'We’re not sneaky, we're dads from the Midwest'
Plus: 'DMCA takedown in personal folders?'
Quotw This was the week when the backlash over Mozilla's appointment of Prop 8-supporting Brendan Eich to the chief's chair continued, with OkCupid asking users to boycott the firm's popular Firefox browser.
Eich's new job has provoked controversy because he donated $1,000 to a campaign supporting Proposition 8, a 2008 California ballot measure that made same-sex marriage illegal in the state. The proposition was voted through in a general election, but later struck down as unconstitutional by the courts.
OkCupid posted an open letter to its homepage that pops up when the site is visited by a Firefox user and urges them to switch browser:
If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we've worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it's professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.
Eich has said that he's working with LGBT individuals and allies on inclusive policies at Mozilla, blogging:
You will see exemplary behavior from me toward everyone in our community, no matter who they are; and the same toward all those whom we hope will join, and for those who use our products.
Also this week, three members of the Mozilla Foundation's board have stepped down, but the firm denies that their departure has anything to do with Eich's appointment to CEO.
Sources were whispering to the Wall Street Journal that John Lilly, Ellen Siminoff and Gary Kovacs disagreed with the decision to hire Eich as chief, but the Foundation said:
The three board members ended their terms last week for a variety of reasons. Two had been planning to leave for some time, one since January and one explicitly at the end of the CEO search, regardless of the person selected.
Meanwhile, the founder of iFixit has told MacWorld Expo that his firm does everything from teardowns of new hardware to how-to guides with the same amount of information the average Joe gets - not very much.
CEO Kyle Wiens said he flies staff to Australia so they can get their hands on new hardware before the United States wakes up and has his repairs team combing the inventories of third-party resellers for spare parts that Apple doesn't offer. He also complained that the fruity firm was making it more and more difficult to be a certified Apple technician - the authorised cert only applies to Macs and is getting harder to obtain. He said:
They have done everything they can to put these guys out of business.
Over in the cloud, Dropbox user Darrell Whitelaw shocked the internet after he revealed that he'd been blocked from sharing a file in his personal folder on the service because it was the target of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) anti-piracy takedown notice. Whitelaw, who's a designer, found that he couldn't share the file because access to the material had been disabled, though he was still able to look at the content himself. He tweeted:
Outraged of Twitter
Outraged Twitterers posted a variety of replies, mostly expressing their disbelief that Dropbox could use DCMA in a personal folder:
There have been some questions around how we handle copyright notices. We sometimes receive DMCA notices to remove links on copyright grounds. When we receive these, we process them according to the law and disable the identified link.
We have an automated system that then prevents other users from sharing the identical material using another Dropbox link. This is done by comparing file hashes. We don't look at the files in your private folders and are committed to keeping your stuff safe.
Also this week, in a PDF description of his new Connectivity Lab, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg explained why his idea of using drones to get the world online was oh so much better than, say, Google's Loon balloons:
We want to be able to precisely control the location of these aircraft, unlike balloons.
With the efficiency and endurance of high altitude drones, it's even possible that aircraft could remain aloft for months or years. This means drones have more endurance than balloons, while also being able to have their location precisely controlled.
And finally, a controversial browser plug-in that allowed people to discern LinkedIn users' private email addresses has been withdrawn by its developers. Sell Hack's "Hack In" button on LinkedIn profiles would display email addresses of users so people could connect directly with them instead of through the business network – when it worked at a any rate. But the network's lawyers soon caught on to the plug-in and sent the developers a cease-and-desist letter.
Though it came across as a hack of some kind, the service was actually using publicly available information and guesswork to come up with email addresses, rather than actually mining data from LinkedIn's systems. The devs behind the service bemoaned their fate, but said they weren't out of the game yet:
We are building a better product that does not conflict with LinkedIn’s TOS. We’ve been described as sneaky, nefarious, no good, not ‘legitimate’, amongst other references, by some. We’re not. We’re dads from the Midwest who like to build web and mobile products that people use.
But security consultant Graham Cluley wasn't too impressed with this explanation:
The 'dads from the Midwest' who make up the Sell Hack Team might do well to be a little more transparent if they release new versions of the tool, and be clearer about what they are doing and what they aren’t doing, if they want to gain the trust of internet users.
It remains to be seen if LinkedIn will ever look kindly on a service which put a 'Hack in' button on every one of their over 200 million active user accounts. ®