Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Leap Towards a Career in Ethical Hacking with 60+ Hours of Prep Toward CISM, CISA, & More Certification Exams at 95% off ×

Comment Re:Only programmers (Score 1) 172

Uh... there actually are.

We'll disregard the ancient rules supposedly written by deities, mostly because they're not sufficient to cover the needs of any society within the past two thousand years.

In more recent ancient history, there has been the divine right of kings. Under such a system, kings are exempt from laws because their authority is absolute, generally held to be originally granted by a deity and passed down through a bloodline (unless the ruling family fell out of favor and a new military victor gained the deity's favor, which was obvious due to that victor's victory).

There have also previously been separate rule sets for peasants and nobles, and to an extent those are still in effect in places where a society's caste system has entered its legal structure.

The term I use, "rule of man" is a more general term for a system where an individual (or group) use their sense of justice to override written rules, effectively turning every case into a battle of celebrity. That's effectively the case in rural India now, where old village councils hand out arbitrary judgments based on their whims and local politics, often resulting in harsh sexism. The core problem with any "rule of man" system is that a human lifespan is usually too short and too narrow a perspective to apply a widespread fair justice. There are a few exceptions, but it is not a reliable system.

In contrast, "rule of law" means that the law is written to be the rule. Before someone acts (as in this case, before accessing a system without authorization), they can go read the laws and find out what's legal. They can ask a lawyer for advice if needed. At no point is their fate ever left up to whether someone else thinks they're guilty or not. They can decide their own fate.

The downside to rule of law is that most laws aren't written perfectly. They don't cover every situation perfectly, and society's values change. To resolve that, the court has the ability to interpret the laws to a certain degree of freedom, but the vast majority of the law is still already written specifically, and case histories are usually public, so a judge does not need to rely on his own narrow perspective unless the dispute is an entirely new situation. Even then, parallels are drawn to previous similar situations, so we are relying as little as possible on the judgement of one person.

Comment Re:Only programmers (Score 1) 172

Spoken like a true apparatchik

Ah, yes. I oppose your particular flavor of freedom, so I must be a Communist!

Why, he should have known better than...

First, he should have not been screwing around with anybody else's system without finding out exactly what the boundaries are. For instance, it might be perfectly legal to receive TETRA signals passively, but any transmission (even announcing that you're only listening) might be illegal. Seeking a lawyer's advice is recommended.

After determining exactly what is and is not legal, then he has to make a conscious choice as to whether he will break the law or not. I won't advocate either approach, but if the outlaw's path is chosen, everything else must be done under an assumed identity, completely dissociated from one's real identity. It is not easy to establish such an identity, but that's the price for flouting laws.

After that, investigation of the vulnerability may proceed. Every step should be documented, including the ones that don't lead to any desired outcome. If it's legal, you're building evidence to strengthen your upcoming presentation of your case. If it's illegal, you're building a procedure that authorized personnel can use to harden the system.

Then you go to the authorities. An outlaw would only be able to dump information to the applicable agencies, and hope they care enough to fix it on their own. With less concern for ethics, the outlaw can also disclose his research publicly, opening up the vulnerability to others' use, including the FSB and Russian army, as you mentioned. A lawful researcher, on the other hand, can have an active dialog with the agencies, including presenting the detailed description of how he did not commit any crimes. Again, a lawyer's involvement is recommended.

After that initial disclosure, one can offer to help fix the problem. The outlaw can try appearing as just an innocent bystander who read the disclosure, but it's risky. The lawful researcher can openly offer his past work as a reference. Once authorization has been obtained, the improvement process can begin. It's possible, of course, that the agency will reject the offer to help. Perhaps they like having broken systems, or perhaps it's an issue they'd rather handle internally. Regardless of why, that ends the research.

Comment Re:Only programmers (Score 2, Insightful) 172

computers and equipment that he used to listen in on the system were seized. Police also found a "counterfeit police badge" during the investigation.

There are the key details of the story.

Yes, I understand that he offered to help. Yes, I understand that he had the noblest intentions. Regardless, he still intentionally broke the law by accessing a system without authorization. That it was easy to do doesn't make it any less of a crime.

Comment Re: Just doing its job (Score 4, Interesting) 209

The FISA court is a rubber stamp. They almost never reject an NSA request. Why would the NSA go around the FISA court when they know the court will say yes? That would be stupid.

This was debunked around the last time Slashdot covered it. I don't know if the debunking ever made it here, though. I saw it from SwiftOnSecurity, I think. In short, the FISA rubber-stamped most requests only after heavy revision that happened before the final request was submitted. The reviewers looked at requests, had a hearty laugh, and suggested changes to the search scope so it wouldn't be rejected.

Back when I worked in government contracting, we'd do the same thing. We'd get the test criteria from the customer and make sure our tests passed before the government representatives showed up. Our record never showed any failures, because they never made it to the final scored test.

As I understand it, lawyers are appointed and paid to argue against the NSA before the FISA court. The problem is these lawyers are paid by the government to argue against the government, which is a conflict of interest.

There's no evidence that any such conflict has actually affected anything. The government is not a coherent entity. It is a multitude of departments, agencies, and hierarchies, usually with very intentional disagreements in purpose. If one guy is being paid expressly to advocate for human rights, and another guy is being paid to advocate for security, there's no reason to assume either will shirk their duties, regardless of where their paycheck comes from.

Comment Re:And trump wants to legalize tax evasion (Score 1) 392

at if it's an American company, that the U.S. would get the taxes on that income (profit)

Aye, there's the rub. It's not an American company. The company that makes the profit-producing sale is based outside the US and has no US connection, apart from an investment by a US umbrella (along with other companies from other countries).

Comment Re:And trump wants to legalize tax evasion (Score 1) 392

...economically illiterate, ignorant people, who have been brainwashed for this long and are so married into the system they can't get out of the Matrix, so to speak. It's like having fun at the expense of somebody with leprosy, sure sure, it's amusing but also a bit cruel.

figure that one out.

Now, why do I bother with you? I guess it is a good deed to try and save the sick, but why bother really? Do I need you? No. Still, I will finish replying to this comment.

- oh, this is PRECIOUS, just precious.

:) Oh my my my, how hard it is to stay serious while replying to such amazing examples of total and complete ignorance.

oh, you don't know what that is

you might have heard something.

the subject of my next ridicule of your complete ignorance and lack of interest on the subject

You may want to read up.

oh, the holly naivety.

such stupid ideas ... are stupid and confuse the simpletons like you.

blah blah blah, nonsense... only idiots don't get it.

completely blowing out of the water your (and all the other mainstream charlatan 'economists') idea

honestly, a person capable of typing a sentence on a complex device, such as a computer should be able to understand it, but I guess we made computers too simple, even idiots can use them today.

that's the first true statement in your entire comment, but that's incidental, not on purpose.

Sorry, I got distracted there. If you'd like to have a reasonable discussion, you're welcome to try your post again, and see if you can maintain a bit more decorum. There were a few notable arguments in your post, but they're mixed with so much vitriol as to be incoherent. I'll check again sometime tomorrow.

Comment Re:And trump wants to legalize tax evasion (Score 1) 392

To contrive an example, then, if a Frenchman in London buys a phone that was manufactured in Japan from parts fabricated in China from raw materials mined in Australia, using designs licensed from a company in Ireland who in turn licensed them from an American company, why does the United States get all of the taxes?

Just because a company is headquartered in the United States does not mean that its profit or expenses are necessarily American. Domestic profits are still taxed domestically. The issue is regarding profits from business that was conducted entirely in foreign countries, most often with no direct financial obligation to (or infrastructure benefit from) the United States.

Comment Re:And trump wants to legalize tax evasion (Score 3, Insightful) 392

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you think you know simething?

Please enlighten me with what you know. This should prove most entertaining.

Gold is not an investment, never was, it is money

To my knowledge, there is no country that actually uses gold as legal money. You personally might value it as a currency, but that is not a majority opinion.

its function is to keep purchasing power and be an inflation hedge

It fails to keep its purchasing power due to fluctuations in its exchange rate with real currencies. Even accounting for the recent recession, real estate has actually done a better job of keeping its "purchasing power". I'll also note that the very definition of an "inflation hedge" is an investment.

Governments produce inflation, unless you are under a mistaken belief that central banks are not really controlled by governments and don't really act for the short term benefit of the current organization. Governments produce inflation and sometimes hyper inflation that take down economies.

You're going to have to explain this conspiracy theory of yours a little more. Governments (through central banks) can encourage inflation by raising their interest rates, or they can allow deflation by cutting interest rates, but they're not the driving force behind inflation, and would have no reason to initiate heavy inflation or hyperinflation.

Inflation happens when consumers have to pay more for the same goods and services. A little inflation has a positive effect on the economy, because it encourages people to spend money, adding more inertia to the economic machine, thereby providing confidence that producers will continue to have income in the near future, allowing them (as consumers) to purchase luxury goods and raise their quality of life. Conversely, if consumer prices are dropping under deflation, consumers are less likely to spend money, because they'll get a better deal later. That, in turn, reduces the viability of industry, lowers confidence, and further discourages spending.

These basic market principles are independent of any government. The government's only involvement is that by issuing loans from a central bank and controlling the interest rates of those loans, the government has a very highly-desired product whose price it can control. That lets the central bank effectively put its thumb on the scales, promoting inflation or deflation as it sees fit, but it can't actually control the whims of the rest of the market.

As to taking down governments, that's a worth while life goal, call it a hobby for the sake of freedom.

Using corporate money to fund a personal hobby, especially one that will harm the company, is a good way to get fired, even for an executive.

Comment Re:Remember where the responsibility is (Score 5, Insightful) 392

My point is that the actual laws dictating an executive's responsibilities rarely care at all about the shareholders. Rather, they usually only require that the company follow its charter, and it's that charter that defines the goals, and that's usually done vaguely.

In Apple's case, I don't see any definition of what the shareholders' interests are. It has been upheld in court that such a term can be construed to mean many things beside the often-assumed short-term profit goal. If Tim Cook thinks (and convinces the Board) that it's in shareholders' best interests to pay taxes to bring cash into the United States, then he can do so.

In essence, my point is to question the point of the original comment. Corporations are beholden to the laws of their jurisdictions, and those laws (in the US) make them subject to their charters. Blaming shareholders and invoking the profit myth implies that somehow the executives are being forced to do something distasteful, whether it's outsourcing or polluting or keeping foreign cash. The reality is that the executives have a wide range of options, and usually they only have to make a passable justification like "our polled shareholders said they care about the environment, so we're spending billions of dollars to have recycling in all facilities".

The myth essentially shifts the blame from the corporate executives to "the system". It's the same as the hippies' stereotypical disgust with The Man, the modern rebels' jealousy of the 1%, the historic persecution of Jews, and the vilifying of banks. Rather than a specific mechanism to effect change, such as participating in a shareholder poll or vote, the myth provides a vague target for outrage that the masses can rally against, feeling good about their impotent rebellion. It satisfies a craving to be a noble warrior in a community of fellow underdogs, fighting against a powerful oppressor... but it doesn't require the drudgery of actually changing anything.

Comment Re:And trump wants to legalize tax evasion (Score 2) 392

Just to clear up a few things...

They just need to use that money where it is instead of keeping it in cash

They already do. These accounts are usually the sources for rotating expenses, and their value can change dramatically on a day-to-day basis as investments cycle in and out. Pretty much, the goal of foreign accounts is to hold cash until it's needed, and to then make it available quickly at low cost.

which can be inflated away by the governments

Governments don't cause inflation. Governments can control the inflation rate with their policies, but one of the things that makes tax havens appealing is that their governments have a history of policies that keep inflation low. Remember, high inflation is pretty much always a bad thing, because it means that the value of money keeps dropping.

What they should do is buy inflation hedges with it,

Typically, "inflation hedge" is a commodity future. I'd expect a chunk of reserve capital is already invested as such, but again, tax havens typically have a low risk of inflation. It's also worth noting that buying local inflation hedges (primarily real estate) in the tax haven can then drive up local prices for that commodity, actually causing higher inflation. Hedging is a risky business, so the investment advisers I've worked with tend to avoid the issue altogether and just stay in easily-liquidated bonds.


Gold hasn't been a safe investment since 1971. Despite the love of enthusiasts, it's really just a shiny metal, offering the same risk as any other commodity investment. Again, since the whole point of these accounts is to keep money available, having it tied up in a gold bubble is not a good option.

income producing assets

...Like what, exactly? If you can actually answer that question, I expect that you are a CEO for a top-5 tech company, since identifying potential income-producing assets is a notable part of their job. It's not so simple as to build another factory or buy more parts... if the market is saturated, money would be better off as cash. Also note that if these "assets" are located in a country that is not the tax haven, there will likely be a taxable event in such an investment.

maybe other companies

Again, this is a matter of strategy. Buying a company is a risky investment. If the company is already profitable, the purchase price will reflect that. If it isn't profitable, then the expected return is even riskier, and it will tie up money for a long time.

I would use some of that money to take down governments, but that's me.

That's a good way to lose favor with other allied governments, and eventually get a reputation as a destabilizing influence, which eliminates a lot of opportunities around the world.

Slashdot Top Deals

A boss with no humor is like a job that's no fun.