How do you make online privacy policies stick?
Privacy from Companies9/24/2000; 1:00:18 PM 'So perhaps it's time to look at privacy policies and opt-in agreements as legal contracts or license agreements. Digital signatures have been around for years and the law is starting to recognize them. So why couldn't a company draw up a virtual contract on privacy that's binding on both sides? Every time I click on a licensing agreement, I'm warned how I might be subjected to imprisonment, fines, and fierce noogies from the Feds should I violate it. Can't those stipulations work both ways?'Lets work some numbers here:
- Number of lawyers the company drawing up the policy has: Tens - Thousands
- Number of lawyers the person agreeing to the privacy contract has: Zero.
Universities Snub Napster Ban Request
Music & MP39/22/2000; 3:17:15 PM 'In a broad rebuke to attorneys representing the artists Metallica and Dr. Dre, four prominent universities rejected the request to ban Napster access on their campuses yesterday.'The Boston Globe reported yesterday that Harvard is expected to respond similarly next week.'Excellent. (This is a follow-up from a Sept. 8, 2000.)
Thousands Sign Up to Sell Votes
Political Speech9/22/2000; 2:27:06 PM 'Boasting of the more than 6,000 Americans who have signed up to auction off their presidential votes to the highest bidder -- illegal activity under the laws of every state in the union -- Voteauction is now detailing its plans to begin an outreach campaign. 'Using its "Voter Empowerment Kits" and "Action Teams," the company claims in a press release that it can reach more potential customers and facilitate voter fraud without the intervention of an online middleman.'I really don't know how to react to this site's antics... amusement? disgust? horror? Most (post-)modern art attempts to provoke that reaction, and fails miserably, so by the art community's standards, Voteauction.com is one of the best pieces of art I've seen in a long time. (I suppose this is a relatively unusual way of looking at it )I found this tidbit interesting:'The profile of both sides of the Internet auction does jibe with the history of vote-buying in America, said Larry J. Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist and author of the 1996 book Dirty Little Secrets: The Persistence of Corruption in American Politics. 'Especially telling is the fact that the payoff-per-vote, as tallied on the site, is settling into the $10-$20 range -- the amount of cash an individual vote tends to command in other, non-Internet-based schemes. '"It always seems to be about $20," Sabato said. "That must be the going rate. And when you think about it, it makes sense. Because 10 bucks is not what it used to be. With 20 bucks you can get a pretty good meal, if you know where to go. And I think that's how some people conceive of it. Their vote may be worth a meal. It's sad, but that may be true."'At that price, it is still feasible for the rich to buy votes. If we all would value our votes at say $1000, nobody could buy off enough people to matter (since not every voter represents a voter who would not have voted that way on their own). In decision theory, you might look at vote fraud laws as an attempt to force people to value their vote at more then anyone will pay, as the act of selling a vote might include paying the price of significant jail time.Another interesting note... of all the topics we've seen that will require international agreements on how to handle, this is the most immediately importent I've yet seen. Free speech, patents, and all the rest I cover is importent, but we can muddle along for a while. Wide-scale vote fraud tears countries apart; just look at the countries it occurs in to see that. How the US government reacts could serve as a defining moment in the Great International Internet Law question.
Rio's Pyrrhic victory
Music & MP3
9/20/2000; 3:24:41 PM 'But 15 months after Diamond's victory, as Napster and MP3.com fight for their lives in court after suffering a string of lopsided judicial defeats, observers are wondering whether some in Silicon Valley read too much into the Diamond win. The landmark case may instead have provided, as Emusic chairman Bob Kohn puts it, "a false sense of security" among pioneering online music players -- thus setting up the current litigants for a big fall.'
You could summarize the article as "The Rio case taught the music industry a lesson about being specific in lawsuit complaints and focussing on their strengths in the case, which they learned, and have used to good effect against MP3.com and Napster."... but that would be a short Salon article
What iRights Isn't
Personal Commentary9/20/2000; 3:02:27 PM In the original incarnation of the last article about Apple licensing Amazon's one-click patent (which was never publicly posted), I started to get into my posting policy for this site, which has developed over the last 8 months I've been running this site. I decided to pull it out seperately.I see iRights' primary purpose as covering issues, not news. While a lot of news makes it onto the site, I always try to make sure it relates to the issues. Hence, things like the Napster trial, which is news, gets covered in detail as the case was groundbreaking, and the arguments were getting analysed by a judge presiding over an actual case for the first time. This is importent in the settling of the issues that the trial covers. If Napster-Clone 3 gets sued two years from now for the same reason, Napster-Clone 3 would be lucky to get so much as a mention from this site. (If there's still a point to this site 2 years from now!)I have found that I try to pick news stories that meet the following criteria, from most importent to least (to me):
- News stories that cover a new topic. These are fairly rare, and often end up as entirely new catagories.
- News that puts a new spin on an issue, or clarifies an issue, or resolves an issue.
- News that is reasonably interesting... essays of interest fit in here.
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