Wednesday, February 16, 2011
As legislators in DC contemplate expanding Government copyright enforcement powers, there's new reason to worry that government agents are misusing the Internet policing powers they already have -- with disastrous consequences for thousands of innocent bystanders. Torrentfreak is reporting that the Department of Homeland Security's ICE agents temporarily shut down 84,000 websites, possibly by accident, in the name of shutting down just ten websites that allegedly contained child pornography.
Two hearings tomorrow—one in court and one in Congress—will highlight the brewing debate over whether Congress should expand federal surveillance laws to force Internet communications service providers like Facebook, Google and Skype to build technical backdoors into their systems to enable Government wiretapping.
We and many other Internet freedom advocates have been closely watching the prosecution of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the director of a popular alternative Thai news portal. Chiranuch, also known by her online handle Jiew, is being charged for defamation of the Thai royal family, or lèse majesté, under a particularly disquieting set of conditions.
EFF is extremely pleased to announce a new addition to our Board of Directors: Harvard Law and Computer Science Professor Jonathan Zittrain. For many of you, Jonathan does not need an introduction, as he is one of the true luminaries of Internet scholarship. His work encompasses the critical issues at the heart of EFF's work, including privacy, speech, digital property, and the role played by private intermediaries in Internet architecture.
Posted by Kin Lane at 10:49 AM
Sunlight Labs announced a new API for streaming U. S. congressional activity. The Sunlight Labs Real Time Congress API (RTC) covers a broad range of U. S. House and Senate actions and data as soon as it's available on the web. The API can be queried and combined with other APIs including the Sunlight Labs Congress API that contains data on legislators. The RTC could be a bonanza for politicos, journalists, and engaged citizens.
In a move that we are likely to see more of this year and moving forward, companies are inviting developers to closed beta programs of their APIs to ensure that they get their next releases right. Pingdom, a provider of website monitoring and reporting services, as part of its plans for the next release of its Pingdom API, has done just that. The Royal Pingdom blog announced the call for beta testers.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
EFF, the ACLU, and others were in court Tuesday to try to block Government attempts to obtain Twitter account records about three individuals in connection to its WikiLeaks investigation. We also asked the judge to reveal whether any other companies had received similar orders from the government. As EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn told Bloomberg today: There are First Amendment implications because information being sought pertains to speech.
Secretary Clinton Unveils New Funding for Activism Technology, Rhetorical Refresh in Internet Freedom Speech
Earlier today, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a speech about Internet freedom titled, "Internet Rights and Wrongs: Choices and Challenges In A Networked World. " In her remarks, Clinton built on prior statements about the U. S. Government's commitment to a free and open Internet, responding in part to the uprisings in the Middle East and Cablegate — major, ongoing international developments adding to the swell of debate about the parameters of Internet freedom.
I've been rewriting the introduction to Public Parts — both because it needs it and because of events in Egypt and elsewhere. This segment, from the end of the introduction, is related to the post below. I thought I'd share it with you as it adds some more thinking on the same topics: * * * Technology is forcing us to question centuries-old assumptions about the roles of the individual and society: our rights, privileges, powers, responsibilities, concerns, and prospects.
"COICA", Senator Leahy's Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act, is back. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the legislation tomorrow morning. As a reminder, COICA would give the Government dramatic new copyright enforcement powers, most notably the ability to meddle with the Internet's domain name system (DNS) and make entire websites effectively disappear, along with noninfringing content and lawful speech.
One of the less-heralded issues in a series of prominent cases (here, here, and here, for example) testing the limits of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") safe harbor provisions is the question of when and how service providers must terminate the accounts of "repeat infringers.
There is a considerable amount of interest in the upcoming Board/GAC consultation on new gTLDs to be held in Brussels on 28 February and 1 March 2011. This message is intended as an update to information we have already posted on the consultation. As I'm sure you will all appreciate, the GAC and the Board have been working extremely hard since Cartagena to get documentation and briefings in order to assist the discussions that will take place in Brussels.
The US Government is deliberating about how to approach the "cyber" security problem. But the solution the government needs to network security isn't sweeping authority over the Internet — it's common-sense security practices they've heretofore failed to implement. As we previously said, it is unfortunate that the government tends toward the dramatic and seeks to broadly expand its powers in the name of security, while continuing to overlook more prosaic issues.
Privacy advocates have observed for years that countries hosting the Olympic Games introduce increasingly heightened security and surveillance measures for the event, but rarely cut back on public surveillance after the games are finished.
Despite the valiant efforts of liberty-defending congresspersons from both political parties, the House of Representatives has just this evening passed an extension of the three USA PATRIOT Act surveillance powers that were set to "sunset" at the end of February, by a vote of 275 to 144. Now, the Senate is our last hope to stop PATRIOT renewal and obtain meaningful PATRIOT reform.
Looks like the Texas courts are no place to file suit if you want to bypass due process. A few weeks ago, we reported that Mick Haig Productions had dismissed its copyright infringement lawsuit against 670 "John Does," complaining that the court's appointment of attorneys from EFF and Public Citizen had impeded its ability to prosecute its case.
Google and JetBrains are offering on Monday technology upgrades in the HTML5 and PHP Application development spaces respectively with Google upgrading GWT (Google Web Toolkit) and JetBrains adding to its PHP IDE.
This is the first article in a series that will bring you up to speed with HTML5 canvas, the plugin-less drawing functionality built into modern browsers. In this introductory article, I'll show you how to access the canvas element, draw shapes, change colours, and erase things. It's a whistle-stop tour of the basics of this amazing new Web technology. Prefer a Video Tutorial? Change the resolution to 720 for a clearer picture.
This week developers got candygrams from some of our favorite Mobile apps. Something for you car and train lovers. An important Twitter policy update. And our best sticker request ever. Love Instapaper? So do we - and now we love the Instapaper API. Marco of Instapaper discusses the decision behind their free vs. full (paid) API. Obsessed with photoblogging? PicPlz launched their API and Instagram's API will be coming out soon.
This week we had 52 new APIs added to our API directory including some from big companies. For example, we wrote about MasterCard's ambitious platform. Other new APIs included cloud computing software, a text to speech service, media conversion tools, ATM location service, content access billing service and quite a bit more. Below is more detail on each of these 52 new APIs.
API (Application Programming Interface) The name "Application Programming Interface" is very self-descriptive. When programming an application to interface with a separate application or platform, you will almost invariably use an API.
For a long time, I read about "RESTful APIs" and had no idea what that term meant. The API part means Application Programmer Interface, a way for coders to get data from a website within their own programs. That much I knew. But as for the REST part, that was less familiar to me.
This past week 27 new mashups were added to our mashup directory and 32 different APIs were used to build them. Some of the newer or less frequently seen APIs include Avvo, Collecta, Forvo, Google Geocoding, Google Gmail OAuth, Map24 AJAX API, Playme, Quora, SemanticHacker, SendGrid and Yahoo PlaceFinder. The most often used APIs this week are Google Maps, Twilio and Twilio SMS.
Last winter John Allspaw joined Etsy to run tech ops. John has written several important books on web ops and is one of the experts in operating large scale web services. One of the first things John did when he arrived at Etsy is work with the dev and ops teams to put in place a continuous deployment system. Continuous deployment is the idea that you push out changes to your code base all the time instead of doing large builds and pushing out big chunks of code.
Google just released the Google Apps Shell Interface (GASI), a graphical user interface for working with Google Apps APIs. GASI allows Google Apps administrators to make certain API calls through a graphical user interface without having to write programs. The GASI library provides a list of available commands to get going, as well as allowing command line interface. You can download Google Apps Shell Interface (GASI) from Google Code.
Wordnik is an online dictionary and language resource that has both a website and an API component. Their goal is to show you as much information as possible, as fast as we can find it, for every word in English, and to give you a place where you can make your own opinions about words known. As cool as that is, what is really cool is the information they share in their blog about their experiences building a Web Service.
The word "cloud" has become a bit of a buzzword in the IT industry. Well, let me rephrase that, it has become a HUGE and overused buzzword not just within various tech sectors, it has also infiltrated the lives of us all. A year or two ago, if you mentioned "cloud" or even "cloud computing" to the average passerby, they might have looked back at you with a cloudy look on their face (sorry).
Posted by Kin Lane at 5:32 PM
Friday, February 11, 2011
TokBox, the web-based video chat and conferencing application, has announced a change in directions. Its popular TokBox application shall cease to be available and instead the company will focus on its OpenTok API, with all its energies on increasing API adoption with a developer Contest to go along with it. To get the ball rolling, today it's announced 30 new partners already on the platform.
Posted by Kin Lane at 10:15 AM
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Wordnik, which aims to be the most comprehensive online dictionary, has been hard at work for over a year with a clear focus on scaling its architecture and listening to developer feedback. The result is significant updates to the Wordnik API and a new developer portal to increase adoption of its API. Wordnik laid out the details for developers in a blog post, including a behind-the-scenes look at its back-end changes, implementation language and API architecture.
Over $30 billion was spent on unnecessary hospital admissions in 2006. Each of these unnecessary admissions took away one hospital bed from someone else who needed it more. Rather than waiting for politicians to settle their arguments about how to implement health care reform, health care provider Heritage Provider Network teamed up with data modeling and prediction competition network Kaggle to offer a very interesting solution.
Alexandria, VA - A federal court in Alexandria, Virginia today unsealed motions filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union, and others concerning Government attempts to obtain Twitter account records about three individuals in connection with its WikiLeaks investigation. The documents were originally filed under seal late last month.
Support for a browser-header-based "Do Not Track" proposal is building in both the federal Government and the private sector, which is good news for Internet users who are concerned about privacy. Friday, EFF submitted comments to the Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force, urging the department to embrace the system and support legislation that would authorize the Federal Trade Commission to act on Do Not Track.
EFF yesterday filed comments in response to the Copyright Office's recent Notice of Inquiry regarding the "desirability and means of bringing sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972, under Federal jurisdiction. " Pre-1972 sound recordings are the vestigial tail of copyright law, a subset of works that are carved out of the federal Copyright Act and still receive protection under state law.
San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), joined by Public Knowledge and the Apache Software Foundation, urged the U. S. Supreme Court Tuesday to make it easier to invalidate bad patents -- a decision that would benefit software innovators both large and small. In an amicus brief filed in Microsoft v. i4i, EFF argues that the existing high standard of proof for invalidating a patent in federal court unfairly gives the owners of bad patents the upper hand.
"Effective Data protection is vital for our democracies and underpins other fundamental rights and freedoms. " - Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. Last Friday, privacy advocates and Government officials in countries across the world celebrated the 5th annual International Privacy Day — even as individual privacy is threatened by surveillance proposals and security breaches worldwide.
Along with the entire global Internet community, ICANN is watching the events unfolding in Egypt with great concern for the safety of the people of Egypt and for their ability to use the Internet. On January 27, most Internet connectivity to Egypt was shut down, apparently on the instruction of the national Government. This has led to the inaccessibility of the main domain name system (DNS) server of the Egyptian ccTLD (. eg). Egypt's top-level domain.
Today EFF filed a reply brief in its FOIA lawsuit seeking records from the FBI, DOJ and DEA that would justify the Administration's need to expand federal surveillance laws like the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).
The FCC published its long-awaited final Report and Order on Net Neutrality at the end of December (more on that in part 2 of this post), but the debate is far from over. Republican members of Congress have loudly voiced their displeasure with the attempt to regulate internet activity; they've already filed a bill putting internet regulatory authority solely in the hands of Congress.
In 1995, on behalf of the IAB and IANA, I wrote a document called "Unique Addresses are Good" (RFC 1814). The Internet community had begun to worry about the depletion of the IPv4 address space at that time and the IAB and IANA started taking steps to slow the distribution of IPv4 addresses. One of those steps was to reserve certain addresses for private networks; networks whose numbers would never be seen or used by other networks.
As the Federal Communications Commission strives to deliver broadband access to every American under the National Broadband Plan, it faces the challenge of connecting residents — and keeping them connected — at competitive rates and with competitive features in a not-so-competitive market.
Tell your Congressperson to vote NO on the USA PATRIOT Act in tomorrow's vote! The PATRIOT reauthorization bill being fast-tracked to the House floor contains NO reforms to the law, and will be voted upon with NO debate and NO opportunity for amendments to add oversight and accountability. Help stop this sneak attack on your civil liberties: there are only hours left to visit our Action Center and tell your Representative to vote "NO" on H. R. 514, the PATRIOT extension bill.
One of the major problems with the mass copyright lawsuits we seen over the last year is that the judges hearing the cases often aren't aware of the full legal and practical context of the litigation. That's because they are asked to make important decisions (e. g. , whether to allow the plaintiffs to send out subpoenas for the Does' identities) before any of the defendants have had a chance to point out the fundamental flaws in the plaintiff's case.
UPDATE (2/9/11): In another move to fast-track PATRIOT Act renewal before three of its most controversial provisions expire at the end of the month, the House is expected to call another vote on a PATRIOT reauthorization bill any day now. Unlike the two-thirds majority that would have been needed to pass the measure on Tuesday, the next vote will only require a majority to pass. Your voice is needed now more than ever.
In response to ongoing protests, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak ordered a shutdown of all Internet access for five whole days, from January 28 to February 2, but Social Media and news continued to flow in and out of the country thanks to a group of protagonists dedicated to supporting the flow of information.
The announcement that Google would remove native H. 264 playback support caused quite an uproar on the Internet (see Google Ditches H. 264 Support In Google Chrome). Google Chrome up to this point was the only web browser that supported H. 264, Theora and WebM8 videos which was bound to change with the announcement. Two browser camps have been formed.
Editor's Note: Each week, Ken Doctor — author of Newsonomics and longtime watcher of the business side of digital news — writes about the economics of news for the Lab. Apps are all the rage, with The Daily's taking center-stage this week. With tabletmania sweeping the country, you can almost hear the howls of publishers across the country, as they implore their IT chiefs: "Get me an app, pronto!
A new O'Reilly/PayPal report on web-native payment platforms, "ePayments: Emerging Platforms, Embracing Mobile and Confronting Identity," is now available for download. Among the topics covered in the report are the rise of payment platforms, the mobilization of money, and the advent of contactless payment in mobile commerce. This excerpt looks at the role Big Data is beginning to play in fraud detection for these services, and the new opportunities that development brings.
The tar sands of Alberta, Canada contain the largest reserves of oil on the planet. However, they remain largely untouched, and for one reason: economics. It costs as much as $40 to extract a barrel of oil from tar sand, and until recently, petroleum companies could not profitably mine these reserves. In a similar vein, much of the world's most valuable information is trapped in digital sand, siloed in servers scattered around the globe.
For the past year, we've required ad providers operating on Apps on Facebook. com (i. e. , Canvas apps) to sign terms with us. These terms ensure that these ad providers are committed to conforming to our user data protection policies and also ensure ad quality for our users. You can see the list of ad providers that have signed these terms here. Today, we've modified our Platform policies to require that developers operating on Facebook. com only use these ad providers in their apps.
The initial releases from credit card provider MasterCard look to be more than a toe-dip into APIs. With its MasterCard Payments API and two others, the company could be diving straight into the deep end. Though the services are still in beta, MasterCard appears to be taking very seriously its creation of a developer ecosystem. Of its three new APIs, payments is the most ambitious.
There isn't just one social graph, there are many. LinkedIn maintains your professional contacts, while Facebook has friends and family (and yes, often many professional). Twitter has some mix, as well, perhaps with a different filter. Aggregators take these disparate contacts and bring them into one place. A new service uses several APIs to merge them and give tools to better understand and utilize your network of contacts.
A frequently asked question goes something like this. "I like JSON. What if apps started publishing RSS data in JSON. " 1. My first answer: Sure, why not. I experimented with it in October, and found prior art -- a website that takes a feed and returns JSON. 2. I wrote both ends of a protocol that depended on JSONified RSS. It worked. I didn't find any dead-ends. 3. Now, that doesn't mean there aren't any dead-ends.
CloudBees, the Java PaaS provider founded in 2010, today went live with the PaaS offering targeted at enterprise Java developers. Unlike few other PaaS providers, CloudBees doesn't restrict developers on their platform. Moreover, unlike VMForce, CloudBees platform can be used by both Java EE and Spring Developers. Their platform service has an IDE component and a runtime component.
Several private clouds are now coming to market based on the Vblock technology developed by VCE, a joint venture forged by Cisco, EMC and VMWare. Last week I groaned inwardly as I saw not one, but two announcements plop into my inbox. First came Sungard's "fully managed cloud offering", and then a couple of days later CSC got in touch to brief me about the launch of CSC BizCloud, "the industryâs first on-premise private cloud billed as a service.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Dallas, TX - An adult video company has dropped its flawed lawsuit accusing hundreds of Internet users of illegally downloading pornography. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public Citizen (PC) are counsel for the anonymous defendants at the request of the court. Late last week, Mick Haig Productions dismissed its case against 670 "John Does," claiming they had infringed the company's copyrighted materials on a file-sharing service.
As the HTML5 standard evolves, and the technology becomes more capable, it's natural to start examining the overlap between Flash and the new capabilities of HTML5. One person with a strong opinion on this subject is Duane Nickull, Adobe's senior technical evangelist. He'll be talking about the new world of HTML5, AJAX and Flash at Web 2. 0 Expo, and he gave us a sneak peak at his thoughts on the subject.
There are a number of factors coming together to fuel the growth of APIs. Without a doubt, one is the corresponding growth of Mobile devices and the distribution of services across multiple platforms. An API is often required to create one native mobile application and becomes incredibly important when supporting many devices. Sometimes these private APIs are made public, sometimes they aren't.
This week, instead of a single API we're spotlighting ReadWriteWeb contributor Pete Warden's new e-book Data Source Handbook, which was just released today. Pete covers a slew of data sources including, of course, many APIs. "These are hand-picked services that I've actually spent time using during my own work," Pete writes. "And I chose them because they add insights and information to data you're already likely to be dealing with.