Week in Review for 6/14/2009

Quick News Links

  • Software bug adds 5K votes to election
    According to Wired, officials did not keep a manual tally of voter turnout which would have caught this sooner. Only after the fact, when someone questioned the high returns was the error uncovered. It looks like a glitch in the tabulation software, not in the hardware of the voting system itself, reinforcing calls for opening of the source code.
  • More hard data on impact of free/pirated books on sales
    Previous study I discussed was by John Hilton, in the 5/17 podcast. According to this piece linked by Boing Boing, there is a correlation and the trend is strongly positive. Despite the larger data set, this is not causation so more work remains to try to account for which variables are provably responsible. Still encouraging nonetheless.
  • Facebook comment could lead to teacher’s dismissal
    According to The Register, the teacher in question was suspended for a disparaging remark about a class and is being reviewed for dismissal. This is top of mind after my interview on Teaching for the Future where we cover this sort of problem and how professionals may need to take more control over the context and access to this sort of information. Harder to argue with such directed comments, though.
  • Law lecture on the effect of the DMCA ten years on
    Based on Cory’s abstract, this looks interesting, like it furthers the discussion of norms of usage. The lecture apparently examines the concept of everyday practice.
  • Public Resources massive government video digitization project
    Another story posted by Cory, one of how the success of motivated activists was rewarded and the scope of the project to make these resources available is expanding. The fact that this digitization is unfunded is the most amazing bit of all.
  • Google may be inviting LGPL termination with Chrome, FFMPEG
    The key question is whether the patent license Google claims to have secured for itself allows them to sub-license the LGPL’ed component along with the rest of the open source code. If not, this would invoke the LGPL’s so called nuclear option for patent protection revoking Google’s ability to further distribute FFMPEG along with Chrome.
  • EFF on Child Safe Viewing Act
    The EFF provided comments to the FCC to try to bolster first amendment and, surprisingly, copyright concerns around potentially expanding v-chip like capabilities to media other than TV.
  • Students who went on strike over CCTVs speak
    In the story linked to by Boing Boing, the students very clearly deflate the flimsy justification for the classroom surveillance. The story is more compelling for the additional risks the students incurred doing this so close to exams. The question of whether the cameras will remain is still being decided but at least the students’ actions have opened the question in the first place.
  • GitHub’s poor compromise on software freedom
    As a user, I like github, its features still trump the workalike, gitorious, though the gap appears to be closing. The standalone version of github is positioned not as a free or open software option but a secure option. And the price tag is clearly prohibitive.
  • Washington Post op-ed on China’s PC filter program
    I am pleased at how quickly the Post picked up this story. To boot, even though was on their opinions page, it contains an excellent amount of detail on the program, including how much further than just simple filtering it actually goes.
  • Security holes in China’s PC filter program of choice
    Felten shares a report from one of his collaborators, Alex Halderman, along with Scott Wolchok and Randy Yao. They have already been able to demonstrably exploit vulnerabilities resulting from programming errors. Since this is a web filter, this is a wide avenue of attack, from any web site. Felten thinks this is just cause for vendors to defy the mandate, at least until the software can be fixed and adequately tested.
  • SCOTUS won’t hear case over problematic computer search
    According to Techdirt, this means the appeals ruling that by turning over the laptop for repair, the user implicitly gave the technicians permission has been left standing. This is more troubling than when law enforcers exceed the scope of a warrant in the network or digital realm as it did lead to a criminal case without the same sort of 4th amendment considerations law enforces would have to clear.
  • Crowd source funding, Kiva, expands loans to US small business
    According to RWW this doesn’t seem entirely connect to the current economic crisis but rather part of their overall growth in scope. The question remains as to whether the scale of loans will be as helpful to independent businesses in a developed nation as in developing ones. I suppose the potential lenders and recipients will sort that out and we’ll see if this expands beyond a pilot.
  • Berners-Lee appointed as government advisor
    According to The Register, Berners-Lee will head a panel to advise on how to make non-personal, public data as widely accessible as possible. Seems similar to the push for government transparency under Obama here in the US. With his work on semantic and structured data, this seems like a particularly wise appointment.
  • EFF fights for 4th Amendment rights in Warshak appeal
    This appeal is critical in securing an expectation of privacy for email comparable for 4th amendment protections for other forms of communication like telephony and postal mail.
  • French high court considers internet access a human right
    This RWW piece is actually coverage of the ruling that gutted the French Hadopi law. It expands on the principals the council felt trumped the three strikes sanctions.
  • A suggestion for competitive access to Google Books scans
    This EFF post is a very constructive speculation on how to address the biggest limitation of the Google Books settlement, that it doesn’t afford anyone other than Google any sorts of protections around access to out of print and orphan works.
  • World Copyright Summit fixated on digital piracy
    Nate Anderson has some excellent coverage at Ars of this meeting of a society of collection societies. There are a few glimmerings of cluefulness in amidst the usual fixation on stopping piracy, and by implication disruptive innovation.
  • AACS licensing body works to drop analog output
    This is hardly surprising given the stance of this licensing body in the past and how it would work hand in glove with the latent restrictions in HDMI/ICT. Chris Foresman at Ars has the relevant details.
  • Analysis of seizure of student’s laptop
    This is really a mixed bag. The judge in this case ordered the return of the seized system and in so doing helped hold back the expanding scope of laws like the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act but the passing references to copyright infringing and another unrelated charge layout a potentially tactic by future law enforcers to use unrelated charges inappropriately to make a warrant stick.
  • DTV transition complete despite threats of broadcast flag
    EFF’s Seth Schoen gives a good recap of the broadcast flag fight and how it might have caused the digital TV transition to take a very different course. As it is, because of the efforts of EFF, others digital TV remains open to new, innovative uses, such as the ability to add DTV tuners to PCs.

Quick Security Alerts

Quick Follow Up Links

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *