In California, the many vote for economic liberty for the few

9 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Uber eats drone

Proposition 22 is on its way to a landslide victory in California. When last I checked, yeses were leading noes by 17%. It creates a third class of workers, between wage slave employees and the righteously self-employed (you might guess how I feel about all this). The campaigns for – led by Uber and Lyft – and against – funded by labor unions – have been described as the costliest in California’s history, which is very expensive indeed.… More

Free speech “hypocrisy” won’t end with a new FCC or new administration

30 October 2020 by Steve Blum
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Open internet dont tread on me 2

It’s an odd twist of logic that says the Federal Communications Commission can’t regulate Internet service or facilities, but it can be the Internet content cop. But that’s the position that FCC chair Ajit Pai is taking in regards to what is known as Section 230 – a bit of federal communications law that shields Internet platforms, like Facebook, from liability for content posted by their customers. The urge that drives him is near universal among major party politicians in Washington, D.C.… More

It became necessary to govern free speech to save it

29 May 2020 by Steve Blum
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Trump 625

“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it”.

Unidentified U.S. army major to Associated Press reporter Peter Arnett, Bến Tre, Republic of South Vietnam, 7 February 1968.

The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people…It is the policy of the United States to foster clear ground rules promoting free and open debate on the internet. Prominent among the ground rules governing that debate is the immunity from liability created by section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act.


Twitter spikes the political ad ball into congress’ court

31 October 2019 by Steve Blum
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Volleyball spike

Twitter will stop accepting political ads, for either candidates or causes. Posts on individual accounts aren’t affected. In a series of tweets (of course) CEO Jack Dorsey cited the “risks to politics” as his reason…

We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought…

A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people.


Blocking free speech is more dangerous than suffering it

19 August 2017 by Steve Blum
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Last week, Google and GoDaddy used the power that comes with being at the center of the domain name system to block a white supremacist website. They weren’t alone in their revulsion with the ideas expressed or in taking effective action against them.

But using control over the Internet’s plumbing to censor speech – even speech as vile and disgusting as this – is a wrong and dangerous path to follow. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains in a blog post that gets it exactly right, a weapon that’s used in a good cause can just as easily be used for evil…

All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country.


Bitcoin's disruption is the healthy and rewarding result of a free market

6 August 2017 by Steve Blum
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Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are different from other software and standards-based platforms. There are no governing authorities or dominant players or established industry groups. That’s deliberate. The whole point is to create a way of exchanging value that’s not centrally regulated by governments or private organisations. But that means a super-majority of the millions of individual users have to accept and adopt software updates, or else there’s the risk that Bitcoin will splinter into different versions with different values.… More

Cryptocurrencies' crowd source incentives prevent collapse into one crowd

5 August 2017 by Steve Blum
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The disruption in cryptocurrency markets this week, when Bitcoin sorta split into two, was the result of disagreements between different interests about the technology and crowd-sourced methods used to run it. It was also inevitable and purposeful – cryptocurrencies are intended to rise and fall according to the cumulative decisions of millions – eventually, billions – of sovereign, individual users, who won’t always agree with each other.

Bitcoin’s underlying software can’t keep up with the growing number and speed of transactions between its users.… More