On January 16, 2003, the European Court of Human Rights agreed - more than two years after the applications have been filed - to hear six cases filed by Chechens against Russia. The claimants accuse the Russian military of torture and indiscriminate killings. The Court has ruled in the past against the Russian Federation and awarded assorted plaintiffs thousands of euros per case in compensation.As awareness of human rights increased, as their definition expanded and as new, often authoritarian polities, resorted to torture and repression - human rights advocates and non-governmental organizations proliferated. It has become a business in its own right: lawyers, consultants, psychologists, therapists, law enforcement agencies, scholars and pundits tirelessly peddle books, seminars, conferences, therapy sessions for victims, court appearances and other services.Human rights activists target mainly countries and multinationals.In June 2001, the International Labor Rights Fund filed a lawsuit on behalf of 11 villagers against the American oil behemoth, ExxonMobile, for "abetting" abuses in Aceh, Indonesia. They alleged that the company provided the army with equipment for digging mass graves and helped in the construction of interrogation and torture centers.In November 2002, the law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll joined other American and South African law firms in filing a complaint that "seeks to hold businesses responsible for aiding and abetting the apartheid regime in South Africa ... forced labor, genocide, extrajudicial killing, torture, sexual assault, and unlawful detention".Among the accused: "IBM and ICL which provided the computers that enabled South Africa to ... control the black South African population. Car manufacturers provided the armored vehicles that were used to patrol the townships. Arms manufacturers violated the embargoes on sales to South Africa, as did the oil companies. The banks provided the funding that enabled South Africa to expand its police and security apparatus."Charges were leveled against Unocal in Myanmar and dozens of other multinationals. In September 2002, Berger & Montague filed a class action complaint against Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell Transport. The oil giants are charged with "purchasing ammunition and using ... helicopters and boats and providing logistical support for 'Operation Restore Order in Ogoniland'" which was designed, according to the law firm, to "terrorize the civilian population into ending peaceful protests against Shell's environmentally unsound oil exploration and extraction activities".The defendants in all these court cases strongly deny any wrongdoing.But this is merely one facet of the torture business.Torture implements are produced - mostly in the West - and sold openly, frequently to nasty regimes in developing countries and even through the Internet. Hi-tech devices abound: sophisticated electroconvulsive stun guns, painful restraints, truth serums, chemicals such as pepper gas. Export licensing is universally minimal and non-intrusive and completely ignores the technical specifications of the goods (for instance, whether they could be lethal, or merely inflict pain).Amnesty International and the UK-based Omega Foundation, found more than 150 manufacturers of stun guns in the USA alone. They face tough competition from Germany (30 companies), Taiwan (19), France (14), South Korea (13), China (12), South Africa (nine), Israel (eight), Mexico (six), Poland (four), Russia (four), Brazil (three), Spain (three) and the Czech Republic (two).Many torture implements pass through "off-shore" supply networks in Austria, Canada, Indonesia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macedonia, Albania, Russia, Israel, the Philippines, Romania and Turkey. This helps European Union based companies circumvent legal bans at home. The US government has traditionally turned a blind eye to the international trading of such gadgets.American high-voltage electro-shock stun shields turned up in Turkey, stun guns in Indonesia, and electro-shock batons and shields, and dart-firing taser guns in torture-prone Saudi Arabia. American firms are the dominant manufacturers of stun belts. Explains Dennis Kaufman, President of Stun Tech Inc, a US manufacturer of this innovation: ''Electricity speaks every language known to man. No translation necessary. Everybody is afraid of electricity, and rightfully so.'' (Quoted by Amnesty International).The Omega Foundation and Amnesty claim that 49 US companies are also major suppliers of mechanical restraints, including leg-irons and thumbcuffs. But they are not alone. Other suppliers are found in Germany (8), France (5), China (3), Taiwan (3), South Africa (2), Spain (2), the UK (2) and South Korea (1).Not surprisingly, the Commerce Department doesn't keep tab on this category of exports.Nor is the money sloshing around negligible. Records kept under the export control commodity number A985 show that Saudi Arabia alone spent in the United States more than $1 million a year between 1997-2000 merely on stun guns. Venezuela's bill for shock batons and such reached $3.7 million in the same period. Other clients included Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mexico and - surprisingly - Bulgaria. Egypt's notoriously brutal services - already well-equipped - spent a mere $40,000.The United States is not the only culprit. The European Commission, according to an Amnesty International report titled "Stopping the Torture Trade" and published in 2001:"Gave a quality award to a Taiwanese electro-shock baton, but when challenged could not cite evidence as to independent safety tests for such a baton or whether member states of the European Union (EU) had been consulted. Most EU states have banned the use of such weapons at home, but French and German companies are still allowed to supply them to other countries."Torture expertise is widely proffered by former soldiers, agents of the security services made redundant, retired policemen and even rogue medical doctors. China, Israel, South Africa, France, Russia, the United kingdom and the United States are founts of such useful knowledge and its propagators.How rooted torture is was revealed in September 1996 when the US Department of Defense admitted that ''intelligence training manuals'' were used in the Federally sponsored School of the Americas - one of 150 such facilities - between 1982 and 1991.The manuals, written in Spanish and used to train thousands of Latin American security agents, "advocated execution, torture, beatings and blackmail", says Amnesty International.Where there is demand there is supply. Rather than ignore the discomfiting subject, governments would do well to legalize and supervise it. Alan Dershowitz, a prominent American criminal defense attorney, proposed, in an op-ed article in the Los Angeles Times, published November 8, 2001, to legalize torture in extreme cases and to have judges issue "torture warrants". This may be a radical departure from the human rights tradition of the civilized world. But dispensing export carefully reviewed licenses for dual-use implements is a different matter altogether - and long overdue.
According to David McClintick ("Swordfish: A True Story of Ambition, Savagery, and Betrayal"), in the late 1980's, the FBI and DEA set up dummy corporations to deal in drugs. They funneled into these corporate fronts money from drug-related asset seizures.The idea was to infiltrate global crime networks but a lot of the money in "Operation Swordfish" may have ended up in the wrong pockets. Government agents and sheriffs got mysteriously and filthily rich and the whole sorry affair was wound down. The GAO reported more than $3.6 billion missing. This bit of history gave rise to at least one blockbuster with Oscar-winner Halle Berry.Alas, slush funds are much less glamorous in reality. They usually involve grubby politicians, pawky bankers, and philistine businessmen - rather than glamorous hackers and James Bondean secret agents.The Kazakh prime minister, Imanghaliy Tasmaghambetov, freely admitted on April 4, 2002 to his country's rubber-stamp parliament the existence of a $1 billion slush fund. The money was apparently skimmed off the proceeds of the opaque sale of the Tengiz oilfield. Remitting it to Kazakhstan - he expostulated with a poker face - would have fostered inflation. So, the country's president, Nazarbaev, kept the funds abroad "for use in the event of either an economic crisis or a threat to Kazakhstan's security".The money was used to pay off pension arrears in 1997 and to offset the pernicious effects of the 1998 devaluation of the Russian ruble. What was left was duly transferred to the $1.5 billion National Fund, the PM insisted. Alas, the original money in the Fund came entirely from another sale of oil assets to Chevron, thus casting in doubt the official version.The National Fund was, indeed, augmented by a transfer or two from the slush fund - but at least one of these transfers occurred only 11 days after the damning revelations. Moreover, despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, the unfazed premier denied that his president possesses multi-million dollar bank accounts abroad.He later rescinded this last bit of disinformation. The president, he said, has no bank accounts abroad but will promptly return all the money in these non-existent accounts to Kazakhstan. These vehemently denied accounts, he speculated, were set up by the president's adversaries "for the purpose of compromising his name".On April 15, 2002 even the docile opposition had enough of this fuzzy logic. They established a People Oil's Fund to monitor, henceforth, the regime's financial shenanigans. By their calculations less than 7 percent of the income from the sale of hydrocarbon fuels (c. $4-5 billion annually) make it to the national budget.Slush funds infect every corner of the globe, not only the more obscure and venal ones. Every secret service - from the Mossad to the CIA - operates outside the stated state budget. Slush funds are used to launder money, shower cronies with patronage, and bribe decision makers. In some countries, setting them up is a criminal offense, as per the 1990 Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure, and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime. Other jurisdictions are more forgiving.The Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands issued a press release November 2001 in which it welcomed the government's plans to abolish slush funds. They described the poisonous effect of this practice:"With a few notable exceptions, the practice of directing funds through politicians to district projects has been disastrous. It has created an atmosphere in which corruption is thought to have flourished. It has reduced the responsibility of public servants, without reducing their numbers or costs. It has been used to confuse people into believing public funds are the 'property' of individual members rather than the property of the people, honestly and fairly administered by the servants of the people.The concept of 'slush-funds' has resulted in well-documented inefficiencies and failures. There were even accusations made that funds were withheld from certain members as a way of forcing them into submission. It seems that the era of the 'slush funds' has been a shameful period."But even is the most orderly and lawful administration, funds are liable to be mislaid. "The Economist" reported recently about a $10 billion class-action suit filed by native-Americans against the US government. The funds, supposed to be managed in trust since 1880 on behalf of half a million beneficiaries, were "either lost or stolen" according to officials.Rob Gordon, the Director of the National Wilderness Institute accused "The US Interior Department (of) looting the special funds that were established to pay for wildlife conservation and squandering the money instead on questionable administrative expenses, slush funds and employee moving expenses".Charles Griffin, the Deputy Director of the Heritage Foundation's Government Integrity Project, charges:"The federal budget provides numerous slush funds that can be used to subsidize the lobbying and political activities of special-interest groups."On his list of "Top Ten Federal Programs That Actively Subsidize Politics and Lobbying" are: AmeriCorps, Senior Community Service Employment Program, Legal Services Corporation, Title X Family Planning, National Endowment for the Humanities, Market Promotion Program, Senior Environmental Employment Program, Superfund Worker Training, HHS Discretionary Aging Projects, Telecomm. & Info. Infrastructure Assistance. These federal funds alone total $1.8 billion."Next" and "China Times" - later joined by "The Washington Post" - accused the former Taiwanese president, Lee Teng-hui, of forming a $100 million overseas slush fund intended to finance the gathering of information, influence-peddling, and propaganda operations. Taiwan footed the bills trips by Congressional aides and funded academic research and think tank conferences.High ranking Japanese officials, among others, may have received payments through this stealthy venue. Lee is alleged to have drawn $100,000 from the secret account in February 1999. The money was used to pay for the studies of a former Japanese Vice-Defense Minister Masahiro Akiyama's at Harvard.Ryutaro Hashimoto, the former Japanese prime minister, was implicated as a beneficiary of the fund. So were the prestigious lobbying firm, Cassidy and Associates and assorted assistant secretaries in the Bush administration.Carl Ford, Jr., currently assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research, worked for Cassidy during the relevant period and often visited Taiwan. James Kelly, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs enjoyed the Taiwanese largesse as well. Both are in charge of crafting America's policy on Taiwan.John Bolton, erstwhile undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, admitted, during his confirmation hearings, to having received $30,000 to cover the costs of writing 3 research papers.The Taiwanese government has yet to deny the news stories.A Japanese foreign ministry official used slush fund money to finance the extra-marital activities of himself and many of his colleagues - often in posh hotel suites. But this was no exception. According to Asahi Shimbun, more than half of the 60 divisions of the ministry maintained similar funds. The police and the ministry are investigating. One arrest has been made. The ministry's accounting division has discovered these corrupt practices twenty years before but kept mum.Even low-level prefectural bureaucrats and teachers in Japan build up slush funds by faking business trips or padding invoices and receipts. Japanese citizens' groups conservatively estimated that $20 million in travel and entertainment expenses in the prefectures in 1994 were faked, a practice known as "kara shutcho" (i.e., empty business trip).Officials of the Hokkaido Board of Education admitted to the existence of a 100 million yen secret fund. In a resulting probe, 200 out of 286 schools were found to maintain their own slush funds. Some of the money was used to support friendly politicians.But slush funds are not a sovereign prerogative. Multinationals, banks, corporation, religious organizations, political parties, and even NGO's salt away some of their revenues and profits in undisclosed accounts, usually in off-shore havens.Secret election campaign slush funds are a fixture in American politics. A 5-year old bill requires disclosure of donors to such funds but the House is busy loosening its provisions. "The Economist" listed in 2002 the tsunami of scandals that engulfs Germany, both its major political parties, many of the Lander and numerous highly placed and mid-level bureaucrats. Secret, mainly party, funds seem to be involved in the majority of these lurid affairs.Italian firms made donations to political parties through slush funds, though corporate donations - providing they are transparent - are perfectly legal in Italy. Both the right and, to a lesser extent, the left in France are said to have managed enormous political slush funds.President Chirac is accused of having abused for his personal pleasure, one such municipal fund in Paris, when he was its mayor. But the funds were mostly used to provide party activists with mock jobs. Corporations paid kickbacks to obtain public works or local building permits. Ostensibly, they were paying for sham "consultancy services".The epidemic hasn't skipped even staid Ottawa. Its Chief Electoral Officer told Sun Media in September 2001 that he is "concerned" about millions stashed away by Liberal candidates. Sundry ministers who coveted the prime minister's job, have raised funds covertly and probably illegally.On April 11, 2002 UPI reported that Spain's second-largest bank, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), held nearly $200 million hidden in secret offshore accounts, "which were allegedly used to manipulate politicians, pay off the 'revolutionary tax' to ETA - the Basque terrorist organization - and open the door for business deals, according to news reports."The money may have gone to luminaries such as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Peru's Alberto Fujomori and Vladimiro Montesinos. The bank's board members received fat, tax-free, "pensions" from the illegal accounts opened in 1987 - a total of more than $20 million.Latin American drug money launderers - from Puerto Rico to Colombia - may have worked through these funds and the bank's clandestine entities in the Cayman Islands and Jersey. The current Spanish Secretary of State for the Treasury has been the bank's tax advisor between 1992-7.The "Financial Times" reported in June 2000 that, in anticipation of new international measures to curb corruption, "leading European arms manufacturers" resorted to the creation of off-shore slush funds. The money is intended to bribe foreign officials to win tenders and contracts.Kim Woo-chung, Daewoo's former chairman, is at the center of a massive scandal involving dozens of his company's executive, some of whom ended up in prison. He stands accused of diverting a whopping $20 billion to an overseas slush fund.A mind boggling $10 billion were alleged to have been used to bribe Korean government officials and politicians. But his conduct and even the scale of the fraud he perpetrated may have been typical to Korea's post-war incestuous relationship between politics and business.In his paper "The Role of Slush Funds in the Preparation of Corruption Mechanisms", reprinted by Transparency International, Gherardo Colombo defines corporate slush funds thus:"Slush funds are obtained from a joint stock company's finances, carefully managed so that the amounts involved do not appear on the balance sheet. They do not necessarily have to consist of money, but can also take the form of stocks and shares or other economically valuable goods (works of art, jewels, yachts, etc.) It is enough that they can be used without any particular difficulty or that they can be transferred to a third party.If a fund is in the form of money, it is not even necessary to refer to it outside the company accounts, since it can appear in them in disguised form (the 'accruals and deferrals' heads are often resorted to for the purpose of hiding slush money). In light of this, it is not always correct to regard it as a reserve fund that is not accounted for in the books. Deception, trickery or forgery of various kinds are often resorted to for the purpose of setting up a slush fund."He mentions padded invoices, sham contracts, fictitious loans, interest accruing on holding accounts, back to back transactions with related entities (Enron) - all used to funnel money to the slush funds. Such funds are often set up to cover for illicit and illegal self-enrichment, embezzlement, or tax evasion.Less known is the role of these furtive vehicles in financing unfair competitive practices, such as dumping. Clients, suppliers, and partners receive hidden rebates and subsidies that much increase the - unreported - real cost of production.BBVA's payments to ETA may have been a typical payment of protection fees. Both terrorists and organized crime put slush funds to bad use. They get paid from such funds - and maintain their own. Ransom payments to kidnappers often flow through these channels.But slush funds are overwhelmingly used to bribe corrupt politicians. The fight against corruption has been titled against the recipients of illicit corporate largesse. But to succeed, well-meaning international bodies, such as the OECD's FATF, must attack with equal zeal those who bribe. Every corrupt transaction is between a venal politician and an avaricious businessman. Pursuing the one while ignoring the other is self-defeating.
What I want to discuss in this article is the basic idea of honesty. The internet is a wonderful place to do business, but with the continuous flood of spyware, malware, and spam, it can be a horrible and very frustrating for the average user. I am amazed, but not surprised, by the unethical practice of businesses using popups and spam to sell a product. It isnt surprising because the fact is that those business practices work. Any of us that have worked in this field for awhile know that traffic is king. My experience has been one of honest return for honesty when dealing with customers. Maybe its not a quick buck, but I can look at myself in the mirror in the morning and know I did the right thing. I would rather have a customer for life than a fly by night sale to a customer that I tricked into buying my product. It isnt always about the bottom line of making cash. It should be about service and product value. Over the past couple of years I have had more business cleaning up computers that have been completely overran with viruses, trojans, and spam than Ive done computer builds. The number one complaint is I just want to be able to use my computer, not worry about viruses and trojans and updates!!! Do I profit from unethical business practices? Yes I do when I spend an hour cleaning up a computer. Do I take the time to teach the user? You bet I do! I spend an hour to two hours with a client after I do a cleanup or a computer build. Do I lose money with this practice? Yes I do, but I gain respect from the customer and that customer will always come back. The one major challenge with doing business online is that we dont always get to be face to face with our customers. Even so, there are ways around this that will bring value to your customer and value in repeat business. It doesnt cost that much to call and thank someone for their business. It doesnt cost much to send out a thank you card. I think at times we forget that email isnt the only way to communicate. With the prevalence of spam it isnt always the best way to communicate either. The internet can be a very impersonal place. It is ethically challenging to all of us who try to sale a product or business online. Is there a chance of giving away too much with little return? That is always a chance we take when we offer advice or tips to a customer. I can guarantee that over time, the word gets around, and your business will develop a core group of customers who value your service and will tell others. Being a small business is a challenge in the fast paced retail world of chain stores. We cant offer the huge discounts the major chain stores can, but we can offer service value for the product. I challenge anyone in the IT industry to take that little bit of extra time to teach users the dos and donts of surfing the web. It will benefit your business and benefit the customer as well.
This article describes how some people abuse the benefit of sick pay in the workplace. I am going to explain a couple of examples of this, which I have come across over the last couple of years.There are many people who are in employment where if they are off work sick, they do not get paid. It must very much annoy these people to hear about the fortunate workers who are still paid when they are ill, abusing the system.I have a friend who recently told me about a lady he works with. At times she will come to work with a really bad cold or cough, when really she should be at home in bed. By going to work she could be infecting other people with her germs of course. She would be asked why she had come to work when she obviously should be in bed. Her response would be that she did not want to waste her sick days when she was ill. She might as well come to work and be ill there, it would be no fun at home, she would continue.This woman treated her sick entitlement as extra holiday days. The bosses who were unaware of her attitude presumed that when she did actually phone in sick, that she must be extremely ill, when in fact she would be perfectly fit and healthy.Another example of abusing the sick entitlement system is a story I heard recently. The company involved had around fifteen percent of its full time staff in one of its buildings, on long term sick leave. The company then announced the closure of that particular building which would include all of the staff being made redundant. The office though would remain open for the next six months, however the only people who worked ninety percent of that six month period would be able to have full redundancy payouts. The amount of people who suddenly stopped having depression and bad backs was astonishing, they called it a miracle.
Business always moves faster than government ...It's no surprise that a great deal of lawmakers' time is spent reacting to advances in commerce and science. It's also no surprise that one of their favorite tactics is to call on their enforcement agencies to bring scrutiny against any topic about which they're struggling to understand.We're now seeing this applied against at least two e-currency operations.One of them, INT Gold, saw their head offices in Texas raided by the FBI in December. No arrests were made and no disclosures were presented to indicate the reason for their actions. The only auspices mentioned were that they were pursuing an ongoing fraud investigation. It's now been over a month and nothing further has happened.At roughly the same time, e-Gold was also served with a search warrant. It seems the justification was petty --- they allegedly didn't have a 'required' currency-exchange license --- and they were upset enough to place the following posting on their website:e-gold welcomes US Government review of its status as a privately issued currency January 20, 2006"Starting in mid-December 2005, Gold & Silver Reserve, Inc. (G&SR), contractual Operator and primary dealer for e-gold, has been the subject of a warranted search of its premises and records, had its domestic bank accounts frozen, and been the target of a precisely timed, extraordinarily misleading attack by a major business publication."In an emergency hearing in US District Court January 13, 2006, the freeze order on G&SR's bank accounts was lifted. Though numerous criminal claims had been made in obtaining the search and seizure warrants, the Government has not sustained these allegations and the only remaining claim is a contention that G&SR has operated as a currency exchange without the proper license. G&SR had previously proposed to the Government that e-gold be classified for regulatory purposes as a currency, enabling G&SR to register as a currency exchange. In a Treasury report released January 11, 2006, however, the Department of Treasury reaffirmed their interpretation of the USC and CFR definitions of currency as excluding e-gold."G&SR, for nearly a year, has been engaged with an agency of Treasury in a BSA (Bank Secrecy Act) compliance examination it had voluntarily initiated. G&SR, though preferring that the venue was not a courtroom, welcomes the opportunity to extend its discussions with the Government on how best to achieve appropriate statutory or regulatory cognizance of e-gold while continuing to build e-gold's market share as a medium of international commerce."Despite the unfounded charges and adverse misleading publicity that have severely damaged both e-gold and G&SR, G&SR has continued to meet all financial obligations and remain completely operational. e-gold remains highly committed to its goal of bringing, for the first time in history, to people of any financial means across the globe, a secure payment mechanism at a fraction of the cost of any other system. e-gold fully expects to transcend the unfortunate events of the past month and resume its exponential growth."Further information can be found at:www.e-gold.comwww.omnipay.comwww.treas.gov/press/releases/reports/js3077_01112005_MLTA.pdf"The proactive approach by e-Gold should be applauded. "INT Gold" should have done the same thing.If more of the public only knew how many times search papers were served on financial institutions for one reason or another, they'd no doubt be as skeptical as I am about the publicity the authorities have given their actions against these two e-currency companies.Let's consider how authorities move against major banks when wrongdoing is suspected. One characteristic which becomes quickly evident is that any releases issued by the investigating authorities have always been very specific in their nature, because major banks have enough financial and political clout to strike back at anything less.An example of a precisely identified transgression is the Citigroup private banking scandal in Tokyo in 2004. The Japanese authorities said the bank helped clients manipulate accounting records through improper real estate transactions, failed to process tax refunds for clients and mismanaged customers confidential information. As a result, they ordered Citigroup's Japanese private banking operations to close, but took measures to ensure all unaffected investors would be minimally affected while they moved their accounts.Rarely, total loss to depositors happens. The Silverado collapse in Colorado sent Charles Keating to prison for what should be a thousand life terms, as more people than that lost their life savings. It's notable that this occurred in what was a laissez-faire junk bond scenario.Raids only receive mention when it serves the authorities' purposes to do so. One reason for this is because the searches and/or seizures don't yield sufficient results to merit charges being filed. There can exist a vast gray area in modern financial activities, and when the fine print of a certain situation is scrutinized, it often occurs that, perhaps those activities have sailed close to the legal wind, but they did not take the airs of disrepute.It remains to be seen what they're investigating at INT Gold. As opposed to their treatment of major banks, the nature of the authorities' announcement of this raid was quite vague, which I'm sure was by design. So, the issue is one of whom they were attempting to stir. However, American law says the parties involved are innocent until proven guilty, so they should duly be accorded that right. Until the entire story comes to light, it's improper to cast aspersions. After all, as with most raids at major banks that go unpublicized, it may be that the transgressor is not the company, but a client who has abused its privileges within that company's facilities.The e-currency investigations are surely a result, in part, of one government's indecision as to how to regulate e-currencies within their borders when those currencies are neither fiat nor necessarily domiciled within those borders.This reminds me of broadcasting's early days, when the Feds were perplexed about how to best cope with radio signals that only obeyed the laws of physics and thus had the ability to cross state lines without governmental permission. As ridiculous as that sounds today, the thought of a particular technology being more advanced than political and/or geographical delineations was of deep concern to them. It ultimately took nearly 15 years for the American government to create the Federal Communications Commission to cope with such an 'advanced' business as interstate broadcasting.Given the fact that e-currencies are privately generated and administered, and given that no central monitoring system exists to aid in their regulation, it is no surprise under the current environment of American laws to now see a bustle of authoritarian attention directed toward them. Until they are able to determine a palatable policy, the best they can do is assume a self-righteous position in the interests of 'consumer protection' and cast aspersions by means of rationalization. It's not particularly fair, but as we've seen in related online forums, it's quite effective.Hopefully, the issue will be settled in a much more expeditious manner than it was in broadcasting.