Freezenet’s Official Podcast: June 2020: How Do You Solve A Problem Like Donald Trump?

In the 20th episode of the Freezenet official podcast, “How Do You solve a Problem Like Donald Trump?”, we take a look at the news and reviews we covered for June.

Welcome to the public version of the 20th episode of the Freezenet official podcast for June, 2020. This month’s episode is entitled “how Do You Solve a Problem Like Donald Trump?” thanks to the war between Trump and social media.

For this episode, we also cover AT&T introducing fast lanes and, as a result, start to break down network neutrality in the US. We also cover big US publishers suing the Internet Archive for copyright infringement.

In addition to this, we offer a cool sneak peak into Psy’Aviah’s latest EP.

We also cover all the usual music and video game reviews as well as the grand opening of “Exploding Whale Memorial Park”. All this and more on this month’s podcast.

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

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Donald Trump?

Hi, I’m your host, Drew Wilson. Welcome to the 20th episode of the Freezenet official podcast for June, 2020. Here are your top 3 headlines:

The Top 3

War erupts over Section 230 as Trump and his Republican’s battle Twitter.

Network neutrality begins to collapse as AT&T introduces zero rating.

… and big US publishers sue the Internet Archive over book lending program.

Top Stories

We begin this month’s podcast with the story that was pretty unavoidable this month: The war between Trump and Twitter with Section 230 being the battle ground.

Before we get too far into the weeds here, we wanted to offer a quick and dirty explanation of what Section 230 is. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is a law that offers a certain degree of legal immunity to platforms. If a user posts content to a platform that is illegal in nature, the liability will centre largely around the user. The platform in question isn’t necessarily automatically held liable for that material or the actions of the user. Instead, the platforms role in all of this is to moderate and remove such content in a sufficient manner. What constitutes sufficient is up for interpretation.

There are, of course, many nuances to this law. For instance, what if something is posted that is copyright infringing? If the copyright owners file a complaint (typically known as a DMCA complaint), the platform must remove the content immediately. Delays to the take-down could open the platform up for copyright infringement liability. Another, more recent, exception revolves around what is loosely described as human trafficking. Since the passage of SESTA/FOSTA, if human trafficking is suspected to be taking place on a platform, then the platform is also held liable. Currently, there are legal challenges to this law. Still, it has resulted in many US online dating services shutting down due to the sudden added layer of liability.

Some commentators confuse this with network neutrality. The thinking is that Section 230 requires the platforms to be neutral in every way. That’s not what Section 230 is. Network neutrality revolves around ISPs and how they are supposed to act as neutral carriers. More on how that aspect is collapsing in a bit.

We could go on and on about different nuances with Section 230 and its history, but you should have a reasonably good idea of what Section 230 is actually all about.

Our story begins with what started off as a simple fact check. US president, Donald Trump, posted a pair of tweets suggesting that mail-in ballots leads to voter fraud. Twitter then posted a simple little flag below each Tweet urging users to get the facts about mail-in ballots. This surprised a lot of analysts and observers because, up until that point, Twitter had been maintaining a hands-off approach to the US president. In response, Trump vowed to hit back against social media hard for their fact-checking.

Within 24 hours, the story already starts flying off the rails. Trump responded by signing an executive order calling for Section 230 protections to be stripped should social media platforms be accused of so-called “political bias”. The suggestion is that if a platform engages in “censorship”, edits or “arbitrarily” modifies user content, the platform should be stripped of Section 230 protections. If you are starting to get confused with these details, you should be because almost nothing about this makes sense already.

First of all, Twitter did not delete the Tweets in question. Therefore, it wasn’t censorship. Secondly, Twitter did not modify the content of the tweets. Thirdly, it’s not political bias to simply flag something and urge readers to get facts.

Moving over to the intent of the Executive Order, it legally makes no sense at all. Section 230 calls on platforms to engage in moderation to remove illegal content. If the platform determines something to be illegal and removes it, the person in question can then claim political bias and get Section 230 protections removed. It doesn’t matter what the content in question is. This, theoretically, opens up the platforms to all forms of liability. As a result, it puts all web sites in a sort of legal catch-22. In short, it actually eliminates the effectiveness of Section 230 should this actually become legally binding.

Taking this to it’s logical conclusion, killing Section 230 would actually lead to a massive increase in platform censorship – the very thing the Order wants to stop. Should this go ahead, platforms would be motivated to ban accounts that could be legally problematic to avoid legal trouble. This, of course, assumes that the platforms would want to continue operating in the US at all. This sort of thing would be an incredible incentive to pull up stakes and ship the headquarters to another country altogether.

Examining the legality of the Executive Order itself: generally speaking, the President can’t simply change the laws by executive order. In order for it to be legally binding, the Order needs legislative backing from Congress. So, by itself, the legal teeth behind the executive order is already non-existent.

Still, this is what Trump is attempting with the executive order regardless of how senseless it really is at that point.

Reaction to the Executive order did wind up being wide ranging. Canadian lawyer, Howard Knopf, commented that this is a distraction from the more than 100,000 American’s killed by COVID-19. American digital rights organization, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, questioned the legalities of the Order, but nevertheless, said that this effort must be stopped. Canadian University law professor, Michael Geist, commented that this executive order actually violates the USMCA, the very trade “deal” that the Trump administration negotiated to replace NAFTA. Another interesting reaction came from Germany. Thomas Jarzombek said that if the Order moves ahead, Twitter is welcome to move to Germany. “This is an invitation to move to Germany!” Jarzombek said. He added, “Here you are free to criticize the government as well as to fight fake news. We have a great startup and tech ecosystem, your company would be a perfect fit and I will open any doors for you!” Finally, Mike Masnick of Techdirt dismissed the Order as legal nonsense.

While some may be dismissing it, the larger platforms certainly aren’t taking any chances. The Center for Democracy and Technology, a group backed by Twitter, Google, and Facebook, have filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration to stop the Executive Order dead in its tracks. The organization calls the Order a violation of free speech.

Shortly after, another reaction rolled in. Drew Curtis, founder of satirical social news website, Fark, made his own comments on the Executive Order. Generally, Curtis said that he wasn’t worried about it for now because the Order itself is legally meaningless. He said that where things might get interesting is how the US regulator, the FCC, reacts. He commented that the chair, Ajit Pai, is against regulation. As a result, he doesn’t think that Pai would follow through and start instituting these new regulations even though the marching orders comes from Trump himself.

As we found out later on in the month, the pressure for the FCC doesn’t come exclusively from Trump. Several Republican Senators issued an open letter demanding Pai open up the law and strip away Section 230 protections. The letter is signed by Senators Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, Kelly Loeffler, and Kevin Cramer. Part of the open letter reads as follows:

“Social media companies have become involved in a range of editorial and promotional activity; like publishers, they monetize, edit, and otherwise editorialize user content. It is time to take a fresh look at Section 230 and to interpret the vague standard of “good faith” with specific guidelines and direction.”

The letter goes on to say, “We therefore request that the FCC clearly define the framework under which technology firms, including social media companies, receive protections under Section 230.”

At that point, it became clear that killing Section 230 is becoming a multi-pronged approach rather than a one off incident by Trump.

After that, another prong became apparent. The Department of Justice joined in and called for reforms to Section 230 in the same manner Tump called for. Specifically, they called for new legislation that would chip away at Section 230 protections. At that stage, it became clear that all avenues to kill Section 230 are being utilized.

While we haven’t seen any action out of Congress on the subject, the US Senate is a different story. Republican senator, Josh Hawley, has tabled legislation to kill Section 230. The legislation itself is called “Limiting Section 230 Immunity to Good Samaritans Act”. Among other things, the bill aims to strip platforms of Section 230 protections should they engage in so-called “intentionally selective enforcement of the terms of service”.

So, all month, we’ve gone from a retaliatory reaction by Trump to a full blown war on free speech waged by Republican’s. From an analytical perspective, nothing good is going to come from this. Still, Republican’s are pushing hard on behalf of Trump, so we’ll have to see where things go from here on that front. An increasingly precarious situation unfolding to say the least.

Moving on, we have an update to a story we brought you clear back in 2017. Back then, the FCC voted to repeal network neutrality in a partisan 3-2 decision. Experts watched this vote unfold in horror because they knew that American’s would no longer be protected from monopolistic abuse by carriers. Conservatives tried to dismiss this as much ado about nothing. Some even go so far as to say that no damage was done, therefore, “Liberals” were “wrong” and the Internet is more free than ever before.

Of course, as you would expect, that commentary that the worries were a hoax is dead wrong. AT&T, this month, proved it. This month, AT&T announced that they are helping their subscribers get the streaming service, HBO Max. Part of the announcement said that any bandwidth used via HBO Max would not count against data caps. This is specifically known as zero rating. Other streaming services, like Netflix and Disney Plus, will count towards the subscribers data cap. This highly incentivizes users to use HBO Max instead. In the end, AT&T is effectively picking winners and losers in the streaming market by giving preferential treatment to HBO Max. AT&T defended the move by saying that the data is “sponsored data”. Other services known to be “sponsored” also happen to be AT&T run services.

Things like Zero Rating is specifically what network neutrality aimed to avoid. It introduces market distortions that favour whoever the ISP happens to favour – be it partnering services or in-house services. Of course, with network neutrality dead in America, ISPs, like AT&T, are free to engage in what many are calling anti-competitive behaviour.

If anything, this signals the beginning collapse of a neutral network in the US. It is exactly what experts warned everyone about. Things only stand to get a whole lot worse from here for American subscribers.

Finally, we have a follow-up to a story we brought you last March. Back then, the Internet Archive unveiled the National Emergency Library. This in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Emergency Library is a modification to the book loaning system hosted by the website. The Internet Archive opened the doors to loaning out books still in the cue for approval. Additionally, they raised the limit to how many people could loan out a book title. Big US publishers blasted the humanitarian initiative as “vile” because they think it would rob them of additional chances to make a fast buck out of the international COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, the big US publishers are suing the Internet Archive for copyright infringement. In court documents, Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins and Wiley are seeking a permanent injunction against the library. The documents say that the Archive has gotten 50,000 pageviews. They are using this as part of the evidence that the library is engaging in mass copyright infringement.

Well, despite all that drama, we actually did cover a number of other interesting stories. So, here are some of the other stories making news this month.

Other Stories Making News

There’s more dramatic fallout from other comments issued by Donald Trump. In one instance, Trump said that vicious dogs and ominous weapons would be used on protesters should they breach the White House perimeter. In response, Snapchat announced that it would no longer promote Donald Trump on their social media service. In a statement about the decision, Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, said, “Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality, and justice in America.”

Facebook, for its part, had to deal with internal rifts between employees and management over another Trump tweet. In that tweet, Trump responded to protests by saying that when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Employees said that Facebook should be reacting similarly to how Twitter handled the tweets. Management, however, haven’t done so. In response, some employees threatened to quit. Others are expressing anger. An engineer, Timothy Aveni, said, “Mark [Zuckerberg] always told us that he would draw the line at speech that calls for violence. He showed us on Friday that this was a lie”

In response, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, issued a statement. Part of the statement reads as follows, “I know many of you think we should have labelled the President’s posts in some way last week”. Zuckerberg added, “We’re going to review potential options for handling violating or partially-violating content aside from the binary leave-it-up or take-it-down decisions”

In another tweet, Trump shared a video purporting to be from CNN. The footage shows a black toddler running ahead of a white toddler. An obviously fake CNN chyron appears along with keys that read “terrified toddler runs away from racist baby”. That line changes part way through to say “Probably a Trump supporter”. Perhaps the only thing true about the video is that the footage did come from CNN. The footage was shot back in 2019. At the time, the report talks about how a white toddler and a black toddler ran towards each other and gave each other a hug. The report raised questions over whether or not racism is learned behaviour. Sometime after the fake video was posted, Twitter posted a flag warning readers that the fake video is “manipulated media”. Some time after the video was flagged, someone issued a DMCA take-down notice, causing the video itself to go offline.

CEO of Music Canada, Graham Henderson, has announced that he is stepping down. Music Canada said that the process to find a replacement is under way. Henderson headed the multinational corporate organization the entire time I was reporting. So, of course, Henderson was the CEO when Music Canada was called the Canadian Recording Industry Association. It’ll be interesting to see if any changes take place with the organization once the new CEO takes over.

NASA became the latest victim of copyright fraud. The organization posted footage of the historic SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch. The footage came from NASA, but National Geographic issued a DMCA take-down notice, pulling the video offline from NASA’s YouTube account. NASA said that they got in touch with both YouTube and National Geographic to release the claim on the video. Shortly after, the video became available once again for users who want to watch the launch all over again.

Donald Trump also got hit with a DMCA claim over a campaign video. Initially, the response to the take-down is that this is supposed to be proof that platforms have an anti-conservative bias and is censoring them. Of course, the truth came out later that the video was taken down due to a DMCA complaint. As anyone who follows copyright issues online know, the DMCA system in place is basically a “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to copyright claims. Anyone can issue a complaint and platforms will, by and large, comply with no questions asked. In the end, there is no politics involved in that case as far as the platforms are concerned. Instead, it is a very standard thing to see in copyright take-downs on various platforms. Whether the complaints were issued by someone for political reasons, however, could very well be a different story altogether.

Sex worker advocacy organizations are warning about the dangers of US legislation known as EARN IT. As some of you might recall, EARN IT is known as America’s encryption ban bill. The bill requires companies to incorporate back doors into their security systems. The sole purpose is to allow big government to spy on people’s communications. Digital rights organizations have already warned about the dangers of this and how it undermines security for everyone. Sex advocacy workers have issued a nice reminder that this legislation is still not dead. Among the organizations warning about the dangers of this legislation are The Sex Workers Outreach Project, Hacking//Hustling, and Decriminalize Sex Work.

The Canadian Federal Court of Appeal has made a ruling on Canada’s anti-spam law. Sometimes known as CASL, the judges have ruled unanimously that the law is constitutional. It’s possible that the ruling could be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, but so far, the law is holding up to legal scrutiny.

Meanwhile in Europe, European Digital Rights, or EDRi, is warning about the dangers of so-called “immunity passports”. The concept was born out of an unproven theory that once someone recovers from COVID-19, they can’t get COVID-19 again. So, they can have an app that carries this “immunity passport” to show that they can’t get infected. Among the concerns raised is that it could encourage risky behaviour. Specifically, people could intentionally infect themselves with COVID-19 in order to obtain the passport. Additionally, proposals include an online biometric database to track people carrying these passports. EDRi is calling for resources to be focused on improving the overall healthcare systems rather than building a biometric surveillance system.

Finally, right leaning websites The Federalist and Zero Hedge was warned by Google over racist comments. Both sites utilize Google Adsense and the risk is that the sites could see some form of demonetization. Initially, reports suggested that The Federalist was fully demonetized. However, follow-up reports said that The Federalist was actually warned that they could see a demonetization of a single page. Other reports indicated that the warnings were issued because of what was written in various articles. Those reports were later corrected and the warnings centred around their comments section, not the articles themselves. Follow-up reports indicate that after the comments section went through moderation, the issue was dropped and nothing actually became of it in the end.

Security also made a few headlines this month as well.

First up is online home cooking service, Home Chef. The site saw 8 million accounts compromised in a data breach.

After that, Thailands biggest cell phone network, AIS, suffered from a data leak. In all, 8 billion records were exposed.

A class action lawsuit was filed against UK airline, easyJet. This in response to the airline suffering from a data breach which saw 9 million customers exposed. The lawsuit is seeking £18 billion in damages.

Finally, we have a follow-up to the Nintendo data breach story we brought you last month. The number of impacted people has grown. Initially, reports suggested that an estimated 160,000 customers were compromised. That number has now grown to 300,000 customers being compromised.

So, a surprisingly political episode this month. What can we say? We can’t control what breaks in the news, only report on it. Now, let’s switch gears and take a look at entertainment.

Video Game Reviews

Before we jump into the video game reviews, we wanted to point out that we have posted another first impression video. This time, the video game we are playing is the RPG game Legend of Grimrock. You can check out the video on our YouTube channel, website, or via the link in our transcript. For the record, shortly after the video finished, I did figure out that right clicking on weapons is how you attack enemies.

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

First up is Hangman for the Atari 2600. A game that seems pretty difficult for someone in the marketed age group. Steep learning curve in the interface doesn’t help things either. So, this game gets a 60%.

Next up is Solar Striker for the Game Boy. Reasonable difficulty curve and solid graphics, though a game that doesn’t really possess a lot in the way of innovative features. Still, this game gets a respectable 74%.

After that, we tried Paperboy for the Game Boy. A slightly steep difficulty curve and limited screen space does hurt play. Still, there is a lot of variety in the game and the graphics are very solid otherwise. So, this game gets a great 80%.

Finally, we played Battle Bull for the Game Boy. Somewhat finicky controls, but the upgrade system works quite well. So, this game gets a solid 70%.

Music Reviews

Before we jump into the music reviews this month, we wanted to point out that we have another music preview. This time, it is from Psy’Aviah and Kyoko Baertsoen. It is the Train of Thought EP we are checking out. The EP features a number of remixes of the track, Train of Thought, which is part of the Soul Searching album. Additionally, the EP features the track Insomnia. We wanted to share with you a preview of that particular track, so, enjoy!

It’s always a treat when we see Psy’Aviah appear in our inbox. This is no exception. We hope you enjoyed that sneak peek. Just a reminder that the music previews section is controlled by you, the artist. If you have a forthcoming release you’d like to see featured on our site and podcast, feel free to drop us a line. We’ll be happy to consider it as something to show off on Freezenet!

Now, let’s check out the music reviews we have this month.

This month, we started with Crystal Waters – Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)

Then, we listened to Deee-Lite – Good Beat (Shake Your Body To The Beat Mix)

After that is Jomanda – Got A Love For You (Hurley’s House Mix)

Clubhouse – Deep in My Heart (Extended Mix)

Brothers in Rhythm – Such a Good Feeling

Lost Tribe – Gamemaster (Lost Tribe’s ’99 Mix)

Frankie Knuckles – The Whistle Song

Little Louie Vega ft Marc Anthony – Ride on the Rhythm (Kenlou Rhythm Mix)

CeCe Peniston – Finally

Lonnie Gordon – Gonna Catch You

… and finally, The Shamen – Move Any Mountain (I.R.P. in the Land of Oz)

Picks of the Month

So, that, leads us to our pick of the month. This month, our pick of the month belongs to Lost Tribe – Gamemaster (Lost Tribe’s ’99 Mix). Also, be sure to check out Paperboy for the Game Boy.

Oddities

And in other news…

The state of Oregon sought a name for their new park. After many suggestions, and a public vote, there was only one winner. Afterwards, people welcomed potential visitors to the newly named “Exploding Whale Memorial Park“. The name is inspired by a 45-foot, 8-ton whale that washed ashore in 1970. To remove the whale, the state decided to use explosives to eliminate the carcass. Hey, at least the winning name wasn’t Parky McPark Face.

A man living in Toronto, Canada experienced something rather unusual. His doorbell rang. When he answered it, he saw a Well.ca parcel left behind by Canada Post. Initially, he was confused because he hadn’t ordered anything online recently. When he opened the parcel, things started to make sense. In 2012, he was trying different hair creams he ordered online. When he initially ordered one kind, the package never arrived. He contacted Well.ca who re-sent the package. When it failed to arrive a second time, he told Well.ca to just forget about it because it was only $5 hair cream. Eight years later, it apparently finally arrived. It came complete with the 2012 receipt. Unfortunately, the Brylcream he ordered was no good. He Googled the product and found out it is supposed to be white. What was in the tube had yellowed, so it was thrown out.

… and you thought your two day delay was bad.

As various sports organizations start to open up after being shut down due to COVID-19, some sports organizations are grappling with some difficulties. Hockey, of course, is one such challenging sport for infectious disease control experts. One doctor issued a number of suggestions to help with social distancing and preventing the spread of COVID-19. Among the suggestions were full-face shields, no spitting on the ice or on the bench, and a ban on fighting. In all honesty, I have a hard time trying to visualize an NHL hockey fight that respects social distancing. Like, what do the players do? Drop the gloves and send each other mean tweets while on the ice?

Outro

Before we close out this month’s episode, we got a couple of announcements to make.

First up is the May Wiki Content patch. This month, we’ve completed some discography information for Ferry Tayle, Dan Stone, and the Future Sound of Egypt Fables label. This over top of the fact that we’ve completed a round of the ongoing archive of the podcast show Fables. Our archive extends all the way up to episode 144. We’ll continue to add new episodes as we get time and as they get released as this is an ongoing show.

After that, we posted discography information of Tsunami Records, Flashover Recordings, and Ferry Corsten. Once that got completed, we started archiving the show Corsten’s Countdown. As of that patch, we’ve archived the first 30 episodes. We will continue to add to it in the weeks ahead. We hope you enjoy the ever expanding array of content being made available on the Wiki and look forward to increasing the size of the offerings as well.

Additionally, we are trying a new experiment with our mobile users. We are trying the anchor ad being offered by Google Adsense. For mobile users, this sits on the top of the screen after you scroll down. What is great is the ability to dismiss the ad as well. It’s something different we are trying and we’re seeing how well it performs. At this stage, we don’t know if it’ll stay or not, but we will see if it has a noticeable change on things on the back-end. For desktop users, our understanding is that you won’t even see this ad.

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!

…and that’s this months episode for June, 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 like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @freezenetca. Thank you for listening and see you next month.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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