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Comment Re:government goons (Score 1) 379

Why not put their own under oath and interrogate them, then? Because _they_ have a problem, now someone with a wife and kids who only reported what he was told( and broke no laws in doing so ) faces potential fines or jailtime if he doesn't rat out his source which may well hurt his livelihood, anyway.

Because justice is the least of their concerns. And it wouldn't give them the chance to potentially intimidate (by precedent) future journalists who receive similar leaked documents.

Comment Re:Because obscurity... (Score 1) 379

Another point is that it served no real purpose to keep this a secret anyway. Someone "sworn to keep the secret" realized this and acted accordingly instead of being a mindless drone.

Thats not really a point, but instead an appeal. Do you honestly think that (for example) a secretaries or clerks opinion should factor into when secrecy rules should be followed and when they shouldn't? Really? Just because they "realized" that there was no purpose for secrecy? Really?

That depends. I'll create a hypothetical to make the point.

Let's say someone works for a government organization. That organization has discovered an over-unity device, that is, totally clean, limitless, free energy in the form of electricity. This is a simple device that anyone can create with a little work. For the sake of argument, let's say it cannot be made into a weapon. That person is sworn to secrecy.

In this case, the right thing to do is to release the information to the world. Even getting caught and prosecuted is worth doing that. How could you compare that to the benefit this device could provide for every person in the world? Is this still an appeal to you?

Secretaries or clerks are human beings with free will. As such, they are capable of disobeying rules. In the real world, you reduce leaks by getting your people on board, by showing them that yes you really do have an important, legitimate, overriding reason to keep something secret. Or you can take the authoritarian route and threaten everyone into compliance and then act surprised when anonymous leaks occur. That's what happened here.

With most things that are kept secret, such as medical records, it is understood that releasing that secret information can easily harm or damage the person. Good or at least decent people have no desire to do that. It is right and just to have laws and other sanctions to apply against such people. This was not such an example. The only damage done here was that some bureaucrats lost face. Therefore the secrecy was not legitimate to begin with and this realization made disobedience far more likely.

Comment Re:Fuck George Bush! (Score 1) 379

I'm really not sure what it's going to take to get the country to realize that governing doesn't have to be an enemy of liberty.

It will take nothing more than a single example in all of history where governing and liberty weren't at odds.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground."
-- Thomas Jefferson

I wonder what people _think_ government represents? The only power it ever has is to restrict. That's because liberty is the natural state of things and there's nothing to add to it. There is much that can be taken from it, however.

It goes back to the whole social-contract idea. It's good and reasonable that some liberties are removed. I am glad that my neighbors are not at liberty to murder, rape, or rob anytime they like. The problem is that even after all the basic, reasonable things like this are taken care of, you still have a government that wants to grow and expand.

Comment Re:government goons (Score 1) 379

Maybe that's the point - that we're no longer participating in a free government. Without input, there is total control - no way to safeguard against tyranny or corruption. If the guidelines are secret - they can be interpreted any way that the people enforcing them see fit - without control or oversight. I am starting to believe that if they thought they could get away with it - they would just -disappear- this guy like corrupt regimes usually do.

Don't think for a moment that they wouldn't do that. Goons who are on our payroll and nominally on our side are still goons. The bread and butter of thugs everywhere, whether common, appointed, or elected, is an "ends justify the means" style of thought. Naturally this prevents them from understanding how much they resemble the kind of societies we once stood against.

Comment Re:Because obscurity... (Score 5, Insightful) 379

You are missing the point. They were trying to keep something a secret, and then someone sworn to keep that secret, leaked it. That is absolutely a cause for concern.

Another point is that it served no real purpose to keep this a secret anyway. Someone "sworn to keep the secret" realized this and acted accordingly instead of being a mindless drone. This made TSA look bad, it made them lose face, and now they want to get the visceral satisfaction of nailing the person who did it. That's about all there is to see here.

If the leaking of this information did any actual damage, or had a hope of remaining secret once implemented, then you'd have a case that GP is missing a point.

Comment Re:nonsense (Score 2, Interesting) 134

Feeling defensive, eh? Thanks for informing everyone you're "literate" and therefore better than those filthy ordinary people. Pick up a newspaper, and tell me how much writing would actually be *improved* with a machine writer, eh? Writing isn't sacred, it's just another occupation like woodchopping or running the cash register at the 7-11.

What you describe is "everyday" writing. This is like the vending machine that reads "insert dollar bills face up" or "team A scored 10 points while the opposing Team B scored 15." It's purely practical, get-the-job-done sort of writing where only the technical correctness is important.

Writing can also be beautiful, powerful, and artistic. A well-written editorial, penned by someone who has a deep understanding of the issues, can and has moved entire communities to change their minds on important issues. A beautifully written book tells the perceptive reader as much about the mind and spirit of the author as it does about the story that is being told. A horror story requires some sense of what is horrible.

The ability to both produce and appreciate good writing is on the decline. Measured scholastically, the grade-level at which the average American reads and writes is significantly lower now than it was say, 50 years ago. A good look at many online forums will also tell you that this skill is not highly valued. You can say that's because only some cultural elite are capable of enjoying it, though the GP made no such claim. You can also say that there is simply less interest in such things.

You can invent and try to substantiate any number of unique explanations for it. The truth of the matter is that in most situations, challenging your readers is now considered highly undesirable. They'll read a competitor's paper written in simpler langauge before they'll grab a dictionary. There was a time when this would have been viewed as laziness and an unwillingness to meet a worthy challenge. It would have been viewed like a wasted opportunity to better yourself that should not have been passed up, just like most people today would not like to pass up a higher-paying job. I'm not saying that previous generations were one homogeneous block who all felt this way, but many more people once did.

Over the last few generations, some kind of cultural shift occurred. People now care much more about avoiding the small-but-significant effort of learning something new than they care about improving important skills. They generally won't do it at all unless it's required by an authority like a boss or a professor. Even then it's in a rote, mechanical sort of way that deprives them of true appreciation. Even then it's reluctant, with a "gun to their head" in the form of losing their jobs or failing school.

Can you comprehend how sad that is?

Comment Re:Censorship (Score 1) 134

Already happened. It's called "Fox News." (Or "MSNBC," depending on one's leanings.)

(emphasis mine)

Statist fear-mongering from a "Liberal" bias or statist fear-mongering from a "Conservative" bias. Nope, I'm not seeing any significant difference.

Comment Re:Hmmm (Score 1) 227

and decreased when unnecessary

They forgot that part. Perhaps that happens in Canada only. In the USA, I have never once witnessed a significant decrease of the size and power of the federal government during my entire lifetime. Ever. I have seen this on the state and local levels, but never on the federal level.

Comment Re:Hmmm (Score 2, Informative) 227

Under the current conservative party government

I don't think that word means what you think it means.

I am not Canadian but I believe the name of the party is The Conservative Party. The word "conservative" lost its meaning a long time ago, particularly in the USA. How else do you explain the politicians who self-identify as "conservative" who are so eager to expand the size and power of government?

Comment Re:Yuh huh (Score 2, Informative) 180

That would be the right time, yes. But actually, the problem with todays systems is not as much the OS as the applications that run on it. Almost every self-respecting OS has an Auto-update function that works more or less well. Unless you are a paranoid schizophrenic that update the OS manually (forgetting to do it now and then), the OS is relatively secure. The problem are the applications. Now tell me, how many of us run to download a new Java machine or a new Acrobat reader, or a new Cobian Backup, or a new WinAmp when a vulnerability is discovered on any of those products. Hell you will be lucky if you even get to know that a new vulnerability was found on your faithful uTorrent... So when you get pwned, what's the first thing the user blame? The OS of course...

At work we had a Windows Server 2008 hacked. It was killing the whole network sending spam and trying to infect other machines on our AD. Our boss was already blaming Bill Gate's mother ... On a closer inspection, the problem was discovered. The system was running a quite old version of WebBoard (a system for collaboration, which was developed originally by O'Reilly). The firewall has the port 8080 open to allow users to connect. Some people discovered the open port, found out that WebBoard was running, and took advantage of the vulnerability to upload and run malicious code on the server. Because WebBoard is a service, running as the System account, you can imagine what happened there. Did our IT manager know about this vulnerability. Not at all, even if it was fixed on a posterior build.... How many "forgotten" programs, and non-OS related services do people have running in their machines, unpatched and unattended? Think about this...

Perhaps the OS deserves some blame (kneejerk types, note that some != all). On Windows there is no equivalent to the various centralized package managers that come with standard Linux distributions. You cannot go to one place and run one program and simultaneously update every last application installed. The biggest obstacle seems to be the copyright restrictions that prevent the redistribution of most Windows software. But for whatever reason, on Windows, every last application is on its own and must make provisions for its own updates. If it doesn't, or if the user gets tired of dialogs popping up and just wants to get rid of them, then you get the scenario you describe. On a Linux or BSD -style system, WebBoard would be a package like any other and would be regularly updated as part of your routine system maintainence.

Comment Re:This is about finding a common infection point (Score 4, Informative) 180

What happens to all the folks (us?) who have been gloating over the security of our Macs, Linux, smartphones etc. when these apps get broken? Time to eat crow?

I would imagine that if Flash etc. became poor enough in terms of security we'd see more attention on projects like Gnash.

No joke. Even if they are absolutely equally secure, Gnash provides source code. You can build that source with SSP (or equivalent). You can also build it as PIC and apply many other restrictions with a PaX and/or Grsecurity kernel. All of these will reduce the chances that a known vulnerability will lead to a successful exploit. Specifically, a known vulnerability that would normally allow an attacker to run arbitrary code stands a good chance of merely crashing the application.

You just don't have options like this with binary blobs. I really would like to see more development of Gnash, as it seems that Adobe Flash is on a downhill course in terms of security and will continue to be a problem. Source code is about freedom and control. With such control, you can take steps to manage a risk even if you cannot perfectly mitigate it.

Comment Re:Good way to end this BS (Score 1) 605

Of course, the protection for that isn't as strong as copyright. And in the end, it doesn't matter; if I know that a company isn't proud of its employment agreement such that they want it kept secret, then I'm thinking twice about subjecting myself to said agreement.

I don't agree with any of this nonsense but I just wanted to add that a company may want to keep the terms of the contract confidential because they are good, not just, as in this case, bad.

That made me curious. Generally the assumption is that if a corporation wants to hide something, it's because that something would make the company look bad.

Can you provide a single hypothetical scenario where an employment contract is fair, reasonable, written in good faith, generous towards the employees, and otherwise reflects well on the company, yet that company would fight this hard to keep it a secret?

Comment Re:Good way to end this BS (Score 2, Insightful) 605

So there should be no privacy at all in any kind of legally binding arrangement?

If you want my tax dollars to finance its enforcement, in the form of our court system, then no. There should be no privacy in a contract. At least, any privacy would be in the form of "don't disclose it in the first place" and would not take the form of "now that it's been disclosed, use copyright laws to shut down sites which host it." Not only is the latter position a total failure to understand the nature of the Internet and the Streisand effect, it's also inconsistent with the purpose of copyright.

Comment Good way to end this BS (Score 5, Interesting) 605

More than that... What exactly is the site doing that would cause a takedown order for the whole domain? I mean, taking down a confidential company document is one thing... But to just issue an order to remove the domain entirely seems like too much.

But, I'm sure that when the sites come back up, they'll have even more readership.

I agree there was no reason to take down the entire domains. This really seems like it's becoming a standard tactic: put conditions into a legally binding contract, and then cry "copyright violation" when the contract is posted in public to the embarassment of its authors. An employment agreement is generally such a contract.

I propose a change to the law along these lines: your contract may be legally binding and public-domain, or it may be non-binding and copyrightable. You are, after all, asking a government agency (a public servant) such as a court of law to enforce it for you.

Comment Re:Thankful for the Streisand Effect (Score 0, Offtopic) 159

"I don't know why you were modded Troll because what you say is strategically correct."

If I didn't read your Slashdot User# I would think you were new to Slashdot

In the technical sense, I can think of several reasons for it that are all plausible explanations. None of them speak favorably of that moderator. Since there are multiple possible explanations, I can accurately say I don't know which was the motivation. That's not the same thing as being unable to understand how such things happen. If I had to guess, I'd say it's because people assume that anything they don't like must be trolling or an instance of flamebait, but that's just a guess. I don't claim to know the mind of that moderator and people don't always have rational reasons for their behavior that are so easy to explain.

So, I brought it up without trying to explain it. The point of that was to write from the perspective that understands why it's silly and absurd. It would not occur to that perspective that he was trolling. I think that's what the moderation system could use a little more of.

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