This Week In Techdirt History: Augusts 12th – 18th

Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, the White House incredibly put James Clapper in charge of independent NSA review, then tried to change its tune a bit when people rightly pointed out that this was insane. Meanwhile, Rep. Justin Amash discovered that the House Intelligence Committee had withheld important NSA documents from the rest of Congress, and that the White House knew it. Then, the latest leak revealed that the NSA abused the rules to spy on Americans thousands of times every year — since there was no real oversight, the FISC court just relied on the NSA’s own statements to determine what was legal, and agents were told to withhold information from those in charge of oversight. Senators Wyden and Udall hinted that this was just the tip of the iceberg, while NSA defenders claimed the abuses were evidence of the system working well and that the numbers were impressive compared to the amount of spying the NSA does.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, Italy tried and failed to block all access to The Pirate Bay, with the predictable result of a spike in Italian traffic to the site. Universities were realizing that the RIAA was taking advantage of them in its crusade against file-sharing students, while one teenager targeted in a lawsuit managed to get damages reduced with an “innocent infringement” defense. Nintendo was freaking out about memory cards for the Nintendo DS, while Tiffany was continuing its futile efforts to hold eBay accountable for counterfeit products by appealing a court ruling that said they weren’t (and this same week, a Belgian court was ruling the same thing).

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, eBay was only just starting to become the ecommerce platform of choice with folks setting up entire businesses on the site. ISPs were the ones fighting back against the RIAA, along with one accused file-sharer who was hitting the agency with a countersuit arguing that sharing does not equal distribution. There were early rumblings of “personalization” as the future of search engines, and the fairly new technology of MMS picture messages was being put to use for networked security cameras and medical emergencies. And nearly seven years before the iPad, there were lots of tablet computers hitting the market, but nobody wanted them.

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