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".

Information want to be free—and so does writer Cory Doctorow

This interview with Cory Doctorow in Sci Fi Weekly includes:

The other thing that is really intensely personal about this is the years I spent in standards bodies and at the United Nations and in other diplomatic and policy fora arguing about technology liberty with technologists who are actually conceiving of plans to design a world in which, for example, only one kind of digital television would be allowed and anything that did something out of spec would be unlawful. Right now we see this with PCs with trusted computing, where there is going to be a means for computers to discriminate against each other based on whether or not they adhere to some restriction system designed essentially by Microsoft. So I have had a lot of experience with that stuff.

Four Countries Order 4 Million Linux-Powered OLPC Laptops

An article by LinuxDesktop.com staff includes::

A spokesperson for the One Laptop Per Child program reported July 31 that the countries of Nigeria, Brazil, Argentina and Thailand have each committed to purchase 1 million Linux laptops through the U.S.-based program.

Several media outlets reported last week that Nigeria had committed to buying 1 million of the laptops, and others reported (incorrectly) that $1 million worth of computers -- or about 10,000 machines -- had been requested by the African nation.

What happens when the legal community is confused about technology?

I find it frustrating when I read articles like the one in the New York Times about how the French constitutional council, the country's highest judicial body, has declared major aspects of the recent digital compatibility law as unconstitutional.

I suspect that it is based on some myth that this law was misappropriating some property right that Apple has, when in fact that it is Apple that is circumventing the property rights of their hardware customers.

Tim Lee: Against Platform Monopoly

Tim Lee, an editor at the Show-Me Institute, and contributor to Tech Liberation, has been writing a number of articles opposing platform monopolies, or "the merits of giving companies legal rights to control access to the technological devices they control".

Law Society of Upper Canada (“LSUC”) promotes non-FLOSS software?

A BLOG article from copyright lawyer Howard Knopf describes a document called the GUIDELINES ON ETHICS AND THE NEW TECHNOLOGY. This document contains some of the same biased "software manufacturing" propaganda that one would normally only expect in a BSA or CAAST press release. They have taken no consideration for the way that FLOSS is legally created and distributed, instead promoting some of the harmful misconceptions that lead people to invalidly believe that that sharing FLOSS is illegal.

Time for Coders to Get Political?

This LinuxJournal article by Glyn Moody discusses some recent political activity by Richard Stallman in France, and ends by asking whether more coders should step up and be political.

I think we will always need both code and people protecting the rights of those who author and use this code. Some people have better skills with what Lawrence Lessig called (US) "West Coast Code" (software) and others more on (US) "East Coast Code" (policy, laws, etc). We need to ensure that we have enough coders working on each at all times.

The census online application now accessible to Linux operating system

A notice on the Census Website indicates that, "In response to demand, Statistics Canada has removed the restriction for Linux. This change takes effect May 13th, 2006."

While this addresses those who were concerned about Linux, this does not address the most critical concerns that have been expressed.

a) The vendor dependency still exists, which is the requirement for "Java virtual machine (JVM) from Sun Microsystems Inc. (Version 1.4.2_3 or higher), Microsoft virtual machine (any version), or Apple JVM (1.4.2_5 or higher)". This is a programming language option that is not installed on and/or available for all computers. This creates a technical barrier not only for those using alternative computing platforms, but for the majority of citizens who are not technical people who could download/install additional programming languages on their computer.

Governments must protect property rights in the law!

I was pointed to a license called Against DRM 2, which allows copyright holder to clarify that no third party, including the author of a derivative work, may encumber the work with DRM. Similar clauses exist in the Creative Commons licenses clarifying that it is an infringement of copyright to use DRM to try to circumvent the license.

While I am grateful for various people who are using licenses like this, I really believe this problem needs to be dealt with in the law. While a copyright holder should be free to put a technical measure on their content, it should be clearly unlawful for them to:


  1. Put a technical measure on a device which they do not own.
  2. Condition the provision of content on any requirement that the audience access that work only with specific brands of tools that have been encumbered by a technical measure.

Governments must protect the property rights of device owners. Otherwise they will be up against a growing number of law abiding property owners who are recognizing that governments are failing them. Real property owners, the owners of technology, must fight back against the lawlessness advocated by those who support the legalization of DRM.

Canadian Census controversy continues

A NewsForge article from Bruce Byfield includes:

The security of the system also remains uncertain. Although a letter summarizing the results of an internal security audit by Census employees is available online, it mentions no details, including whether the audit included the client side applet. An external audit seems to have been omitted entirely, although the Canadian Common Criteria Evaluation and Certification Scheme exists for precisely that purpose.

US: Scientists Call Diebold Security Flaw 'Worst Ever'

This article by Ian Hoffman includes:

Computer scientists say a security hole recently found in Diebold Election Systems' touch-screen voting machines is the "worst ever" in a voting system.
...
The hole allows someone with a common computer component and knowledge of Diebold systems to load almost any software without a password or proof of authenticity and potentially without leaving telltale signs of the change.

See: Freedom to Tinker: Report Claims Very Serious Diebold Voting Machine Flaws

No ballots (electronic or otherwise), no accountability, no transparency, no security... and why are we trusting the most fundamental aspects of our democracies (elections) to them?

Syndicate content