Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 20th Dec 2007 10:22 UTC
Legal As we say in Dutch, de kogel is door de kerk: Think Secret will cease all activities after reaching a settlement with Apple in a lawsuit Apple had filed against the website. In exchange for closing down Think Secret, Nick DePlume, its owner, will not have to reveal its sources to Apple. The press release on the Think Secret website reads: "Apple and Think Secret have settled their lawsuit, reaching an agreement that results in a positive solution for both sides. As part of the confidential settlement, no sources were revealed and Think Secret will no longer be published." My take: I have respect for the way DePlume protected his sources; very commendable. I have, however, little respect for Apple in this case (I have written, rather controversially, about it before), and it just scares the living daylights out of me that a company can exert this much power over independent websites.
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RE: Pardon?
by JonathanBThompson on Thu 20th Dec 2007 12:43 UTC in reply to "Pardon?"
JonathanBThompson
Member since:
2006-05-26

Being that I've worked in the industry personally for my career, and I fully understand what's at stake, I can fully understand and agree with what you're saying. To copy a post above, "An interested public != public interest" and this is much akin to someone trying to say "But it's my freedom of speech/press to publish someone's social security number and all of their other financial/personal information that allows identity theft, because people want to know!" and the key thing that makes this not a legitimate "freedom of the press" issue is the equivalent of the reporter's right to swing their fist (report the item) ends before it touches the face (harms the associated party(ies) ) when nothing they're reporting is remotely related to the public's interest at large, in that there's not a crime perpetrated by the party having their privacy violated. If it were the case where someone was reporting what a whistle blower reported to them about what they knew about illegal activities (such as illegal accounting practices) then freedom of the press has currency in stating "we can cover that" since that's a lot of what freedom of the press is supposed to be: something to keep people/legal entities/illegal entities from profiting under the shield of dark places, by opening up the blinds of publicity and letting the sunshine in on the truth.

What Apple was protecting is trade secrets, which is their right to do, as far as their trade secrets don't involve illegal activities in their business practices/trade secrets. An overzealous fanbase may think otherwise, that all information about the innards of a company or that of a person (say, celebrity versus the obnoxious paparazzi) but you start down a slippery slope if you start stating that companies and certain people are exempt from having people respecting their privacy, because eventually, that violated privacy may be yours, and the privacy may relate to things you do/are that may cause you harm if made known, for one reason or another, be it financial harm or otherwise.

By argument on the side of the entity/person in Apple's position, they have a right to know which people they're dealing with are breaking the law by violating their rights of privacy, especially since such people undoubtedly are under NDA/contract to keep such legal trade secrets/practices/material information of that entity private. Since what's being reported by the sources of Think Secret is not in the valid public interest category, by rights Think Secret should not be publishing this information at all, because if the tables were turned, and it was Apple revealing all the personal/private information on the workers/business partners involved, people would be crying foul, that that's illegal, etc. but yet, I see a lot of people not seeing the hypocrisy of this situation where they whine that Apple shouldn't get upset about their privacy. Well, what about this? If you're interested in "the public good" keep in mind the large number of people Apple employs, and all the jobs for people raising families, paying taxes from that income, etc. and consider how much harm it could cause if outsiders (namely, in this case, Apple's competitors, currently known and ones that spring up out of the background) have rightfully deduced that the insider information (another thing to keep in mind is SEC laws regarding insider information: by having this information getting out, Apple could very well be placed at risk of SEC violations if it can be traced back to them: at least the one revealing the information can be charged with such violations if they're caught) is accurate, or even close. After all, the reality is that a lot of companies do suddenly drop plans for releasing some product or service, and it often doesn't matter how much time/energy/resources they've invested in it before they do it: I've fallen victim to such corporate realities myself in terms of employment more than once.

So, Kaiwai, I modded you up, because frankly, nobody can state that you were off-topic, using inappropriate language, personal attacks, and all they can say is that they hate your viewpoint.

Oh, edited to add this last bit: I agree that Apple has entered into a perfectly reasonable agreement in this case, however much it may upset bloggers/press people/etc. in that it addresses Apple's needs to asserting their rights without involving jail time (mostly a worthless thing in this case, most people would agree) for the press/bloggers and the employees/business associates involved, and no overly long court cases. And no, there's no reasonable way with anything as complex and involved as the design/manufacture/planning of such things as a tech company sells to keep the people that know something of meaning down to a small, easily controlled group that won't reveal things by way of security: once again, in order to do that, Apple would have to be overly invasive of the rights of their workers in order to have nearly perfect internal privacy.

Edited 2007-12-20 12:48

Reply Parent Score: 7

RE[2]: Pardon?
by Thom_Holwerda on Thu 20th Dec 2007 13:44 in reply to "RE: Pardon?"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Since what's being reported by the sources of Think Secret is not in the valid public interest category, by rights Think Secret should not be publishing this information at all


Says who? Do you get to decide that? When is something public interest? How much money has to be taken from public resources? How much environmental damage must be inflicted? How many people have to die? Before it is a "matter of public interest"?

Journalists tend to cover very specific areas, and within those specific areas, a lot of things can be of "public interest" - namely, the public within that area of interest. It is very well possible that for us as a minority something may be of great interest, but for the rest of the world, it matters nothing. So, how would you rate such cases, JT?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Pardon?
by JonathanBThompson on Thu 20th Dec 2007 15:26 in reply to "RE[2]: Pardon?"
JonathanBThompson Member since:
2006-05-26

Since what's being reported by the sources of Think Secret is not in the valid public interest category, by rights Think Secret should not be publishing this information at all

Says who? Do you get to decide that? When is something public interest? How much money has to be taken from public resources? How much environmental damage must be inflicted? How many people have to die? Before it is a "matter of public interest"?

Journalists tend to cover very specific areas, and within those specific areas, a lot of things can be of "public interest" - namely, the public within that area of interest. It is very well possible that for us as a minority something may be of great interest, but for the rest of the world, it matters nothing. So, how would you rate such cases, JT?


In answer to the first one, it's actually quite a bit of common sense: is it something that affects what people pay for in terms of infrastructure or government or something that's legitimately considered under the category of "public works and infrastructure" in that if it does affect the resources of others than themselves and their business partners, and they're not breaking any laws, then that is a fairly simple litmus test to determine if it falls under the category of "legitimate public interest" (note that I had to add that qualifier, "legitimate"). Unless (in this case, or anything like it) harm is caused by the company/person/entity that is having their private parts exposed, it simply isn't in the "legitimate public interest" and should remain private. I admit, I've not read all that Think Secret has posted about Apple, but other than some of the stock option scandals, I'm seriously doubting that there's a single thing they've reported that's in the "legitimate public interest" to report where they've gotten facts from within.

So, there's the logical and reasonable explanation: where what one person/company/entity does or is doing won't harm others and they aren't going on a campaign for some government office (which could easily be extrapolated to affecting the good of the public, so you'd better know what they're up to) then quite simply, it's none of anyone's damned business as to the underlying details. As a "what if?" case, what if you were into deviant sexual practices that turned off a meaningful portion of your reading audience from visiting your site(s) if they knew, and it was posted where those readers could read it, in plain view to the world, and you didn't want them to know that, because it may very well affect how many ad impressions as a result of page views, which may make the difference between keeping your site(s) running or becoming too much of a financial drain to sustain? If I bleeted out, "Thom_Holwerda does it with sheep, run away, run away, BAAH!" and I knew that was true, would that be correct to post on here? If not, why not? Why should you get to decide, since after all, in the interest of "free speech" and "freedom of the press" if it's true, why should you object in the slightest?

I wouldn't do that, and I don't see it being fair or remotely correct, in much the same way that "Freedom of speech" doesn't protect idiots yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre when there's no fire or even hints of a fire. (Yes, I'd bet money that's been tested in a court case, at least once, due to idiots that would do just that)

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Pardon?
by mind!dagger on Thu 20th Dec 2007 17:16 in reply to "RE: Pardon?"
mind!dagger Member since:
2007-06-26

I absolutely love when people misinterpret `Freedom of Speech`. It's not `absolute` in nature.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is a part of the Bill of Rights.

It prohibits the `federal` legislature from making laws `respecting an establishment of religion`, the `Establishment Clause` or that prohibit free exercise of religion, the `Free Exercise Clause`. It also limits the federal system from passing laws that infringe the freedom of speech, infringe the freedom of the press, limit the right to assemble peaceably, or limit the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The courts have interpreted these freedoms more broadly. As the first sentence in the body of the U.S. Constitution reserves all law-making, `legislative` authority to Congress, the courts have held that the First Amendment's terms also extend to the executive and judicial branches. Wish our current people in power would read the document they have sworn to protect.

Our Supreme Court has held that the `Due Process` clause of the 1868 Fourteenth Amendment `incorporates` the limitations of the First Amendment to restrict also the states.

But is the right to speak absolute? No. These laws are in respect of civil liberties one has when dealing with governments be they federal, state or local. Person to government and government to person. It does not cover slander, libel or other defamatory speech.

The American prohibition on defamatory speech or publications, `slander and libel` traces its origins to established English law. A corporation, a person under the law, can make a legal action. Intent plays a huge part in what a justice or court will look at.

If the publisher, be it print or electronic, publishes a statement with `actual malice`, then damages can be awarded to the person who is being harmed. I have a strong feeling there is more here than is being published. Freedom of the press, like freedom of speech, is subject to restrictions on bases such as defamation law.

The French revolutionary document, the `Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen`, suggests that `every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom.`

Would someone clarify if these rights have slander and libel clauses or even stipulations on damages when a person or corporate secrets are involved?

In any case, this is an excellent story to watch and discuss.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: Pardon?
by tyrione on Fri 21st Dec 2007 12:39 in reply to "RE[2]: Pardon?"
tyrione Member since:
2005-11-21

Where would both the French Revolution and the American Revolution be without Sir Thomas Paine and his wise vision?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Pardon?
by StephenBeDoper on Thu 20th Dec 2007 20:01 in reply to "RE: Pardon?"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

And no, there's no reasonable way with anything as complex and involved as the design/manufacture/planning of such things as a tech company sells to keep the people that know something of meaning down to a small, easily controlled group that won't reveal things by way of security: once again, in order to do that, Apple would have to be overly invasive of the rights of their workers in order to have nearly perfect internal privacy.


Someone should start an Apple rumours site using the same strategy. They setup some sort of deliberately-anonymous submission form and put up a disclaimer to the effect of "Don't send us anything that's covered by NDAs" (knowing full well that people would anyway). Then, when the inevitable happens, the site owners can just throw up their hands and say "Well golly, we *told* them they're not allowed to submit NDA-protected material."

Reply Parent Score: 2