Five Years Ago
This week in 2013, we learned that lots of government agencies were trying to access that sweet, sweet NSA data — and that the DEA was not only getting it, but being instructed to cover up where it came from. Some data even made it to the IRS, with the same instructions. Once all this was revealed, the DOJ decided it should perhaps be “reviewed”, which was small comfort. Then, it was revealed that the NSA scans all emails in and out of the country, and we got a look at the loophole the NSA uses to claim authority to spy on Americans. It turned out this loophole was created on the same day that the FISA court smacked down the NSA for violating the fourth amendment — a ruling people were eager to see, and the DOJ agreed to release a redacted version.
Ten Years Ago
This week in 2008, copyright expert William Patry shut down his excellent blog because covering copyright issues had become “too depressing”. To see what he means, look at other events that very same week: the Jammie Thomas trial was turning into a huge mess, Blizzard was trying to block a bot-maker from open-sourcing his code, a fight between TorrentSpy and the MPAA was turning into a major privacy battle thanks to some email spying, and Uri Geller was suing someone for debunking his psychic claims using an eight-second copyrighted clip. Mac clone-maker Psystar, facing a major lawsuit from Apple, was fighting back with an antitrust claim, and a Sony executive was apparently so aware of the failings of legal offerings that he encouraged customers in Australia and New Zealand to pirate PSP games.
Fifteen Years Ago
This week in 2003, people were beginning to dig deeper into just how spammers make money and discovering it doesn’t require a lot of customer sales as long as you can keep selling lists of spam targets — and because of this chain of list sales, even well-known companies were profiting from spam. Of course, there also were at least some people buying penis enlargement pills, too. Meanwhile, both Red Hat and IBM were fighting back against SCO’s IP lawsuits, while the RIAA was still fighting hard to get info on filesharing students and generally warring with the EFF. And in an example of how much free culture terrifies some people, when Creative Commons reached out to MP3.com about partnering to give artists the option of using CC licenses, the company angrily responded by not just declining but demanding CC “cease and desist” from contacting any artists on MP3.com.