Sunday, February 24, 2008, 11:06am
Thursday, February 21, 2008, 8:45pm
Using data from the Global Integrity Index, we put a U.S. court's recent order to block access to anti-corruption site Wikileaks.org into context. In summary: The Wikileaks.org shutdown is unheard of in the West, and has only been seen in a handful of the most repressive regimes. Good thing it doesn't work very well.
Monday, February 18, 2008, 2:36pm
The transparency group WikiLeaks.org currently seems to be under heavy fire. The main WikiLeaks.org DNS entry is unavailable, reportedly due to a restraining order relating to a series of articles and documents released by WikiLeaks about off-shore trust structures in the Cayman Islands. The WikiLeaks whistle blower, allegedly former vice president of the Cayman Islands branch of swiss bank Julius Baer, states in the WikiLeaks documents that the bank supported tax evasion and money laundering by its clients from around the world. WikiLeaks alternate names remained available until Saturday, when there seems to have been a heavy DDoS attack and a fire at the ISP. The documents in question are still available on other WikiLeaks sites, such as wikileaks.be, and are also mirrored on Cryptome. Details of the court documents have also been made available.
You know when you get a restraining order, a DDoS and a freak fire at your ISP, that you're pissing someone off. The only thing you're missing is a ship's anchor cutting your connectivity.
Friday, February 1, 2008, 10:39am
The bill was announced this afternoon and promised a bridging of the technological gap between young and old. "We have to admit that life is different than when we were growing up," said Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol. "We have to have educational programs so that parents know about MySpace and Spacebook and..."
Uh, did he just say "Spacebook?"
O.K., well, Mr. Lentol, a Brooklyn Democrat, did admit he was out of his depth. "When we were young, things were different. And we need to pass legislation that reflects today's world, not yesterday's world," he continued. "Old geezers like me have no clue about the Internet and all of its intricacies."
Monday, October 8, 2007, 1:20pm
The Bush administration is redefining computer hacking to include using peer-to-peer file sharing services to download publicly available files.
The Justice Department claimed that Thursday in a case against a 35-year-old Seattle man, Gregory Kopiloff. If the indictment (.pdf) stands, hacking and a five-year sentence that it carries no longer means actually breaking into a computer by bypassing passwords or unlawfully gaining access through some other illicit method.
Taking the Justice Department's position to its logical conclusion, peer-to-peer users who stumble on sensitive government secrets might also be guilty of hacking. Those documents are out there on peer-to-peer networks, and merely possessing them can be a crime.
Taking this one step further, if the government posts top secret information on a billboard in Times Square and clearly labels it as such, anyone who looks at it is committing an act of espionage. Off to GuantÃ¡namo!
(I gave up on the hacking versus cracking thing a long time ago.)
Monday, October 8, 2007, 12:29pm
Why are there so many bad security products out there? It's not just that designing good security is hard -- although it is -- and it's not just that anyone can design a security product that he himself cannot break. Why do mediocre security products beat the good ones in the marketplace?
In 1970, American economist George Akerlof wrote a paper called "The Market for 'Lemons'" (abstract and article for pay here), which established asymmetrical information theory. He eventually won a Nobel Prize for his work, which looks at markets where the seller knows a lot more about the product than the buyer.
This is just yet another piece of proof that technology has infiltrated our lives on every level and those who chose to ignore it and bury their heads in the sand just make matters worse, not just for them, but for everyone involved. Ignorance should not be an excuse, especially where so many people in the technology field make special efforts that this information be available freely to anyone (open source software, copyleft, wikipedia, OLPC, MIT's open courseware, etc, etc).
Sunday, October 7, 2007, 9:14pm
The Utah legislature has quietly passed a dangerous law allowing trademark owners to prevent their marks from being used as keywords to generate comparative ads. If this law takes effect, a company like Chevrolet couldn't purchase "sponsored link" space on the Google results page when a user types "Toyota" as part of a search query--at least if the latter term is registered in Utah as an "electronic registration mark."
Further, people need to stop thinking of Google as a newspaper, it isn't. Sure, while there is Google News, it's just an aggregate of news media. Sort of like a friend cutting out articles and giving them to you (and letting you search them). Think of Google as a sort of concierge when you're looking to purchase something since that's more applicable to this case. If you're staying at a hotel and ask for directions to the nearest AVIS but instead the hotel refers you to the local Enterprise, what's the big deal? And even if Enterprise were paying your hotel to make that recommendation, what would the harm be as long as it was disclosed (like all ads on Google are)?
Third, the notion that a searcher looking for information on, for instance, Dell computers, would not be interested in Compaq computers is absurd. Compaq isn't trying to pass itself off a Dell, nor its wares as Dell products. It is merely a "by the way, we make computers, too, you should come take a look." The term for this is an associative lookup and is nothing new.
Fourth, all of these local laws trying to regulate and police an international communications medium are just place stupid.
Sunday, October 7, 2007, 8:53pm
As it turns out, the US Department of Energy (and almost everyone else except members of Congress) was correct when they predicted that there would be little energy savings. This echoed concerns voiced after a similar experiment was attempted in Australia. Critics pointed out a basic fact: the gains in the morning will be offset by the losses at night, and vice-versa, at both ends of the switch. That appears to be exactly what happened.
Reuters spoke with Jason Cuevas, spokesman for Southern Co. power, who said it plainly: "We haven't seen any measurable impact." New Jersey's Public Service Enterprise Group said the same thing: "no impact" on their business.
Next week's agenda for Congress, policing the internet and stem cells!