It’s time we asked ourselves some basic questions. How far is too far? At what point do the efforts to protect our freedoms encroach on those very things? Some of you will recognize the name Barrett Brown. Mr. Brown is known in some circles as an activist. In others he’s elevated to the level of hero. Those in other areas see him as a threat, as an example of what should not be allowed to happen in today’s world of terror cells and the anonymous spread of… what exactly?
Microsoft is taking great exception to the reports of their cooperation with the NSA. It seems they do not feel the reports that they have given encryption keys, created backdoors or unrestricted access to their servers is fair. Instead they are releasing some information in the hopes that they can prove they did not do anything wrong. Sadly, as is always the case, what they leave out of their statements is as important as what is in them and there is some fairly eye opening information in their actual statement.
What’s this??? A US Senator, John Cornyn (R-TX), is working to introduce a patent reform law that will help to limit the number of suits created by Patent Trolls. Called the “Patent Abuse Reduction Act of 2013” the bill looks to be a step in the right direction at least when considering Patent Holding companies. The problem is that this bill does little to stop or slow down filing obvious, vague, or patents covered by prior art which many of these suits stem from.
It looks like the US wants to export something new to the world, now we are not talking about a technology. We are talking about our draconian copyright laws. You remember those nasty laws that the entertainment industry and software companies keep extending and expanding. For years our government has tried to be the police for these groups with laws like SOPA, PIPA Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection act and more. Well they are trying to force other countries to adopt these same rules and using trade agreements to do it. They have already been stopped once with ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) when they tried to remove the rights of individual countries to establish their own laws and are at it again with the Trans Pacific Partnership.
Over the last couple of days we have talked about the expected push from the copyright lobby for harsher laws and longer copyright periods (not to mention more control over the internet). This is a campaign that has been going on since the days of affordable internet (56kbps) and is one that will never really stop. However during this long battle there have been some highlights that make us all wonder at the motives and sanity of the key players involved. We are talking about the many domain seizures (for sites that are operating legally) and also some of the highly publicized threats that the MPAA (the leading group in this war) have made over the course of the last year.
There is an old (very old saying); “don’t poke the bear”. It is one of those saying that people toss out to remind us that there are some things that you should just not do. It is a saying that the gang over at the MPAA, RIAA, BSA and even members of the US Government should listen to (maybe we should tell them). Unfortunately for them they have not only poked the bear, but have kicked it too. This group of people is so out of touch with the way the world works that they actually think they can control technological progress. We are talking about the constant attempts to control the internet, communications and anything that travels over it; all in the name of maintaining a broken and outdated business model.
Last week we published an article that highlighted the work of a group of students at the University of Texas led by Professor Todd Humphreys. During an impressive demonstration they were able to bring a commercial drone (the same type is also used by Law Enforcement) down by spoofing the GPS data sent to it during navigation. The flaw was found in just about any Drone that uses the civil GPS system (which also could apply to many other devices) and does not include encrypted GPS applications yet although the research did show that with the right equipment even encrypted GPS systems could be vulnerable.
We have been critical of Judge Lucy Koh for seemingly biased views towards Apple in many of the patent cases that have crossed her bench. Most recently we were appalled to see her go from a stance of not enough evidence of irreparable harm to a full preliminary ban on sales of the Galaxy Tab. This has prompted more than one person to complain and also to question her ability to properly discharge her duties. Apparently more than a few people are feeling the same way as a petition to have her “impeached” and removed from her position.
We have to say that with all of the non-profit organizations out there one of our favorite is the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They have been at the forefront of the battle for user data security, privacy and have fought many battles against the rather abusive (and redundant) copyright system. Now they are doing something very proactive instead of the more typical defense against the increasingly preposterous machine that makes up the corporate world.
After working so very hard (and unsuccessfully) to convince everyone that CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) would not be like SOPA and that it is all good for everyone, it seems that the lawmakers involved in it just could not resist adding in a special little touch. There is an amendment to CISPA that would grant the Department of Homeland Security some brand new powers over all that data.