Freezenet’s Official Podcast: August 2020: There’s a Banned App for That

In the 22nd episode of the Freezenet official podcast, “There’s a Banned App for That”, we take a look at the news and reviews we covered for August.

Welcome to the public version of the 22nd episode of the Freezenet official podcast for August, 2020. This month’s episode is entitled “There’s a Banned App for That”. The title is inspired by the war between Apple, Fortnite/Epic, and WordPress in the app store.

This month’s episode also covers the continuing war between Trump and social media. Additionally, we cover the continued war between Big Publishing and the Internet Archive.

Also this month, we cover all the usual music and video game reviews. We even cover how a burglar has a strange obsession with stealing nothing but hand sanitizer. All this and more on this month’s episode.

You can check out our official podcast on Soundcloud or Anchor. Alternatively, you can take a listen below:

What follows is a transcript of this month’s episode:

Intro

There’s a Banned App for That!

Hi, I’m your host, Drew Wilson. Welcome to episode 22 of the Freezenet official podcast for August, 2020. Here are your top 3 headlines:

The Top 3

The war on the Internet Archive waged by big publishing intensifies

Threats of litigation surface as the war between Trump and social media continues

… and Apple faces controversy after Fortnite gets banned and WordPress updates are blocked from its app store

Top Stories

We begin with this month’s podcast with a story that cropped up back in March. That is the war being waged by big publishing against the Internet Archive. The big publishing corporations have filed a lawsuit against the archive for copyright infringement. In short, the library offered an emergency book loaning service in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The loaning system isn’t anything new and publishers have approved of the loaning system. However, the emergency library lifted some of the restrictions. This is part of a humanitarian effort to allow people to continue reading as physical libraries shut down. Big publishing blasted the humanitarian effort as “vile” and sued the library for copyright infringement.

In response, the Association of Research Libraries condemned the lawsuit. They contend that for nearly 25 years, the Internet Archive has been a force of good. They explain that the digital library captures the worlds knowledge and provides barrier-free learning for all. They went on to urge big publishing to drop the lawsuit. They said, “shuttering the Open Library would interfere with this shared mutual objective” of “open and equitable access to information”.

As the lawsuit against the Internet Archive moved ahead, some are fearing the possible damage such a lawsuit could bring. Some are worried that the vast library of old games hosted by the library could be wiped out. This, of course, is part of what some see as potential collateral damage the lawsuit could cause.

Unfortunately, the calls for reasoned thinking seemed to fall on deaf ears as big publishing still intends on suing the digital library. Some are even comparing the move to the burning down of physical libraries. So, the Internet Archive issued a legal response. The digital library contends that they do what many other libraries already do: preserve and permit access to a common culture. They refuted the claims by big publishing that they are pirates or thieves and point out that they do everything they can to ensure that use of their services are legal.

In the wake of all of this, some have thought that such a move against a physical library would be plain crazy. Some felt that no one would be crazy enough to launch such an offensive against physical libraries. Well, it turns out that they were proven wrong. Publisher, Kenneth Whyte, penned an op-ed blasting physical libraries. He contends that libraries are a threat to not only literature, but also to literacy itself. He built a theory that libraries are somehow competing against retail book stores. Therefore, the borrowing of books from public libraries is akin to stealing because borrowers aren’t paying anything for the service. In response to the op-ed, Whyte was blasted in two different countries for his comments.

In Canada, Michael Geist points out that libraries have paid publishers $275 million to Canadian authors. Geist also pointed out that libraries and retail book stores have a symbiotic relationship to begin with. Geist also notes that the organizations and people who are supposedly supportive of Whyte’s views are remaining silent on the matter – insinuating that no one is supporting Whyte’s views.

Meanwhile, in the US, Mike Masnick also blasted the article. Masnick concluded, “The whole article is quite incredible, but at least it’s a copyright maximalist admitting to what many are thinking: they hate libraries and would sue them out of existence if they weren’t grandfathered into our broken copyright system.”

Whyte’s comments received condemnation from other sources as well. At any rate, the comments received condemnation all around and hardly any support that we could find.

Once again, impeached US president Donald Trump is spreading false information. This time, he commented that children are “almost immune” to COVID-19. This as he tried to re-open schools in the midst of the US facing massive spikes in new COVID-19 cases. Scientists and doctors are urging the government to shut everything back down. This in a bid to at least attempt to get COVID-19 under control in the US – calls that have been largely ignored by the president. Many fear that re-opening schools would lead to massive larger spikes in COVID-19 cases across the US. Trump shared the video of him saying that children are “almost immune” to COVID-19 on social media. The comments were so dangerous, even Facebook took action and took down the video. Additionally, Twitter compelled the Trump Team to remove the same video from Twitter as well for the identical reason that the information is not only false, but dangerous.

Meanwhile, social media platform TikTok threatened to sue Donald Trump. Trump signed an executive order saying that the platform would be banned from the country within 45 days unless ownership changed. Microsoft, of course, has been interested in purchasing TikTok’s US operations. TikTok owners said that they were “shocked” by the executive order and that they are contemplating litigation against the president.

In response to all of this, some in the gaming community grew concerned about the executive order. Part of the executive order also includes any transactions from the company WeChat which has a stake in Tencent Holdings. Tencent Holdings also happens to own and operate a number of popular games such as League of Legends. WeChat also holds a 40% stake of Epic, makers of Fortnite. The worry, of course, is that the executive order will also, by extension, ban those games as well. Some are responding to this by saying that Trump has effectively declared war on gamers as a whole.

Apple is taking a lot of heat this month over its actions in their app store. The company drew attention when things escalated between Epic Games and Apple. Fortnite was apparently available in the app store. In the app, Epic offered two ways to purchase V-bucks – the in-game currency for Fortnite. The first way is through Apple’s payment system. The second way is directly with Epic. A discount is offered for players who want to pay directly. Apple responded by banning Fortnite from the app store, saying that the game violated their terms of service. Those terms forbids developers from selling in-app purchases that circumvents Apple’s payment system. In response, Epic sued Apple, saying that the banning is anti-competitive behaviour. A similar incident also occurred on Google’s app store as well. The lawsuit also names Google as a defendant. In the filing, Epic says, “In 1998, Google was founded as an exciting young company with a unique motto: ‘Don’t Be Evil’” The complaint continues, “Twenty-two years later, Google has relegated its motto to nearly an afterthought, and is using its size to do evil upon competitors, innovators, customers, and users in a slew of markets it has grown to monopolize.”

As that was going, another developer caught the attention of Apple. WordPress developers apparently offers their Content Management System via the Apple app store. WordPress is, of course, free and open source. So, it doesn’t charge anything to download and use their installation app. Apple responded by blocking all updates to the app. When the developers asked why, Apple said that they were not giving 30% of their in-app purchases – a violation of their terms of service. The problem, of course, is that WordPress is free and doesn’t have in-app purchases. Apple pushed back, saying that they must have in-app purchases so they can charge 30% or else they will never be able to update the app. WordPress developers relented and said that they will re-work the app to contain in-app purchases even though that was never the intention.

As news spread, Apple started catching heat for the decision. In response, Apple then backed off and allowed the app to update without the requirement of in-app purchases. Apple then said that mention of purchases outside of the app should be removed – part of the initial offer by the developer that was initially rejected. Apple then commented, “We have informed the developer and apologize for any confusion that we have caused.”

Certainly a dramatic month here on Freezenet. We aren’t done yet, though. Here are some of the other stories making news this month.

Other Stories Making News

A European court advisor has issued an opinion on platform liability. This as platforms are facing copyright infringement complaints that the court is expected to rule on. The advisor states that platforms are not automatically liable for the actions of their users.

“As EU law currently stands, online platform operators, such as YouTube and Uploaded, are not directly liable for the illegal uploading of protected works by the users of those platforms,” he said.

“Otherwise, there would be a risk of platform operators becoming judges of online legality and a risk of ‘over-removal’ of content stored by them at the request of users of their platforms in so far as they also remove legal content,” he said.

Many file-sharers will be all too familiar with the MP3 format. What some may not realize is that the MP3 format turned 25 years old this month. The MP3 offered a compression that helped people transfer audio over the Internet over the last two and a half decades. This helped to get around technical limitations such as hard drive space and bandwidth limitations in the past. Not only did it help authorized services such as Apple and BeatPort to sell music to customers, but it also aided in kickstarting the podcasting revolution and file-sharing revolution as well. Arguably, without a compression format like the MP3, such things would have been greatly delayed.

Last month, we brought you news about a US Democratic initiative to reform Section 230 through the PACT legislation. This month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has weighed in on the legislation. Although they praised the way hearings were handled, they said that they ultimately opposed the legislation. The EFF wrote, “we are ultimately opposed to the bill, because weakening Section 230 […] would lead to more illegitimate censorship of user content. The bill would also threaten small platforms and would-be competitors to the current dominant players, and the bill has First Amendment problems.”

The US Federal Trade Commission held a hearing on Section 230. Both Democrats and Republicans were apparently fighting with each other over how to reform the law that ultimately is not even a problem in the first place. As the hearings drug on, some question whether or not lawmakers could even agree on reasons why they want to reform the laws in the first place. Some suggested that the hearings went completely off topic by applying debates to the hearings that had nothing to do with the law in the first place. Some even question whether or not the FTC even has authority to dictate moderation policies on platforms as well. Either way, it seems that the reaction to the hearings was largely negative.

Opinion website, Techdirt, was threatened with demonetization this month. Mike Masnick, owner of the website, commented about what he experienced with the threat. Masnick says that dozens of URLs were flagged every day as violating Adsense rules. He says there was no explanation why pages were flagged as harmful or violating the rules. Even the tag “content moderation” was flagged as harmful content at one point. In addition to this, the so-called problematic URLs kept rotating without explanation. URLs that were apparently flagged as needing to be fixed would drop off without reason later on only to have new URLs flagged. Masnick said that Google reached out to the third party that they work with to manage ads. That third party was told that Techdirt was allegedly engaged in “clickspam” and that ongoing unfixed policy violations would see the site get kicked out of Adsense entirely. Masnick contends that he was never even given an explanation as to what to do to even fix the problem in the first place or what rules were violated.

After additional complaints from users about ads taking up resources, Masnick then made the decision to pull Adsense from their site. He reminded readers that there are ways to support the site still. Masnick admits that pulling Adsense meant that the site is taking a financial hit.

Canadian and German regulators are poking around to determine if Amazon violated anti-trust laws as it relates to vendors who sell through Amazon. Canadian regulators say they are seeking public input on how Amazon interacts with vendors and whether the actions are cause for concern on anti-trust grounds. The Canadian regulators say that they currently have no evidence of wrongdoing, but are, nevertheless, looking into things.

Meanwhile, German regulators are probing Amazon over similar concerns. “We are currently investigating whether and how Amazon influences how traders set prices on the market-place,” Andreas Mundt, President of the Federal Cartel Office, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily.

An Amazon spokeswoman responded to the allegations: “Amazon selling partners set their own product prices in our store,” the spokeswoman said. “Our systems are designed to take action against price gouging,” she said, adding that those who had concerns should contact its support team for its merchants.

A Facebook employee says that he has been fired after posting evidence that the platform engages in pro-conservative bias. Among the evidence is intervention from management to remove flags regarding misinformation by conservative conspiracy outlets like Breitbart. The employee said that he had attempted to raise concerns about favouritism towards conservatives, but was pushed back with comments that he was being “antigrowth”. The evidence he published has since been spread among news outlets.

Finally, thousands of accounts in the Canada Revenue Agency have allegedly been compromised partly thanks to credential stuffing. Credential stuffing is, of course, the act of a malicious third party taking compromised login credentials and using the passwords on other services to see if the user re-used that password. The target by these malicious third parties were apparently the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit and other government programs. The third parties would redirect funds to bank accounts they operate, allowing them to steal the financial aid intended for the victims. The CRA responded by locking down affected accounts and is working on resolving the issue.

Definitely an eventful month here on Freezenet. So, let’s lighten things up by talking about entertainment.

Video Game Reviews

Before we talk about the video game reviews, we wanted to point out that we have posted another first impression video. This time, we decided to play the RPG game, Legend of Grimrock II for the first time. To see what we initially encountered, you can check out the link in our transcript or check out our official YouTube channel.

Now, here are video games we’ve reviewed this month:

First up is Kwirk for the Game Boy. Different elements do make the game interesting, but a steep difficulty curve holds this game back. Still, this game gets an OK 68%.

Next up is Revenge of the ‘Gator for the Game Boy. Single pinball table in the entire game really hurt this games chances, though it does feature a multi-area aspect. This one gets a 62%.

Then, we played Army Men II for the Game Boy Color. Destructible elements do add a bit of spice to the game, but a game that suffers from a very low replay value. This one gets a 60%.

Finally, we played Snow Bros Jr. for the Game Boy. Great difficulty curve and well thought out learning curve. A surprisingly good port from the NES. So, a game that gets a great 80%.

Music Reviews

As for music we’ve listened to this month, we’ve got…

Limp Bizkit – My Way

Snap! – Rhythm is a Dancer

Opus III – It’s a Fine Day

2 Unlimited – Get Ready For This

Da Buzz – Alive (C&N Club Mix)

The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode

Black Machine – How Gee

CeCe Peniston – We Got a Love Thang

… and finally, Co.Ro. Featuring Taleesa – Because the Night (T.L.S. Mix)

Picks of the Month

So, that leads us to our pick of the month. For this competitive month, our pick of the month belongs to Da Buzz – Alive (C&N Club Mix). Also, be sure to check out Snow Bros Jr. for the Game Boy and The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode.

Oddities

And in other news…

A man in Sioux City has been arrested after a string of 3 burglaries of businesses. The arrest happened during the third burglary. In the aftermath, an assessment was made on what all was stolen. After all of that burglarizing, only one thing was reported stolen: hand sanitizer. Man, is there something I’m not aware of about hand sanitizer? I just picture a guy in a cat suit and face mask. He drops the crowbar after breaking in and looks down at a table of four items. He shines the flashlight on the table and says, “Alright, what do we have here? Some valuable looking jewellery… Lotus car keys for that fancy looking car outside… a large stack of $100 bills… and… hand sanitizer!” Yoink! “The hand sanitizer is mine! WAHAHAHA!!!”

In Ottawa, a dump truck driver is probably having to answer questions after an incident on the Queensway overpass. Apparently, the driver was driving 100KPH. When he drove under a bridge, witnesses say there was a loud bang. The truck stopped 100 meters down the highway. Shortly after, the driver clearly realized that he forgot something that many would call rather important. He forgot to lower the dump box. The dump box was found wedged under the bridge. It took crews several hours to remove the wedged dump box. The driver has been charged with careless driving. That awkward moment when you realize you had, in fact, forgotten something vitally important. Oopsey.

When you write things all day long, missed typos are pretty much inevitable. Sooner or later, it’s going to find you and bite you. Sometimes, it’s just a silly little mistake that is otherwise completely harmless. Sometimes, it leads to some slight embarrassment such as missing the “L” in “public”. For players of the Microsoft Flight Simulator, it has led to the Melbourn Monolith. Players responded by saying, “All Hail the Spire”. A massively tall building is found in the middle of Melbourn, Australia for seemingly no reason. As it turns out, there is a reason why this happened. Map data was apparently scraped from Open Street Maps. One building in particular was supposed to be 2 levels tall. What was left in the data, however, said that the building is 212 levels tall. The typo has since been corrected, but not before it was inserted into the video game. So, as it turns out, Melbourn, Australia isn’t having a building measuring contest after all.

Outro

So, before we close out this month’s episode, we wanted to update you on all the happenings here on Freezenet. As we alluded to last month, we’ve been doing a lot this month.

First up is the July Wiki content patch. This one was a big one. In that patch, we managed to archive 631 episodes of Corsten’s Countdown. We weren’t kidding when we said we archived a lot since the first 160 episodes.

Days later, we managed to complete the archive of Corsten’s Countdown. In all, we archives 684 episodes totalling an estimated 699 hours worth of music. This is definitely the biggest project we have ever completed in terms of total episodes that needed to be covered. We hope you enjoy it.

After that, we expanded the website yet again. This time, we have opened up a Tumblr account. As a result, if you are a user of Tumblr, you can now follow us on that platform as well. I’ll leave a link in the transcript directly if you want to check it out.

From there, we went on to complete another archive project. This time, we archived the comparatively small show, Air Up There. This archive showcases everything we could find for all 100 episodes. This one was a tricky one to archive thanks to a lot of mislabelling going around. Still, we think we managed to get an accurate archive in the end.

Finally, we opened up a Ko-Fi account. If you wanted to support us, but didn’t want to do so on a subscription basis (or you don’t like Patreon for whatever reason), you now have an alternative method of doing so. If you want to buy us a coffee and give a one time tip not through Patreon, Ko-Fi is the way to go. I’ll leave a link in the transcript for that too in case you are insterested. Because of all of these added services, we had to do a minor adjustment to the look of the site as well.

Also, huge shout out to Nolan for providing mixing services!

If you’d like to get your hands on some behind the scenes stuff, exclusive content, and early access material, you can check out our Patreon page at Patreon.com/freezenet. Through this, you can help make Freezenet just that much better all the while getting some pretty cool stuff in the process. That’s Patreon.com/freezenet!

Alternatively, you can simply buy us a coffee via ko-fi.com/freezenet!

…and that’s this months episode for August, 2020. I’m Drew Wilson for Freezenet. Be sure to check out our website at freezenet.ca for all the latest in news and reviews. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Thank you for listening and see you next month.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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