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User Journal

Journal: Published Submissions.

Journal by Erris

Friend and fellow Slashdot reader decided to gather up all of his published articles. I don't have as many, and the subjects are different. Thanks to the magic of the firehose, these are easy to find. Here they are:

That seems to be all.

Censorship

Journal: France Creates Internet Blacklist 1

Journal by Erris

From the SF Gate:

The French state and Internet service providers have struck a deal to block sites carrying child pornography or content linked to terrorism or racial hatred, ... a "black list" will be built up based on input from Internet users who signal sites dealing with the offensive material. all service providers in France have agreed to block offending sites

other countries that have already implemented similar measures include Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Canada and New Zealand [and the US].

Denial of service has never been this easy. This is what ISP packet filters were made for. Say goodbye to freedom of press.

Censorship

Journal: UK Student Arrested for Downloading Manual from US Gov.

Journal by Erris

It is against the law to posses terrorist related literature in the UK. A graduate student studying terror tactics found out the hard way what happens to thought criminals in a police state.

The student had obtained a copy of the al-Qaida training manual from a US government website for his research into terrorist tactics. ... the document was found by a university staff member on an administrator's [Hisham Yezza] computer. ... Despite his Nottingham University supervisors insisting the materials were directly relevant to his research, Rizwaan Sabir, 22, was held for nearly a week under the Terrorism Act [and] has spoken of the "psychological torture" he endured in custody.

Sabir's family home was searched and their computer and mobile phones seized. They were released uncharged six days later but Yezza, who is Algerian, was immediately rearrested on unrelated immigration charges and now faces deportation.

Dr Alf Nilsen, a research fellow at the university's school of politics and international relations, said that Yezza is being held at Colnbrook immigration removal centre, due to be deported on Tuesday. "If he is taken to Algeria, he may be subjected to severe human rights violations after his involvement in this case. He has been in the UK for 13 years. His work is here, his friends are here, his life is here."

The University staff are also objecting to the violation of academic freedom and police power to arrest before properly investigating.

Discussion by D Afifi is here. The 24 hour lag was worthwhile for including news of a protest march by faculty.

Microsoft

Journal: South Affica Appeals OOXML Vote, first country to do so.

Journal by Erris

Foot in Mouth Dept.

Tectonic reports South Africa's ISO appeal.

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has filed an appeal against the ISO decision to accept Microsofts Office OpenXML (OOXML) as an international standard. South Africa is the first country to appeal the decision within the stipulated 60-day appeal period.

CEO Martin Kuscus, SABS says it is appealing on the basis of flawed procedures in the ballot resolution meeting (BRM) held in February. SABS also says that it is concerned that there is an increasing trend of international organisations being able to circumvent the consensus-based decision making of the ISO and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission).

Pity M$ Rep, Jason Matusow, who was tasked with this fight. He not only lost, he put his foot in his mouth by insulting South Africans and many others.

The Media

Journal: CBS to Buy CNET.

Journal by Erris

CBS is purchasing CNET.

Television company CBS has agreed to buy technology news and entertainment website CNET for about $1.75bn (£900m). CBS said that the purchase of CNET, which owns sites such as ZDNet and Gamespot, would help to boost its online presence. ...Other CNET sites include News.com, TV.com, Mp3.com and MySimon. CBS will combine them with its own websites such as CBSSports.com and CBSNews.com.

CBS is itself owned by media giant National Amusements, which is essentially one rich and powerful person.

Government

Journal: UK Traffic Cams Abused for Political Purposes.

Journal by Erris

Two peace activists were stopped and harassed when traffic cameras claimed they were terrorists based on license plate ID.

John Catt, an 80 year old pensioner at the time and his daughter Linda (with no criminal record between them) - were stopped and their vehicle searched under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 by City of London police. They were both threatened with arrest if they refused to answer police questions. Unbeknown to them the vehicle in which they were travelling had triggered an alert as it passed an automatic vehicle number plate recognition camera part of the cops Ring of steel around the City of London.

Now you see what traffic cameras are really for. Because the UK has more cameras than anywhere else, it's natural that the first political abuse happened there. This case is much like an earlier FBI database abuse against US peace activists, which showed us what these terrorists "watch" lists are really for.

"Watch" lists which accuse people of an infamous crime and punish them without due process of law are explicitly prohibited by the fifth, sixth and seventh amendments of US Constitution. When you allow such violations, government wastes your tax money to target and harass innocent people who are fighting for your rights.

Windows

Journal: USA Today Reports Botnet Menace as 40% of Net.

Journal by Erris

The botnet menace is getting mainstream attention from USA Today:

Largely unnoticed by the public, botnets have come to inundate the Internet. On a typical day, 40% of the 800 million computers connected to the Internet are bots engaged in distributing e-mail spam, stealing sensitive data typed at banking and shopping websites, bombarding websites as part of extortionist denial-of-service attacks, and spreading fresh infections, says Rick Wesson, CEO of Support Intelligence.

This general alarm without identifying the central culprit is not good enough for some people:

The mainstream media consistently use the term "computers" when they make forays into this realm. Yes, they are computers, but they're not just any computer -- they are all running Windows. All of them. Let's not mince words here: Botnets are comprised of compromised Windows systems. Thus, Microsoft's massive security failures are at the very core of the spam problem.

I agree. Unless people know the root cause, they can't take effective action and solve the problem.

Government

Journal: ACLU Claims Total Information Awareness is Revived.

Journal by Erris

The ACLU and Wall Street Journal claim TIA is alive and well:

Total Information Awareness Lives. A stunning new report indicates the NSA has effectively revived the Orwellian Total Information Awareness domestic-spying program that was banned by Congress in 2003. In response, the ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for more information about the spying. And, we moved the Surveillance Clock one minute closer to midnight.

This won't be news to most of us but it's good to see the the information getting to a non technical audience and databases being understood for the threat they are.

Privacy

Journal: The FBI's Unlimited Back-Door to Your Cell Phone. 1

Journal by Erris

A security consultant whistle blower claims a U.S. government office in Quantico, Virginia, has direct, high-speed access to a major wireless carrier's systems, exposing customers' voice calls, data packets and physical movements to uncontrolled surveillance.

Pasdar tumbled to the surveillance superhighway in September 2003, when he led a "Rapid Deployment" team hired to revamp security on the carrier's internal network. He noticed that the carrier's officials got squirrelly when he asked about a mysterious "Quantico Circuit" -- a 45 megabit/second DS-3 line linking its most sensitive network to an unnamed third party.

"I wanted to put some access controls around it; they vehemently denied it. And when I wanted to put some logging around it, they denied that." Pasdar won't name the wireless carrier in question, but his claims are nearly identical to unsourced allegations made in a federal lawsuit filed in 2006 against four phone companies and the U.S. government for alleged privacy violations.

Windows

Journal: Vista and XP have DST bugs. Users Need to Check. 2

Journal by Erris

InformationWeek reports that Vista and XP may not automatically adjust clocks for DST tonight.

To ensure Windows users aren't hit with a daylight time bug, Microsoft has launched an automated diagnostic and update service on its Web site that installs patches on systems that need them. The service is available for all versions of Windows Vista and most versions of Windows XP, as well as Windows Server 2003.

If you are a Windows XP SP3 beta vict^H^H^H^Htester, you can be sure it won't work. GNU/Linux users, of course, have nothing to worry about.

Censorship

Journal: More Military Censorship: All Blogs Blocked by US Airforce. 1

Journal by Erris

The US Military has already curtailed what servicemen are allowed to write on the net. Now the US Air Force "Cyber Control" would tell people what they can read. Anything other than big publisher news is forbidden.

Until recently, each major command of the Air Force had some control over what sites their troops could visit, the Air Force Times reports. Then the Air Force Network Operations Center, under the service's new "Cyber Command," took over.

AFNOC has imposed bans on all sites with "blog" in their URLs, thus cutting off any sites hosted by Blogspot. Other blogs, and sites in general, are blocked based on content reviews performed at the base, command and AFNOC level ... "Often, we block first and then review exceptions," said Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, a Cyber Command spokesman.

"Basically ... if it's a place like The New York Times, an established, reputable media outlet, then it's fairly cut and dry that that's a good source, an authorized source," said Maj. Henry Schott, A5 for Air Force Network Operations.

Plenty of people are objecting to this and previous censorship. Good luck to service men who want to see movies of their kids on YouTube.

Education

Journal: Cory Doctorow Alarmed by Silverlight Library of Congress. 1

Journal by Erris

Cory Doctorow sounds the alarm over a Library of Congress deal with M$ that will have collections locked up in Silverlight.

This deal involves the donation of "technology, services and funding" (e.g., mostly not money) with a purported value of $3m from Microsoft to the Library of Congress. The Library, in turn, agrees to put kiosks running Vista in the library and to use Microsoft Silverlight to "help power the library's new Web site, www.myloc.gov."

I'll double the M$ deal and offer them $6 million in perl scripts and an infinite value of free OS software if they let me (or Google or any other honest company) publish their collections in free formats. Shame!

Announcements

Journal: How pervasive is ISP outbound email filtering? 3

Journal by Erris

A member of the Baton Rouge LUG noticed that Cox checks the text of outgoing email and rejects mail containing key phrases. I was aware of forced inbox filtering that has caused problems and been abused by other ISPs in China and here. I've also read about forced use of ISP SMTP and outbound throttling, but did not know they outbound filtered as well. How prevalent and justified is this practice? Wouldn't be better to cut off people with infected computers than to censor the internet? Why do we insist on supporting Windows when there are free alternatives?

Announcements

Journal: Help Test and Fund the RFID Guardian

Journal by Erris

PhD candidate Melanie Rieback has been touring and explaining the RFIDGuardian. The device selectively blocks RFID signals and fits in your pocket but the goal is something small enough to embed in cellphones or PDAs. You can read all about it in Hongliang Wang's thesis and sign up to purchase their first models at the site.

This has previously been disscussed here and here but the thesis and hardware Beta test are new. Go get them!

The Internet

Journal: NYT Slams ISPs Over Online Freedom.

Journal by Erris

The New York Times is running an opinion piece which lambasts US Internet companies for cooperating with China and other repressive governments. The failure of and lack of ISP support for bills that undermine the, "just following orders" excuse is a new and interesting charge.

Yahoo's collaboration is appalling, and Yahoo is not the only American company helping the Chinese government repress its people. Microsoft shut down a blogger at Beijing`s request. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft censor searches in China. Cisco Systems provided hardware used by Beijing to censor and monitor the Internet.

Last January, Representative Christopher Smith of New Jersey reintroduced the Global Online Freedom Act in the House. It would fine American companies that hand over information about their customers to foreign governments that suppress online dissent. The bill would at least give American companies a solid reason to decline requests for data, but the big Internet companies do not support it. That shows how much they care about the power of information to liberate the world.

This is also a swipe against the same practices committed in the US.

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