Free linking is the lifeblood of the web, without it there would be no interconnections between websites in fact the web wouldn’t be so much a web as a load of separate entity sites which only come together in a list of search results. Imagine you had to get approval for every link you wanted to refer to? That could kill the web, couldn’t it?

There’s a court case going on in the U.S. which could decide the future for this. To me it seems impossible that this could ever get a ruling in favor of the plaintiff, but what if it did? Where would you see the web a year after linking was outlawed?

Court case details here (on The Boston Globe)… oops, that’s a link!

MicroHoo updates

February 23, 2008

Some updates on the Microsoft-Yahoo approach:

Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft Platforms and Services Division sent an internal email yesterday. The email was obviously designed to be leaked (and ended up on Microsoft.com after it got into the blogosphere) judging by the language in it and the mentions of looking after both companies employees in the event of the merger going ahead. Trying to stop people jumping off the ship? Or just a good PR exercise?

Yahoo are facing another lawsuit, this time from some pension funds who claim that by declining the Microsoft offer they are not returning value to shareholders and are actually risking their investments by dragging it out looking for other parties to strike a deal with.

Lastly, Sergey Brin has expressed his nervousness at the deal going ahead, saying that ‘when you start to have companies that control the operating system, control the browsers, they really tie up the top Web sites, and can be used to manipulate stuff in various ways. I think that’s unnerving’.

So no progress really, rumours still fly about Yahoo trying to find anyone else to deal with and Microsoft seem confident as ever that the deal will go through in the end.

In a letter from Jerry Yang Yahoo have explained why they turned down the Microsoft bid. Is this just an attempt to appease them to prevent any further lawsuits (via Techcrunch)?

So Yahoo has settled the lawsuit with a number of Chinese dissidents who had filed a court case against them. The terms of settlement have not been disclosed.

The case had alleged that Yahoo had provided the Chinese government with information which helped them to prosecute the dissidents. No word on exactly what type of information Yahoo had handed over although one would suspect it could be search histories, email details, chat histories and possibly lists of websites visited.

So have they really breached the human rights of these dissidents? Well, the liberal in me thinks that they should never hand over any identifiable information to anyone else, I would be outraged if my details were misused in this way. But then, wouldn’t the same happen in the UK? If I broke a law then Yahoo would happily hand over my email if the government requested it.

I guess the difference in this case is that they are dissidents living under a restrictive regime. Therefore by handing over the information Yahoo have put these poor people in danger which is inexcusable morally. However, it is understandable from a business point of view, if Yahoo refused they would have risked being switched off in the largest populated country in the world which would have damaged their business considerably.

I would imagine it was a pretty tough choice for Yahoo and although they chose the route which to me personally is wrong morally for them it was probably the right decision.

It seems that NY State have decided to settle with Facebook over the child safety probe I blogged about a few weeks back.

There’s no mention in the Reuters story of exactly what the settlement entails, but Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said that he planned to hold a press conference on Tuesday “to announce a major development involving social networking Web sites.”

What could that be? A new law forcing social networks to better protect their users? A law forcing them to expose user data? Or maybe some kind of code of conduct that social networks will have to sign up to? My bet’s on a type of code of practice which if you don’t sign up to you get your ass sued!

It must be a sign of social networking success I reckon, first NY State now New Jersey State Attorney General Anne Milgram said on Tuesday her office has subpoenaed Facebook to discover whether convicted sex offenders in the state have profiles on the popular social networking site.

Milgram issued the subpoena on Monday to Facebook along with letters to 11 other social networking sites asking them to compare member accounts against a list of sex offenders.

Facebook has until October 12 to respond to the subpoena, which asks for all information concerning any user identified as a convicted sex offender.

I’m sure there will be more to come from other states as they all jump aboard the legal bandwagon with the latest hyper-successful social networking darling!

Facebook subpoenaed again

September 24, 2007

The popularity of Facebook is really starting to show, they’ve taken over the Myspace mantle and are getting hit by subpoenas.

In this latest one, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating Facebook accusing them of not keeping youngsters safe from sexual predators.

Undercover tests have been conducted of Facebooks safety controls and procedures which should protect innocent young users from solicitation by adults. These controls aren’t working according to Cuomo.

The problem here is that no matter how good the controls are users are likely to be too blaise about them and leave themselves open to approach. Quite how Facebook can control that I’m not sure. Also, the type of people who prey on youngsters are unfortunately likely to find ways around them by enticing users to interact in other ways.

It’s a really difficult issue; in an ideal world no one would ever be put in a position where this could happen, in reality with the internet being an open and free platform for communication, that will never be possible.

I hope the attorney generals office see this and instead of firing off legal requests go to the table with the big social networks and discuss ways this can be worked around.

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