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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Friday Hodgepodge

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Blog Roundup

1. In an "Open Letter to Tim Cook," Amy Peikoff of Don't Let It Go urges Apple CEO Tim Cook not to support federal privacy legislation:
Most people reading this letter -- you included -- will probably now expect me to add Apple's support this week for "comprehensive federal privacy legislation" as another reason to applaud your company's efforts to protect our privacy interests. But the opposite is true. I believe that, in supporting federal privacy regulation, you are undermining the progress you've made putting control over privacy into the hands of us, your customers.
If you find yourself wondering why such legislation is a bad idea, I urge you to read the whole thing.

2. Remember when I recently said I was about to eat my hat regarding something I'd said about Donald Trump's deregulation efforts?

That was because I had just come across Keith Weiner's blog post regarding some Republican chicanery about deregulation:
Anyways, for the purpose of this discussion, let's accept page count as a proxy for regulation. The dirty rotten trick is that the Federal Register is the publication of new regulations. If the 2017 edition had over 30 percent fewer pages, that does not mean that Trump removed 30 percent of existing regulations.

It means Trump added over 60,000 pages of new regulations, which is 30 percent less than Obama's over 95,000 pages!
It is worth considering why the Republicans would feel the need to resort to this easily-debunked trick.

Yes. I have read this, and highly recommend it. (Image via Amazon)
3. To call Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism radical is to point to the tip of an iceberg. Rand challenges the dominant philosophy of our culture from root to branch. And, as if that doesn't make it challenging enough to understand for oneself or explain to others, many common terms are badly and widely misunderstood. Understandably, some advocates might ask a question like, "Do we need a new word for selfishness?" Peter Schwartz, author of In Defense of Selfishness, explains why we don't. Here is what would happen were we to abandon selfishness in favor of something without the baggage:
The common, package-deal meaning is "concern for one's own interests at the expense of others." If we were to accept and use that term as a reference to predatory behavior, we would be endorsing the underlying falsehood -- the falsehood that harming others is an essential element of selfishness.
And there would still be a need to explain why predatory behavior is not part of whatever we called selfishness instead.

4. The blog of the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property briefly reviews a law journal article about how widespread ignorance of technology standards and standards-setting organizations is becoming a threat to innovation -- because it "informs" government policy:
The development and implementation of technology standards is a complex process, and it's one often misunderstood by commentators, courts, and government agencies. In an article detailing the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) misguided suit against Qualcomm for alleged unwillingness to license its patents on fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms, CPIP Senior Scholar Kristen Osenga exposes a pervasive ignorance of technology standards and the standard setting organizations (SSOs) that develop them. [links omitted]
And, from the abstract:
While there is plenty to criticize about the FTC's action, the lawsuit is evidence of a much larger and more fundamental problem. The FTC's allegations are not based on sound economic analysis nor are they supported by evidentiary findings. This is not due to haste or poor practices by the FTC; it is instead indicative of the FTC's ignorance. Put plainly, the FTC does not understand technology standards and the organizations that develop them. And the FTC is not alone in this lack of knowledge. Many courts and commentators have also demonstrated clear misunderstandings of standard setting organizations (SSOs). Unfortunately, this is not harmless error or mere academic diversion. Important legal, business, and policy decisions are being made based on these misunderstandings. These decisions have the potential to negatively impact the future of technology standards and, ultimately, innovation itself.
I have sometimes noted that standards-setting bodies could and should be doing some of the (should be done, but not by government) things regulators are doing instead. This looks well worth a read.

-- CAV

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