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Comment criminal conspiracy and it should be rejected (Score 5, Interesting) 215

This is a case of criminal conspiracy that rippled through the economy. Where billionaires conspired to keep middle class wages lower because they wanted to make even more money for themselves. Not just people in these companies were affected. The illegally restrained salaries at these companies set the bar for millions of people in the industry. They need to pony up a few Billion more at least.

These class action lawsuits themselves seem like blatant ways of companies limiting their own liability... they simply conspire with some lawyers to sue themselves, settle for pennies on the dollar and just a few individuals that proactively reject the settlement can ever get the full amount they are due. And the incentive of those so called lawyers who are getting a percentage commission is to settle for whatever makes them millionaires, not whatever will make people they don't really represent whole.

I think in the future that the courts should require proactive agreement in writing from at least a majority of the class for the settlement to be accepted. And then let anyone that doesn't proactively accept the settlement sue later on. The opt-out system that we have now doesn't result in equitable resolutions.

Comment Re:Governments need the source code (Score 1) 264

Linux takes contributions from a basically anonymous group of international contributors. It seems to me extremely naive to believe that there are no intentional backdoors built into Linux by every single spy agency,

It would be extremely naive to believe they don't try. And if they are subtle enough, like the openssl issue these back doors can even skirt by for a while... not saying that openssl was intentional. The issue is that it would be extremely naive to think that both closed source and open source are not subject to the same issues of intentional back doors and coding mistakes.

The difference is that with the whole world able to view the source code there is a much greater chance of discovering these issues in open source software versus a select few being privy to the source code of windows where there could be any number of purposeful back doors and software flaws. So there are two problems. One that there aren't enough eyeballs on the code. And two, the people that do get to look at the code might be in on the backdoors or otherwise might have an incentive to keep the problems to themselves.

Comment Re:Governments need the source code (Score 1) 264

The US government is actually staffed by tens of thousands of computer professionals. The problem is that only a select few get to analyze the Windows source code for problems.

Here is an even better idea. Just give people iPads or android tablets and forget about desktop OSes altogether unless you are running specialized software for engineering or something specific. In which case you can probably run Linux or Macs.

Comment Re:As Successful as the Kellogg-Briand Pact (Score 1) 138

Unenforceable treaties are actually worse than worthless: they constrain good actors without deterring bad ones.

If I hadn't already commented, then I would mod you up. But the counterpoint is that there still could be some deterrent effect and that deterring good actors will at least let you tell the difference... but I don't buy that argument either. Ultimately it is about who will be charged with a war crime by whichever side wins or how to come up with rules that most people can follow.

In this case I don't think it is the technology that can or should be banned, but the use case of just indiscriminately unleashing a device that is going to kill people or cause destruction. I think some of the same rules of indiscriminate use of force should apply to the decision to turn on a killer robot. If you have an intended particular target and some notion of how the robot is going to destroy that target, then to me that is no different than the decision to fire a gun, a smart munition or anything else. If the robot malfunctions and causes civilian casualties, then there is no criminal liability. On the other hand if you press that same On button in a crowded market where you know or should know that the robot isn't smart enough to know the difference between civilians and enemy combatants, then you are committing a crime or a war crime. Drop that same robot in a terrorist camp where you have confirmed that there are no civilians present then it is no different than dropping a dumb bomb, but it could be more targeted. Again it isn't the technology, but it would be the indiscriminate use of that technology that is the issue.

Comment Re:Likewise (Score 1) 138

Take a heat seeking missile for instance. It is designed to "decide" to blow up something that matches a certain heat signature. Or a radar guided missile. It is designed to track, follow and destroy something that matches a certain radar profile. There is no meaningful technical or ethical difference between firing such a missile and turning on a ground or air robot that is designed to destroy something or someone that matches some sort of profile. You are "releasing" the weapon when you turn the robot on or give it the command which turns on the part which gives the robot or autonomous vehicle the ability to engage a target and destroy it.

The real difference would be the circumstance of the decision to engage and destroy some particular target. A specific plane or specific building or a specific person when you launch it, versus just turning on a killer robot to perform guard duty which could mean you are using it more like a land mine than an offensive weapon.

Given this it seems like it would be better to outlaw more generally unleashing some autonomous robot/weapon with destructive capability without a specifically targeted combatant individual, building or vehicle. Which follows naturally from the indiscriminate use of force doctrine. Basically if the robot is going to be used like a land mine then it is illegal, but if it is going to be used like a cruise missile or a radar guided missile then it is legal.

Comment Re:Governments need the source code (Score 4, Interesting) 264

And at this point you have to ask whether the NSA took a look at the code for the Pentagon and found some holes and diligently reported them back to Microsoft to get them fixed... or did they certify the code figuring it was better to know about the vulnerabilities and be able to exploit them than to try and fix them? I think the track record here is that relying on the NSA to certify windows at least in some way has been an exercise in balancing an inherent conflict of interest. And in terms of institutional self interest it seems that the NSA is going to be more on the hook for what they can find out through surveillance than what kind of compromises of US computers there are on their watch. That combined with monthly patches creates a moving target that is probably well beyond the capabilities of even hundreds of dedicated people to adequately keep up with. In that environment finding a few holes out of perhaps many and exploiting them, at least for some period of time before reporting them, is clearly in the NSA's institutional best interest even if that means leaving the DOD and Industry more vulnerable. Even the latest directive from the Obama administration left that door wide open... saying that the NSA only had to report security vulnerabilities if they couldn't be used in the interest of national security... so basically publicly confirming the NSA policy of finding vulnerabilities and not reporting them because they can use them for their own surveillance activities.

Comment Governments need the source code (Score 4, Insightful) 264

At this point I am surprised that any government would trust a compiled OS that they can't effectively scan for any ease dropping code, intentional back doors or just vulnerabilities. Sure they can monitor the network to see if it is doing something obvious, but with a compiled OS it could be wide open to be compromised with either a back door or some code to send data off someplace and you would likely never know it. At least with Linux you can maintain your own verified version based on the source code. Of course even with wide open source code you get security issues... like openssl. But without the source code there could be a thousand of those types of vulnerabilities and only insiders at Microsoft could know about them. Maybe for most people it is a non-issue, but for governments and large corporations that level of pants around the ankles situation can have very big implications to national security and the economy.

Comment Section 215 is the problem (Score 3, Informative) 107

The real problem is section 215 or anything like it. Which is what the government has been using to confiscate all sorts of records that companies that you do business with might keep. Limiting just phone calls misses 99.9999% of what the government might want to collect moving forward.

Section 215 is the provision which they have interpreted to mean every and all records collected by a business... server logs, router logs, email logs, credit card transactions, cable tv viewing data, car transponder data, car location data (as now collected by private companies and bought by the police), bank records, facebook friends lists, pictures you upload, library records etc etc etc. Basically everything that any company you do business with or knows about you could possibly think of putting in a database.

So on the face of this Congress really needs to enumerate the things that can be collected instead of leaving in a provision that seems to allow them to collect everything and then only restrict one particularly type of record

Maybe the ACLU and EFF are just trying to make a career out of this law. Because in another couple years we are going to hear about how they are collecting another type of data under section 215 and then the ACLU and EFF are going to be up in arms over it and fundraising to stop it. Guys, just hold the line and oppose section 215 or any insidious replacement of it. You can still support the two-hop limitation, but oppose the bill.

Comment 99.9999% still unconstitutional (Score 1) 107

Leaving section 215 in place without limitation means that the government can still order companies to hand over all their records. According to this report the only limitation now is going to be this two hop restriction on phone records which is likely to be narrowly construed to mean just phone calls and not text messages or location data or credit card transaction records or server logs or router logs or facebook friends lists or pictures you have uploaded, or files you store in the cloud, etc etc.

Calling this an "imperfect solution" is being very very misleading. This isn't a solution it is a lie.

Comment Section 215 means they can collect everything (Score 3, Informative) 107

"extends the controversial Section 215 of the Patriot Act from 2015 through 2017."

Section 215 is the provision which they have interpreted to mean every and all records collected by a business... server logs, router logs, email logs, credit card transactions, cable tv viewing data, car transponder data, car location data (as now collected by private companies and bought by the police), bank records, facebook friends lists, pictures you upload, library records etc etc etc. Basically everything that any company you do business with or knows about you could possibly think of putting in a database.

Putting a 2 hop limitation on phone records misses 99.9% of the types of records government surveillance will be interested in collecting and aggregating moving forward. Might as well put a telegraph limitation in there or a horse and buggy surveillance limitation and call it "restraint".

Comment Re:All about the Eurasian Union (Score 1) 557

Just from what is public knowledge a US "diplomat" was caught on a wiretap discussing US efforts to organize a new government including leaders of the protest movement.... long before the previous government was driven out of the capital. So I don't see how this is a controversial statement that the US was helping to organize the protestors and form them into a government acceptable to the US and how that would be encouraging to the protestors. I mean we have an actual audio recording of a US diplomat doing so... it really doesn't get any clearer. In the past you would have to infer that the US had people on the ground... now you can actually listen to one on youtube.

Also, the prior Secretary of State made it clear that preventing the Eurasian Union from coming together was a goal of US foreign policy.... I believe the quote was "well that isn't going to happen" and add in Hillary Clinton's trademark sarcastic tone from the video. I was pretty surprised actually how blatant and open she was about preventing sovereign nations from entering into alliances even if those alliances might be competitive to the US. It really seemed like am attitude which was a throwback to the old Cold War. Like an old dog looking to pick a fight, just because.

So the part about the US trying to block the Eurasian Union is a matter of public record and stated US foreign policy. Again no extraordinary claim, just stated US foreign policy or at least a stated US position that likely reflects the thinking in the state department about the Eurasian Union and Putin's aspirations for a broader alliance. And the part about the US being knee deep in organizing the leadership of the protest movement into a prospective new government is a matter of public record now... not sure what further citation would be necessary from your perspective.

Or are you just quibbling over the use of the word "foment" versus a more benign word like "organize". Because I think it is clear that helping to organize the protest leaders into a new government would help to stir up and encourage those protests. Of course the protests were and are based on real internal Ukrainian problems and endemic public corruption, just as the discontent with the central Kiev government in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine was and is real even with Russia's involvement. But I would still say that Russia is fomenting the protests and separatism there just as the US fomented the protests in Kiev. Which is why the motivations of Russia and the US are at play and not just the local aspirations of Ukrainians and Russians for a better local government.

Comment Re:All about the Eurasian Union (Score 1) 557

And this is where I lost your train of thought, because it sounds like you read just enough of a history book to know what has happened before, but didn't read enough of them to realize that nations aren't people. They don't have long memories, and they don't act consistently.

Nations are people, that is all they are. Lot's and lots of people acting with their own motivations, their own perspectives and their own base assumptions. Which is why nations don't act consistently. But that doesn't mean they can't be understood.

The underlying point was simply that US foreign policy has been too narrowly focused on Ukraine and blocking Putin from forming the Eurasian Union and has failed to see the bigger picture. My point is simply that the US has overplayed its hand and it is not in our best long, short or medium term interest to weaken Russia further with either real sanctions or other destabilizing actions. The overthrow in Kiev was a win for the EU and the US (without any realistic prospect that there will suddenly be a less corrupt government in Kiev), but what may have seemed like a simple move on the chess board in the halls of Langley is closer to an existential threat to a Russia that is surrounded by very very big nations that need Russia's resources. The math is the math and Russia needs to be bigger in population and military in order to defend itself effectively against threats from the bigger nations to the West, the South and the East which will likely always need its resources but may not always be willing to pay its prices.

I really don't know what is the best solution for Ukraine right now. But it does seem like some sort of compromise with at least some measure of local autonomy would be the best way for both sides to save face and defuse the crisis and so we can start to try and repair relations.

Comment Re:All about the Eurasian Union (Score 4, Informative) 557

The only US involvement was in the legitimization of the leader of the new government, which was the subject of the leaked wiretap by the FSB, where the American Ambassador says "f* the EU".

Except that was well before there was a new government... So a US "diplomat" trying to help organize a new government in Kiev while the old one is still in power is actually pretty clear evidence of US government involvement.

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