Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The CCPA goes into effect New Years Day


Aaron Mak has a rather sensational story on Slate, “The big change coming to just about every website on New Year’s Day: Thanks, California”.I had linked to Ian Corzine’s video on this with a Dec. 4 post.
  
Well, it’s probably overhyped to say every website.  It’s those that earn more than $25 million gross, collect data for more than 50000 people, or earn more than 50% of their revenue from selling data they collect. This appears to be an annual threshold (not all time, which would seem to be unenforceable it it were.)


The article maintains that US businesses may spend up to $55 billion to comply.

Sara Morrison of Vox Recode has an article Dec. 30 that explains  the law from the viewpoint of the consumer.  Vox doesn't require login to view articles and doesn't have a paywall, so I would wonder where their exposure comes from (they have a detailed privacy policy), presumably mostly from large scale sponsoring advertisers. (My browser sometimes tells me that it is waiting on "outbrain", which could be a clue.) 
   
Vice (Alex Bode, Jan. 2) suggests that enforcement won't start until summer 2020. 
      
Corzine had said that you have to be concerned if you collect, even through hidden cookies, more than 137 items of personal info a day in a year, but the law (when read) seems to refer to number of households or persons unduplicated.
  
I wrote an “official post” on my notes blog about the issue today, link.  
  
YouTube channels are apparently regarded as “sites” in the law (in a manner similar to COPPA). But YouTube would normally supply visitors with the necessary option buttons.   
  
As pf now, Blogger has not yet said anything new on the work platforms for users, as it had done for the similar EU GDPR.
  
Some commentators say this legislation was mostly inspired by Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, but it is fairly easy for a company the size of Facebook to comply technically now.
    
YouTube channels and particularly hosted websites that have individual corporate advertisers as sponsors will have to be careful how they comply if the advertisers provide them material.  
Websites should be careful with third party widgets that generate dynamic url’s on their own domains.  I will investigate this problem with services often used (like PR Newswire).  I suspect there are programmers (some of whom I probably know) who have thought of this. A lot of them may be making big $$$ this winter between COPPA and CCPA solving all these problems and connecting the dots.  Good for college tech major kids on gap years. 

Monday, December 30, 2019

More storm clouds on the horizon for individual speakers (and "whistlegate" is part of it, as are the "free radicals")


Talk of ugly channels in the future continue.

Today, on CNN, a rabbi, apparently from Money NY, talking about the stabbing, suggested that social media companies (and maybe hosting platforms?) be expected to do background checks on people before letting them have accounts, and suggested they should be responsible when hate speech leads to violence.  Part of the tone of the remarks comes from the volume of threats against segments of his community especially in and around NYC.   

But the idea had been floated in Europe as a result of passing the Copyright Directive earlier this year and the “upload filter” Article 17 which would start going into effect in many EU countries now.  YouTube even admitted this possibility in the fall of 2018.

Some the rabbi's remarks sounded incorrect:  large social media platforms do automatically screen for hate speech and catch a lot of it.  Some other sites so not (or do much less).  

CNN reports that some people in Orthodox communities are concealing their identities in public (today, interview around 3:05 PM) and that president Trump could do more about this, by XO if necessary. 
   
Then today there was more blowback on Trump’s “retweetgate” regarding the whistleblower’s name (See BuzzfeedNews story by Ryan Broderick). YouTube told Tim Pool that the name cannot be repeated on its platform under any circumstances. And Bloomberg news (however conveniently) offers the opinion that Trump broke the law (the whistleblower protection act) doing this and that YouTube’s and Facebook’s policies are motivated by valid legal concern (how do you define “coordinated harm” anyway?).  Of course, other journalists maintain they are free to report whatever is public knowledge already and true.  The last part might be called into question as to the name.  But YT’s policy would mean that another person with the same name could not use his own name on their account (or in the case of FB, have an account at all). It is also worthy of note that apparently Facebook has banned linking to (conservative usually) news stories that purport to name the person (although the link that got Ford Fischer suspended did not contain the name.)  


William Feuer has a detailed article on CNBC examining how YouTube has changed its algorithm to direct content away from radical politics (especially on the right).  The article skims across the question as to whether YouTube still has moral responsibility for allowing the content to be there, or whether moral responsibility exists only with perpetrators of violence themselves.

The other angle, of concern to me, is that independent speech tends to run counter to traditional organizing and solidarity. It becomes a moral problem if it is propped up by a business model that radicalizes disadvantaged people into instability and violence, but the CNBC story would seem to quash the idea that YouTube’s existence depends on stochastic radicalization.
  
In another new BuzzfeedNews story by Kate Notopoulos, “How we killed the old Internet”, the writer characterizes Blogger (this platform) is on “life support” as owned by Google and mentions a 2018 tweet suggesting that not many people work there.  We’ll watch this one.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Could solo-owned websites some day be required to have backup persons or companies for support?



Even though I recently did a videotaping session to explain my concerns for the future of online speech with the assistance of a friend, generally I do almost all my blogging myself and I am the only person in detail with how my setup works in detail.
  
I have been pondering this more lately, and there are plans for changes that apparently must happen at the end of 2021 (two more years) that I’ll go into in more detail soon.

It does make sense to me that at some point, hosting companies and domain registrars could require backup resources.  Right now, my domain registrations are “private” but merely specify me as a technical contact and give personal information only available through the registrar (on WHOIS) going through the proper security procedures.  The largest contract for the four Wordpress blogs specify only me as the contact through mid June 2022.
  
YouTube channels are not registered as domains, although we know from COPPA that the FTC seems to think they should be. However, as I’ve indicated in the talk Dec 26, it make sense that YouTube will in due time be pickier as to who has earned the “privilege of being listened to” and having a channel. That could reasonably include specification of alternative technical contacts. 

It will be more important to work with third parties in the future than it has been.
  
There was some talk about media perils insurance for amateur bloggers in 2001 (with the National Writers Union) and again in 2008, but the idea seemed to die with the financial crisis that year.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

YouTube seems to be checking up on low-volume non-monetized channels, accidental incident with me


Is YouTube starting to look at its low-volume accounts or at least individual videos.  After finishing a blog post today of a large video recording session,  I looked at another one from June where I speak on another person’s channel (look at my tag “major video recording sessions”). 
  

Then YouTube, in a few minutes, as “help us build a better YouTube” and asks me a survey question on that video. They don’t even realize I speak in it. I gave myself a 4 out of 5 and called my own video "informative".  

Are they looking at low-volume accounts to decide later whether to get rid of them and allow only people on who “sell”?  Ironically, I had talked about that in the video recording session Thursday.
Maybe the “commercial viability” clause isn’t as innocuous as it has been interpreted to be? 

Or are they simply looking at when people look at specific videos outside of their algorithms? (generally I do that a lot). 
  
I notice a lot of people more in the sciences and some artists are getting away from YouTube and social media altogether in the past few months, given all the scandals and bad raps. And now COPPA, CCPA, and persistent identifiers.  
 
Hoeg Law's Virtual Legality video above is from Nov. 18. 

Friday, December 27, 2019

Here is a more "moderate" explanation of Antifa



Abdullah Shihipar has a useful history in Teen Vogue, Oct. 25, 2017, “Antifa History and Politics, Explained”. 
  
The article maintains that most of the loosely connected “Antifa” or “Anti-Fascist” activism is intended to prevent white supremacists or other extreme-right elements (anti-Semitic) from organizing before more Charlottesville’s can happen.


However, the article was written before all the deplatformings and collusion scandals involving Patreon, Subscibestar, Gab, and even Facebook and YouTube late in 2018 and into 2019.  Twitter has sometimes been involved, in its own way.

The article has an important key sentence about “politics that aim to deprive people of their humanity…”

However “social justice warriors” have often practiced “guilt by association”, accusing people of “white supremacy” when they are positioned more like traditional (Reagan-style) conservatism, sometimes even libertarianism.

The article seems to try hard to make a case for the need for militant activism in some cases, and that people who refuse to fight for others when challenged are inviting future authoritarianism later.
  
Tim Pool weighed in on this article this morning on Twitter.  Remember, SJW-activists tried to disrupt the Minds conference on Aug 31, which had a venue cancel and it moved to Philadelphia.  They made accusations that the meeting was a far right-wing group which it definitely was not (most of the political beliefs were pretty much in the center).  So "Antifa"-style activists are falsely labeling almost any visible "conservatives" as WS.  "Organizing" online in public is actually much more important than to the right, which has more speakers who like to run their own shows.  Extreme right-wing elements do organize (like rural militias) but they tend to do so clandestinely, in person or on the dark web. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Screenwriter's take on why YouTube is not a particularly desirable way to become established as an artist


Screenwriter Tyler Mowery gives his take on “Why you shouldn’t be a YouTuber”.
  
  
He describes the pressures that some YouTubers feel to stay at the top, to keep their audiences.  He mentions Casey Neistat (as does John Fish).  Lindsay Dodgson had discussed this in The Insider in January.
  
An artist needs a reputation with what he/she/they has sold or had exhibited publicly through more traditional channels.  He gives an example of director Christopher Nolan, who isn’t in the news every day.  In fact, the plot of his next ponderous sci-fi film “Tenet” (the word is a palindrome) is still an industry secret.  I’m not such a big fan of the idea that you can jump universes through the multiverse because of quantum theory.

So for an artist, the problem is, well, it's social media. 
  
A few years ago, you could have developed a similar take on blogging, as Blogtyrant was promoting it, and that’s what I became in retirement in the 2000’s.
   
The Internet and WWW (starting with Web 1.0 well before 2000) gradually introduced a new way to become influential, if not famous, without “paying your dues” first to the whole system that guilds of artists and journalists alike had depended on for a living.  This is all unraveling.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Internet's sustainability and climate change; Ford Fischer reports progress on monetization(?); why cookies help me


Kevin Lozano has a provocative piece in the New Republic, Dec, 18, 2018, “can the Internet survive climate change?”

The piece (under paywall) argues that infrastructure will become increasingly vulnerable to damage in a warmer world, partly because flooding but even for reasons involving salt ware changes.
  
Today Ford Fischer (News2Share) reported that YouTube had silently allowed monetization of his channel, but when he tried to monetize individual recent videos, they would all demonetize immediately.  The auto-re-demonetization video would make for a short film itself.


YouTube thinks advertisers will be skittish about seeing their ads next to content that shows polarized Americans protesting and often shouting extreme positions about many issues or getting arrested.
   
Ford wants the public to see the raw footage of exactly what is going on, as to how angry some Americans are. Other say that the media, especially independent media, contribute to a climate where protesters know they will be seen and heard (although there are some who say they don’t want to be filmed and want filmmakers instead to protest with them.)
   
I’ve had a couple of occasions recently where people I had met at protests showed up as having interesting (not extreme) YouTube channels.  It may be that the cookies and persistent identifiers help me be connected to people whom I should know more about or meet again.  Then COPPA is in the way.



Update:  Dec 23

Ford Fischer now reports that some of his content was monetized when stolen.  What is going on?

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Steven Crowder warns that YouTube intends another Purge in January based on the latest "harassment" or "bad actor" or even "commercial viability" concerns


Steven Crowder, the conservative YouTube comedian who became notorious in his battle early last summer with Carlos Maza (“Thanos”) has advised his followers that a YouTube “Purge” is coming in January and that the ramifications of the expansion of the anti-harassment policy are not fully known yet. 


The video also hints that the guidelines may make use of the “commercial viability” language.
   
It’s interesting that Crowder notes that other independent creators were hurt as a result of the fallout from someone “getting his feelings hurt”.   For what it's worth, I think Maza made really great Strikethrough videos (his interview of David Hogg is a masterpiece) and I've urged him to get away from the extremist tweets and get back to work!  (Yup, I am a slightly right-of-center libertarian-esque, unitarianist gay conservative.) 
  
Crowder says he has sequestered a few videos on his “MugClub” or even this.

True, YouTube (as noted yesterday) has been very erratic, changing the goal posts and taking action very suddenly on a number of issues.  It is not clear to me that all the action it took June 5 (demonetizing Ford Fischer, for example) was caused by Crowder-Maza, but YouTube certainly reacted clumsily and has not answered a lot of obvious questions.
  
I’ve updated the description of my own YouTube channel today. 
  
Recently I have gotten a series of comments from one visitor who keeps asking the same question, why I shot 3 brief videos at a QA about his “country” as if my doing so were an insult.  Is this what YouTube means by aggregation of “harassment”?  It sounds very facetious.  It sounds like “skin in the game”.
  
Yet, many people live in environments where they have to live “tribally” and they feel that they have to take offense easily to protect others in their group from unpredictable asymmetric stochastic threats from outlier lone-wolf “crazies”.  (Just one example:  Comet Ping Pong in December 2016.)  Many “intersectional” groups feel that Donald Trump (just now impeached as I write this) has put them in physical danger from risks of this nature, and then the conservative channels and sites add more aggravation to some “left behind” individuals.
   
I’ve followed some videos by Ian Corzine (and Hoeg Law and Tim Pool, as recently with the COPPA and CCPA issues) and a lot of my reaction can be found on a Wordpress blog with the given tag "Dangerous Thought Experiment".

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Major independent YouTube channel banned from posting links on Facebook for trying to post a link very critical of YouTube's performance


Well, I’m aghast at this one.  Ford Fischer  (“News2Share”) was banned for 60 hours from sharing links on his Facebook account for posting a “ReclaimtheNet” article critical of YouTube’s behavior in 2019 (which included demonetizing Ford on the same day it tried to resolve the Maza-Crowder controversy).
   
So the site wrote an article about banning Ford.   There seems to be a possibility that the article spoke quasi-favorably about someone that Facebook considers "dangerous" or part of the white nationalism (and FB may well believe this incorrectly about a few of these people).  

The earlier article went into great detail about YouTube’s knee-jerk reactions to external pressures all year, culminating in the COPPA settlement with the FTC and then its fuzzy expansion of an anti-harassment policy. 
  
  
I tried an experiment and simply posted a link to the site home page on my own Facebook account, and it had no problems.

It is very unusual to ban links (unless they go to porn) – and there is supposed to be an informal “server rule”.
  
I also had a bizarre exchange over one of my own small YouTube posts, from the QA for the screening of “Freelancers: Mexico”.  I explain this in a Tweet thread. I had a similar incident commenting on a Virtual Legality thread about the anti-harassment policy and COPPA. Please act as if it is wrong to comment on something unless your own skin is in the game and in the line of risk.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

How most "independent journalists" make a living: they still depend on mainstream media



I attended a screening of “Freelancers: Mexico” at the Newseum Saturday, and the audience comprised largely many independent journalists.

Most of the journalists make a living by making contracts with major media to cover specific events in specific locations with photojournalism.  This happens even as mainstream media cuts back news bureaus, especially overseas, and regular reporter employees. 

Relatively few of them try to run major video channels or blogs to establish their own personal brands. 

So they weren’t as familiar with the mainstream media’s attempts to squash independent channels (like David Pakman’s) by making the latter look advertiser unfriendly and even supporting collusion and deplatformings (or at least demonetizations, like Ford Fischer’s), as I had expected.

They were aware that mainstream media is creeping toward more bias and is losing objectivity, as it faces pressures from advertisers, investors, and politicians.  (Example:  the Covington kids.)  

Yet most of the journalists didn’t have a lot of confidence in branding themselves publicly alone, and I thought that was interesting.

A lot goes into having a personal brand as someone who transmits news and sometimes influences policy perspective on some important issues.  This is becoming more problematic and I’ll be coming back to that.
  
Also, on the whole issue of social media and websites and YouTube channels misusing (sometimes inadvertently) personal information, there are some capacities already around that we can look at as to whether they help.  They all range from browser tools (incognito, do not track, etc), to possibly router settings, smartphone and operating system settings.  Maybe more can be expected of users.  Pakman has mentioned a service called “privacy.com” that I’ll come back to soon. 

Friday, December 13, 2019

Buyout offer of ".Org" could be a warning shot of other domain name wars to come


Electronic Frontier Foundation has a strong article by Mitch Stolz, about the private equity firm buyout of the “.org” TLD which is widely used by non-profits, link here

This is called the Public Interest Registry which would be sold to Ethos Capital.   There is a group trying to stop the purchase, SaveDotOrg.  
.

EFF maintains that the new owner would have the capacity to discriminate against non-profits it doesn’t like.
  
It’s true, there are disturbing reports about the overzealousness of non-profits in “begging” for money, some of which goes to third parties (even Facebook).  O get a lot of junk mail these days (end of year) but I am somewhat of a problem:  I do most of my donations automatically through my trust, which doesn’t participate in matching funds.  And I speak independently rather than joining in with other groups with radical agendas. I’m a bit of a thorn in their sides.

The article has some other history of disturbing developments in the domain name world.  MPAA is accused of getting some domains canceled as trademark of copyright infringement. Bing is accused of being in collusion with some pharmaceuticals. The EFF article links to another one written with Jeremy Macolm in Feb. 2017 where  DNA (Domain Name Association) would have to power to shut down domain names that it finds are somehow abusive, without due process.  Imagine how commercial or union protectionism could tempt this process.

I have to watch some other things.  The CASE Act still is not reported as passed by the Senate;  not sure if it would happen by the end of the year (sounds like it should).  Once it passes, it will be very important to find out what the Copyright Office has to say to Internet users as to what, in a practical world, they should be concerned about. We’ve seen this already with the FTC.  It could blow up as a controversy in 2020.
  
Also, it appears, from under the table, that YouTube has started reaching out to some high profile and especially tech-savvy YouTubers for ideas as to how to solve its business model problem relative to regulation and the FTC (COPPA). I discussed Ian Corzine’s apocalyptic video on Wordpress;  but maybe YouTube is not as prepared to become another Netflix as some lawyers fear.

Update: Dec. 27, 2019

Here's an interesting story about a Cold War land deal behind the .io TLD. often associated with cryptocurrency. 

Thursday, December 12, 2019

YouTube makes its "anti-harassment" rules much more ambiguous and unpredictable in enforcement; new questions on how radicalization really happens


There is a lot of scuttlebutt in the past two days about the ambiguity of YouTube’s expanded “anti-harassment” policy, on its own creators blog
  
Hoeg Law has the most expanded discussion of the problems with this post. Note the thumbnails of Stephen Crowder and Carlos Maza, whose dispute last spring YouTube handled so badly, leading to "Vox Adpocalypse". 
   

The basic problem with all this, is the “compound interest” idea, and its retroactivity to previously posted content, which confronts the poster with the idea that a video acceptable today might be taken down later because of some larger group context. 

I presume the same ideas could apply to Blogger, which this post is on. 

One idea is that a pattern of many individually acceptable videos (or blog posts with embeds) about an otherwise not so famous individual (like a smaller Youtube channel) could turn out to draw unwanted attention to “them”.  I often use “independent channels”, but I notice that there is a difference between how the large independent channels (Pakman is an example, of a “Youtuber” who can make a living off the channel and who hires employees – obviously, also, Pewdiepie) and some of the smaller personal ones that don’t ask for memberships or donations, feel about the practice. 

This issue has come up before with the fact that I put the text of my three DADT books online, making a few people less obscure (because of search engines) than they might otherwise have remained.
   
Bostwiki has a summary video this morning (8 min) where he also mentions Gab’s sudden no pornography policy – because its payment processor otherwise would view it as “high risk”.   


  
There is a big article in Wired (paywall), by Paris Martineau, Oct. 23, 2019, “Maybe it’s not YouTube’s algorithm that radicalizes people”, link. Read it now.  It is based on a study at Penn State; remember there had been some controversy from another study at Cornell.  I’ll come back to this later.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Twitter suspends more journalists for reposting screenshots of Saudi "Manifesto"; are mainstream journalists becoming political operatives?


Social media companies still behave erratically, banning or removing or demonetizing content suddenly as knee-jerk reactions to criticism, usually from persons not considered paid professionals in establishment media, but sometimes even those with established outlets.

  
Fox and Friends Pete Hegseth was suspended from Twitter for posting a screenshot of the Pensacola shooter’s “manifesto”, as Deadline reports. 
  
Apparently the suspensions also applied to Mike Cernovich and Andy Ngo (who was suspended earlier for a “gratuitous” tweet to Chelsea Clinton restating a well known but inconvenient fact).  Post Millennial reports here.

Twitter says its rules prohibit posting materials from recognized terrorist groups.  It’s unclear in the case of the shooter Alshamrami was really a member of a group (he had been to Saudi Arabia) or acting alone, and apparently the forbidden materials came from his account.  Maybe the manifesto was just his own rant. 
   
I would personally rather see the material if it somehow was threatening (like to me).  Just as with New Zealand and later El Paso, I’d like to see the originals of what they were thinking (like incel Elliot Rodger).
  
We’ve seen a similar issue with “gratuitous” repeating of the Whistleblower’s name and even picture in some conservative sites. (He seems to be an entirely reputable and responsible person.) 

Timcast talked about this Monday, and he also discussed journalists’ erratic reporting (and then taking back) stories about Ukraine’s possible meddling in US elections which, well, common sense says was really Russian.  (It is not completely clear, to me at least, if Biden and family have any significant culpability for what happened in Ukraine, and this may matter legally still in an impeachment trial – I’ve seen Pakman’s claims that Trump has accidentally confessed to everything – but it takes time for a private citizen to go through all the evidence with so much else on the table to follow.  I say, call John Bolton in the trial.).  Pool thinks that establishment media journalists are forced (mainly by the Left) to become covert political operatives.
    
“A regular president would go home to his mommy” (Baby Trump today.)  Why can’t we attract better people to run for office?  Ask David Hogg and maybe Cameron Kasky.

Monday, December 09, 2019

COPRA could implement California-style CCPA rules on websites and social media nationally


Adam Schwartz of Electronic Frontier Foundation discusses Sen. Maria Cantwell’s legislation Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA) , referring to a Washington Post story by Tony Romm Nov. 26.  I don’t know if the bill has been introduced yet.


The new bill is especially strong on denying “pay for privacy” schemes in social media.

A recent scandal reported on CNET (my ID theft blog) notes that there are several aggressive data collection companies, not well know to the public, guilty of massive breaches recently.

The bill is said to be similar in some ways to California’s CCPA and would not override stronger state laws. It would seem to resemble Europe's GDPR also (see post yesterday about an issue David Pakman reports). 
  
But I would want to stress the idea that funding the Web (especially self-publishing without ephemeral intent on major social media platforms) with persistent identifiers (cookies) is becoming unsustainable (which is another reason there are so many paywalls).  But for years this mechanism has allowed “free riders” (like me) who do little commerce get found – because other people will pay attention to ads even if I don’t.  It becomes like a herd health model thing.

Families with children, and single women, and sometimes the elderly and poor, are much more vulnerable to data theft than well-off single men (including LGBT). '



  
There has been some controversy Monday morning over (Twitter) suspension / banning of several journalists for posting screenshots of other materials about the Saudi gunman in Florida.  This is disturbing and murky (as to the law) and I’ll get to it when I have time to get more facts.  If somebody wrote a manifesto threatening to me, I’d want the right to see it.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

David Pakman Show has to fend off a vendor that seems to want him to violate state privacy laws as well as GDPR


David Pakman (of the David Pakman Show in Boston) described his being approached by one of his service providers that David’s show needed to switch other aspects of his operation to a particular company or be cut off completely from this provider.


From David’s description, it sounds as though the new company would have tracked personal information of visitors much more aggressively (probably with persistent identifiers) to sell more ads. 

The arrangement would have violated the EU GDPR but not US privacy law.  But from David’s description, it does sound as though it could have caused his operation to violate California’s CCPA based on viewers or visitors from the state earning him revenue, and laws like CCPA are likely to be enacted in more states in 2020.
   
David said no, and will apparently take some hit on revenue starting in 2020 to protect his visitor base.   

This whole tactic reminds me of controversy over the DOJ proposed gutting of the Paramount Consent Decree in the movie and theatrical distribution business (see Movies blog today). 
       
 Adam Schwartz has an article for Electronic Frontier Foundation that speaks favorably for California CCPA, but it seems there will be more details to iron out in 2020 as to how websites and YouTube channels could be affected. 
        
 Also, I've noticed one or more Wordpress sites even without ads throwing cookie warnings at visitors the first time, and here is one plugin that can do this.  I'll look into whether I need the plugin or a similar one on my Wordpress sites.  

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Why doesn't YouTube offer the FTC's "Mixed Audience" designator for channels or videos for COPPA?



Legal Eagle gave a detailed and speculative update on COPPA today, Dec. 7, and it’s almost 50 minues long.


LE uses the term “persistent identifiers” for cookies, and that’s really the term the FTC and the law uses now.

He also explains that the 2013 revision of COPPA section 312.2 allows a channel (or website – the FTC uses the terms interchangeably – a subdomain of a website like a blog on Blogger without unique domain is still a “website”) to be designated as a “Mixed Audience” but that YouTube’s use of persistent identifiers gathering data even from non-child (and probably non-monetized) sites makes this impossible.

He speculates that the age 13 minimum to have a YouTube account would suffice as an age-gate, except that YouTube allows people to view content free and gathers identifiers from these visitors as part of its business model.

Toward the end of the video, he provides an interesting discussion of the idea of a “child’s veto” of what adults can do as an example of a “heckler’s veto”, and maintains that the constitutionality of the FTC interpretation might fail of challenged in court (in a manner similar to COPA in 2007).

He also warns that some in Congress (and at the FTC) want to raise the age to like 15 and the relative modest fine of YouTube ($170 million) was approved only by a 3-2 vote.

There’s another more hopeful interpretation from another YouTubber who spoke to the FRC recently on my Movies blog.




Update: Monday, Dec. 9

Hoeg Law weighs in on Legal Eagle's analysis here.  The crux of it is that YouTube could have offered a mixed-audience identifier if it did require an age-gate (just one sign on) to view YouTube videos, which could be done through a normal Google account. Content that does not target kids but that might inadvertently get directed to kids ("family friendly") arguably needs this kind of verification before data is collected from viewers.  YouTube doesn't want friction for visitors just wanting to browse (neither do informational websites).  It could otherwise assume that all visitors who didn't sign in are under 13.  

Here is YouTube's official comment to the FTC today. 

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Now, start paying attention to CCPA if your site has one California visitor (other states likely to follow suit)


Ian Corzine has a serious discussion of what website owners and YouTube and social media channels need to follow to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Protection act (CCPA, AB-375).


Like with COPPA, this subject will surely be the focus of a lot of lawyerly videos.  In theory, any website or youtube channel with one visitor from California is “vulnerable”.  Likewise, other states will pass similar laws and Congress ponders it, and a federal law is likely by 2021, after the next election cycle.

The law has thresholds regarding visitor counts and income before they would apply out of state.
   
The law is said to have a “right to be forgotten” clause.

There is a possibility that even a site that requests no personal information itself could be doing indirectly through cookies.  Corzine says that the larger vendors (like Amazon, for links to Associates) are compliant.  Wordpress and Automattic would need to weigh in.  Presumably Google Adsense will be weighing in soon and requiring privacy policy changes. My own blogs and legacy site do not ask for personal information or logon (COPPA-style age-gating could be in the future and that is a complication);  there is one page on one Wordpress blog that links to a 3rd party payment processing company offered by the Web Host; I do not see the purchaser information myself). 

Two or three other quick problems come to mind.

One is mentions of non-famous people.  This mostly happens in news stories quoted, or sometimes personal contacts that have been active more locally but who are not “famous”.  I’ve had two or three requests to remove names from my blogs over 15 years or so and there were unusual circumstances in all of them.  I can imagine the mention of a non-famous criminal defendant from a news story not yet convicted as an issue.

The other is for self-published authors, especially if they are POD and mass order their own books at a discount to sell them themselves, which POD companies tend to expect them to be able to do (and POS companies are notorious for cookie-cutter marketing). My own site (on Wordpress) links to a third party company called Payment Sphere.  Coming from a large webhosting company, it certainly should be compliant, but I will check before Jan 1 (like do I need Corzine’s patches on my own Wordpress page?  I’ll check.)  Behind this comment is the idea that tech industry is slowly paying attention to individual creators' "commercial viability" (I realize the phrase on YouTube's recent TOS change has a more contingent interpretation) and whether business models can afford to host speech for its own sake if it doesn't try to make money on its own. 
  
Another possibility is speakers who leave their own PII in comments (like people who knew me from the Army, etc, during the "don't ask don't tell" debate;  that has happened.) 

The applicability of state laws comes from our own system of federalism, but that really exists in Canada too (Quebec is a special case and has tricky laws of its own about everything), and, in a different way, in the EU (from GDPR and the Copyright Directive).  Stay tuned.
  
I am in Virginia, but I make it to California frequently (and was just in Ontario recently).

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Paywalls are fragmenting the Internet away from globalism?



Kevin Roose et al has a bombastic, large print article in the Sunday New York Times (Nov. 13), about how the Internet is fragmenting into walled gardens, for people who can afford them. “You can clean it up for a price”'
  
The main thing he is talking about is subscriptions, and there are too many of them to keep track of.  

The video below explains metered paywalls (at least with an Austin, TX newspaper).

  
In fact, most large media companies want to monopolize your consumption (and are trying to drive indie journalists off the platforms).  That’s one reason why I support the idea of blended or bundled paywalls, which would have to be developed. Along the way, we could create router-level age-gates to prevent COPPA from spreading.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Quebec awards a disabled plaintiff when a stand-up comedian jokes about him, and Twitter fumbles letting the story get out


The Post Millennial, an apparently conservative website in Canada, reports on a case were comedian Mike Ward was ordered to pay $35000 (Canada) to a boy with a non-terminal disability, by the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, for joking about it and possibly spreading false medical information about the plaintiff between 2010 and 2013.  The judge regarded Ward’s comments as discriminatory and infringing on the plaintiff’s ability to achieve equality, which sounds like an illogical statement if it were in the US, mixing apples and oranges. 
  
Some observers expressed concern that stand up comedy could come to an end in Canada, or at least Quebec (which uses a Roman rather than English common law system).
  
The comment, read at face value, sounds tasteless and probably would not be acceptable at most legitimate comedy clubs.
  
The plaintiff is said to have a facial deformity, which is not apparent from the photograph in the article.
  

I found this article in my Twitter feed and it disappeared before I could retweet it.  I tried to tweet the article and Twitter would loop.  I tried to send a tweet to the channel for the publication and it would loop. Today it worked.

The publication has another article claiming that Quebec is considering a human rights law making obesity a protected class and offering a particularly graphic picture of someone.
  
It might be that Twitter considers even linking to articles like this gratuitous behavior, even though the stories have news value.  

On July 27, I walked past the Canadian Supreme Court near the parliament building in Ottawa (which is a much bigger city than I had thought) late on a Saturday night.