Week in Review for 8/23/2009

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  • US tests new censorship circumvention tool
    According to this Ars piece by Cheung, this is a tool based on email and the encryption it usually has available. Sure, there isn’t really a lack of these sorts of tools and the existing ones remain effective, but what can having another hurt?
  • TPB archive available as a torrent
    RWW has the details of what appears to be a torrent based escape capsule. It has a certain elegance, even with the higher legal risk that may ensue from grabbing the file. They are using the very tools that got them into trouble to try to keep the sharing going even if The Pirate Bay doesn’t survive.
  • Many iPhone apps may be phoning home without notice
    RWW has a good discussion of what seems to me to be an analytics library for iPhone applications. The potential for abuse is obvious and with the black box nature of the phone, its platform, and the apps, concerns is understandable, even if some developers do try to act in good faith and transparently.
  • MSNBC acquires hyperlocal news site
    RWW has the few details about this deal, about the only thing we know is MSNB’s intention to keep the site independent. One thing I hadn’t realized is that Every Block’s source code is free software, presumably if MSNBC dilutes the service too far, another entrepreneur can spin up in the space if needed.
  • The WP ends its hyperlocal news experiment
    This NYT Bits piece also surveys the space a bit. I think the telling detail is that the WP tried to drive the Loudoun County focused site entirely with its own staffers. I think a more sustainable model would have been to build out a community of stringers with support, standards, and guidelines.
  • Comcast seeking to become a content provider as well as a carrier
    This is still just a rumor but a dire one if at all credible. This is really the worst outcome of the carriers broadening their interests in the wake of de-regulation or, as with cable, coming up with less regulation to begin with. This is also the bugbear that has been haunting the consumer advocacy side of the network neutrality debate.
  • Twitter threatened with patent lawsuit
    According to Wired, the patent holder, TechRadium, is not a troll but operates in the emergency notification space. Despite precedent and TechRadium seemingly pushing for a moderate solution of simple licensing, my question is whether their claims have validity if it isn’t Twitter focusing in on the overlapping usage, but users pulling the malleable micro messaging system into TechRadium’s stomping grounds.
  • Fabricated DNA may further erode its evidential qualities
    Via Glyn Moody, most worrisome not necessarily because fabrication is cheap or easily undertaken, but because reasonable doubt is often the standard when DNA evidence is involved. The fabricated DNA can be spotted but the test is expensive and may be possible to fool in the future. Really, it emphasizes what I am sure many legal experts are already espousing, that their is no one technique or tool that should trump the entirety of good investigative and forensic practices.
  • Change in EC leadership could be dire for the copyfight
    Via Glyn Moody, not a lot of detail and certainly pending confirmation, not necessarily of the facts, but the key intent. Spain apparently falls very strongly on the side of copyright maximalism.
  • New UK Pirate Party’s core beliefs
    Via Glyn Moody, these are the focused goals of the new UK Pirate Party. Beyond the general tenets common to the Pirate Parties in other countries, I wanted to know if the UK one would crusade against the increasing surveillance in that country. I’d interpret the Right to Privacy as exactly that.
  • Generation gap in privacy
    Nothing terribly startling about this, just a good reminder that this issue is a wrinkle on a repeated one brought about by periodic technological change. And that there is often a lag as those on the new side of the gap make their way into the legislative to better represent how the balance of privacy has changed in a networked world.
  • Is takedown of Obama image infringement or censorship?
    RWW has the details, such as they are. Flickr is not commenting on their reasons for the takedown other than a boiler plate response about infringement. I think it is credible they are doing merely that, though maybe more promptly than they might otherwise given the charged nature of the image.
  • FCC establishes blog to discuss broadband plan
    Lasar has the details and some speculation around the timing at Ars. I think it remains to be seen whether this modernization of the agencies communications with the public will extend beyond the efforts to develop the national broadband plan.
  • Court issued guidelines on revealing anonymous posters
    John Timmer describes a recent case in DC, on Ars, that reveals how complicated anonymous free speech gets when it brushes up against limits on that right, defamation laws. The court, in the absence of precedents, seems to have erred well on the side of protecting anonymity but this is a good reminder that a judge can interpret the facts to go in either direction, regardless of our broader expectations based on the Constitution.
  • Astonishing growth, velocity of Linux development
    Ryan Paul covers a report from the Linux Foundation and does a good job of explaining at least part of the reason for the velocity the report arrives at. He also has highlights of the corporate contributions to the kernel.
  • List of ‘awful’ internet rules released
    This is a list of onerous legislation from an advocacy group that works to protect online communities and e-commerce. Sounds like some of these are pending, so worth taking a look to see if there is anything local action can help foil.
  • Irish ISP to block TPB
    What seems worse, if I am reading this right, is that under this out-of-court agreement with the labels, is the country’s largest and oldest ISP is effectively implementing a three strikes (or less) disconnect regime. Thankfully, they seem to be the only ones playing ball but small solace given their size and status.
  • Handwriting analysis seriously eroded by research into spoofing
    Really just another example where if there exists a strong enough profit motive, someone will figure out a way to game or attack a system. And, as the Slashdot post says, a reminder that researchers need to consider adversarial situations, not just trusting ones.
  • Open source tech used to monitor Afghan elections
    Sounds like a robust and worthwhile project. Highly distributed, acting to aggregate and coordinate action through a widely available technology ibn the area, SMS.
  • Online code editor gains collaboration capabilities
    Ryan Paul covers the details at Ars, most notably that the Mozilla Labs folks actually integrated offerings from Google to make this possible. I think this makes the online editor make a lot more sense, as a means for distributed, real time collaboration.
  • Tim O’Reilly’s work to change government
    I am a big fan of O’Reilly’s work in this area and this RWW piece is an excellent overview not just of what he’s been up to buy how he is going about affecting change.
  • Real ID resurrected as Pass ID
    As this EFF piece points out, despite initially movement against the bad ideas underlying the original legislation, this reformed bill has been hacked to the point where it is set to repeat many of the same mistakes.
  • New algorithm to better deal with network latency
    John Timmer clearly describes the core of this research, which looks like it could vastly speed up network monitoring to the point where it can offset latency problems effectively. It is still early days, for instance it would rely on a very new specification that is not widely implemented yet in network hardware.
  • Working with Ogg Theora and the HTML5 video tag
    This is a very practically oriented guide based on some documentation efforts at the FSF. It helps debunk some of the myths while candidly admitting where the codec still needs work. It also does a good job of listing the gotchas you’ll need to be aware of as you consider using the format.

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