TWIT 757: My Fridge Killed My Apple TV

Beep boop - this is a robot. A new show has been posted to TWiT…

What are your thoughts about today’s show? We’d love to hear from you!

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Always great listening to Denise Howell and Ashley Esqueda, and Nate Langsdon was a welcome voice.

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Nice having Denise Howell on the show. @Leo, would you consider adding chapter markers to TwiT? I’d love to be able to jump from topic to topic easily.

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Will leo be receiving 150 dollars from mike Bloomberg for saying he would make good president for computer savvy

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Good panel. I miss Denise and This Week in Law - and I’m not even really interested in law! It was just a great show.

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Great to see Denise again!!

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Quite surprised to hear Nate Lanxon claim ignorance of the Iowa caucus problems and the role of an app in contributing to them. I live in the UK and thought it was covered quite widely; here’s an example story from the BBC on 4 Feb - Iowa caucus: Chaos at key vote as results delayed

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I thought the same, I saw it on UK news and on French: https://www.france24.com/fr/20200205-shadow-et-l-appli-qui-a-fait-planter-la-primaire-dans-l-iowa
I guess we all miss things sometimes! And I tend to avoid US news at the moment - we have enough going on over here…

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Seems like all the discussion about accountability for sites around what users do on their site is either all or none. None of us would the think the city is liable for a crime committed in a city park… Unless they keep it open in the middle of the night with no lights and leave a box of weapons in the middle of the park. Isn’t there a happy middle here where site operators aren’t responsible for what people do on their site (liability that would significantly curtail entrepreneurship and innovation) but they are legally accountable for providing reasonable controls and monitoring?

Is handwriting recognition really still too poor for New York’s police field report app to offer OCR for those not comfortable screen-typing (even accounting for how illegible some’s hand can be)? I wonder if this could change once iPhone supports Pencil since that could track the strokes as they’re drawn (if officers can keep a pencil and paper on them, they can keep a Pencil and iPhone, right?).

In Germany, site operators are responsible for all damage their sites cause to others (i.e. if you don’t patch a security hole and someone installs malware on your site that then attacks other sites, you are responsible for the damage caused).

There are also very strict laws about what is acceptable speech. You cannot glorify National Socialism, you cannot incite to riot, cause injury or kill someone or a group of people (hate speech, anti-semitism etc.). These laws cover all forms of published communication (i.e. you can say it within your own 4 walls, but not in public or publish it on a public platform). Sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc. are legally responsible for ensuring such content is not posted and is not visible in Germany. Until about a year ago, they flouted the law and just paid the fines, because it is cheaper to pay the lawyers and the fines than it is to actually put programmers onto the job of complying with the law. The same with ensuring data protection, tax avoidance(1) etc.

That is one of the reasons why Big Tech has such a poor image over here, they are seen as law breakers that are anti-social and don’t care about the law, they are “too big to be bothered with complying with the law”, they just do what they want and basta!

(1) In actual fact, they aren’t breaking the tax laws, they are just using technical loopholes to get around paying “their fair share”. (i.e. they have sales people in a country, pay their employees tax contributions and healthcare, but any revenue generated “in country” is booked through a tax haven or is siphoned out of the country in “royalties” to a holding company in a tax haven). Disgusting, immoral and anti-social, but, technically legal. But if you are looking at paying your 40-60% tax and big tech is actually paying less than 1%, it sticks in your craw. (E.g. Google in the UK received over 1,000,000UKP from the UK Government for advertising, made several billion in revenue in the UK, funnelled the income through their Ireland and paid a grand total of under 100,000UKP in corporation tax.

Edit: a couple of missing close brackets and a few spelling mistakes.

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I agree that there should be some common-sense approach that can work better than what we have. Unfortunately, once you bring together the realms of business, law, and politics there are precious few willing or able to simply work together in good faith. It is compounded by the scale of the problem and the nearly anonymous nature of online communications and media. A city can only have so many parks, and they will only attract so many people. But YouTube alone has nearly two billion monthly active users; same for Facebook. I don’t feel bad for them, or excuse them-- they are the ones who chose to go this big, and to depend on low operating costs. They could implement real-name policies, upload limitations, graduated access and privileges, site moderators, etc. But all of that would cost money and shrink their footprint. For smaller site operators or individual publications, I have a little more sympathy but again no one wants to add friction or additional operating expenses.

In regards to policies and legislation, though, I think we all just need to be more willing to try things and agree to try something else if it doesn’t work. Instead of spending years trying to find the single best approach, or forcing so many compromises that the original intent is completely lost, let’s try something for a year or two and if it doesn’t work we tweak the rules.

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