Tech at Night

Why is Amazon winning? It’s not Sales Tax. It’s because Amazon is doing everything they can to combine their great selection with getting your purchases to you as fast as possible. That patent going around for predictive shipping is being reported so terribly. People keep focusing on getting something at your house you didn’t order. That’s not the real point of the patent. Figures 4A-4C of Patent No. 8,615,473 B2 demonstrate the real goal. They want to get items that are likely to be ordered into the networks of their package carriers, down to the local hub or first three digits of ZIP code, then slap on the address of a specific person who did order it, and get the item to the person insanely fast.

I know I’ve harped on this a lot, but it really is a shame that people in favor of sales tax changes have made this all about sticking it to Amazon, because there are legitimate tax reasons to favor taxing interstate purchases. Preserving sales tax revenue that used to be there means not having to raise or implement income taxes in order to get the same revenue per capita.

By the way, Healthcare.gov is horribly, horribly insecure.

Tech at Night

Two reminders I usually make here. Use good passwords, and make sure not to run software you don’t trust. Keep your software updated. If you use it, consider switching away from the leading target online, Microsoft Windows. Government is trying to catch these guys, but you have to lock your own door at night.

Teenagers need to be monitored online. It’s for their protection against bad elements. Most parents would be disturbed to see their kids making videos like this, but without somebody watching, how would parents ever even know their kids were making video responses to requests by predators?

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Tech at Night

If you’re really that worried about Dropbox “opening your files” as these guys on a wild goose chase were, then why exactly are you uploading them unencrypted to Dropbox to begin with? This is what I’m talking about when I say people don’t actually act like they care about privacy. If people did care, they’d act differently.

Once again, the FCC is looking to reduce competition by picking winners and losers int he marketplace, this time in attacking owners of UHF stations. The guy who owns channel 56 doesn’t even have the same market power as the guy who owns channel 4, so why try to make UHF owners divest? That just reduces competition.

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Tech at Night: Catching up after a cold.

On July 13, 2013, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

Woof. This week I had my worst cold in years, the worst I had since the first CPAC I attended. Boy was that a miserable trip home, let me tell you, sick as a dog, with insufficient Claritin Ds to get me through it. I was lucky the middle seat was empty for me on both flights I had to get home! At least this week I could stay home, and sleep.

I’ve got a ton to cover, and I’m not really at 100% yet, so apologies for making this a bit scattershot tonight. Especially since the victory in Texas distracted me from finishing this promptly! (Edit: It’s also help if I remembered to hit Publish…)

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Tech at Night

Unnecessary legislation watch: House Democrats (and a Republican) want to meddle in the matter of employer access to Facebook. Sure, a lot of people aren’t smart about Facebook, but that’s no good reason to expand government here. Let’s not micromanage. We just went over this with ECPA.

How can we trust new government regulations of Cybersecurity, Obama-style, when heavily regulated utilities are doing so poorly? That’s why we need a light touch, low on regulation, CISPA-style.

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Tech at Night

I’m on antihistamines and hoping I’m not getting too sick, so this is going to be less… focused than it usually will be. Hang on.

Let’s recap the CISPA situation. Anonymous is proving why we need it (though BGR is delusional for thinking Anonymous was “attacking North Korea” when it hacked Twitter accounts, though BGR does sometimes go gaga for radical propaganda). China is, too. But the administration is opposing CISPA on “privacy” grounds. Hold that thought.

The Obama administration is not opposing and may back government mandates for “wiretapping” Internet communications – that is, government-mandated backdoors into encrypted communications. What was that about privacy, again?

At least Republicans are still serious on the matter, looking at the large scale of thefts and spying going on. Make no mistake: this is aimed at China. In theory it would affect Iran, but we already embargo them, so this affects China.

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Tech at Night

Hey La-Mulanites! I’m Neil, and let’s play Tech at Night.

Anyway. Yeah, I took a break, as you may have noticed. It turns out between Christmas, New Year’s and the Fiscal Cliff, not much happened for me to cover, anyway! So let’s get started.

Two legislative notes: the outmoded video privacy law passed, while the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act is dead in the water. I always said its best chance was President Romney and a Republican Senate, but now that’s not happening. Poor Amazon, bargaining with states on the assumption this would happen.

And in case you forgot, a Cybersecurity executive order would be a bad thing, per Marsha Blackburn and Steve Scalise.

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Tech at Night

It’s funny how the same House Judiciary Committee that took up SOPA is now taking up IRFA, opposed by a growing list of groups including Taxpayers Protection Alliance, ATR, CAGW, and ACU. SOPA of course would have grown government in the name of strengthening copyright. IRFA makes government meddle more in a way that weakens copyright. And not in a good way, either: IRFA would not encourage innovation or content creation. It just favors Internet broadcasters over everyone else.

Also yeah, the RSC paper on Copyright that I backed before it was wrongly pulled, it is not a statement against property rights nor is it against copyright at all. If the side favoring ever-lengthening copyright cannot argue honestly with us, and has to mischaracterize those of us who favor an approach to copyright that balances the interests involved, then that to me suggests a deficiency in their position.

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Tech at Night

I said earlier this week that I wouldn’t comment on the RSC’s pulling of the copyright paper until I studied it. Well, I studied it, and they were wrong to pull it. Of course, for saying that, I’m being called some radical opposing the free market.

Meanwhile I’m getting called an ignorant tool of the big media companies because I oppose further market meddling in the form of IRFA.

It’s rare that a bill rises in awareness quickly but then dies hard. But by the time I’d even heard about the new Patrick Leahy power grab, this time spying on emails allegedly, he’s already given up on it. Score one for small government, at least.

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Tech at Night

Even the Obama regulators occasionally do things right. It was right for FCC to let the regulation die that forced cable companies to license original content to competitors. Though as The Hill points out, it may have done so out of a fear that the courts would force the issue anyway, not out of any desire to deregulate. Naturally House and Senate Democrats can’t abide the least bit of deregulation.

But don’t worry, they’re still making mistakes, too. They can’t free up spectrum until 2015, moving at a snail’s pace in a fast moving industry. And FTC’s antitrust attacks on Google are ludicrous. The standard for antitrust is high: if I recall correctly you have to show market power, being wielded, in a way that harms customers. I’m not sure that, relative to Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon, that such points can be made at all.

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