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@DotPolitics Weekly: If the net ain’t neutral, take the Silk Road home
Your weekly dose of Internet politics.
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Here at @DotPolitics we only really care about two things:
Thing the First: Pretend-Internet-money nerds can use to buy drugs without having to go outside and talk to real humans beings face-to-face.
Thing the Second: Stopping Comcast from making Google pay extra money to show us cat videos on YouTube.
Everything else, from how much the NSA spies on what we do online to making fun of Mike Huckabee’s nonsense feud with Beyonce, is secondary to those two things. What can we say? The heart wants what it wants.
Ross Ulbricht found guilty on all counts in Silk Road trial. For approximately a decade, there came a moment in the life of every college student when, sitting on a dingy couch just after midnight, they finally exhaled the bong load they had been trying to hold in for as long as possible when their eyes suddenly lit up with the spark of inspiration. “What if there was, like, an eBay, but like for weed?”
According to a jury comprised of a dozen of Ross Ulbricht’s peers, the Texas-born techie didn’t just make himself a grilled cheese sandwich and finish watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force after having that very experience—he actually followed through. Then, earlier this week, Ulbright was convicted of running the Silk Road, a multi-million dollar online black market for drugs.
Ulbricht’s defense was that, while he did create the site, he quickly handed it off to someone else, who tricked him into coming back on at the end right when law enforcement was about to pounce. That someone else was supposedly Mark Karpelès, who is best known for leading the giant Bitcoin exchange Mt Gox into a giant virtual hole in the ground and then going ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ when nearly half a billion dollars worth of bitcoins fell out of the bottom. The jury apparently didn’t believe this story because the Silk Road seemed to be run by someone who maybe had the slightest idea what they were doing. At least, some of the time.
Also, no one should really be surprised by the verdict because, in essence, the defense’s argument was kind of that Ulbricht was guilty, but also some other people were also guilty. Which is probably the government charged him with “conspiracy.”
Daily Dot reporter Patrick Howell O’Neill recounts one particular bad omen for Ulbricht during the trial: “Several jurors nodded their heads in approval as prosecutors gave their closing arguments. Members of Ulbricht’s family, looking tired, shook their heads ‘no’ in response.”
I picture the silk road trial ending like:
JUDGE: Now please go and carefully deliber—
JURY (all together): GUILTY
— Rusty Foster (@rustyk5) February 4, 2015
FCC chairman reveals net neutrality plan to regulate the Internet as a public utility. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced his plan for what to do about net neutrality in an op-ed for Wired. Guess what he said the agency is going to do? (Hint: The medium is the message).
The sound you heard when Wheeler wrote, “I am proposing that the FCC use its Title II authority to implement and enforce open Internet protections” was the voices of millions of executives at big telecom firms crying out in terror only to be suddenly silenced by the stocks of those very telecom companies suddenly skyrocketing because… well, nobody really knows.
Even so, every big ISP is going to spend the rest of Obama’s time in office suing to get the rules repealed because net neutrality wasn’t already boring enough on its own without adding another layer of arcane legal wrangling to go on top of it.
Is this a porn video or a conservative rebuttal to net neutrality? Never mind, we were wrong. The next round of the net neutrality fight is going to be great.
RAND PAUL ISSUES SHOCKING STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF ISLAMIC STATE
RAND PAUL QUITS SENATE, BECOMES BASSIST FOR INCUBUS
RAND PAUL REVEALED TO BE TWO DOGS AND A LITTLE GIRL INSIDE OF A TRENCH COAT BETTING ON A HORSE RACE
RAND PAUL ACTUALLY PRETTY OKAY WITH MANDATORY SEAT BELT LAWS
RAND PAUL AND BERNIE SANDERS SPENT MAJORITY OF 2007 HOLDING HANDS
RAND PAUL DENIES BEING LEFT SHARK, IS LIAR
IF YOU REARRANGE THE LETTERS IN “RAND PAUL” IT READS, ‘RONALD REAGAN WAS NOT A VERY GOOD PRESIDENT’
I’m an Anti-Braker. “Guys, I wanted to let you know about a personal decision I recently made. I don’t really feel like discussing it, but I want to put my position out there. Please be respectful. This is a really long post, but please read the whole thing.
“I’m taking the brakes off my car. This isn’t a rash decision, so please listen up.”
Cant believe Harper Lee is coming out of retirement to write about ethics in gaming journalism
— Ambear (@missambear) February 3, 2015
Katy Perry’s lawyers are out for blood over the Left Shark craze. It is a truth universally acknowledged that basically everything the NFL touches is terrible. However, this year, there was one bright spot: A dancing shark, who reminded the world what it truly means to be alive. The shark was like a singular beam of hope shining out into a tired, cynical universe with a message of purity, togetherness, and a reminder that doing precise choreography inside bulky costumes is even difficult for professional dancers.
Those good vibes lasted for about a day or so. People started trying to sell recreations of the shark online, and Katy Perry, who obviously spent weeks sewing those costumes by hand, had her lawyers ruin everyone’s 15 minutes of fun. The sharks are Perry’s intellectual property, and anyone trying to monetize it without her consent is gonna’ get bit.
To quote the Daily Dot’s Eric Geller, “They’re going to need a bigger legal team.”
The case for Facebook in prison—why Internet access is a basic human right. The Daily Dot’s Ben Branstetter writes:
“One of the reasons for America’s massive prison population is the “revolving door” aspect of prison life. Within three years after their release, over two thirds of prisoners will find themselves back in prison. One of the chief causes of this recidivism is a lack of job training and employable skills amongst the ex-convict population. While those of us in society learn how to handle computers and the Internet in our daily lives, prisoners are completely blocked from doing the same, making them less employable and, therefore, more likely to wind up back in prison.
“Thus, we are not only denying 2.2 million people a fundamental facet of American life in 2015 but also making it more likely they’ll commit more crimes upon release. Like many aspects of American prisons—from few protections against abuse to the barbarism of solitary confinement—denying inmates Internet access leads to a system not only more degrading for prisoners but worse for society as a whole.”
Are you following the (http://instagram.com/tsa/) TSA on Instagram? You really should be following the TSA on Instagram because a lot of people attempt to bring a lot of ridiculous stuff onto airplanes. The TSA then takes that stuff, snaps pictures of it, and then posts it online to better facilitate more efficient and widespread mockery. Faceless government bureaucrats: They’re just like us!
#TSAGoodCatch – This “monster” holding an inert grenade was discovered in a carry-on bag at the #EagleCounty (#EGE) Regional Airport in #Colorado. While this is a humorous novelty item, TSA officers don’t know items such as these are inert until explosives detection professionals, along with law enforcement, remove the item from the X-ray tunnel and resolve the alarm. This most likely will cause a closure of our checkpoint and lead to missed and delayed flights. Grenades, inert or otherwise, are prohibited from both carry-on and checked bags.
A photo posted by TSA (@tsa) on
#TBT 2012 – These eels were discovered in a passenger’s checked bag at the #Miami (#MIA) International Airport. Among many other things, the passenger was attempting to transport 163 marine tropical fish and 22 invertebrates to #Maracaibo (MAR). The passenger surrendered the items to the @usfws (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). #TSAGoodCatch
A photo posted by TSA (@tsa) on
#TSACatch – #FBF to 2012 when this expended 84-mm anti-tank weapon (AT4) was discovered in a checked bag at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport (#LBE) in #Latrobe, #Pennsylvania. Anti-tank weapons, expended or live, are prohibited from being transported in carry-on and checked bags.
A photo posted by TSA (@tsa) on
#TSACatch #TBT In May of 2012, a disassembled gun and ammunition were discovered in three stuffed animals at the #Providence TF Green Airport (#PVD). The frame of a .40 caliber firearm was in one animal; a magazine loaded with two .40 caliber rounds and firing pin was inside another; and the slide was inside a third animal. The necessary components to assemble a fully functional loaded firearm were concealed in the three toys. This is just another example of why our officers take a closer look at everything that comes through the checkpoint.
A photo posted by TSA (@tsa) on
TIL you can’t bring live eels on an airplane, even if they’re in a clear plastic bag.
The Good: 5 ways Rosa Parks showed us #BlackLivesMatter; New site protects you from government surveillance; California man faces 20 years in historic revenge-porn conviction; Meet the aggressive news startup taking on Putin’s Russia
The Bad: China moves to ban anonymous usernames; ISIS is using video games to recruit new soldiers; U.K. police’s facial recognition database believed to have 18 million people; FBI put Anonymous hacker Jeremy Hammond on a secret terrorist watchlist
The Old People Watching Virtual Reality Porn: Old people watching virtual reality porn; This video of an orange exploding in slow motion is incredibly satisfying; Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Saved by the Bell’ reunion is all the ’90s you can handle
Illustration by J. Longo.
Everyone is going to be Left Shark for Halloween this year. Don’t be basic like everyone else. Dress up as someone who subscribes to the @DotPolitics newsletter. Click here to start practicing.
Aaron Sankin is a former Senior Staff Writer at the Daily Dot who covered the intersection of politics, technology, online privacy, Twitter bots, and the role of dank memes in popular culture. He lives in Seattle, Washington. He joined the Center for Investigative Reporting in 2016.