Code=Law

Topics discussing when software code acts as a form of policy, what Lawrence Lessig , author of Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace would call (US) "East-coast-code meets West-coast-code".

Al Gore: Embedded tech can help heal the Earth

An article in LinuxDevices by Chris Preimesberger talks about a keynote by former Vice President Al Gore told Embedded Systems Conference. I have an obvious question: who gets to write software and/or choose what "intelligence" is embedded in these devices.

He joked that "We are now embedding more and more intelligence into everything -- with the exception of public policy", not realizing that software is itself a form of policy and needs to be analysed that way. Given Gore's track record with the Clinton-era National Information Infrastructure that lead to the legalization and legal protection of DRM (Lock down hardware against the interests of their owners), I suspect Gore's ideas will again backfire and cause more harm than good.

Emily of the State - Internet Spying Short

The Comedy Group Cynically Tested has a video called Emily of the State that talks about some of the harm of the mis-labeled "lawful access" style legislation which the Liberals re-introduced as official opposition in the current minority government. (Current bill: C-416: An Act regulating telecommunications facilities to facilitate the lawful interception of information transmitted by means of those facilities and respecting the provision of telecommunications subscriber information)

The video is great, but was written on the assumption that the Conservative Party would introduce a bill after the Liberal bill dropped from the order paper due to the previous election. In fact, the Liberal party re-introduced their proposal as a private-members bill, with it being the Liberal party, not the Conservative party, that are pushing this specific attack on our rights.

Talk at FACIL in Montreal: Protecting property rights in a digital world

I have been invited to give a talk in Montreal for FACIL. While there will be a large questions section where I suspect a large amount of technology law will be brought up, the focus will be on Protecting property rights in a digital world. Please see related links under Petition to protect Information Technology property rights.

The Psychology of Security

A draft article by Bruce Schneier discusses the psychology of security.

Security is both a feeling and a reality. And they're not the same.
...
Or, more generally, you can be secure even though you don't feel secure. And you can feel secure even though you're not. The feeling and reality of security are certainly related to each other, but they're just as certainly not the same as each other. We'd probably be better off if we had two different words for them.

Wi-Fi fought the law

Many Canadians believe that if they leave their Wireless routers open for other people to share their connection, that there are no legal risks if there are abuses. An ITBusiness.ca article by Grant Buckler talks about how US legislators are making it mandatory to lock down wireless access points. While this article focused on privacy leaks, it is quite likely this will be extended to violations of other law such as child pornography or even de-minimus non-commercial copyright infringement.

How the net turns code into politics

A BBC article by Bill Thompson talks about how technology and software issues often turn into political issues, including partisan politics.

Vista's DRM even aroused the wrath of the Green Party, which condemned it for requiring "more expensive and energy-hungry hardware".

To me this is obvious, given code is a form of regulation, and thus those who author code are a form of regulator. This is something Lessig speaks about in "Code and other laws of Cyberspace". Given this, I am going to be writing a more detailed commentary of Steve Jobs's open letter "Thoughts on Music".

You control the Information Age..only if you control your own computer...

Doc Searls, a Senior Editor of Linux Journal, had the following to say in his SuitWatch newsletter about the Time Magazine "... of the Year".

Time Magazine closed 2006 by naming You its Person of the Year:

The subhead exclaimed, "Yes, you. You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world."

Not so fast.

Allow me to present some evidence to the contrary before making an affirmative claim that Time will be right one year from now - when we have a popular Linux laptop.

Electronic voting shapes up as election debacle

This morning an article on the CBC website talks about problems with voting machines used in yesterday's U.S. elections. There were staff that didn't know how to operate the machines, machines without the paper required to allow an audit and/or receipts telling voters how their votes were recorded, and major delays.

I hope Canadians are watching and realize that while technology can be useful to help during elections, it has to be done right. You need to have well designed equipment from multiple competing vendors, you need full accountability and transparency of any software (Ideal is FLOSS), and you need a voter verifiable ballot.

Every vote counts, right?

Attorney Eric J. Sinrod says e-voting technology continues to raise troubling questions about security. Read the full article on CNet news.com.

But setting aside political-celebrity hype, the bigger question is: Are the mechanisms in place to ensure accurate election results?

The lying is now not only cheap and ubiquitous; it's built right in.

This AdvertisingAge article by Simon Dumenco includes:

CNN's Lou Dobbs has made a lot of noise lately about how hackers can easily compromise electronic voting machines (since 80% of voters this November will be casting electronic ballots, there soon won't even be any hanging chads to dicker over when totals skew suspiciously). But the thing is, there's increasingly no paper trail for anything anymore, as more and more of the media world goes pure-play digital.

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