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Internet Lies, Kindle Fires, and OMG Overshares

Category: Information Technology
Posted at: Nov 25 2011 9:09AM
So now we have a SOPA opera to watch: the Stop Online Privacy Act - whoops, we mean online Piracy. Heh, we don't need a law to end online privacy - it's happening organically. But piracy could go either way. "SOPA was introduced by the US House of representatives as a positive means of combating piracy," says Memeburn. "But, noble as its intent may be, it could fundamentally change how we use the internet." Really? Yes, concurs FirstPost:Technology: "SOPA's stakes are no less than the future of the Internet itself." Adds The Verge: "U.S. Department of Justice wants to lock you up for lying on the internet." Yup. Kinda. Not really. We'll get to that in a moment.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing this week about SOPA, and it was "quite obviously rigged," says OSnews. "It was set up so that Big Content and Congress could label Google and other opponents to the law as 'the pirates.'" Ars Technica explains that "SOPA would require search engines, payment processors, ISPs, and ad networks to block access to 'rogue websites' on a judge's order.... It was up to Google alone to make the argument that SOPA's definition of 'rogue sites' is poor, that its remedies are extreme, and that plenty of legitimate sites could be targeted." Rogue sites basically are those that offer copyrighted content. But The Purveyor of Cool explains one snag: "The wrinkle comes in at the point where SOPA prohibits covers, mash-ups and remixes by amateurs along with targeting sites like and as violators." The 10,000 Words blog imagines how journalism and free speech could get clamped down: "Say you're writing an article, and one of the websites or quotes that you want to reference comes from a site that has been accused of piracy. Even if your piece does not include anything that could be considered copyright infringing -your entire article could be blocked from the Internet in the US." Some suggest this could create the "Great Firewall of America," says WebProNews. Other references to China (Great Wall, get it?) and its harsh censorship are more direct. Mashable offers a two-foot tall infographic on the SOPA bill that supposedly simplifies it ("as with any bill, it's complicated, but this infographic boils it down.") Keep boiling, guys!

And what was that bit about jail time for lying online? As part of the hot new crackdown on criminal mashups and online fraud, the Department of Justice asked the House to expand the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to make it a crime to violate websites' "terms of service" policies. The result, says The Verge: "doing something like using a fake name on Facebook could land you a conviction. Opponents like the ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation say that the law effectively equips private corporations with the power to make federal law with their terms of service. " Warns Gawker: It would make illegal any 'inaccurate, misleading, or false information' on your profile," Yikes! Give us a minute to find a more recent profile photo.

Online privacy, meanwhile, continues to be the master of its own demise. Oversharing of personal information has gone from epidemic to pandemic. Reports Digits: "RNKD, a new site from founder Nick Swinmurn, takes a twist on buying by prompting users to upload pictures of clothing and accessories they already own and tag the brands associated with the items." Also coming soon is Facebook's Timeline, where you can upload personal; pictures from before Facebook was invented. "Some people are a bit freaked out at the idea that their accounts are about to be mined for the juiciest stuff," notes Kashmir Hill at Forbes.

Gadget fans meanwhile are dissecting Amazon's new color-screen, Internet-accessing Kindle Fire, in some cases literally. "It's mostly battery," says Lilliputing, which cracked one open. Gizmodo says Apple's iPad finally has serious competition but that "Amazon has absolutely made app usage secondary to media consumption. Instead of Apple's HERE ARE THE APPS, ALL OF THE APPS! approach, the Fire's are relegated to a small button and separate screen, of equal weight as Docs and Music." ExtremeTech says early reviews are "not as fantastic as we -- or you -- had hoped. Not a single review is denying that the bright screen, solid construction, and $200 price point make for a perfect holiday season outing -- but to actually win the hearts of consumers, to steal those throbbing, Cupertino-captivated organs away from the iPad, the Kindle Fire has to be amazing... and it isn't." BusinessInsider says "tepid reviews won't affect sales." 

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