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+ - Could tech have stopped ISIS from using our own heavy weapons against us?-> 1

Submitted by JonZittrain
JonZittrain writes: This summer, ISIS insurgents captured Mosul — with with it, three divisions' worth of advanced American military hardware. After ISIS used it to capture the Mosul Dam, the US started bombing its own pirated equipment. Could sophisticated military tanks and anti-aircraft missiles given or sold to countries like Iraq be equipped with a way to disable them if they're compromised, without opening them up to hacking by an enemy?

We already require extra authentication at a distance to arm nuclear weapons, and last season's 24 notwithstanding, routinely operate military drones at a distance. Reportedly in the Falkland Islands war, Margaret Thatcher was able to extract codes to disable Argentina's Exocet missles from the French. The simplest implementation might be like the proposal for land mines that expire after a certain time. Perhaps tanks — currently usable without even an ignition key — could require a renewal code digitally signed by the owning country to be entered manually or received by satellite every six months or so.

I'm a skeptic of kill switches, especially in consumer devices, but still found myself writing up the case for a way to disable military hardware in the field. There are lots of reasons it might not work — or work too well — but is there a way to improve on what we face now?

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+ - After the Belfast Project fiasco, time for another look at time capsule crypto?->

Submitted by JonZittrain
JonZittrain writes: I'm curious whether there are good prospects for "time capsule encryption," one of several ways of storing information that renders it inaccessible to anyone until certain conditions — such as the passage of time — are met? Libraries and archives could offer such technology as part of accepting papers and manuscripts, especially in the wake of the "Belfast Project" situation, where a library promised confidentiality for accounts of the Troubles in North Ireland, and then found itself amidst subpoenas from law enforcement looking to solve long-cold cases. But the principle could apply to any person or company thinking that there's a choice between leaving information exposed to leakage, or destroying it entirely. Some suggested solutions are very much out of the box.

[Author's oped in Boston Globe.]

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Comment: Twitter's censorship is a fig leaf -- by design (Score 2) 91

by JonZittrain (#47094857) Attached to: Twitter Capitulates To Governments, Censors Users
Twitter's implementation of localized censorship is leaky by design. Users can specify in their settings what country they're in -- and that overrides any guess that Twitter might make about location from, say, IP address. So any Russian who wants to see what's missing -- after conveniently being alerted by Twitter that a given tweet is not accessible in that country -- can just switch to another country. Seems a pretty pragmatic move to prevent Twitter engineers from being arrested or money from being seized in a local jurisdiction while making tweets trivially available worldwide.

+ - Private networks for public safety->

Submitted by JonZittrain
JonZittrain writes: Projects like the New American Foundation's Commotion are designing ad hoc mesh networking to keep communications open when governments want to censor.

Former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and I argue that mutual-aid-based networks can be helpful for public safety, too, after attacks or natural disasters. There should be easy practices for anyone to open up an otherwise-closed wi-fi access point if it's still connected to broadband and is near people in trouble, and separately, to develop delay- and fault-tolerant fallback ad hoc networks so user's devices can communicate directly with one another and in a mesh. This can happen even while full packet-based ad hoc mesh is being figured out.

The ideas have been developed a little in workshops at Harvard's Berkman Center and the FCC. Why not bring the human rights and public safety communities together towards a common goal?

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"Your attitude determines your attitude." -- Zig Ziglar, self-improvement doofus