Eerst adviseerde de Commissie van Toezicht op de Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdiensten om de notificatieplicht af te schaffen. Toen adviseerde de Commissie om de tapmogelijkheden van de geheime diensten uit te breiden. En nu verdedigt CTIVD-voorzitter Bert Van Delden zelfs de regeringsplannen om Nederland massaal af te luisteren. Dat past niet bij een onafhankelijke toezichthouder. Van Delden moet daarom opstappen,
Regering heeft plannen om internet massaal af te luisteren
De regering heeft al een tijd geleden aangekondigd dat zij de geheime diensten de mogelijkheid wil geven om op grote schaal het internet te kunnen onderscheppen. Op dit moment mogen geheime diensten wel ongericht – dus op grote schaal – verkeer uit de lucht onderscheppen.
Verkeer via de kabel mogen zij echter slechts gericht – dus specifiek op één persoon – onderscheppen. Dat wil de regering veranderen: geheime diensten zouden ook verkeer via de kabel ongericht moeten kunnen onderscheppen.
Met andere woorden: wat de Amerikaanse afluisterdienst NSA en de Engelse afluisterdienst GCHQ doen, zouden de Nederlandse geheime diensten ook moeten kunnen. Dat zou betekenen dat de AIVD al onze emails, foto’s, websitebezoeken, telefoontjes etc. zou kunnen onderscheppen en analyseren.
Van Delden en CTIVD verdedigen de geheime diensten
In een interview met de Volkskrant van vorige zaterdag verdedigt Van Delden deze plannen. Hij vindt het niet gek dat de geheime diensten meegaan met de techniek (lees: de mogelijkheid om álle verkeer te onderscheppen, te analyseren en op te slaan).
En tussen neus en lippen door laat hij vallen dat hij het ook wel begrijpt als de geheime diensten de wet overtreden om te voorkomen dat er ‘iets’ gebeurt. Hij vergelijkt dit nieuwe massale afluistersysteem waaraan wordt gebouwd met een cirkelzaag: gevaarlijk, maar wel handig.
Dit is de eerste keer dat Van Delden zich publiekelijk zo hard maakt voor de geheime diensten en de afluisterplannen in het bijzonder. Maar al in 2009 adviseerde de Commissie geheel ongevraagd dat de notificatieplicht – op grond waarvan iedereen die is afgeluisterd na verloop van tijd wordt geïnformeerd – kon worden afgeschaft. En in 2011 heeft de CTIVD in een rapport aan de regering zelfs geadviseerd om onderzoek te doen naar de invoering van zo een massale internettap.
Toen schreef de Commissie dat de huidige bevoegdheden namelijk ‘wat gedateerd’ aandeden. En wie schetst onze verbazing: niet meer dan twee weken daarna greep de regering dit advies met beide handen aan. Zij kondigde aan dat de wet gaat worden herzien.
Toezichthouder, houd je bij je leest
Wat Van Delden blijkbaar is vergeten, is dat de de Commissie een beperkte taakomschrijving heeft. De Commissie hoort toezicht te houden op de uitvoering van de Wet op de inlichtingen- en veiligheidsdiensten. Over haar bevindingen kan de Commissie de regering vervolgens adviseren. Ook adviseert de Commissie de regering over klachten. Tot slot adviseert de Commissie over verslaglegging rond de uitoefening bijzondere bevoegdheden.
Het adviseren van de regering over gewenst beleid voor de geheime diensten is niet de taak van de Commissie. Het staat namelijk niet in de opdracht zoals die in de Wet op de inlichtingen- en veiligheidsdiensten is omschreven. Dat is ook begrijpelijk, omdat het vormgeven van beleid zich slecht verhoudt met het houden van toezicht op de uitvoering van dat beleid.
Van Delden verliest onafhankelijkheid
Van Delden is ook uit het oog verloren dat de Commissie onafhankelijk zou moeten zijn. ‘De Commissie is een onafhankelijk toezichtsorgaan’, staat op de website van de Commissie. Die onafhankelijkheid is in de praktijk helaas ver te zoeken. De Commissie schrijft de geheime diensten zonder enige noodzaak naar de mond en de voorzitter van de Commissie praat zelfs goed dat de geheime diensten de wet overtreden.
Dit soort gedrag hoort niet bij een onafhankelijke toezichthouder. Die moet kritisch onderzoek doen naar de naleving van de wet en niet gratuite uitspraken doen over de wenselijkheid van bepaald beleid. Van Delden heeft zich onwaardig getoond als voorzitter van de Commissie en moet opstappen.
Chicago Law Professor Claims No Privacy In Your Emails, As Long As The Content Isn't Used To Detain Or Harass You
His latest article isn't directly a justification for that statement -- in fact, it doesn't even mention it -- but it's clearly cut from the same cloth. He makes the argument that the NSA should keep spying on all foreigners in part because they spy on us (and also because he thinks we're good at it). However, he also has a rather unique interpretation of privacy: Mass surveillance—where emails and other communications are vacuumed up, stored in databases, and then searched for keywords—doesn’t harm anyone in itself. The problem only arises when the information is used to detain, interrogate, or harass people. He's using this bizarre and laughable line of argument to suggest that it's okay when governments spy on citizens in other countries because their "intelligence agents do not have the time or inclination to harass random Americans, nor the capability as long as Americans remain in the United States." So, in his mind: no privacy violation happens.
He doubles down on this thinking later, arguing again that if there's no known "harm" to the individual, there's no privacy issue at all. Suppose that the NSA collects the emails of foreigners and conducts searches of them for keywords. Occasionally a false positive turns up, and an analyst reads someone’s email to his lover, therapist, or doctor, ascertains that the email contains no information that identifies terrorists or other security threats, and deletes it. The writer of the email never finds out, and the analyst of course has no idea who this person is. Has a human right been violated? It is hard to identify an affront to human dignity, or even a harm, any more than if a police officer overhears a snatch of personal conversation on the bus. Of course, how hard is it to reword that paragraph just slightly, to demonstrate the insanity of Posner's claim? Suppose that some hackers collect the emails of Eric Posner, and conducts searches of them for keywords. Occasionally a really embarrassing one turns up, and the hacker reads about Posner's sexual proclivities, financial difficulties, medical problems or similar such things, ascertains that the email contains no information that identifies crimes that Posner is planning to commit and deletes it. Or maybe he saves it for use at a later date. Or to share with a friend. Or a lot of friends. Posner never finds out, and even though the hacker knows who Posner is, he'll never see him in person. Has a human right been violated? It is hard to identify an affront to human dignity, or even a harm, any more than if a police officer overhears Eric Posner talking on a bus. Posner's basic assumption is flat out crazy. He's arguing that there's no privacy violation until something bad happens with the information, not when it was seized, and not even when it was perused by human eyes -- but only when something nebulously bad happens with it. That makes no sense. The violation comes much earlier. There is real harm in having your information exposed, even if you don't know about it.
Beyond the fact that Posner is simply wrong about when the privacy violation occurs, even if we accept his wacky argument, he's still wrong. That's because he's making two giant assumptions. First, that such information isn't abused. He pretends that "national borders" protect spying on foreigners because you can't do something legally to a person in another country. I would imagine that people killed by US drone strikes might disagree with that assessment. He also argues it's unlikely that there would be many abuses of this information, because any abuses would harm the spying country and its spies once they came out. Pretty much all of civilized human history suggests that's wrong. Give people power, as Posner is aching to do, and they abuse it. Over and over again. But, I guess he's okay with that, just as long as he never finds out about it. Dictatorships and ignorance are bliss!
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So, who's behind this? Apparently, it's a security researcher named Evan Booth who explains that he sent all of these examples to the TSA. He also explains his response to the obvious question: "but what if the terrorists see these videos?" That’s a great question. An even better question is: What if they already know all this? All of these findings have been reported to the Department of Homeland Security (TSA) to help them better detect these types of threats. Furthermore, the next time you fly, you’ll be flying as a more informed consumer (and taxpayer, possibly) — one who is more equipped to demand better, more appropriate airport security. Which, of course, is really the point. Pretending that keeping this info secret makes people safer means believing that if you don't know about a security hole it goes away.
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Bloomberg News Kills All Credibility: Kills Story Critical Of China, Fires Reporter Who Reveals This Fact
And... once the NY Times broke the story, Bloomberg fired Forsythe. Perhaps the firing isn't too surprising: revealing to a competing publication embarrassing information about your own publisher self-censoring to appease China (and justifying it by positively calling up images of appeasing Hitler) probably means you're going to lose your job. But, of course, the way to have built back at least some credibility after the news was revealed would have been to admit the mistake and let Forsythe publish the story. As it stands now, any reporting from Bloomberg should be automatically seen as suspect, as the editor-in-chief has admitted that he will appease local governments to keep them happy, and the reporting is expected to reflect that sort of propaganda-happy posture.
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Lyric sites have always been among the strangest targets that copyright holders take aim at, and the NMPA's attack on RapGenius — a site full of commentary, conversation and analysis — takes things to a new and despicable level. But, as with so many condemnations by copyright holders, there's an inherent contradiction here, which our anonymous Most Insightful comment points out:Here's a crazy idea please hear me out...
If the lyric sites are are making so much money and taking money away from the record companies and songwriters then WHY DON'T THE RECORD COMPANIES AND SONGWRITERS MAKE LYRIC SITES THEMSELVES AND PROFIT???
The void being filled is of their own making.
Of course, the industry old guard terrified of that argument, because it applies just as well to free music and the supposed millions of dollars that they insist pirates are raking in with it.
The real thievery, as we've noted time and time again, happens when works are removed from the public domain, because then something actually is being taken away, as it was recently in the UK. That notion was contested on the grounds that these works aren't missing if you are willing to pay for them — but Karl won second place for insightful by putting that notion to bed:If those works go out of print, then they absolutely are missing.
If some derivative work is not allowed by the copyright holder, then that work absolutely is missing.
If orchestras can't afford to perform that music now, their performances absolutely are missing.
Yes, it is "stealing." At least, closer to "stealing" than infringement is.
For editor's choice on the insightful side, we'll start with one more comment from that same post, in which That One Guy points out how every unjustified extension of copyright further erodes public respect for the law:Stuff like this is why the more people learn about copyright law, and it's history, the more they ignore it or hold it in contempt.
Retroactive copyright term extensions? The entire premise of copyright is the creator has X number of years of exclusive use of the copyright, and then it passes to the public. That's the 'deal' as it were, between the public and the creators.
To then have the deal changed, after the fact and entirely in the favor of corporations(because the second copyright duration was extended past 'life of the creator', it became crystal clear and irrefutable that the law was being written for companies, not creators), means the 'deal' was broken, and the promise of 'the creator owns it now, but after a set amount of time passes ownership moves to the public' was shown to be nothing but a lie, and broken deals, and promises based on lies, are two things that most don't care for, and certainly don't respect.
Next, we'll look at one of the reasons we constantly face such bad deals: Duke provided an excellent summary of how agreements like the TPP are used to ratchet up copyright law:It's a fairly standard process now. Country A expands copyright law. Then they push a treaty or agreement which encourages other countries to match them. Except the treaty has room for uncertainty; enough so that, before it is in force, the countries can claim that it is compatible with their existing laws, but afterwards can be used to justify an expansion.
And so one country goes further than the others (with duration that's currently Mexico, with the longest duration - and it's pushing for some longer copyright in TPP, along with the US). And then it starts again, with that country leading the way to push their position on others.
But at each level the treaty locks things into place, so even if things go wrong, copyright can never get reduced or shortened. Even if all the countries realise they don't actually want such strong laws, they can't do anything without re-negotiating the treaty (and possibly not even then, if it has investor-state dispute resolution procedures).
Copyright always gets bigger, never smaller.
There's a good explicit example of this in the recent change to UK copyright law (covered by Techdirt here). It extends copyright in various situations, including some where it returns works that were in the public domain back into copyright. But then there is a specific section that makes it clear that even if the drafters have screwed up somewhere and made copyright shorter for some works, the old term will still apply. It's a one-way process.
Over on the funny side, we start with the return of the 'Attribution Troll' who may or may not be Shaun Shane. Amidst all the weirdness in that story, one thing is certain: we're all sick of hearing that one-line poem. An anonymous commenter took first place for funny by expressing this with a more physiologically literal reading:IF only our tongues were made of glass, we wouldn't be alive to hear this shit.
In second place we've got a joke that I cannot myself comment on, as I have little to no knowledge of Dr. Who — but with the son of the original writer looking to cash in on the character's ongoing popularity, S. T. Stone had his own glimpse of the future:I’d tell you how Whovians will respond to this, but…spoilers!
(I assumed their response would be to hold hands and sing, sing without Tardis, sing without Sonic Screwdrivers or Daleks — but I may be mashing up two franchises.)
For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out on our post about Nutribullet trademark trolling, where one anonymous commenter did their best impersonation of a moron in a hurry:Holy cow! I read the word "Nutribullet" on Techdirt, got confused, and thought I was on Nutribullet's official website for a moment.
Seriously though, someone needs to fire a Nutribullet at these clowns.
And finally we've got DannyB with his take on the TSA's new barely-better-than-a-coin-flip program:Look Tim,
While this billion dollar program may be only slightly more accurate, at least it does not infringe upon my patent.
My patent is for a method and system for making binary decisions based on the launching of a flat round decision support device into the air and making a determination of the outcome based on which side the decision support device lands on.
I will also sell these decision support devices. A basic model for $10 is made of copper and is decorated with a picture of Lincoln on one side. A more expensive $25 model has a picture of George Washington and is constructed using superior metals.
This is a valuable patent from which I anticipate making a mint (no pun intended).
This is NOT a lame software patent. This is a patent on genuine hardware contributing a genuine advance in the important field of executive management decision making which has major applications in the areas of business, commerce, sporting events and terrorist detection.
Now if only he could secure the copyright on the Eenie Meenie poem, he'd have a near-total monopoly.
That's all for this week, folks!
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OK, so who is this crazy paranoid ivory tower dweller who said "Yo" when asked if he'd do the "Favorite Posts of the Week," and who is prefacing this with the standard academic disclaimer of "all opinions are my own, not those of my employers or funders"?
I'm a researcher at both the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley and UC San Diego. My work has included high speed worms, detecting ISP manipulations of network traffic and the business model of Viagra spammers. I've also ranted on how the NSA weaponized the Internet backbone, and if you want to test your network connection, I'm also one of the developers of Netalyr, which now is available as an Android app. Please help us understand how the Internet really works: download and run Netalyzr today!
I'll start not with the NSA but with the latest in the Prenda saga. Ah, Prenda. You've been partially responsible for my spending too much of my beer money on PACER. My liver thanks you, but my wallet loathes you. Thus it's with utmost delight that I read how the Prenda principles of Paul, Paul, and John have drawn the wrath of the Nazgul, err, no wait, a group that should scare them more: Comcast's and AT&Ts lawyers. Comcast's legal counsel let loose with a full broadside, detailing all the ways that the firm of Prenda vexatiously litigated the case, while AT&T basically went with "yeah, what he said" (probably saving Prenda a good $5K in the process). I suspect that the final bill (or at least the supersedeas bond) will be epic.
More important, albeit less popcorn worthy, was Google's total victory over the Author's Guild. I'm hardly Google's biggest fan (I prefer companies who treat me as a customer, not a SKU), but Google Books represents an unquestioned good for scholars, users, and even authors. Unstated but equally important, the lack of a license implies that others can do the same, preventing Google from gaining a monopoly through an exclusive agreement.
But I can't stay away from the spook show. Two particular stories came to mind. The first is GCHQ's tepid response to their hacking. Some backstory is necessary. What the GCHQ did was:
- Identify a set of technicians at Belgacom
- Identify their Slashdot and/or LinkedIn Accounts
- Instruct their wiretaps to look for users logged into those accounts
- Instruct their weaponized-wiretaps to attack these victims
- Use the control of the victim's computer to execute wiretaps within Belgacom, a telecommunications firm belonging to a NATO ally
So of course they don't want to comment about it. Although we shouldn't focus on Slashdot or LinkedIn, any site where the unencrypted page can identify the logged in user could have been used. It's just they were targeting the network geeks. I'm utterly certain that GCHQ will casually accept the same explanation if (or if I was running the DGSE, when) France decides to follow the GCHQ playbook in targeting British Telecom. What's French for "Sauce for the goose?"
The second concerns my own Senator and her campaign contributions, but not for the expected reason. I'm actually shocked at the small difference and small values. I don't find it corrupt, but rather even more disturbing, the paltry sums makes me think that Feinstein actually believes what she's saying. So why doesn't she release all her phone records? After all, it's "just metadata".
Switching gears from the invasive but competent to the invasive and incompetent, this literary quote encapsulates what the TSA's real criteria involved in their behavioral profiling:"Uncooperative. Too cooperative. Talks to much. Talks to little. Gets his story perfectly straight. Fucks his story up. Blinks too much, avoids eye contact. Doesn't blink, stares." -David Simon. _Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets_.
When one actually articulates the sort of criteria needed to do a 'behavioral profile' in just the "what is your name, where are you flying to, what is your favorite color" question asked by the typical TSA agent, it quickly becomes obvious that it can't work. About the best it could elicit is a "uh, can't you read?", further clogging the system by equating hostility towards the Theatrical Security Administration's pointless procedures as yet another "behavioral indicator." It's not like it's possible to hijack a plane these days: even with weapons the question is not whether a hijacking team succeeds or fails but rather whether the hijackers survives the ass-kicking that will be delivered by the passengers. It shocks me that both the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber survived.
To conclude on a lighter note, let's shift to the sock puppet/catfishing (sockfishing? fishpuppets? sockcatting?) accusations against Ashley Madison. What I find surprising is that they allegedly did it manually. This should be a high technology operation: a stock photo account and a bit of automatic text generation and voila, "profiles," that for some reason never respond yet make the site seem populated with MILFs on the prowl.
Hey Ashley Madison: you run a sleazy site, you have an affiliate program which encourages a particular spammer to clog my inbox, and I really, really don't like you as a result, but here's my offer anyway: hire me. My obscenely high consulting rate for setting up an automatic profile generator would, in the end, still be a lot cheaper than defending against a garbage nuisance suit from an ex-employee.
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- First up, we've got the Touch Board from Bare Conductive. It's very difficult to describe just how many cool things can be done with this, so I very strongly suggest watching the video below to get just a sense of what you can do (there are lots of examples in the video). But, in short, it's an Arduino-compatible sensor board that has a bunch of features that can easily be built into a variety of different projects. Among the features: touch sensing, distance sensing, mp3 player and it works with electric paint. Seriously, just watch the video and think about all the stuff you can do with this thing: This project blew past its goal of £15,000 pretty quickly and is hovering around £75,000 with a little under two weeks to go. It would appear that people have lots of ideas for cool things you can do with such a platform.
- A few years ago we wrote about a great musician named Moldover, who came up with a creative way to get people to buy his album (and pay a lot more than album prices for it). He turned the CD jewel case into a fully functioning virtual theremin. I bought it and it's awesome (as is the album...). I actually used to bring it to conferences all the time when I was speaking about cool things that musicians were doing, but I got worried that an overeager TSA agent would take away the weird CD case with all the electronics in it (though, no one ever questioned it the times I did take it). Moldover's back and he's working on a new album and a new instrument. This time, the instrument is what he calls a "voice crusher," which basically does exactly what you'd expect something called a "voice crusher" to do -- and it fits into a cassette tape case. The video below also has the traumatic story of what inspired this latest album. With about two weeks to go, Moldover's already surpassed his $20,000 goal, but even he admits he really needs a bit more to make this all work to the level he wants. Moldover's a great musician, who's also working on really cool projects, and giving fans a real reason to buy. Check out the project and see what you think.
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