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User Journal

Journal: Security through obscurity?

Journal by Presto Vivace

Cryptography Breakthrough Could Make Software Unhackable

As a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1996, Amit Sahai was fascinated by the strange notion of a âoezero-knowledgeâ proof, a type of mathematical protocol for convincing someone that something is true without revealing any details of why it is true. As Sahai mulled over this counterintuitive concept, it led him to consider an even more daring notion: What if it were possible to mask the inner workings not just of a proof, but of a computer program, so that people could use the program without being able to figure out how it worked?

There must be something I am missing; because this sounds like proprietary software.

User Journal

Journal: Fight voter suppression, work as an elections official

Journal by Presto Vivace

One way to insure the upcoming election is honest is to serve as an elections official. These are the people who check you in as you come in to vote and show you a voting machine or hand you a ballot, depending upon the jurisdiction. It is a long day, in Virginia it begins at 5 AM and lasts until the votes are counted, which can be past midnight in a Presidential year. As an elections official you cannot change unjust voter ID laws; but you can make sure that they are administered fairly.

User Journal

Journal: Politico salutes SOPA

Journal by Presto Vivace
Media Matters reports that the newspaper Politico hosted an awards ceremony honoring, amongst others, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT).

Smith and Leahy are also the chief sponsors of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), respectively. Both bills, which purport to combat online piracy of copyrighted material, face opposition from big-name technology companies that fear they will stifle online innovation. Legal scholars have denounced the bills as unconstitutional and said that they are tantamount to Internet censorship. Perhaps most significantly, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA) both oppose SOPA in its current form.

Just about everyone hates these bills ... but the entertainment industry loves them. And among the sponsors of the Politico awards gala is the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the video game industry's chief lobbying group. According to disclosure records, the ESA has spent thousands of dollars this year lobbying in support of PIPA, designated S.968. (For the individual filings, click here, here, here, and here.) ESA has also donated $1,000 to Smith each election cycle going back to 2008. They donated $2,400 to Leahy in 2010.

Payola journalism, Washington, DC style.

User Journal

Journal: FAA investigating News Corp

Journal by Presto Vivace

Forbes is reporting that the FAA has launched an investigation into News Corps' use of drones to collect news. The New York Observer is reporting that News Corps is experimenting with the Parrot AR.Drone âoequadricopterâ, which can be controlled with an iPad. And yes! drones can be used for phone hacking. The latest in secret police journalism.

User Journal

Journal: Who owns your online profile

Journal by Presto Vivace

Writing for PC World, Katherine Noyes reports that companies are monitoring their employees online profiles at LinkedIn and Facebook. If I understood the report correctly, the monitoring software has the power to block user changes to their profiles. As a self-employed person I am not immediately affected, but am certainly not ethusiastic. I don't think that this will work very well for employers once the job market picks up.

User Journal

Journal: Market for stolen cell phones

Journal by Presto Vivace

Here in DC we are having a crime wave of stolen cell phones (article in Washington Post Express, not onlline). How does the market for stolen cell phones work? As I understand it, if mine were stolen I would notify my provider, who would disable it, thus destroying its resell value. Except clearly it does not work that way, hence the market for stolen phones.


  • Also, since our cell phone providers are clearly tracking our phones, surely they could work with police to recover stolen phones. So why don't they?
Government

Journal: Federal solicitation for online astroturf

Journal by Presto Vivace

Writing for Exainer.com, Sean Kerrigan reports that the federal government has put out a solicitation ( PDF) for the development of "Persona Management Software" which would help the user create and manage a variety of distinct fake profiles online. The job listing was discussed in recently leaked emails from the private security firm HBGary after an attack by internet activist last week.


  • There is such a thing as being too clever, putting aside other considerations.
User Journal

Journal: The walled gardens of Mobile computing

Journal by Presto Vivace

Writing for Corrente Wire, danps points out that the ecosystem of app stores combined with usage caps on mobile devices has the effect of restoring the old walled gardens of the early internet. As more of us become dependent upon mobile computing, this poses a de facto threat to the neutral net.

User Journal

Journal: Who else has been dis'ed by PayPal?

Journal by Presto Vivace

I have not had access to my PayPal account for over a year now. For reasons best known to PayPal, but never communicated to me, I cannot access my account, even less send out invoices and receive payment. This is extremely annoying as many clients prefer to pay by PayPal. Bad vendor! bad! bad!

The Internet

Journal: FCC's Genachowski backing away from neutral net

Journal by Presto Vivace
Arts Technica is reporting that the FCC's Genachowski has indicated in a net netrality preview that the FCC is ready to back usage based pricing. The FCC will vote on net neutrality December 21. Instructions for comments to the FCC here.

Throughout this whole controversy I have been stunned by the complacency of the application service providers, SaaS, Web 2.0, and venture capitalists whose entire business model is built on the assumption of a neutral net.
Privacy

Journal: Twitter to expand collection of user data

Journal by Presto Vivace

From the NNSquad discussion list: Twitter to log every click on every link in every tweet

(Google Buzz)

"Soon, Twitter will be collecting data on which Twitter users click any
    links in any Twitter streams. They will also be able to collect IP
    address info for any user (even non-Twitter users) who click on any
    link in any Twitter message via the Twitter Web interface."

I can't say that I am enthusiastic.

Government

Journal: Want to buy a cell phone? Papers please!

Journal by Presto Vivace

The Identity Project alerts us to

S. 3427, a bill introduced in the Senate this week by Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and John Cornyn (R-TX), would require would require ID âoeverificationâ as a prerequite to buying a prepaid cell phone or SIM card.

Putting aside the not insignificant civil liberties issues, this would be a devastating blow to homeless people who often lose their documents in the events that lead to their homelessness.

I'd rather be led to hell than managed to heavan.

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