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Comment: June 1, 2015 is it (Score 1) 280

by bigpat (#48601697) Attached to: Eric Schmidt: To Avoid NSA Spying, Keep Your Data In Google's Services

They will be immediately forced to hand over everything and be silent about it. Until US laws are fixed AND respected, data going to a US Corporation can by definition not be safe.

Yes, but I think you mean until US laws EXPIRE on June 1, 2015. The most egregious parts of the Patriot Act are still set to expire on June 1, 2015. After that it appears that demanding ALL the records from a business or institution (or person?).... including phone records, email logs, text message logs, web site visitor logs, library records etc etc... will again require an actual constitutionally valid warrant naming the cause, the person and the things to be seized.

Comment: Re:transfer the ID information to the police (Score 1) 207

by bigpat (#48581601) Attached to: In Iowa, a Phone App Could Serve As Driver's License

Most people live where their car is registered. And most commonly it is household members that might be driving that car. So address is a pretty solid way to associate the data. No not 100%., but that wasn't the point. It was merely a convenience for police to be able to bring up the record of someone more quickly based on the car registration.

Name or Name and address should be more than sufficient 99% of the time to bring up the records for an in-state driver.

As for out of state drivers... states have to determine reciprocity for a variety of licensing, so that isn't a new problem.

Comment: Re:transfer the ID information to the police (Score 1) 207

by bigpat (#48581005) Attached to: In Iowa, a Phone App Could Serve As Driver's License

On the first issue. Having a database association between a car registration and known or even likely drivers is a relatively trivial exercise in associating different databases... namely car registrations and licenses. Shared address would be the simplest way to associate cars and possible drivers. But that would clearly not be 100% reliable, so it would be merely a convenience for the police so they don't have to manually enter information for writing up a ticket or checking for outstanding warrants. Actually, it could be of added benefit because it could end up bringing up information on other household members who may very well be in the car at the time.

The only concern about making up a name that would be valid is if the courts saw making up a name or withholding your name as a valid exercise of your first or 5th amendment rights. Otherwise you could simply make it a requirement for drivers to give their real legal name to police and it would be practically no different than presenting a fake ID or refusing to give your ID to the police. And the benefit is that such a system would eliminate the possibility of people getting cited for driving without a license just for forgetting their license at home. It is a real shame that in most states the system has made forgetfulness a misdemeanor. I know that I have left my wallet at home probably half a dozen or maybe a dozen times over many years and driven my car, thankfully never got caught.

As for the ID being a convenient way to get started for looking up someone's data. I don't dispute that. Especially, for all those scenarios where someone has a hard to spell name or like you mention a hard to facially recognize face. Having a card with a name, picture and bar code on it makes some sense. And there are many many somewhat artificial reasons that having a physical ID makes sense. Like access to Federal facilities requiring a REAL ID compliant state issued picture ID. So I wouldn't argue for a wholesale overnight change. But I do have a concern that most states have laws on the books that make a simple and reasonable act of forgetfullness a misdemeanor crime.

I think what I would suggest as way to make the law less unnecessarily onerous would simply be to allow people to avoid an additional citation for driving without a license if the police can verify your identity via other means and can verify that you do have a license to drive. So simply eliminate the misdemeanor for those who have merely forgotten their licenses as long as the police system is working.

Comment: Re:Not to sound too paranoid (Score 1) 207

by bigpat (#48577699) Attached to: In Iowa, a Phone App Could Serve As Driver's License

According to a local news story I heard reported a few weeks ago, there are systems in place used for traffic monitoring that already grabbing wireless data from people's cell phones. Apparently the technique is being used simply to model traffic patterns and for planning purposes.

Yes, there certainly are such systems, and they're not all that new. The most prominent one is probably Google Traffic.

That is a bit different than what was described in the news story and what I was describing.... What the Department of Transportation was supposedly doing was actually using the cell phone pings to the towers in order to identify, triangulate and track vehicles. So there was no "opt-out" like you can do if you are using an android phone and don't want to provide location data to Google. The only opt out was to power off your phone.

Comment: Re:Not to sound too paranoid (Score 1) 207

by bigpat (#48575803) Attached to: In Iowa, a Phone App Could Serve As Driver's License

Does this sound like a convenient way for Police to have unfettered access to your phone, in light of Riley v. California?

Actually, I think it might be a convenient way to track drivers and eventually to tax people either flat rates or congestion taxes based on their road usage which could eliminate the need for electronic tags. Taxation is always a bigger motivator than police security. According to a local news story I heard reported a few weeks ago, there are systems in place used for traffic monitoring that already grabbing wireless data from people's cell phones. Apparently the technique is being used simply to model traffic patterns and for planning purposes. But there has been talk about the need to replace the gas tax with open road tolling and there is also a push by some urban planners and environmentalists (and the people selling these systems) to start imposing congestion type taxes around densely populated urban centers. Having an app for that already installed on people's phones would be a step in that direction.

I think the public debate should be focused instead on simplifying and limiting the burden on people. Don't impose complicated solutions to simple problems. Just check people's odometers if we want to go to a mileage tax, don't need to track their movements everywhere.

Comment: Re:transfer the ID information to the police (Score 1) 207

by bigpat (#48575705) Attached to: In Iowa, a Phone App Could Serve As Driver's License

Don't the police have computers? Can't they just query the DMV themselves?

That is the point I keep coming back to... the idea of a picture ID or any paperwork that you carry with you comes from a time when we didn't have networked computers with access to real time information. It seems reasonable that we could just eliminate having to carry around physical IDs altogether (at least as a requirement of the law) and have the police taking pictures and/or typing in a name to verify someone's identity.

Facial recognition could be used to make the look-ups faster and more accurate. And most drivers are associated with one or two vehicles, so the police could have someone's picture up before they even approach the driver in most cases.

At some point relying on the information provided by a picture ID just isn't reliable and has always been prone to being faked. Much better to just check the picture stored by the DMV than to trust a picture on an ID. Sure the network can go down, but that really should be the exception and we can probably think of a better fallback than a piece of plastic with your name and an old picture on it.

Comment: Re:DMCA was always flawed ... (Score 1) 129

by bigpat (#48550289) Attached to: Economist: US Congress Should Hack Digital Millennium Copyright Act

I really hope nobody is still leasing land line phones... But according to that article as of 2007 there were still about 580,000 mostly older or elderly people leasing land line phones.

If you have a parent or grandparent, maybe you can help them get out of one of these leases... seriously: take a look at what your grandma (or someone's grandma) is still paying every month on her phone

  • Traditional Rotary - Monthly Lease Rate: $4.45
  • Traditional TouchTone - Monthly Lease Rate: $5.95 (now we are getting fancy)
  • Trimline® Rotary - Monthly Lease Rate: $5.25
  • Trimline® Touch Tone - Monthly Lease Rate: $6.45 (Currently the equivalent style phone is selling on Amazon for less than $10)
  • And it goes on. Basically the equivalent of most of these phones can be purchased for less than a few months of what they charge for a lease, but their customer service will convince your grandparents that they are still living in the 1960s and they need to continue to lease their phone in order to keep phone service.

Comment: Re:The US doesn't need to be taught (Score 1) 80

by bigpat (#48518781) Attached to: What Canada Can Teach the US About Net Neutrality
By "non-interference" I think what you really mean is regulatory capture in order to increase the regulatory burden on new market entrants. If you look at the numerous attempts to set up local non-profit or municipal WiFi or Fiber networks you will see an army of lawyers and lobbyists from the big telecom monopolies arguing at the state, local and federal levels that "the market" needs protection from all that chaos which would be caused by people getting better service at cheaper rates. It is absurd to even remotely suggest that we have somehow naturally arrived to this point with these big telecom monopolies through a free market.

Comment: Re:Nobody cares (Score 2) 88

by bigpat (#48460563) Attached to: Revisiting Open Source Social Networking Alternatives
They don't care except for when it affects their user experience. Too many inline ads in Facebook for instance would be something that eventually people could get sick of and make them start looking around. Facebook being such a dominant and established presence and being under pressure to make money means they could certainly piss off their users with too many ads. Look at what happened to all the search engine companies before Google came along. All of a sudden a clean interface with real search results and fewer ads. Same thing could happen to Facebook if it becomes a tool for making money instead of a tool for its users to communicate with other people.

Comment: Re:cross compatability (Score 1) 88

by bigpat (#48460469) Attached to: Revisiting Open Source Social Networking Alternatives
I think not migrating your contact lists will be a key feature of a switch to some other platform. At some point a fresh start with just your current friends and contacts might be in order and it would be easier to start on a new platform than to try to weed them out on Facebook with the potential for hurt feelings.

Comment: Re:Amazon Elastic Cloud? (Score 1) 247

by bigpat (#48429667) Attached to: Does Being First Still Matter In America?

I think the answer is yes they do need a pretty constant level of computer power, since you want as much lead time on extreme weather events. But maybe it would be more cost effective to buy the computing time from a cloud provider. The NWS question is a bit different than the question of having the fastest supercomputer, since the linked article from Cliff Mass talks about NWS needing 20-30 petaflops of computer power which is basically the equivalent of the largest supercomputer the US already has:

"My back-of-the envelope-calculation is that the National Weather Service needs a minimum of 20-30 petaflops of computer power to provide the American people with state-of-the science weather prediction that would improve the life of everyone in important ways."

So about equal to the "Titan" supercomputer or the "Sequoia" from the top 500 list:

Comment: Re:About time for a Free baseband processor (Score 1) 202

by bigpat (#48385733) Attached to: Department of Justice Harvests Cell Phone Data Using Planes
The well regulated militia clause has a very clear dual meaning. One meaning is that the militias need weapons, but the other is that in order to regulate the militias the people need weapons. Otherwise, the militias would have all the power in society and be unstoppable, unregulated.

Comment: Re:Maybe he thinks libertarians made a difference (Score 1) 127

by bigpat (#48379729) Attached to: Senate May Vote On NSA Reform As Soon As Next Week

The USA FREEDOM Act is just the Patriot Act done over to escape judicial review. Block the bill and the unconstitutional Patriot Act provisions can finally be left to expire.

This new push is driven by the need to renew the expiring Patriot Act provisions that enable the NSA and others to claim that the wholesale spying on the American people is somehow legal and constitutional. They hope by adding some meaningless restraints and preventing future Snowden type leaks that they can stall efforts in the courts to block the current programs because they will claim that Congress has addressed the excesses with new law. And then we and the courts will be left again in the dark because of secrecy. They will claim reform when it is really business as usual and our Liberty is further eroded with every upgrade in technology.

One of the lynch pins of this fraudulent law is that everyone will eventually call certain numbers, so a "hop limitation" on mass surveillance is not a real limitation. All you have to do is figure that terrorists also have to call the phone company to set up service, or call dominos to order pizza just like everyone else and then you will realize that you are less than 3 "hops" away from being connected to a terrorist suspect and therefore every record in the US is still left as fair game. 3 hops connect just about everyone to everyone else if you have the computing power to do it and they do or will soon enough.

Bus error -- please leave by the rear door.