Computer Ethics, Fall 2020, Mondays

November 30
Class 13 Readings
By this point you should have read all of Baase Chapter 4 on copyrights and patents, and started reading Chapter 5 on computer crime.

Edward Snowden interview with Glenn Greenwald on the Dangers of Silicon Valley Censorship. Snowden is talking about this from the left, rather than the right.

One thing I found interesting is that Snowden seems to think the Silicon Valley firms are influenced by the government, through "revolving door" employees who work in the Valley and then become regulators. I'm not sure I really believe this. Snowden completely ignores the possibility that sites might want to control their content to increase the engagement of their audience.

Facebook Is Going After Its Critics in the Name of Privacy:

The issue is an app that users can install that scrapes data on ads (especially political ads) they are shown.

You're not anonymous; I know your name, email and company:

Not a surprise, except that the post is originally from 2012 (the link here is from January 2013). Advertisers stopped sending these emails because people found them very creepy, but they still do it.


One of the objections to software patents is the idea that many software ideas are "intrinsically obvious".  Certainly this is true of implementations.

Can KSR v Teleflex help? One might argue that the Eolas patent was an obvious combination of the following prior-art ideas:

How about the Campana/NTP patent for wireless email? The KSR case was decided after NTP v RIM, but one could envision an argument that wireless email was obvious given

My guess is this would have been a tough sell, but it's certainly plausible. The NTP patents acknowledge both the above as prior art, and it's hard to point to any specific innovation the patents make beyond combining these. (Ok, there's the idea that an external device receives the email, and then delivers the email to your laptop.)

Another issue with software patents is that innovations are often not very deep, and the cost of litigation far outweighs the societal benefits of innovation. But that is another story, and the cost of litigation would be much less if weak patents were easier to challenge.


Hacking was not always about crime.

Hacking and the CFAA

TJX, Target and PCI-DSS

Some felonies: