This Week In Techdirt History: August 26th – September 1st

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, we learned that the NSA had tapped the UN and various embassies and cracked the UN’s video conferencing encryption. We also got a look at the agency’s “black budget” and realized how much effort they were putting into breaking encryption. The DOJ began making the “just metadata” argument, while we looked at how well Ed Snowden covered his tracks and wondered how many intentional surveillance abuses were hidden the same way, not to mention how many of the 1000 other sysadmins with the same access copied documents too. Meanwhile, the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister was defending the destruction of Guardian hard drives but not the detention of David Miranda, the latter of which was also condemned by the author of the UK anti-terrorism act. Barry Eisler argued that both incidents were all about creating a chilling effect on journalism, and later in the week we learned that the UK government asked the NY Times to delete the Snowden documents too (they didn’t listen).

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, people were scrutinizing the true nature of Disney’s Mickey Mouse copyrights, AMC was stupidly freaking out over the new trend of fans creating Twitter accounts for fictional TV show characters, and in an early version of the Ubers and Lyfts to come, we saw a bus company in Canada try to shut down a carpool-matching service. Meanwhile, Mattel sadly followed in Hasbro’s footsteps and brought the war on Scrabble-clone apps to the rest of the world where it owns the rights to the game, and the Tetris Company started getting in on the same anti-app action. The RIAA won a copyright case because the defendant had foolishly destroyed evidence, while a different and excellent court ruling found that Veoh was protected by safe harbors for videos uploaded by users. But the FBI still had nothing better to do than arrest the leaker of a Guns N’ Roses album.

Fifteen Years Ago

Lots of innovations were still in their nascent stages this week in 2003, with everyone struggling to figure out what exactly to do with location-based tech, US wireless carriers doing a not-so-great job of supporting and promoting camera phones, a growing number of consumer electronics starting to come with broadband connectivity (as more and more computer makers started becoming general consumer electronics companies), and of course the beginning of the ascent of the famous/infamous (depending on who you ask) autotune technology. Meanwhile, porn websites were getting in on the file sharing subpoena game while the RIAA (which also got sued by webcasters for monopoly actions) was firing back at a woman who was fighting just such a subpoena.

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