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Comment Tablet kill switch vs. disaster preparedness (Score 1) 341

Be careful, CA. Tablets and cell phones with solar or manual backup power could become important by providing a gigabyte or so library of disaster survival and recovery information -- easily portable, and available to the owner even if all electricity and Internet are out indefinitely.

In case the problem involves a cyberattack, the attackers could hijack the kill switch, making this scalable, mass survival tool less reliable.

Comment Why not let user give permission to decrypt mail? (Score 1) 158

'If all the server can see is encrypted text, as is the case with true end-to-end encryption, then all the functionality has to be built client side. [That’s] not quite impossible but very, very hard."

Why not let user the compromise on security in order to search, etc., by giving the server permission to decrypt for N minutes or seconds? Then client software sends the key, Mega promises to destroy the key and the unencrypted text at the allowed time. Standard legal advice in advance explains the resulting exposure risk (if the sovereign requires Mega to silently betray the user). But even then previous email stays secure, despite past permissions, provided there is no future permission.

Most users won't need to encrypt a large volume of email anyway. So they could search locally by eye, and maintain full security.

Comment NSA governance problems (Score 1) 290

There are two separate issues here:

(1) I couldn't care less what NSA knows about me -- and many people feel the same way. But still we have a problem.

(2) The U.S. Constitution has become a dead-letter law. The huge, secret, national-security infrastructure just does what it wants, and Obama, Congress, the corporations, and the courts fall into line. Nothing can match the power of multi-billion-dollar secret taxpayer funding with no real accountability or legal restraint. People are starting to vanish into the gulag. The rights you thought you had are rapidly fading away.

Comment Economics of crippleware (Score 1) 716

Economists could study this case to help understand the crippleware problem.

Deliberately less functional software has gone beyond limited-use to sell more expensive versions, and become baked into the industry culture. Even top-of-the-line products are affected, apparently by corporate force of habit.

The result could be deadly. In case of long-term loss of power and/or Internet outage, most computer equipment will be useless after day 1, almost all after a week. Sites are designed to discourage saving of vital information, to keep people coming back and seeing more ads. So without connectivity, needed information won't be there. We could call this dependency by design.

The current case is interesting because G$ is demanding that another company degrade its own products.

Comment Robots will decide whom to kill (Score 1) 800

The death paper has loopholes you can drive a truck through.

Where this is going is that computers will decide the country would be better off without you (based on network analysis, plus all your miscellaneous data trails), and have you killed without human intervention, under some secret, fuzzy White House authorization. You won't need to do or intend anything wrong.

People will wise up that privacy is important again, as it can save your life. We need space to think and explore, without asking what could get us killed by displeasing some inscrutable Big Other.

Comment Re:My Question (Score 1) 175

Those who criticize Aaron as illegal or wrong should realize that journal paywalls effectively exclude about 99% of the human race from much of the world's recent science, medicine, and academic scholarship. The authors and peer reviewers almost never get any part of this ill-acquired revenue that mainly feeds excessive corporate profits. Most of the creators want their work to be accessible to more people, but usually cannot make this happen.

And there is a good alternative available -- bundling publication with total research/scholarship cost. Less than one percent of most projects' cost including overhead could easily support free online publication available to everyone (including scholars in developing countries, and at non-rich universities everywhere).

Nothing better illustrates the misuse of intellectual property to impose an economy of scarcity on a newly available possibility of abundance.

Comment Re:I consider that a pretty good analogy... (Score 1) 248

This happens often. The negligent or incompetent get upset when their mistakes are exposed, and blame the messenger. If they are big enough in the organization, the messenger takes the fall.

It has become an occupational risk. Computer security professionals should get hazardous-duty pay.

Comment Re:Brilliant idea (Score 1) 480

I'm most concerned about keyloggers. Google's plan sounds good here.

You could buy an extra phone just for authentication, keep it in a safe, and bring it out when you get a new device. Some company will make something less than a phone for this.

But what about traveling, you need to use someone else's computer? And then can you cancel the authentication easily and securely?

For serious security (an account with lots of money in it, for example), don't use computers at all. Write checks or go to the bank for major transfers.

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