work to a company that’s making money and they are getting no compensation.”

I await the first assertion by a Turnitin proponent that “copyright is not a suicide pact,” a favorite sophistry of those defending selective observance of other rights….

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Expanding the Scope of Google Ads [7:27 am]

Advertising: Marketing on Google: It’s Not Just Text Anymore

Just as Madison Avenue once helped convince consumers that orange juice is “not just for breakfast anymore,” Google is turning to Madison Avenue to help convince marketers that Google is not just for text advertisements in tiny type that appear adjacent to the results of searches on google.com.

[...] Sellers of online advertising are seeking to persuade mainstream marketers to devote more of their ad dollars to new media. That mission took on added resonance this week when a Google competitor, Yahoo, disclosed an unexpected softening of ad sales in two major categories: automotive and financial services.

Of course, some forays into the online media go more smoothly than others.

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Remixing as Gaming [7:23 am]

MTV Will Acquire Maker of Music-Oriented Games

The goals of the deal, which is to be announced today, are broader than putting the MTV logo on a Harmonix game box: for instance, the company wants to offer visitors to its Web sites, its new virtual worlds and its planned mobile services the ability to play along with, or remix, their favorite songs.

“It is about people coming to MTV who are passionate about music and wanting to interact on deeper and deeper levels,” said Christina Norman, the president of MTV. “It’s not just about wearing the T-shirt.”

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OT: Plain Speaking [7:15 am]

Someone brave enough to call it like it is: Our Torturer-in-Chief: Until Bush took office, the U.S. had no problem defining what is cruel and inhuman - pdf

If in doubt, take any of the “alternative” methods that Bush wants to use on U.S. detainees and imagine someone using those methods on your son or daughter. If the bad guys captured your son and tossed him, naked, into a cell kept at a temperature just slightly higher than an average refrigerator, then repeatedly doused him with ice water to induce hypothermia, would that be OK? What if they shackled him to a wall for days so he couldn’t sit or lie down without hanging his whole body weight on his arms? What if they threatened to rape and kill his wife, or pretended they were burying him alive? What if they did all these things by turns? Would you have any problem deciding that these methods are cruel?

Behind the antiseptic talk of “alternatives,” “dietary modification” and “stress positions” lie methods designed to break human bodies and human minds. Legally and morally, many of the alternative interrogation methods championed by our president are torture, plain and simple. And there is no doubt at all that they’re cruel, inhuman and degrading

[...] Bush isn’t stupid. He understands that it’s far too late for him to leave a legacy that won’t be a source of shame to future generations. So he’s going for second best: a congressionally delivered “get-out-of-jail-free” card.

Note that this new “compromise” (Republicans Reach Deal on Detainee Bill) will change none of these practices. As the NYTimes says in their editorial, A Bad Bargain:

Here is a way to measure how seriously President Bush was willing to compromise on the military tribunals bill: Less than an hour after an agreement was announced yesterday with three leading Republican senators, the White House was already laying a path to wiggle out of its one real concession.

[...] The deal does next to nothing to stop the president from reinterpreting the Geneva Conventions. While the White House agreed to a list of “grave breaches” of the conventions that could be prosecuted as war crimes, it stipulated that the president could decide on his own what actions might be a lesser breach of the Geneva Conventions and what interrogation techniques he considered permissible. It’s not clear how much the public will ultimately learn about those decisions. They will be contained in an executive order that is supposed to be made public, but Mr. Hadley reiterated that specific interrogation techniques will remain secret.

Even before the compromises began to emerge, the overall bill prepared by the three senators had fatal flaws. It allows the president to declare any foreigner, anywhere, an “illegal enemy combatant” using a dangerously broad definition, and detain him without any trial. It not only fails to deal with the fact that many of the Guantánamo detainees are not terrorists and will never be charged, but it also chokes off any judicial review.

The Democrats have largely stood silent and allowed the trio of Republicans to do the lifting. It’s time for them to either try to fix this bill or delay it until after the election. The American people expect their leaders to clean up this mess without endangering U.S. troops, eviscerating American standards of justice, or further harming the nation’s severely damaged reputation.

See also John Dean’s Thoughts on the “Bringing Terrorists to Justice Act of 2006″

Frankly, this proposed legislation is shameful. Even the much-heralded opposition of a few Republicans - Senator John Warner of Virginia, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Senator John McCain of Arizona - does little to correct the many deep flaws in this proposal.

This proposal, however, is going to tell us a great deal about where we are as a nation, for as General Powell said, “The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts.” As will amending the war crimes law to absolve prior wrongs, denying detainees “a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples,” and enacting a law that insults the Supreme Court.

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September 20, 2006

“Unregulated Airwaves” Is Expected To Mean Just That [6:13 pm]

FCC seen backing airline’s broadband at Logan - pdf

Boston airport authorities cannot stop Continental Airlines from offering wireless Internet service in its frequent flier lounge under a proposed Federal Communications Commission ruling, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

[...] FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has proposed backing Continental’s request, said the sources, who include telecommunications lawyers.

The proposed ruling favoring Continental has been sent to the four other FCC commissioners for a vote, the sources said. Martin would have to win the support of at least two commissioners for it to pass.

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Is *This* What They Meant When They Spoke of an “MBA President?” [7:48 am]

The culture of spying invading all corporate culture? H.P. Is Said to Have Studied Spying on Newsrooms

Hewlett-Packard conducted feasibility studies on planting spies in news bureaus of two major publications as part of an investigation of leaks from its board, an individual briefed on the company’s review of the operation said yesterday.

The studies, referred to in a Feb. 2 draft report for a briefing of senior management, are said to have included the possibility of placing investigators acting as clerical employees or cleaning crews in the San Francisco offices of CNET and The Wall Street Journal.

And then there’s this: Files hint ‘pretexting’ may be common among firms - pdf

Documents provided to the House Energy and Commerce Committee show that large companies including LaSalle Bank, Ford Motor Credit, and a unit of Wachovia Bank hired investigators who officials suspect passed along data such as personal telephone call records obtained through illicit means.

Investigators believe these firms or their vendors lied to obtain the records, a method called “pretexting” that Hewlett-Packard Co. has admitted its contractors used and that has set off a furor leading chairwoman Patricia Dunn to announce her resignation.

The congressional documents suggest that the same methods the California computer company’s investigators used are common in corporate America. Part of Hewlett-Packard’s defense might wind up being that it was following the lead of other firms, said James Dempsey, policy director for the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington privacy advocacy group.

Some advice from the NYTimes editorial page: Outsourcing Ethics

The battle at Hewlett-Packard, where an effort to unmask the source of leaks to the news media led to a sleazy investigation of the company’s own board of directors involving their private records, offers up two useful lessons.

It should remind those of us watching from the sidelines just how porous our privacy is in an era of databases and hackers and sophisticated snoops, and how much we need greater legal safeguards and protections to keep pace with the technological advances. Institutions should take a very different lesson away: That their reputations are only as good as the people they hire.

[...] Ours is an era short on common sense and long on contortions to either fit the letter of the law or to reach the dodgy state of plausible deniability. While Hewlett-Packard has a right to crack down on boardroom leaks, it has a responsibility to do so legally. As head of the board, it was Ms. Dunn’s responsibility to ensure that the company’s standards were met in any investigation, no matter who was tasked with the job. We hope that Hewlett-Packard’s mistakes provide an instructive example to the ethically impaired.

I wish. But given the current political climate (aren’t we currently watching political fights to legalize torture and wholesale government surveillance!?), I have no great expectations of change.

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September 19, 2006

Ruminations on the Belgium/Google Fight [10:09 pm]

So, Google and Belgium newspapers in a death spiral: Google expunges references to the papers from its search and cache while the Belgian newspapers “win” their court case. Note, of course, that they both lose — Google loses content to point to, while the papers lose eyeballs for their ads.

And what’s the fight over? Copyright, at least as constituted at law for the moment. Is this really “promoting the arts and useful sciences?” Not really, I would say. Rather, this is an object demonstration of what’s wrong with the construction of this legislated right.

It’s not working, and it’s got to get fixed before these fights blow up in our faces. Because we’re going to be the ultimate losers — the end of the kind of open network of information that has been at the heart of the host of innovations that have made the internet such an exciting experiment.

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“I’m From The Government, and I’m Here To Help” [5:17 pm]

Gonzales wants ISPs to save user data - pdf

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday that Congress should require Internet providers to preserve customer records, asserting that prosecutors need them to fight child pornography.

Uh-huh — riiiiight.

The law enforcement officials have indicated to the companies they must retain customer records, possibly for two years. The companies have discussed strengthening their retention periods — which currently run the gamut from a few days to about a year — to help avoid legislation.

During those meetings, which took place earlier this summer, Justice Department officials asserted that customer records would help them investigate child pornography cases. But the FBI also said during the meetings that such records would help their terrorism investigations, said one person who attended the meetings but spoke on condition of anonymity because the meetings were intended to be private.

[...] [Gonzales] called the government’s lack of access to customer data the biggest obstacle to deterring child porn.

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Second Verse, Same As The First? [3:08 pm]

Disney sees $50 mln in rev from iTunes in 1st year

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger said on Tuesday the company sold 125,000 movie downloads worth $1 million in revenue through Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes online music store during the offering’s first week.

Disney, which placed 75 movies for download on iTunes last week, expects the movie downloads to generate $50 million in added revenue during the first year of the program, Iger said.

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Sweden’s Pirate Party [1:00 pm]

Voters Keelhaul Pirate Party

The Swedish national elections on Sunday ushered in a huge shift in the political landscape of that country — but failed to bring the copyright reform movement its first political victory.

The Pirate Party not only failed to score the 4 percent required for a seat in Sweden’s Parliament, but appears to have missed the 1 percent that would have afforded the party state assistance with printing ballots and funding staff in the next election.

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Schneier on RFID Passports [8:07 am]

A colleague brought this to my attention, but I’ve been dilatory in posting it: Bruce Schneier - The ID Chip You Don’t Want in Your Passportpdf

This is perhaps the greatest risk. The security mechanisms on your passport chip have to last the lifetime of your passport. It is as ridiculous to think that passport security will remain secure for that long as it would be to think that you won’t see another security update for Microsoft Windows in that time. Improvements in antenna technology will certainly increase the distance at which they can be read and might even allow unauthorized readers to penetrate the shielding.

Whatever happens, if you have a passport with an RFID chip, you’re stuck. Although popping your passport in the microwave will disable the chip, the shielding will cause all kinds of sparking. And although the United States has said that a nonworking chip will not invalidate a passport, it is unclear if one with a deliberately damaged chip will be honored.

The Colorado passport office is already issuing RFID passports, and the State Department expects all U.S. passport offices to be doing so by the end of the year. Many other countries are in the process of changing over. So get a passport before it’s too late. With your new passport you can wait another 10 years for an RFID passport, when the technology will be more mature, when we will have a better understanding of the security risks and when there will be other technologies we can use to cut the risks. You don’t want to be a guinea pig on this one.

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No Wonder We Can’t Write Privacy Legislation [7:49 am]

We can’t even discuss whether HP’s activities were a crime: Fuzzy Laws Come Into Play in the H.P. Pretexting Case

“We believe laws have been broken; we’re just trying to figure out who broke them,” Mr. Dresslar said.

Mr. Dresslar said the state believed that the laws covered not just the person who committed the pretexting, but others who authorized, financed or knew of it and let it proceed. “You don’t have to be the person who sat at the keyboard and did the actual pretexting,” he said.

Still, proof is not always easy. Robert Weisberg, a Stanford University law professor, said there might have been “metaphoric violations” of statutes involving computer data, meant to thwart hackers. But if the pretexters were not using a computer, “it’s going to be a stretch,” he said.

Even if prosecutors can show that private detectives hired by the company violated the law, it may be difficult to establish that executives, managers and lawyers at the company’s headquarters were culpable.

The Washington Post’s article is even more pointed: HP Scandal Shines Light on a Simple, Treacherous Actpdf

Federal legislation is pending that would criminalize the use of pretexting to obtain phone records. Some states have passed laws banning it, and states, phone companies and the Federal Trade Commission are suing data brokers who practice it. Despite such efforts, including a 1999 law banning pretexting to obtain financial records, the industry continues to thrive. It is driven by systemic weaknesses in retail, financial and other sectors; lax company security standards; and demand from lawyers, debt collectors, and even law enforcement and tabloid journalists, experts said.

“The simplicity of acquiring information like this is almost sad,” said James Rapp, who made $1 million annually using the technique — which included getting information on JonBenet Ramsey and Monica Lewinsky– until he was convicted on racketeering charges and put of out business in 1999.

“Companies make a statement that we have privacy, but when it gets right down to it, if you or anybody calls up and asks for information on me, if you ask nice enough, they’ll give it,” Rapp said.

[...] Authorities have focused their efforts on the data brokers but have largely ignored the brokers’ clients. “There is mounting evidence that attorneys are top consumers of pretexting services,” Chris Hoofnagle, former West Coast director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, wrote in a February letter to state bar ethics committees and the American Bar Association. The center has urged state ethics boards to review the technique under their ethical rules.

[...] The bottom line is, the phone companies need to tighten their security measures, said Jeannine Kenney, a senior policy analyst with Consumers Union.

“The carriers would very much like to act as though the only problem here are the bad actors fraudulently obtaining phone records,” she said. But, “they share the records far too liberally with their contractors and other third parties. In some cases, they may sell it. They don’t have sufficient safeguards in place to make sure someone can’t fraudulently obtain it.”

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Belgian Objection To Google News (revised) [6:45 am]

Although the news article seems to think this is a link/copyright fight, my high school french suggests that Google’s move into Google News is being tested here. (And, as it turns out, a helpful english version of the decision is also available <G>) Belgian Court Tells Google to Drop Newspaper Excerpts

A court ordered Google to remove on Monday all links to French- and German-language newspaper reports published in Belgium after an association of local publishers won a case that accused the company of violating the country’s copyright laws.

[...] Copiepresse, an organization that helps enforce the copyrights of some of Belgium’s best-known newspapers, including Le Soir and Le Libre Belgique, sued Google for publishing summaries of articles in the newspapers along with a link to the Web sites of the newspapers.

The Belgian Court of First Instance warned Google that failure to remove all material from the Belgian newspapers from Google News would result in daily fines of 1 million euros ($1.27 million) a day.

“I hope this is a trend,” said Pierre Louette, president of Agence France-Presse, the French news agency, which brought two legal actions against Google last year.

“The Belgian story is a good sign for the news media in Europe because Belgian copyright law is very similar to copyright law right across the European Union,” he added.

Google contends that copyright law protects its service under fair-use provisions.

The case was heard on Sept. 5, but Google said it found out about the court hearing and its outcome on Friday.

[...] Mr. Louette of Agence France-Presse said that [Google's redaction-on-demand] stance missed the point. “Effectively,’’ he said, “they are offering us an opt-out from appearing on Google, but this doesn’t address the real problem, which is that they attach no value to the headlines, pictures and text from around the world that we spend a lot of money producing.”

The ChillingEffects link to the notice; local copy of the PDF. While my high school French doesn’t get a lot of exercise these days, it appears to me that this is actually a fight over Google News, rather than Google Search. To wit:

Attendu que l’expert GOLVERS, qui avait notamment pour mission de décrire la manifère dont sont présentès les articles de presse et l’interactivité entre le visiteur et le site web de Google News, conclut que “Google News est considerer comme un portail d’information et non un moteur de recherche.” ;

Or, in the english translation

Considering that the expert Mr. GOLVERS, who had as particular assignment to describe how the press articles are presented and the interactivity between the visitor and the web site of Google News, concludes that “Google news must be considered to be an information portal and not a search engine”;

In other words, it appears that Google is being held to the standards of a news outlet, rather than that of a search engine, given that this expert opinion is being cited. Moreover, the EU database laws are being brought into the picture as well. Of particular concern seems to be the cacheing of articles once the newspaper www sites remove the content (!!)

Considering that his research has led him to prove that, while an article is still online on on the site of the Belgian publisher, Google redirects directly, via the underlying hyperlinks, to the page where the article can be found, but as soon as the article can no longer be seen on the site of the Belgian newspaper publisher, it is possible to obtain the contents of it via the “Cached” hyperlink which then goes back to the contents of the article that Google has registered in the “cached” memory of the gigantic data base which Google keeps within its enormous number of servers;

Because, by doing this, Google makes it impossible for the publishers to charge for their archives or, as put in the opinion, “causes the publishers of the daily press to lose control of their web sites and their contents.”

This is going to be an interesting test — will Googlezon come to be?

Later: Ballsy Google Kicks Belgian Newspapers’ Asses looks at what happens to newspaper web traffic when Google gives them what they asked for; also Slashdot’s Google News Removes Belgian Newspaper

Later: Google Won’t Follow Belgium Court Order - pdf; (2006 Sep 22) Google loses appeal on posting court ruling - pdf

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