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User Journal

Journal Journal: "Swedish law does not protect Wikileaks sources"

When Wikileaks urge people all over the world to disclose sensitive information, the online publisher refers to the Swedish constitutional laws on source protection. But experts claim this is an empty promise, as Wikileaks has no licence to publish material in Sweden.

Sweden's protection of informants is among the strongest in the world. Authorities are banned from investigating the source of a leak.

Wikileaks makes the most of this opportunity and exploits Sweden's constitutional laws. The webpage states: "Online submissions are routed via Sweden and Belgium which have first rate journalist-source shield laws. In Sweden, not only does the law provide protection against any official inquiry into journalistsâ(TM) sources, but it allows a source whose identity has been revealed without permission to initiate criminal prosecutions against an unfaithful journalist who has breached his or her promise of confidentiality. "

This is a true reflection of the contents of Sweden's constitutional laws regarding press freedom and freedom of speech. By revealing the identity of a source, Wikileaks could be breaking the law. It would, equally, be a criminal act for a Swedish authority to investigate the leak.

But the office of the Chancellor of Justice, which acts as prosecutor in cases concerning these crimes, says there are some doubts regarding the validity of a Wikileaks' claim.

"To my mind, it is too simple to claim that all Wikileaks sources are totally protected in Sweden," says HÃ¥kan Rustand, deputy to Anna Skarhed, acting Chancellor of Justice.

Wikileaks' promise is only partly valid because the website has no licence to publish material in Sweden. Placing the server in Sweden does not give Wikileaks automatic protection under Swedish law.

"If the constitutional laws are non-applicable, ordinary liability laws take effect. This means a source could be brought to court by a common prosecutor," says HÃ¥kan Rustand.

Swedish citizens who leak information to a foreign publisher without a publishing licence in Sweden could be protected by the constitutional laws of Sweden, but only when the piece of information is handed over to an established media company.

On the other hand, foreign citizens who share information with a licenced Swedish publisher will not face investigation by Swedish authorities, even if foreign authorities ask them to.

"But the question is what Wikileaks is," says HÃ¥kan Rustand, without providing an assessment of the website's status. He continues:

"As this could become a case for the Chancellor of Justice, I don't want to preempt our review."

Anders R Olsson is a writer and journalist, specialising in freedom of speech issues. He makes a similar observation as HÃ¥kan Rustand.

"A website needs a licence in order to be protected by the laws regarding freedom of speech. You can't claim anonymity in the sense of the state being prohibited from investigating sources without the protection of constitutinal law," he says and continues:

"Even when the publisher is protected by constitutional law, the ban on investigating sources isn't watertight. In the case of top secret information that is of great importance to the military, police and prosecutors have a duty to try to find the leak and prosecute the source".

What's your view on Wikileaks' promise that Swedish laws protects its sources?

"I think it is a bit strange that Wikileaks doesn't seem to know the rules.

Wikileaks and spokesperson Julian Assange has not been available for a comment.

Apart from claiming the protection of Swedish law, Wikileaks also claim that Belgian laws protect its sources.

Wikileaks is an organisation that publishes information and documents that authorities, corporations and organisations do not want in the public domain. The most widely spread material is a video that was released in April which shows an American helicopter opening fire on civilians in Iraq in 2007, and the publication in July of more than 90 000 documents on Afghanistan, including US secret service files. Wikileaks' spokesperson is Julian Assange.
Source protection and freedom to inform

Swedish residents have the right to freely gather and share information with the media. This right is protected by constitutional law.
The protection of those who provide the media with information is based on the principle that a single publisher is legally responsible for publishing information.
The publisher is named in the publication licence of the media outlet. Only the publisher may be prosecuted or punished for publishing information. Everyone else has the right to anonymity.
Authorities are not allowed to investigate sources, unless the piece of information is of particular importance to national security or in other ways classified top secret.
Journalists are obliged to protect their sources. I certain cases, however, a court of justice may demand a source to be revealed.
The regulations are laid out in the constitutional law on press freedom (for print media) and the law on freedom of speech (radio, tv and internet).

Source: http://www.sydsvenskan.se/kultur-och-nojen/article1196808/English-version-Swedish-law-does-not-protect-Wikileaks-sources.html

User Journal

Journal Journal: 802.11ac Standard Will Bring Gigabit Speeds to WiFi

Although the wireless 802.11n standard has just recently been made official http://www.pcworld.com/article/168788/ieee_80211n_heads_for_a_finish_in_september.html, IEEE has begun work on the next iteration of WiFi. The coming upgrade may deliver speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second by improving on the effeciency of existing technology, according to Electronista http://www.electronista.com/articles/09/12/07/80211ac.process.underway/.

Story: http://www.pcworld.com/article/184067/wifi_80211ac_1gbps_by_2012.html

User Journal

Journal Journal: Swedish Court Gets One Right: Won't Shut Down OpenBitTorrent

With the movie industry's lawyers recently demanding that ISP Portlane (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091118/1218246994.shtml) shut down the OpenBitTorrent tracker, claiming (without any evidence) that it was just a rebranded version of The Pirate Bay's tracker, it seemed possible that the Swedish courts would roll over again. However, in a bit of a surprise, the court has pointed out that it's a big stretch to hold the ISP liable (http://torrentfreak.com/court-refuses-to-order-shutdown-of-openbittorrent-091202/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3ATorrentfreak(Torrentfreak)) without more evidence, and has refused to order the shutdown of OpenBitTorrent. Nice to see that the courts don't always just accept what the movie industry says without further examination.

Story: http://techdirt.com/articles/20091202/1157037164.shtml

User Journal

Journal Journal: In Defense of Software Patents

This article is in response to the editorial "Abandoning Software Patents" by the Ciaran O'Riordan, Director of End Software Patents (posted on PatentlyO on November 6, 2009) which had as its premise that one is trying to protect "software ideas".

I wrote this article from a unique perspective as the holder of the first Software Patent in 1968 and with a long history of involvement in the protection of software thru patenting and copyright protection. I am recognized as a pioneer in the Software Products Industry and had a successful career at Applied Data Research (ADR), the first company to market a software product. ADR and I were also directly involved in the filing of amicus briefs in the Prater & Wei, Benson, Johnson, Flook, and Diehr cases. More background information and links to my memoirs are in Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Goetz.

Story: http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2009/11/in-defense-of-software-patents-1.html

A reply to the story: "Defense Of Software Patents Actually Raises Questions About All Computer Patents" link: http://techdirt.com/articles/20091201/1041237150.shtml

User Journal

Journal Journal: Gallery: Bionic Arms Gain Power, Dexterity, Sensitivity

Prosthetic legs have gotten an image boost recently, thanks to the high-performance carbon-fiber springs worn by the likes of Oscar Pistorius and Aimee Mullins. But prosthetic arms still call to mind stiff, heavy chunks of plastic -- barely one step up from Captain Hook's creepy iron claw.

"Prosthetic legs are in the 21st century," Dean Kamen recently told the trade publication IEEE Spectrum. "With prosthetic arms, we're in the Flintstones." Kamen, who invented the Segway, has been working on creating an advanced artificial limb.

The human hand is difficult to replicate. It's an instrument that can squeeze a lime as effectively as it can hold a delicate lightbulb. The hand is not just about mechanical movement: Its sense of touch offers important feedback to the brain about the texture and nature of the object.

Story: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/12/bionic-arms-gallery/

User Journal

Journal Journal: School Tech Guy Fired For Running SETI@Home?

SETI@Home, one of the earlier and (still) largest distributed computing projects was launched more than 10 years ago, and it's still pretty common for lots of folks (geeks and non-geeks alike) to run the screensavers and work through the mounds of SETI data. That's why it's a bit surprising to find a News.com writeup by Chris Matyszczyk, about a guy fired for running the software written up as if SETI@Home were some sort of wacky new project by UFO enthusiasts. Basically, it sounds like the guy installed the SETI@Home software on a bunch of computers at the school, and that upset school officials. This isn't the first time we've seen this sort of thing. Five years ago, we wrote about a similar firing of an employee by the state of Ohio.

Story: http://techdirt.com/articles/20091201/0027357144.shtml

User Journal

Journal Journal: Restaurants Sue Vendors After Point-of-sale Hack

When Keith Bond bought a computerized cash register system for his Broussard, Louisiana, restaurant, he thought he was modernizing his restaurant. Today, he believes he was unwittingly opening a back door for Romanian hackers who have now cost him more than US$50,000.

Bond's is one of more than a half-dozen Louisiana restaurants that have sued the makers of their point-of-sale system, alleging that the companies that made and resold the systems are the ones who should be responsible for fines levied by payment processors following the hack.

Story: http://www.pcworld.com/article/183499/restaurants_sue_vendors_after_pointofsale_hack.html?tk=rss_news

User Journal

Journal Journal: Test of TD-SCDMA Networks outside of China

Japan, South Korea May Soon Test TD-SCDMA Networks

China Mobile is working with partners in Japan and South Korea to set up trials of TD-SCDMA networks as part of a bid to promote use of the Chinese-developed 3G mobile technology outside China.

So far, China Mobile is the only company that uses TD-SCDMA (Time-Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access). But the world's largest mobile service provider hopes more mobile phone network operators will try out TD-SCDMA technology.

Story: http://www.pcworld.com/article/182723/japan_south_korea_may_soon_test_tdscdma_networks.html?tk=rss_news

User Journal

Journal Journal: Why Chrome OS will fail according to Infoworld

The Chrome OS is here -- sort of. This week, Google was kind of enough to give the world a sneak peek at its nascent desktop operating system. And after months of speculation (and more than a few bogus screenshot galleries), I can finally say that I've seen the future ... and it's not Chrome OS.

The preceding statement should come as no surprise to readers of my Enterprise Desktop blog. I came to a similar conclusion months ago. When news of the existence of a Google OS project first leaked out, I gave it an ice cube's chance in hell of succeeding. Now, after watching a sometimes touchy-sounding crew from Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters walk us through the ins and outs of the Chrome OS, I'm more convinced than ever that my original assessment was right on the money.


User Journal

Journal Journal: Verizon Turns a 3G Cellular Signal Into Wi-Fi

The trouble with Wi-Fi hot spots? They're usually located in soul-draining fast food joints and coffee shops. That is, until the MiFi 2200. About the size of a stack of credit cards, Verizon's tiny titan sucks up 3G signals and regurgitates them as a piping-hot Wi-Fi bubble for up to five separate devices. That multitasking ability doesn't mean the 2200 is overextended though. Upload and download speeds are so fast that they gave our PC heat blisters. Admittedly, MiFi is a little expensive ($130 for hardware, $60/month for service), but that's a small price to pay for never having to set foot in a Starbucks again just to feed a TMZ addiction.

WIRED Turns a 3G cellular signal into Wi-Fi for up to five devices. Same size as a stack of 10 credit cards. Connects faster than The Ladies Man (30 seconds). Enough bars to satisfy a thirsty college freshman.

TIRED Four hours of battery life is fine -- six would be awesome. Wired policy mandated that we give ours back.

Service Provider: Verizon Wireless
Manufacturer: Verizon
Price: $130 (with 2-year contract)


User Journal

Journal Journal: The Unspoken Truth About Managing Geeks 1

I can sum up every article, book and column written by notable management experts about managing IT in two sentences: "Geeks are smart and creative, but they are also egocentric, antisocial, managerially and business-challenged, victim-prone, bullheaded and credit-whoring. To overcome these intractable behavioral deficits you must do X, Y and Z."

User Journal

Journal Journal: How to Keep Planes From Colliding With Lasers

Beaming high-powered lasers into the sky allows scientists to study changing weather patterns, pollution in the Earthâ(TM)s atmosphere and even gravity on the Moon. But if one of those helpful lasers happens to cross paths with an airplane, it can temporarily blind or distract the pilot and potentially cause a crash.

The current method to avoid plane-laser collisions is decidedly low-tech: Federal Aviation Administration regulations require anyone whoâ(TM)s sending a laser up into the atmosphere to employ multiple human observers, called âoespotters,â to watch for planes flying within 25 degrees of the laser beam. Now, researchers have created a radio-tracking device that can perform the same task as a pair of eyes, without the potential for human error.

Story: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/11/laser-danger/

User Journal

Journal Journal: Sony Unveils Android-based Xperia X10

As expected, Sony Ericsson announced an Android-based Xperia handset on Tuesday. Known as the Xperia X10, Sony's first entry in the Android space introduces a new Wireless Stereo Headset, along with a new user interface platform called UX and new apps dubbed Mediascape and Timescape.

According to specs provided by Sony, the X10 will run the Donut edition of Android, version 1.6, as opposed to the newer 2.0 (or Ãclair) edition. The X10's very long list of features also includes a 4-inch WVGA TFT touchscreen, an 8.1 megapixel camera with up to 16x digital zoom, stereo Blueooth (A2DP), Wi-Fi, and GPS.

Sony says the X10 will include location-based services, including A-GPS, Google Maps, and a free trial version of Google's voice-enabled Wisepilot turn-by-turn navigation. Sony's statement does note, however, that the turn-by-turn navigation "may not be available in every market."

Source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/181309/sony_xperia_x10.html?tk=rss_news

User Journal

Journal Journal: Trade Talks Hone in on Internet Abuse and ISP Liability

ISPs around the world may be forced to snoop on their subscribers and cut them off if they are found to have shared copyright-protected music on the Internet, under an international agreement being promoted by the U.S.

Countries including Japan, Canada, South Korea, Australia as well as the European Union and U.S. have been negotiating an anticounterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA) over the past two years to combat the growing problem of counterfeit products ranging from designer clothes to downloadable music.

The countries are due to discuss the ACTA at a meeting in South Korea on Wednesday, focusing specifically on the issue of Internet piracy. The U.S. has drafted the text of the chapter on the Internet.

In a summary of the U.S.'s position shared orally with trade officials at the European Commission in September, signatories of the accord must "provide for third-party liability." The Commission informed all 27 countries in the E.U. of the U.S. position in a memo seen by IDG News service.

Under existing laws in the U.S., the E.U. and elsewhere, ISPs are granted immunity from prosecution for illegal activities carried out by subscribers across their networks. This new global trade agreement appears to contradict the legal status quo, said Michael Geist, a law professor at Ottawa University, Canada.

This provision would mean that every country that signs up to ACTA must allow content owners such as record companies and Hollywood studios to sue ISPs for failing to stop their subscribers from illegally sharing copyright-protected material such as music and movies.

U.S. trade officials have been slow to show any of its trading partners its draft of the Internet chapter ahead of Wednesday's meeting. "This is an intellectual property agreement yet it is being treated like nuclear secrets," Geist said.

The Commission memo said the U.S. is secretive about the Internet chapter because it is "sensitive due to the different points of view regarding the internet chapter both within the Administration, with Congress and among stakeholders (content providers on one side, supporters of internet freedom on the other)."

Geist has been "troubled" about the secretive way the ACTA has been drafted "from the beginning."

"It is unprecedented for an IP treaty that impacts literally millions of people to be negotiated in such secrecy," he said, adding that the U.S. negotiating stance "runs counter to the Obama Administration's commitment to transparency."

Europe appears willing to back up the U.S.'s plans to make ISPs more liable for the content on their networks, according to Joe McNamee, European affairs specialist for Digital Rights Europe, a free speech and privacy pressure group.

The prevailing E.U. law on the matter of ISP liability is the e-commerce directive, which grants service providers protection from prosecution as long as they are just the conduit and not involved with the sender or receiver of illegal content.

"The Commission appears to be opening up ISPs to third party liability, even though the European Parliament has expressly said this mustn't happen," McNamee said, adding that ACTA looks likely to erode European citizens' civil liberties.

The European Commission wasn't immediately available to comment.

The debate about ISP liability comes at a sensitive time in Europe, where some member countries are starting to crack down on copyright infringement on the Internet.

The U.S. wants ACTA to force ISPs to "put in place policies to deter unauthorized storage and transmission of IP infringing content (for example clauses in customers' contracts allowing a graduated response)," according to the Commission memo.

The term "graduated response" is used to describe the recently passed French law otherwise known as the "three strikes and you are out law." People found guilty under the code get two warnings and are then banned from the Internet for up to two years for illegally sharing music or movies online.

Meanwhile, the name of the agreement is misleading, said Geist. "First up, none of the best known countries for counterfeiting are parties to the talks," he said, referring to China and Russia.

"At the moment it's just a coalition of the willing -- other countries will be pressured to sign up later once the agreement has gained the respectability of an international treaty," he said.

"Anyway, it's not really about counterfeiting, it's more about copyright and so should be called a copyright treaty," Geist said.

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The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.