Lawmakers Want to Bar Sites that Post Leaked Documents

According to Wired, this move comes from Republican legislators in the wake of a leak of a TSA operations manual.

In their letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (.pdf) on Wednesday, Reps. Peter T. King (R – New York), Charles Dent (R – Pennsylvania) and Gus Bilirakis (R – Florida) asked, “How has the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration addressed the repeated reposting of this security manual to other websites, and what legal action, if any, can be taken to compel its removal?”

The TSA workers believed to have been involved in the leak were already put on leave. I suspect that internally, DHS and TSA are reviewing and tightening procedures. I think that is the scope of an appropriate response.

I am intensely wary of any sort of legislation like this as I strongly doubt that it would do anything to curtail the impact of such leaks and definitely would rob us of our critical 1st Amendment rights.

Cyberbullying Bill’s Chilly Reception, Open Sourcing Publicly Funded Books, and More

  • Preview build of Mozilla’s CSP available
    This is excellent news, direct from Mozilla’s Security Blog. The work isn’t complete but it is far enough along for testing by security folks. I hope this makes it into Firefox 3.7, its good stuff.
  • Cyber bullying bill not well received
    I am very glad to read at Wired that Rep. Sanchez’s bill was not enthusiastically embraced in sub-committee review. Even if this goes forward despite this early stumble, I hope it founders on serious free speech consideration. Bullying is lamentable, yes, but do we really need to impose a limit on speech comparable to defamation for it?
  • Fourth Public Knowledge video in “We Are Creators Too” series
    This time, looks like a slightly different but just as valuable perspective. PK describes Francesca Coppa as an English professor, author and feminist. She is also a videographer, which would be the common thread of the series.
  • Oracle’s ownership of MySQL is about Microsoft
    A plausible theory by Matt Asay. Oracle certainly doesn’t have the same sort of relationship with open source as say Sun or even IBM. Unfortunately, Asay doesn’t consider what the recent developer exodus and dilution of MySQL’s mark might mean for this idea.
  • Bill proposes to require publicly funded books to be open source
    I am strongly biased towards this sort of idea, it seems like a logical extension of our civic contract. If the public ultimately funds the work, they should get unfettered access to the result. I am less concerned with the impact on the market as I doubt this will eliminate the need for privately developed titles and Flat World is already demonstrating how open source can even be compatible with for profit business models.
  • P2P bill goes into markup
    As Nate Anderson explains at Ars, the bill seeks to require some simple rules around files that software may be sharing to help reduce inadvertent. This seems like a reasonable experiment in regulating P2P. The article mentions other regulation in development, though, that is far more aggressive.
  • Experimental mesh for cell phones
    For the stated purpose, to help provide emergency service, this seems like an excellent idea. I wonder how well it would scale and operate in a sustained mode in as an alternate to traditional cells? I suspect not entirely well and attempting it would undoubtedly draw the ire of the mobile operators.

Bletchley Park Receives Lottery Grant, China Finally Starst Blocking Tor, and More

  • Android hacker routes around Googles cease and desist
    At Ars, Ryan Paul explains what I expected Cyanogen to do, here. He has pushed the burden of grabbing the proprietary bits onto the end user, though he provides some conveniences in his distribution for doing so. The need for this continues to make Google look a bit hypocritical in touting the openness of Android and their attempts to otherwise foster community contribution and collaboration.
  • China starts block Tor nodes
    The Register has the details. I suppose it was only a matter of time. The Tor project has some mechanisms to make access to the network more resistance to centralized blocking. Check out the project page for more details if you are able to run a bridge relay.
  • Bletchley Park receives some serious funding
    According to The Register this is actually the second chunk of funding the historical site has received recently. I love the history around the park and its role in the birth of modern computing so am cheered to see it finally getting the funding it sorely needs to maintain itself for posterity.
  • More details on Bletchley’s lottery grant
    Cory points at the ambitious funding goal which puts the grant into perspective. I understand his skepticism of the lottery and how at odds it is to the pursuits undertaken at Bletchley, but the grant is less than a twentieth of the funding goal so maybe we can be one-twentieth less irked at the scammy nature of lotteries in this case.
  • Tips for apprentice programmers
    James Turner offers some solid advice in this O’Reilly Radar piece that also discusses a new O’Reilly book, “Apprenticeship Patterns” by David Hoover. I am pretty sure I have covered all five of these to some extent or another in my Inner Chapters series, but they certainly bear repeating.
  • Latest “We Are Creators Too” video from Public Knowledge
    I missed episode 2, covering remix artist Elisa Kreisinger. This one features filmmaker Jonathan McIntosh.
  • Apple rejects an application for its political agenda
    This RWW pieces gets right to the rub of why this is ridiculous. The likely fallout of Apple approving this app would have been losing a few sales, perhaps, but potentially spurring more application development in response and hence maybe even some more total app sales. I suspect the app store may ultimately collapse under its own weight because whatever policies, if any, governing approvals are no doubt torturous, vague, and internally inconsistent. They’d have to be.
  • Dodd introduces Senate bill to repeal telco immunity
    According to the EFF, this bill does in fact duplicate the provision I’ve already discussed in the JUSTICE Act. Practically speaking this doubles the chances of repeal, as the provision in the larger bill runs the risk of getting cut as a compromise to achieve some of its other goals.
  • The problem with vague laws
    Schneier points out a book that looks to treat this subject quite well. I’d say this is one of, if not the, largest problem facing legislators these days and certainly fuels my growing exasperation with their sometimes willful technology illiteracy.
  • Canada grants right to repair, enabling auto makers, hackers
    Actually, according to this Globe and Mail story, it is meant for independent garages. Canada does not yet have a DMCA/EUCD like law though bills have been advanced repeatedly. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is strong precedent for the US following Canada’s lead on these kinds of policies; usually it is the other way around.

Philadelphia Public Libraries Saved

I saw Cory’s post on Boing Boing reporting the happy news. The linked article doesn’t have any details on the contents of the funding bill, just thanks for all of the public action that helped draw attention to the city’s libraries’ plight in particular.

Hopefully my source will have some details about the broader ramifications of the bill both for Philadelphia and the state’s broader budget concerns.

New JUSTICE Act Would Reform PATRIOT, FISA Amendments

I was thrilled to see Cory’s post on Boing Boing about the JUSTICE Act linking to and abstracting from Kevin Bangston’s write up at EFF.

On December 31, three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that broadly expanded government surveillance authority in the wake of 9/11 are set to expire.1 The Obama Administration made clear in a letter this week to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy that although the Justice Department supports reauthorization of those provisions, it is also open to discussing modifications to the law “to provide additional protection for the privacy of law abiding Americans.”

Senators Feingold and Durbin introduced the bill to capitalize on that opening for discussing amendment to these provisions. As a compromise the bill would renew two of the three provisions but with critical checks that would help restore protections against unjustified surveillance. It looks like it will go a long way towards reining back in the National Security Letters and even more critically would repeal immunity for the telcos that participated in the illegal but still contested wiretaps that the FISA Amendment Act protected.

It is too soon to make any predictions but I am optimistic about the chances for this bill. The concession of some powers to law enforcers may make the bill much more passable than past attempts at reform. The EFF in particular will be following the bill’s progress closely. If passed with the immunity repeal intact, it would allow their cases on the warrantless wiretaps to proceed.

Act Now in Defense of Net Neutrality in Europe

Slashdot has the details including links to where you can take action.  Though it doesn’t mention it by name, this reads like the amendment and revision activity that has taken place previously in the EU telecoms package.  At issue is an amendment that was original drafted as a consumer protection but now is being threatened with revision to either a toothless version or worse to once again implement the graduate response, or three strikes, rule favored by the French.

Netroots Protest of Looming NZ Copyright Law

I linked to Ars Technica’s coverage of the graduated response component of the amended copyright law in New Zealand due to go into effect at the end of this month.

The Creative Freedom Foundation in New Zealand is helping to organize a netroots protest, an internet blackout.


They are encouraging folks to blackout their icons and avatars on the social networks they use to raise awareness. They, and others, are also providing banners, like the one above, that people can sport on their web pages to raise awareness. The also have a media release and links for learning more about the pending amendments.

Kiwi blog, The TechSploder, also has an excellent write up covering the issues with plenty of links to learn more. Juha also points out the other coordinated efforts by ISPs and NGOs to oppose this bill. There is also an updated highlighting one of the more troubling problems with the bill as worded, an issue Ars and others have also pointed out, namely the overly vague definition of an ISP. This could put libraries, in particular, in the unwanted role of copyright cop.

If you live in New Zealand, do more than black out your avatar. Call your elected representatives. Let them know that graduated responses have failed to muster support elsewhere, such as in the EU, without adversely affecting trade.