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News, Tech Roundup

Tech Beat by Namecheap – 3 March 2023

It may be easy to dismiss alerts about your location when using mobile apps, but did you ever stop to think about who uses this information and the huge profits it can yield? We decided to take a closer look at the companies involved in the use — and sometimes misuse, of location data to see what is the best way of handling something that is more valuable than you might think. Read our latest article on how and why companies collect location data. 

In other news

  • The potential for a seismic shift of Internet liability. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is being tested in the US Supreme Court. Basically, Section 230 provides immunity from liability to Internet companies that host user-generated content on their platforms. This is the first time this federal law has been challenged in the highest court, and the outcome could have implications for online content, speech, and safety. Hear a full breakdown of the history of Section 230 from The Daily podcast by The New York Times. 
  • Enforced Internet shutdowns hit a new record in 2022. New research by Internet rights groups Access Now and #KeepItOn found that a record number of countries blocked Internet access to citizens due to upheaval in 2022. According to The Guardian, the research recorded 187 shutdowns in 35 countries, the highest number to occur in a single year since the groups started recording in 2016. The biggest offender was India, which triggered 84 blackouts. Other repeat offenders include Iran and Russia in Ukraine. Felicia Anthonio from Access Now has said, “governments wield internet shutdowns as weapons of control and shields of impunity.”
  • AI-created graphic novel loses some US copyrights. The US Copyright Office has said that images in the graphic novel Zarya of the Dawn created by the AI platform Midjourney shouldn’t have been granted copyright protection. In a letter seen by Reuters, the office said that the author Kris Kashtanova is only entitled to a copyright for the parts of the book they wrote and arranged. The office said it would reissue the copyright registration to omit images that weren’t created by humans. This is the first decision a US court or agency has made on the scope of copyright protection relating to creative AI. Despite the outcome, Kashtanova sees the decision as a positive development, stating that it “covers a lot of uses for the people in the AI art community.”
  • WordPress powers prisoner newspapers. The Prison Journalism Project (PJP), an organization that trains incarcerated people to become journalists, has launched the Prison Newspaper Project on WordPress. The project’s website features the work of incarcerated writers from over 180 prisons across 35 states and three countries, and connects prisoner publications with a broader audience, including educators and researchers. As explained by WP Tavern, while most of the prison newspapers in the PJP’s directory run on legacy systems or are only available via print versions with digital archives, the new project offers an opportunity to finally modernize these newsrooms with WordPress and bring more exposure to prison journalism.
  • Move over plastic, there’s a new fungus in town. Researchers have discovered that a particular mushroom, Fomes fomentarius, has the potential to replace plastic in a variety of ways, from headphones to aircraft exoskeletons. As the Verge reports, not only is this eco-friendly solution biodegradable, but it could also be reused at the end of a product’s life. However, before we start making compostable tech and clothing, researchers still need to figure out how to mass-produce the fungus and ensure the resulting materials are both durable and truly biodegradable. But hey, who doesn’t want a pair of mushroom shoes?
  • A famous shipwreck now a target for digital booty. The Register reports that RMS Titanic Inc, which holds exclusive rights to recover artifacts from the shipwreck, is teaming up with Artifact Labs and Venture Smart Financial Holdings to create “immutable NFTs” of recovered physical artifacts from the Titanic. But survivors and their families have long criticized salvage operations involving the Titanic, a ship that sank in 1912 and claimed more than 1500 lives. As one survivor said in 1987, “To bring up those things from a mass sea grave just to make a few thousand pounds shows a dreadful insensitivity and greed.” As for NFTs, it seems they’re determined to refuse to sink like the doomed ship.

Tip of the week: Support Internet freedoms before it’s too late

Many companies and non-profit organizations have included the fight for Internet freedom in their missions. By educating consumers and spreading valuable information, many of these entities have decades of experience advocating for an open internet. As legal protections for online companies start to crack, and governments push for more restricted speech, now is the time to act — before it’s too late. 

From volunteering to donating money and educating yourself on the current landscape, there are plenty of ways to get involved. These are a few of the top organizations to check out: 

  • Electronic Frontier Foundation. Founded in 1990, EFF ensures people’s right to express themselves online without fear of censorship or retaliation. They also fight for access to open networks, privacy, fair use, and freedom of speech. Check out their in-depth guide to Section 230 and a breakdown of other important legal cases. 
  • Fight for the Future. A U.S.-based non-profit focused on protecting and expanding Internet freedom, FFTF ensures an organized path for turning widespread frustration into political power. 
  • Mozilla. The makers of the Firefox browser are committed to protecting digital rights, promoting free expression and innovation, and taking a proactive role in shaping the new web. They have a range of initiatives and campaigns devoted to defending an open and secure internet.

Namecheap is also a proud supporter of Internet freedom and net neutrality, and is proud to have worked with groups like EFF and FFTF to keep the Internet free and accessible for all. 

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Robert O'Sullivan avatar

Robert O'Sullivan

Robert has lived and worked in distant locations around the globe and is currently based in the Balkans. In addition to travel, he has a passion for language, writing, technology, and making sophisticated concepts more appealing and understandable for readers, which are talents he puts to good use at Namecheap. More articles written by Robert.

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