Since we have been talking about copyright and intellectual property thorughout the semester, and the fact that I have spilled my guts to you guys about disregarding the law as we know it, I thought this was pretty interesting. According to Gizmodo, a technology blog, the MPAA and RIAA have submitted documents to the Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement for a plan to put spyware on everybody’s computers to retrieve infringing material.
A submission on Slashdot says, “The joint comment filed by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) requests anti-infringement software on all home computers, pervasive copyright filtering, border searches, forced US intellectual property policies on foreign nations and a joint departmental agency to combat infringement during major releases.”
I find this to be very extreme. These businesses are attempting to have Congress compromise our Constitutional Rights. What about free speech? What about right to privacy? I think (and pray) that the government has better things to do than play music/movie cops. Also, shouldn’t the MPAA and RIAA consider repricing their products at a more reasonable rate or rethink their business models because their products are so easily transferrable with digital technologies?
This subject is somewhat complicated, but I need to blog about it anyway. Let’s start from the beginning. Wikileaks is a website that publishes highly sensitive material that has been leaked from govevernent sources or other types of organizations. The sources are always kept confidential and the website never reveals how documents are leaked (by accident or intentionally by an inside source.) The site is kept afloat by personal donations alone, that is, by people sending money to their website or developing open source software pro bono for the website.
Now that we are caught up on that, let’s move on to current events. On Monday April 5, Wikileaks revealed a video showing an air attack on Baghdad that killed 12 Iraqi civilians and 2 Reuters journalists that were said to be killed due to combat of “hostile forces”. The video shows US military initiating an airstrike on these people because they mistook their video cameras for AK-47s. Hostile forces indeed. I will not link directly to this video, but you are more than welcome to seek it out yourself. It should not be hard to find (especially considering that it is the first thing on the Wikileaks site).
There are obviously several ethical questions we need to ask.
1. Is it ethical to show these gruesome and unnecesarry murders to the public? Should this video be broadcast on television?
2. Is it unethical to keep the public in the dark about this issue. Is it our duty to promote justice?
3. Is it ethical for Wikileaks to host such material on their website? Is it ethical to have a site dedicated to “outting” people and in some cases shame them?
4. Is it ethical for Wikileaks to be requesting money and labor from their devotees? Even when they host classified government documents?
5. Is is ethical for people to create mirrors of the Baghdad video in case it gets taken down from the internet?
Ok, we all know that spammers and phishing sites have allowed for complete hackage of some of your friend’s Facebook pages. We often get messages and see wall posts along the lines of: “OMG, look at this naked picture of you. Pretty wild” or “Get a million dollars worth of free stuff by going HERE.” It is very obvious when an account has been hacked.
Usually in these instances, a Facebook user has gone to a website that is one letter off from the accurate URL. So, instead of facebook.com, it is facebok.com. We are getting more familiar with these things, so lucky for us internet users, the scammers are getting better and better at fooling us into their marketing traps! Yippee!
A blogger has noted these new tactics into pulling people to outside marketing sites, advertising different things by spamming Facebook users. The question is: is this ethical behavior? Should something be done about this or is it just a mere inconvenience? Should people be able to outsmart spammers, or are we just really really stupid?
I don’t know if anyone has heard this story, but on the forums and RSS feeds I look at, everyone is going nuts about it. Basically a student is claiming that his Pennsylvania school disctrict had been using their laptop webcams to “spy” on him within his home.
The webcams in the computers used at the PA school have the ability to be turned on remotely and discreetly, leading 15 year-old Blake Robbins to be creeped out, for lack of a better term.
The question is: is this legally sound? Can this school do this simply because the computers are their property. Some important things to consider:
1. The students were under-informed about the technology.
2. These computers belong to the school.
3. These events took place off school grounds.
4. The alleged spying happened after hours in the privacy of a student’s home.
5. The school may be breaking a computer-intrusion law.
6. Who owns this footage and where is it being archived?
7. Is this case different because it deals with minors?
8. If the school was so concerned with trying to find stolen laptops, why did they not consider GPS, a much less invasive technology?
In my opinion, this case is muddy and will probably be very difficult to settle. I do, however, think that the school district was way out of line. Not only is this an obvious intrusion of privacy, but the victims in this case are minors and their families. If other adults were filming children without them knowing about it, couldn’t it be considered child pornography?