February 17, 2020 / by 


Six Months

Six months. That’s how long Comcast keeps its records that allow it to track the activity of a Comcast Internet subscriber. At least that’s what Comcast’s Cable Law Enforcement Manual, which somebody liberated and got into the hands of Secrecy News, says.

  • Because Comcast’s system of allocating IP addresses uses Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), its subscribers are not assigned a single, constant or static IP address. Instead, a dynamic IP address is assigned and has the potential to change several times throughout the course of a month. As a result, it is necessary to include in all requests for information the specific date and time of incident when an IP address was alleged to have been used.
  • Comcast currently maintains its IP log files for a period of 180 days. If asked to make an identification based upon an IP address that was used more than 180 days prior to receipt of the request, Comcast will not have information to provide.

I’m still waiting to see a copy of Amway’s complaint against 30 bloggers, but I wonder if they’ve missed their opportunity to find out their identities?

And if it’s phone call data the snoops want, they can get it up to two years after the phone call.

Ensuring Quality

Like Susie, I think this is a really cool idea.

Paul E. Steiger, who was the top editor of The Wall Street Journalfor 16 years, and a pair of wealthy Californians are assembling a groupof investigative journalists who will give away their work to mediaoutlets.

The nonprofit group, called Pro Publica, will pitcheach project to a newspaper or magazine (and occasionally to othermedia) where the group hopes the work will make the strongestimpression. The plan is to do long-term projects, uncovering misdeedsin government, business and organizations.

But I’m just as interested by the dilemma it will present traditional media: how will they assess this content? Cue Bill Keller making a typically idiotic comment that demonstrates what I mean:

Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, said The Timeswould be open to using work from an outside source, “assuming we wereconfident of its quality,” but that “we’ll always have a preference forwork we can vouch for ourselves.”

How is it that an entire industry of people paid to write and think critically cannot imagine how they would go about assessing the quality of a text they didn’t write themselves? How is it that Bill Keller, with a lifetime career in journalism, couldn’t look at an investigative article and assess whether it was great or was crap? How is that Bill Keller, who presided over Judy Miller’s demise and has been saddled with Michael Gordon’s credulous reporting of late, puts so much stock in the NYT’s ability to vouch for themselves the quality of journalistic work.

Dick DeVos and KayBee Hutchison Go After Bloggers

That’s a way to make you feel good about blogging, huh? To be attacked by both Dick DeVos and KayBee Hutchison?

DeVos is suing 30 anonymous bloggers and YouTube users because he believes they are among a group for former distributors who sued Amway and were put under a gag order by the judge in the suit.

In the lawsuit filed this past week in Ottawa County Circuit Court,Quixtar seeks an injunction and damages of more than $25,000 againstthe posters, identified only as John Does.


Quixtar believes the videos and other postings are part of anorganized effort by former distributors who unsuccessfully sued Alticorand are under court order not to disparage the company or discloseproprietary information, according to the lawsuit.

Quixtar plans to ask for permission to subpoena various onlinecompanies to figure out who posted the materials, spokesman Rob Zeigersaid.

According to the Grand Rapids Press, an Alticor representative saidthe court action was merely to identify anyone who might be associatingwith those under court order, rather than expressing their own personalopinions.

Zeiger told the paper that his company was not interested inpursuing people not associated with the former employees, and wouldeven reimburse their legal fees if there was no connection. "Anindividual who is expressing their own opinion, we don’t have a problemwith that," he said. "They’re not doing anything wrong."

I thought at first this might be an attempt to neutralize the power of anti-DeVos blogs, which had been really effective against him in the last governor’s election in MI. I need to see the complaint here, because I’m not sure the allegations made in the YouTubes actually relate to the failed lawsuit against Amway. So DeVos risks amplifying the blog material which appears like it may be factually correct: that is, that Amway’s online division Quixtar, sucks. (Full disclosure, I have a family member who was a Quixtar believer before he became a Southern Baptist.) That’d be nice, huh? If in pursuit of a bunch of people who tried to bust the pyramid scheme, DeVos actually informed more people that Amway is a big hoax?

KayBee Hutchison, for her part, is complaining about bloggersbecause–wait for it–they don’t follow the esteemed principles ofjournalistic ethics.

Senate Minority Leader Fuels the Flames

ThinkProgress got the email that Mitch McConnell’s staffer claimed he had not sent out.

Seen the latest blogswarm? Apparently, there’s more to the story on thekid (Graeme Frost) that did the Dems’ radio response on SCHIP. Bloggershave done a little digging and turned up that the Dad owns his ownbusiness (and the building it’s in), seems to have some commercialrental income and Graeme and a sister go to a private school that,according to its website, costs about $20k a year ‹for each kid‹despite the news profiles reporting a family income of only $45k forthe Frosts. Could the Dems really have done that bad of a job vettingthis family?

Gosh. You think maybe the mainstream press, which claims to pride itself on its accuracy, will admit that this smear was not solely blog-driven?

Don’t answer that.

Blogger in the Eye of the Beholder?

The NYT manages to understand that the Republicans went overboard with their attacks on Graeme Frost. But there’s something else they don’t seem to understand.

In recent days, Graeme and his family have been attacked byconservative bloggers and other critics of the Democrats’ plan toexpand the insurance program, known as S-chip.


But Michelle Malkin, one of the bloggers who have stronglycriticized the Frosts, insisted Republicans should hold their groundand not pull punches.

“The bottom line here is that this familyhas considerable assets,” Ms. Malkin wrote in an e-mail message.“Maryland’s S-chip program does not means-test. The refusal to doassets tests on federal health insurance programs is why federalentitlements are exploding and government keeps expanding. IfRepublicans don’t have the guts to hold the line, they deserve to losetheir seats.”

As for accusations that bloggers were unfairlyattacking a 12-year-old, Ms. Malkin wrote on her blog, “If you don’twant questions, don’t foist these children onto the public stage.” [my emphasis]

You see, according to the NYT, if someone does something so far beyond the pale that all sane people would object, that person must be a blogger.

To be fair, the first known attack on the Frost family came from a Freeper. And Michelle Malkin did use her blog, among other outlets, to attack the Frosts. And a lot of conservative bloggers piled on. So it is absolutely fair to say that bloggers were among those that attacked the Frosts.

But Malkin is much more than a blogger–she pulls regular gigs at Fox News, and was a syndicated columnist (you know, NYT, in newspapers?) long before she every started a blog. And Rush, who piled on top of all those bloggers to attack the Frosts? Offensive, certainly, but not a blogger. Furthermore, there are signs that the whole campaign was coordinated by that McConnell staffer who is now relieved he didn’t release a press release on the Frosts. Senate staffers are not primarily bloggers, they’re political operatives. And rather than explain all these things–rather than note that Saint Rush joined the fun of attacking a 12 year old kid–the NYT just used shorthand that, conveniently for them, distances this kind of behavior from anything that would show up in dead tree (or cable or radiowave) media. That way, the NYT doesn’t have to look too hard to find the logic of the attacks, it can just blame it on stinking bloggers.

This is not new, of course. But it’s something I’ve become more attuned to lately, partly because I just explained to a bunch of lawyers that most of the lefty blogosphere finds Malkin’s "ethics" just as reprehensible as any journalist does, and partly because of a spat I had with a local journalist who makes similar errors.

AT&T’s Latest Censorship

It’s a good think I chose Comcast’s oligopoly service for broadband internet service and not AT&T (my two easy choices for real broadband). That’s because I tend to point out that our government is becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T. And AT&T just changed its acceptable use policy to prevent you from using AT&T’s Toobz to tell others about the bad things AT&T is doing (via boing boing).

Failure to observe the guidelines set forth in this AUP may result inAT&T taking actions anywhere from a warning to a suspension ofprivileges or termination of your Service(s). When feasible, AT&Tmay provide you with notice of an AUP violation, via Email orotherwise, and demand that such violation be immediately corrected.AT&T reserves the right, however, to act immediately and withoutnotice to suspend or terminate Service(s) in response to a court orderor other legal requirement that certain conduct be stopped or whenAT&T determines, in its sole discretion, that the conduct may (1)expose AT&T to sanctions, prosecution or civil action, (2) causeharm to or interfere with the integrity or normal operations ofAT&T’s network(s) or facilities, (3) materially or repeatedlyinterfere with another person’s use of AT&T’s Service(s) or theInternet (4) damage or disparage the reputation of AT&T or itsService(s), or (5) otherwise present a risk of harm to AT&T orAT&T’s customers , employees, officers, directors, or agents.


You are prohibited from engaging in any other activity, illegal ornot, that AT&T determines in its sole discretion, to be harmful toits subscribers, operations, network(s), reputation, goodwill, orcustomer relations.

This telecommunications thing is really heading to a really nice place, where we can’t use the Toobz to discuss how the Toobz are being used to watch over what we do and say. But I guess we should have anticipated that.

Checking In

Things I’m going to get in trouble for saying publicly at Duke:

  • That 80% of what is out in the blogosphere is crap. Hodding Carter had said half was. But I wasn’t thinking about anyone in this corner of the blogosphere.
  • That we bloggers were parasites on the legal teams of the mainstream media, who pay lawyers a lot of money to make sure things like the Libby grand jury recording gets released to the public.

Other than that, nothing too earthshattering newswise. I learned that the WaPo did get beat up by Lurita Doan’s lawyers for releasing the draft of the report on her Hatch Act violations. Which set off a very interesting discussion about whether publishing PDFs of draft documents would and should affect the WaPo’s reputation.

Mr. Sulzberger, Tear Down That Wall

My buddy Pinch Sulzberger wrote me today. He said:

We are ending TimesSelect, effective today.

The Times’s Op-Edand news columns are now available free of charge, along with TimesFile and News Tracker. In addition, The New York Times online Archiveis now free back to 1987 for all of our readers.

Why the change?

Sincewe launched TimesSelect, the Web has evolved into an increasingly openenvironment. Readers find more news in a greater number of places andinteract with it in more meaningful ways. This decision enhances thefree flow of New York Times reporting and analysis around the world. Itwill enable everyone, everywhere to read our news and opinion – as wellas to share it, link to it and comment on it.

Shorter Pinch: We thought we could live without the Dirty Fucking Hippies. But it turns out we needed them more than they needed David Brooks.

Though having learned to live without Brooks, I say we just treat him like the troll he is and continue to ignore him.

Free Press Asks for Details

Ask and someone shall FOIA it for you…

A couple of days ago, I wondered why it was that DOJ would decide to intervene against Net Neutrality–months after the comment period to do so closed. Well, Free Press was wondering the same thing and has submitted a FOIA request to find out. They’re asking for:

  1. All shared or public calendars of the above-named employees for the above-noted dates, including, but not limited to, entries listing all meetings with non-government individuals, businesses, trade associations and/or other organizations and the subject of the meeting.
  2. All email or print correspondence, during the above-noted dates, to or from any of the above-named employees concerning the FCC’s Broadband Industry Practices inquiry, or including the words “network neutrality,” “net neutrality,” or “broadband industry.”
  3. All email or print correspondence on any subject during the above-noted dates between the above-named employees and any employee of, or attorney, government relations specialist, or lobbyist for: AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, Hands off the Internet, NetCompetition.org, Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, US Telecom Association, Qwest, Cisco Systems, and Corning Inc.
  4. Any studies, assessments, reports, or factual data (or drafts of studies, assessments, reports, or factual data) gathered, during the above-noted time period, by the above-named employees or any other employees in the Antitrust Section of the DOJ, which were prepared in drafting the September 6 network neutrality ex parte referenced above.

And the employees they’re asking about are Thomas O. Barnett, Deborah A. Garza, Nancy M. Goodman, Laury Bobbish, Rebekah P. Goodheart, W. Robert Majure, and Jeffrey Wilder. Alberto Gonzales, Paul J. McNulty, William Mercer, Craig S. Morford, and Gregory G. Katsas.

If it were up to me, I’d specifically ask for communications from Lobbyist In Chief Ed Gillespie, since he’s a former lobbyist for the companies in bold. It’s kind of the MO of this Administration to have the orders flow directly from the White House to those who execute those orders.

But it probably doesn’t matter anyway. After all–it’s not like this DOJ is all that responsive to FOIA requests, anyway.

Why Would DOJ Oppose Net Neutrality … Now?

Mcjoan has a post on how the DOJ intervened all of a sudden into the FCC’s consideration of Net Neutrality. As she points out, there’s something unusual about DOJ’s intervention: it came after the comment period had closed.

It was a curious filing, as IP Democracy’s Cynthia Brumfield describes:

What’s curious about the filing is that, first, it’s an ex parte, orlate, submission in the FCC’s Inquiry on Broadband Practices, mostcommonly known as the FCC’s net neutrality proceeding. DOJ could havefiled comments along with the rest of the world by July 16, thedeadline for all submissions, but it didn’t. Why DOJ waited until nowis an interesting, probably unanswerable question.

A number of people in the comments suggest DOJ intervened as pay-off for the telecoms’ help on our NSA spying program. But I don’t think that can explain why DOJ missed the deadline. I can understand not wanting to file anti-net neutrality comments right before Congress debates whether or not to give the telecoms retroactive immunity for helping our government to spy on us illegally. So that might explain why DOJ wouldn’t submit its comments in mid-July, when Congress was busy discussing amendments to FISA.

Except that Congress is again about to discuss amendments to FISA, specifically immunity for the telecoms. And a lot of people in Congress are probably rethinking their vote, having been chewed out by constituents for it while marching in the Labor Day parade. Having the telecoms made out to be worse players right now, just before the debate, isn’t going to help telecom get their immunity and their private Internets.

In other words, the FISA amendment probably doesn’t explain the timing.

I can’t say I can explain the timing, mind you. But there are two events that have happened between July 16 and yesterday which might explain the timing. First, Gonzales resigned (though he’s still making trouble at DOJ). Also, Ed Gillespie, the big telecom lobbyist, just assumed most of Karl Rove’s portfolio on Monday morning.

Did the Lobbyist-in-Chief–who until June was working for the US Telecom Association–have any say over whether DOJ supports Net Neutrality?

Copyright © 2018 emptywheel. All rights reserved.
Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/blogs-internet-and-new-media/page/12/