Five Years Ago

This week in 2013, we learned that in addition to communications the NSA was keeping millions of credit card transaction records, and then we finally got a look at the secrett FISA court ruling that permitted bulk phone data collection, in which it was revealed that Verizon and AT&T never fought back. The court also made the untrue claim that all of congress already knew all the details, and of course we wondered why the ruling was ever secret to begin with. Meanwhile, Michael Hayden was making some crazy claims about terrorists using Gmail and the US’s right to spy on the internet it invented, while also making some childish prognostications about Ed Snowden’s likely future of alcoholism — though other defenders of the agency were sticking to the same tired talking points, plus the new euphemism that Snowden’s activities were “masked by his job duties”.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2008, Apple made the decision to block a competitive podcast app from the App Store, leading to significant backlash, while a court in Germany was getting in on similar action in its own way by banning VOIP on the iPhone at the behest of T-Mobile. NBC was bragging about its ability to lock down online Olympic footage, the movie industry was making yet another attempt to build the mythical “good” DRM, and the cops were continuing to bring in the RIAA to help with investigations where it would clearly be biased. There was a glimmer of light for online entertainment though: this was also the week that BandCamp launched, and its easy-to-build pages quickly became one of the best tools for musicians to distribute their work online.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2003, as file-sharers were going deeper underground, a study showed that most online copies of movies were coming from industry insiders — which perhaps explains the industry’s insane plan for self-destructing DVDs. While RIAA head Carey Sherman was struggling to defend the agency’s lawsuit strategy (and totally missing the point), the Senate was gearing up for hearings over the lawsuits, and considering a bill to close the DMCA’s special subpoena powers — also a major issue in the ongoing court battle between the RIAA and Verizon.

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