policy Articles


Obama Won't Seek Access to Encrypted User Data

Somehow in the midst of all of the craziness around here, I missed that, as the New York Times reports, Obama Won’t Seek Access to Encrypted User Data. For the time being, they appear to have agreed to the rationale that a back door provides as much entree to …

Familial DNA Searching

Wired had an article last week entitled Your Relative's DNA Could Turn You Into a Suspect, in which they describe a of using familial DNA searching to locate suspects. There are interesting implications here, especially with regard to public DNA search resources like Ancestry.com. Thanks to Bruce Schneier's Blog …

Don't read this if you think TSA security works

The Atlantic has a scathing article about TSA airport security, citing a number of demonstrated attempts (with success) to get past the "security theater" that is our current airport security system. Don't read this article if you believe that TSA security works and you're safer because of it--it might be …

How much energy does Alaska produce?

OK, I'm still confused by this oft-quoted figure from the McCain/Palin campaign that "[Alaska] produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy." (Gibson interview with Palin, September 11, 2008, as noted on The Times). From my calculations, even when only Oil is taken into account …

FTC gets more serious on Do Not Call list

In some good news for consumers, the FTC has decided to get more serious about the Telemarketing Sales Rules that govern telemarketing phone calls. The decision is pretty readable, but the salient points are after the jump. The biggest thing here is the banning of all prerecorded messages in cases …

Is the wrong federal agency policing net neutrality?

There's been a lot of commentary over the last few months about Comcast and their filtering/traffic manipulation/smoothing/whathaveyou. In general, customers are up-in-arms about one of their one-to-two choices for high-speed internet doing things behind their backs to change the way the internet appears to them. However, there's …

Software Patent sanity

A good article from Ars Technica about the potentially weakening case for software patents and why it isn't the end of the world. Countering the fear- mongering piece by Duffy on the issue. For more of my thoughts on this, I posted an patent-related article on Cartographica earlier this month …

The Free Software Foundation has gotten on my last nerve

Generally, I don't talk about the FSF (promulgators of the GNU "Free Software" license). The main reason is that I've spent most of my life writing software for a living and these folks are just plain wrong on how collaborative software should be done, in my humble opinion. However, this …

Google readying Net Neutrality tools

The Register had an article last week quoting Richard Whitt, senior policy director at Google saying that Google is creating a set of tools to allow users to determine if their ISPs are filtering their access to the Internet. This is going to raise the bar a little...

Dutch researchers conclude it's cheaper for you to die young

Reminding me of the infamous Polish study which considered costs across the social spectrum, government and university researchers in the Netherlands have issued a report in the Medical Journal of the Public Library of Science indicating that people who smoke or are obese live shorter lives and are less expensive …

U2 manager thinks music drives the net

A speech given by U2's long-time manager Paul McGuinness details his take on the music industry and the internet and computer/device hardware industries. I think the synopsis is provided by a single question he asks: "Who's got our money and what can be done?" Stay tuned after the jump …

"serious misuse" of surveillance power found in report

Inspector General Fine found that the FBI overreached its authority by heavily using the National Security Letter system. The report has not been denied by the administration and has, in fact, been acknowledged as a "serious problem" by FBI Director Mueller and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Thanks to CNet for …

Vonage found to have infringed VOIP patents

If the decision written about in this article in the Washington Post stands on appeal, the folks at Vonage will be crying while Verizon laughs all the way to the bank. The ruling by the jury was that Vonage infringed upon 3 patents that Verizon has for VOIP calling, including …

The patent system vs. real security

The US patent system is under fire again this week (this time by an article in Wired) for putting the rights of patent holders above the research and security implications thereof. In this particular case, the issue is HID Global (ironically self-tagged as "The Trusted Brand") going after a security …


CNet rates congress on tech

CNet has published an article rating senators and representatives based on how they voted for and against technology issues. It leads to some interesting conclusions, including high marks for George Allen (R-VA)--whose stance on net neutrality is up for grabs, but who's definitely in the camp of not calling …

Net Neutrality "already taken care of"?

Reading the reponses of one of my sitting Senators, George Allen, to a local newspaper's candidate survey, I found the following comment by the Senator: "I voted for the Internet Consumer Bill of Rights Act, which addresses the issue of Net Neutrality in a way that promotes Internet freedom by …

Princeton researchers take a look at voting machines

Researchers at Princeton have released findings from their study of the Diebold AccuVote-DS (which the EFF claims is Diebold's most widely used voting product) and have concluded that there were major flaws in the system that they tested. Diebold, for their part, answered with a press release, accusing the researchers …

Electronic Frontier Foundation profiled by Wired

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is the subject of a profile in Wired magazine. For those of you unfamiliar with the organization, it's a sort of ACLU with a strong technology bent and they've been at the forefront of issues such as the SONY/BMG case which dealt with copy …

So much data, why?

There have been a lot of reports lately about the loss of large volumes of data (thousands, tens of thousands, and hundreds of thousands of records in the public space and enterprise space), but one question I don't see often asked: Why so much data? And what should be done …