Five Years Ago
This week in 2014, the world was dealing with the Heartbleed bug and turning its attention to the NSA’s possible awareness of it — leading Obama to tell them to start revealing flaws but with no particular incentive to actually do so. It wasn’t clear if the NSA had definitely known about and used Heartbleed, but there was nothing stopping them and people certainly weren’t going to take their advice on dealing with it. Overall, the simple truth was that the government pays to undermine, not fix internet security. Meanwhile, the Guardian and the Washington Post won Pulitzers for their coverage of the Snowden leaks, which made a lot of folks angry including Rep. Peter King and CIA torture authorizer John Yoo.
Ten Years Ago
This week in 2009, the BSA was using the spate of stories about Somali pirates to talk about software piracy in a stunningly tonedeaf fashion, NBC was crafting its plans to make Olympic coverage worse and more expensive, the Associated Press was admitting its attack on aggregators looks stupid to the “untrained eye” while failing to explain why it shouldn’t look stupid to everyone else too, and a hilarious but frightening warrant application got a college student’s computer seized in part for using “a black screen with white font which he uses prompt commands on”. DMCA abuse was chugging along as usual, with an activist group using it to hide exposure of its astroturfing and a news station using it to cover up video of it embarrassingly falling for an April Fool’s story. And long before the Snowden revelations, not only were we already seeing revelations about the NSA’s abuse of power, we were already unsurprised.
Fifteen Years Ago
This week in 2004, the internet was still beginning to embrace some of the innovations that define it today: location-based services were on the rise, with Google launching localized ads and mobile phone navigation systems threatening to oust expensive dedicated hardware (something also happening in other areas like event ticket handling), and more and more people were going online wirelessly in one way or another. Of course, along with this was the rise of some more problematic trends too, like patent hoarding houses and DRM. In California, the first two arrests were made under a new law banning all kinds of video cameras in movie theaters, while one state senator was seeking to completely ban Gmail (which was still new) for some reason — though at least the legislature shot down another ban on violent video game sales to minors.
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