September 8, 2006

Jurisdiction, Prudery and Online Gambling [8:06 am]

US law enforcement testing the limits of jurisdiction by taking on foreign online gambling: Latest Arrest Chips Away at Online Betting - pdf

In an action that roiled the fast-growing world of online gambling, a top executive of a British Internet company was arrested on American soil late Wednesday night on charges connected with taking wagers from gamblers in the United States.

It was the second arrest in two months of a foreign Internet gaming executive in the U.S.

[...] Although it is not illegal under U.S. law for Americans to make online bets, federal prosecutors maintain that it is illegal for online operators to solicit or accept them, even when their operations are not in the U.S.

[...] Many experts question whether the prohibitions extend beyond sports betting to poker and casino games. “The Department of Justice will say that all Internet gambling is illegal,” said Sebastian Sinclair, president of Christiansen Capital Advisors, a gambling industry consulting firm. “Prosecutors can show that sports betting is, but for casino games and poker it’s not so clear.”

NYTimes Arrest of Second Major Online Gambling Figure Is a First for State Officials

Later (2006 Sept 15): Internet Betting Executive Is Allowed to Leave U.S.

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The HP Saga Gets Even Worse [8:01 am]

Note, among other things, how delegation of investigative efforts to private contractors leads to overreaching; plus, while it seems like a crime was committed, we’re still in that murky space where that which would be formally illegal if undertaken by government is less clear-cut when done by private parties: HP Investigators Got Reporters’ Phone Records - pdf

Hewlett-Packard Co. said yesterday that private investigators it hired to find out who leaked confidential corporate information to the media had accessed private phone records of nine journalists who covered the company, without obtaining their permission.

[...] California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said yesterday that “people in high positions” at Hewlett-Packard “could be involved in illegal activity.”

“Do we think a crime occurred?” Lockyer said. “Yes.”

But he said the attorney general’s office was still trying to figure out “who did what, when.”

ZDNet: Reporters’ records hacked in HP probe; NYTimes Hewlett-Packard Spied on Writers in Leaks

See earlier The Culture of Dataveillance

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Temporary Decency Injunction [8:00 am]

FCC’s Indecency Rules Put on Hold - pdf

A U.S. appeals court Thursday temporarily applied the brakes to the Federal Communications Commission’s indecency crackdown, barring enforcement of some tougher standards while judges consider a legal challenge by the four broadcast TV networks and their affiliates.

[...] John Crigler, a Washington communications attorney, said the court ruling was good news for broadcasters. It temporarily halts the FCC from basing future indecency fines on the stricter standards it set in four of those cases. The FCC found that episodes of ABC’s “NYPD Blue,” and CBS’ “The Early Show,” along with Fox’s broadcasts of the 2002 and 2003 “Billboard Music Awards” violated indecency standards because of the way expletives were used.

“The court is worried that this profanity standard is based upon a constitutionally faulty premise and it doesn’t want the commission going out and issuing new rulings until this standard is tested,” Crigler said.

An FCC official downplayed the significance of the court’s ruling, saying it did not give broadcasters a free pass to broadcast indecent material.

WaPo: Court Suspends Enforcement of Indecency Ruling - pdf

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OT: The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be [7:43 am]

Talk about unrealistic expectations. Since when did individual happiness depend upon technological advance? This consumerist look at science and its products is way off the mark, but shows just how badly technological progress is understood. Whither Tomorrowland? - pdf

The future has arrived and, incredibly, we have prototype robots and space vacations, but something very important has been left in the past: a dream of happiness. I’m talking about the undiluted joy of bounding hand in hand across the moon’s surface with a picnic lunch, or having a deep philosophical conversation with a dolphin — real honest-to-God, life-in-the-future, faster-than-light happiness.

We’ve got the gadgets but not the utopia. Maybe utter happiness is just too much to ask of technology, or maybe techno-bliss is just over the horizon. Either way, it seems we have lost that overwhelming, calming and possibly fatally optimistic belief that scientists will one day invent the technology to make us all healthy, problem free and, most of all, really, really happy.

They will, of course. Someday.

[...] The time has come to hold the golden age of science fiction accountable for its fantastic promises. So grab your favorite scientist by the lapels and shake hard. Demand a personal jetpack, a servant robot, an automatic cow-milker or whatever dream of the future makes you happy. The magnificent destiny of humankind depends on it.

And don’t get me started on where I think American optimism went. My fingers would find plenty of targets to point at before I get to any technologies….

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On The Internet, Nobody Knows You’re An Ad - (updated) [7:33 am]

A consequence of the viral marketing trend (and many other online advertising strategies) — how to distinguish between communication and manipulation: Mystery Fuels Huge Popularity of Web’s Lonelygirl15 - pdf

Lonelygirl15 appears to be an innocent, home-schooled 16-year-old, pouring her heart out for her video camera in the privacy of her bedroom. But since May, her brief posts on the video-sharing site YouTube and the social networking hub MySpace have launched a Web mystery eagerly followed by her million-plus viewers: Who is this sheltered ingenue who calls herself “Bree,” and is she in some sort of danger — or, worse, the tool of some giant marketing machine?

[...] CAA spokesman Michael Mand said he “could neither confirm nor deny” that the agency is representing whoever is behind the 27 video posts. (Other talent agencies and production companies contacted by The Times denied any connection.)

As to horror film rumors, calls made to several studios found no such plans — but plenty of fascination for the way in which a Hollywood-ready cultural phenomenon has been built from a grass-roots Web platform. Lonelygirl15, many say, is the next-generation “Blair Witch Project,” using interactive forms of storytelling that, like the 1999 hit, tries to trick an audience into thinking it’s true.

Indeed, if a commercial project does result, lonelygirl15 may prove to be a model of how to harness a groundswell created on seemingly populist, user-driven websites such as YouTube and MySpace.

Later: some online revelations? apophenia’s take and a note

Later (Sep 9) — a revelation — Lonelygirl15’s revelation: It’s all just part of the show - pdf

The latest confession to stun the entertainment world is an unusual one: “We are filmmakers.”

The team behind the lonelygirl15 YouTube mystery has come forward, claiming that lonelygirl15 is part of their “show” and thanking their fans effusively for tuning in to “the birth of a new art form.” They are not, they insisted, “a big corporation.”

Later: more from the NYTimes — Well, It Turns Out That Lonelygirl Really Wasn’t

Even later (2006 Sept 16): Advertising: Trying to Figure Out How Much Tease Is Too Much; and WaPo (2006 Sep 17) — The Lessons of ‘Lonelygirl’: We Can Be Fooled, And We Probably Don’t Care - pdf

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