March 31, 2004
Extension on Early CFP Registration

7 More Days.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 04:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Last Day to Register on the Cheap for CFP...

Computers, Freedom and Privacy that is, Ap 20-23, 2004. The major tech policy conference of the year gets more expensive if you register after today. Act now Students are $75 today! And with a program like this, you can't justify *not* going to some of this (It's at the Clairmont Hotel in Berkeley).

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
March 15, 2004
Matrix is Losing Member States

Due to privacy fears. John Schwartz/NYT reports that only 5 of the original 16 states are still in the program. Matrix was supposed to relate databases across many states and had funding from the Homeland Security Administration, and the purpose was to sift through records to find patterns of suspect behavior, among other things. BIPlog reported on this before, though it wasn't mentioned in any of the presentations at the Privacy conference I attended this past weekend at Stanford. There, more of the focus was on CAPS and CAPS II.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
March 14, 2004
Privacy on Several Fronts

Yesterday, I attended the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society's "Securing Privacy in the Internet Age" Symposium. It's going on today but I'm not attending. Too many conferences, and I have a lot of work to do before tomorrow.

So it was a great day, interesting presentations on lots of privacy issues, including but not limited to leaky technologies like RFID, Sensor Networks (Pam Samuelson's new research area), as well as policies on metadata, as well as some assessments of the challenges Chief Privacy Officer's face.

Lots of interesting folks as well, from academia around the world, companies and law firms with practices in security and privacy, advocacy groups and government. The CA Office of Privacy Protection Chief was there, Joanne McNabb, who on a break talked about calling Citibank where she got a hold of the Privacy Officer, who promised to send her their policy for sharing information for review. Stay tuned on their website to see if Citibank follows though.

One of the best presentations was by Jonathan Weinberg on RFID and Privacy. Pam Samuelson's on Sensor Networks, though she is at the beginning of this work, was also fascinating. Maybe it's just because I'm very interested in this stuff, but I thought they were great. The leaky tech presentation on P2P had good info on the topic, and reviewed the privacy issues that would affect the EFF's new alternative compensation system if it were adopted, but really, it feels like the reality of people's behavior on the internet makes this proposal obsolete. Yes, tons of people use P2P, but as more move to private *real* friend sharing networks, and bitcatching evolves (which seems like an extremely efficient and interesting way for sharing large files for anything including media across the internet and across many users), there may be no need.

Also, another amazing story as told by Alex Fowler of PriceWaterhouseCoopers was about how 3 years ago a statement was made at Davos by the CEO of Monsanto: they figure there are $50 mil lost sales if you ignore privacy fundamentalists. That's a high price for ignoring your customers when it comes to privacy. Fowler recommends that privacy that is good for users is good business. This is something I've believed for a long time, and I'm trying to implement this view into the design of my current project, where user's own their data, and we own the aggregate, and will not share any personal data of users under any circumstances (except a court order or subpoena, and certainly not to sell...). I've never heard anyone at a company advocate for this, and so it was really an amazing presentation.

Other postings with notes here, here, here and here. Michael Froomkin (a presenter) here. Some of my notes are under more. I have a few more notes and will post them in a bit.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 03:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
February 06, 2004
The Accountable Net: Using Peer Production for Governance

Last night, I attended the Yale-ISP/Harvard-Berkman Cyberscholars Group. John Palfrey, David Johnson, and Susan Crawford presented The Accountable Net. It's a paper they haven't yet published, but when it is, we'll blog it. However, the discussion was quite lively, giving the presenters suggestions about areas they might fill in regarding spam, informational privacy, and network security, using peer governance to try to control particular kinds of unwanted behavior. We discussed using social networks, individual's use of their outgoing email boxes, online communities such as blogs and other linked groups, among other definitions of acceptable groups for communications, both practically and theoretically, and whether or not these definitions could work to deter certain kinds of behavior, verses traditional kinds of control and law. People were skeptical, but also supportive, and the discussion seemed to further their work on the paper.

I suggested that when considering social networks, they consider that people have many different kinds of links to people they "know" and that they are very clunky, and may not give the sort of trust or endorsement that trusted online communications need to rely on, and that maybe other means might work better.

Eddan Katz, Derek Slater and James Grimmelman were there, and I met Nimrod Kozlovski (who said, so you're stationed in Berkeley... I said if the people of Berkeley only knew that....) and Shlomit Wagman, and later that night at a party, Paul Szynol, all of whom were Lawmeme writers. Also, Susan Crawford is very lively and a lot of fun. It was great to see people and hang out after. And of course, Yale Law School, actually all of Yale, is lovely, freshly dusted with snow, and then it snowed again in the middle of the night. Just beautiful.

(ps, I wrote this on Friday, but was unable to post it until Sunday, because my hotel's DSL seems to have some issue with publishing on MT, though most everything else works.)

Posted by Mary Hodder at 02:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
January 22, 2004
Diebold: Politically Active With Campaign Contributions, Uncertified Software in Every CA County and No Paper Trail On The Voting Machines 'Til 2006

Bill French suggests bypassing Diebold, and voting in a time and place, by going absentee (here's the CA form). (Also, here's a link describing the software and papertrail issues).

UPDATE 12pm: I called the Alameda County Registrar's office and confirmed that paper absentee ballots are kept after they are scanned by Diebold machines. The time period for keeping paper in archives is the same as when the old machines were used, and they couldn't tell me the exact number of years, but it is for some *years*.

And just in case you were wondering whether Diebold employees are politically active (remember, employees for government entities are restricted in various ways on this including campaign contributions because it's a conflict of interest), the California database for 2004 election contributions shows this: 26 Contributions (to date) for political candidates and committees.

Date and Amount
Home city
Contribution made to)

6/29/2003 $1,000.00
HUDSON, OH 44236
DIEBOLD -[Contribution]

Bucci, David Mr.
6/26/2003 $2,000.00
Hudson, OH 44236
Diebold Inc./Senior Vice President -[Contribution]

Crowther, John Michael Mr.
8/27/2003 $2,000.00
Canton, OH 44708
Diebold Inc. -[Contribution]

D' Amico, Thomas R. Mr.
9/3/2003 $2,000.00
Canton, OH 44718
Diebold Inc. -[Contribution]

6/21/2003 $500.00
CANTON, OH 44718
DIEBOLD INC -[Contribution]

6/25/2003 $500.00
CANTON, OH 44708
DIEBOLD INC -[Contribution]

4/2/2003 $200.00

Frazzitta, Bart Mr.
6/26/2003 $1,000.00
Akron, OH 44333
Diebold Inc./Vice President -[Contribution]

Frazzitta, Bart Mr.
9/29/2003 $1,000.00
Akron, OH 44333
Diebold Inc. -[Contribution]

Geswein, Gregory T. Mr.
6/26/2003 $2,000.00
Bentleyville, OH 44022
Diebold Inc./Chief Financial Office -[Contribution]

Hillock, Jennifer L Mrs.
8/27/2003 $2,000.00
Massillon, OH 44646
Diebold Inc. -[Contribution]

Hillock, Michael James Mr.
6/26/2003 $2,000.00
Massillon, OH 44646
Diebold International Inc./Presiden -[Contribution]

Ingram, Larry Dean Mr.
9/15/2003 $1,000.00
Massillon, OH 44646
Diebold Inc. -[Contribution]

Ingram, Larry Dean Mr.
6/26/2003 $1,000.00
Massillon, OH 44646
Diebold Inc./Vice President Of Glob -[Contribution]

Mahoney, Robert
11/30/2003 $250.00
Canton, OH 44718
Diebold/Chairman Emeritus -[Contribution]

O' Dell, Walden W. Mr.
8/8/2003 -$2,000.00
Canton, OH 44708
Diebold Inc. -[Contribution]

O' Dell, Walden W. Mr.
6/12/2003 $4,000.00
Canton, OH 44708
Diebold Inc./Chairman -[Contribution]

6/25/2003 $500.00
DIEBOLD INC -[Contribution]

6/25/2003 $1,500.00
DIEBOLD INC -[Contribution]

Scheurer, Charles B. Mr.
8/27/2003 $2,000.00
Canton, OH 44708
Diebold Inc. -[Contribution]

Swidarski, Thomas W Mr.
7/9/2003 $2,000.00
Hudson, OH 44236
Diebold Inc. -[Contribution]

Van Cleve, Jeffrey J. Mr.
6/26/2003 $500.00
North Canton, OH 44720
Diebold Credit Corporation/Vice Pre -[Contribution]

Van Cleve, Jeffrey J. Mr.
9/3/2003 $1,000.00
North Canton, OH 44720
Diebold Credit Corporation -[Contribution]

Van Cleve, Jeffrey J. Mr.
10/10/2003 $225.00
North Canton, OH 44720

Van Cleve, Jeffrey J. Mr.
4/11/2003 $250.00
North Canton, OH 44720

6/29/2003 $1,000.00
DIEBOLD -[Contribution]

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)
December 20, 2003
RFID Tags Located in WSIS Conference Badges

Without participant's knowledge. See this write-up, by these participants: Ass. Prof. Dr. Alberto Escudero-Pascual, Researcher in Computer Security and Privacy, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, Stephane Koch, President Internet Society Geneva, Executive Master of Economic Crime Investigations, Geneva, Switzerland and George Danezis, Researcher in Privacy Enhancing Technologies and Computer Security, Cambridge University, UK.

Apparently, these participants took apart their World Summit on Information Society conference badges and discovered RFID tags. Others who attended the conference included Larry Lessig who pointed to this in his blog. Smartmobs also commented on this. An excerpt from the researchers findings:

    The official Summit badges, which are plastic and the size of a credit card, hide an "RF smart card" [1 - see the last picture in this series, and look at item #1] - a hidden chip that can communicate its information via radio frequency. It carries both a unique identifier associated with the participant, and a radio frequency tag (RFID) that can be "read" when close to a sensor. These sensors can be located anywhere, from vending machines to the entrance of a specific meeting room allowing the remote identification and tracking of participants, or groups of participants, attending the event.
    The data relating to the card holder (personal details, access authorization, account information, photograph etc.) is not stored on the smart card itself, but instead managed by a centralized relational database. This solution enables the centralized system to monitor closely every movement of the participants at the entrance of the conference center, or using data mining techniques, the human interaction of the participants and their relationship. The system can potentially be extended to track participants' movements within the summit and detect their presence at particular session.

There are other threat models: if the WSIS conference organizers were trying to protect their attendees, they might think about securing the system, so that tracking could not be used to find a particular participant, or a random participant, to harm them or violate their privacy. WSIS would also consider that simply being able to detect presence is a threat in itself, as well as knowing particulars such as who, where and what for more directed harm based on that information.

Also, the lack of knowledge about the future use and aggregation of the database of pictures and participants activities and personal information is disconcerting, along with the fact that they tracked people without telling them, and had no privacy or data retention policy, as the researchers have noted.

It's not that using RFID tags is implicitly bad, but we have to think about the way we use this technology to collect information, and build in ways to be considerate of others, protecting privacy, as well as not building sensor systems that can potentially endanger them. This was an international conference with prominent attendants. If the conference organizers are concerned enough for the conference overall and the participants well-being in general to install physical security with metal detectors for all entrants, they must also think about ways they may put people in danger at the conference simply by collecting this kind of information, while leaving RFID tracking computers in plain view.

Security threats to WSIS participants include scenarios where someone might have a reader that could not make sense of tag information, but simply tell that someone was in a particular spot, without knowing who they are, but harm them based on this information. This might occur on the conference premises, or in a store with active readers, or a hotel, or walking down the street.

I think people might be concerned about simply being seen as "live" while in different environments, for their own safety. Right now, with our analog environmental frameworks still implicitly informing our thoughts in this area, we don't contemplate this. We don't think of our persons as trackable except in very particular situations (the airport with security cameras or on certain roads - but these cameras relate back to hopefully secure video systems). But we do need to start thinking about this. I don't want to be the target of a mugger who simply can tell when someone is coming, because of a cheap reader and a tag I unwittingly carry that might betray proximity. Readers are not standardized, but readers can sometimes detect tags they can't "read." And eventually, as readers become more sophisticated, using more powerful detection, the 18" they more typically read now in handheld systems might turn 10' or 50' (yes, I know the manufacturers say the reading range is longer than 18" inches but that's on a lab bench, and talking with users finds 18" is the practical reality).

RFID Generally

RFID is certainly not as dire or apocalyptic as Katherine Albrecht says. Most notably due to the battery issue, because unlike harddrives and processors, batteries are not subject to Moore's Law, and do not double in capacity every 18 months, while reducing in size. Batteries limit what the tags can do, even if they are rechargeable via solar, wind, expanding liquid packets or movement, or some other mechanism, which is also limiting.


Electronic Product Code's (a standard of RFID that are similar to Uniform Product Codes, but instead of scanning them like UPCs, EPCs are RFID, and reflect back to readers the data programmed, though EPC's are not yet entirely standardized, but Walmart has mandated its suppliers use - a couple of months ago) are not battery powered, and so the tag reader must send energy to the tag to wake it up, at which point the tag reflects back information. Walmart's fantasy of having and EPC system in place on shelves within 18 months is just that, a fantasy. I don't believe they will get a system set up, at that point in the supply chain, out on the sales floor, with a tag on every item in the store, because the readers currently can read no more than 20 tags in a minute at around 18" range. Imagine a clerk running around, reading thousands upon thousands of tags, with a reader at 20 per minute. Or imagine shelf readers everywhere. Either way, there will simply be too much noise from other tags to get good readings. And the EPC tags at $.50 cents are currently too expensive to put on every box of Fruit Loops or can opener. Even at $.20 cents, which the EPC makers are shooting for, even that price will be too expensive for most small items at Walmart. But in maybe 8-10 years, it could happen if the price, power and reader issues are worked out. (According to the conference this fall at the Auto-ID centerM/a> at MIT (now AutoIDLab), Texas Instruments and Alien have so far only made about 5,000 EPC tags.) What is more likely is that luxury goods, which are expensive, will have tags soon because the cost will be worth it for them to experiment for a couple of years with this stuff.

The question is, will other stores or other places be able to read the Walmart tags and make sense of the information there, to do something with it? EPC tags have a set format, and without encryption, this does pose privacy threats, preference threats, personal safety threats (if you are detectable, not as you particularly, but simply as a human in a certain space, where you don't know someone is peering at you, you could be in harm's way, with your Prada briefcase...).

In reality, Walmart will implement the EPC tag system in the next 18 months on the part of the supply chain that consumers don't touch, the part where each case of products from a supplier can have a tag, and be tracked to prevent theft, damage, and simply save the company money. And that part poses no threats to customers, however, employees could find themselves tracked in ways they have not been in the past, as well as third parties such as trucking companies and personnel. While most of this is appropriate, again there could be personal safety threats to people.

On the other hand, things are not so casual, that as Larry Downes has said, we should withhold judgment against these kinds of systems. But there is a place somewhere in the middle of Albrecht's and Downes' positions that is more reasonable, realistic, but also requires some action. Obviously, the WSIS situation shows that the tags pose certain threats right now, depending on particular RFID tag and reader usage and capabilities, and the construction of the database and security systems, as well as the life of the data and the future uses and privacy policies. We do need to pay attention, understand the technology realistically, and make reasonable decisions for giving notice to anyone getting a tag in any form, whether in a badge or in a product, and take steps to limit the life of the data and the life of the tag, where appropriate.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
December 17, 2003
RIAA the New Big Brother?

Check out Clay Shirky's latest: The RIAA Succeeds Where the Cypherpunks Failed

    It may be time to dust off that old issue of Wired, because the RIAA is succeeding where 10 years of hectoring by the Cypherpunks failed. When shutting down Napster turned out to have all the containing effects of stomping on a tube of toothpaste, the RIAA switched to suing users directly. This strategy has worked much better than shutting down Napster did, convincing many users to stop using public file sharing systems, and to delete MP3s from their hard drives. However, to sue users, they had to serve a subpoena, and to do that, they had to get their identities from the user's internet service providers.
    Identifying those users has had a second effect, and that's to create a real-world version of the scenario that drove the invention of user-controlled encryption in the first place. Whitfield Diffie, inventor of public key encryption, the trategy that underlies most of today's cryptographic products, saw the problem as a version of "Who will guard the guardians?"
    In any system where a user's identity is in the hands of a third party, that third party cannot be trusted. No matter who the third party is, there will be at least hypothetical situations where the user does not want his or her identity revealed, but the third party chooses or is forced to disclose it anyway....

In other words, the third parties are our ISPs, and with the DMCA subpoena problem, our identity is vulnerable to the likes of the RIAA or anyone else who grunts "copyright infringement," no matter how stupid or not true.

    The RIAA's successful extraction of user identity from internet service providers makes it vividly clear that the veil of privacy enjoyed by the average internet user is diaphanous at best, and that the obstacles to piercing that veil are much much lower than for, say, allowing the police to search your home or read your (physical) mail. Diffie's hypothetical problem is today's reality. As a result, after years of apathy, his proposed solution is being adopted as well.

Which brings us to the Darknet, which we've written about quite a bit before. So now we all have Waste accounts and trade secretly, and the resulting loosely bundled groups of people, using encryption.

Frankly, I believe that sharing copyrighted materials amongst *real* friends (you know, like taping a TV show and lending it to a friend) is legal fair use, and so small networks of friends that know each other, and recommend stuff, share it, falls into this category for me. That is not to say that sharing copyrighted works with all 60 million of your best pals on KaZaa is right, as I think that IS copyright infringement.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
December 09, 2003
Trojan File Sharing and Spamming

John Schwartz/NYTimes: Hackers Steal From Pirates, to No Good End:

    ...[The Trojan viruses] use the commandeered machines to form a peer-to-peer network like the popular Kazaa program used to trade music files. Each machine on the network can share resources and provide information to the others without being controlled by a central server machine.
    "It's like Kazaa only without all the pesky copyrighted files," Mr. [Joe] Stewart said [a computer expert at the LURHQ Corporation, a security company based in Chicago]. And, as the music industry has discovered, when there is no central machine, "these tactics make it impossible to shut down," he said.

What does this mean to people sued for copyright infringement and distributing files, the companies that go after filesharers, and what does it mean for our attempts to find ways to compensate creators? Also, evidently 33% of spam is now sent from programs like this, working without people's knowledge on home machines, and trojans are used to install porn dialers used to secretly ring up charges. Spammers have a business incentive for creating trojans and that is a whole new ball game.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 02:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
December 01, 2003
This Isn 't Your Father's FOAF

Teresa Riordan/NYTimes has this on the recent purchase (for $700k) of the Six Degrees patent, by Marc Pincus of Tribe and Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn. They say they purchased the friend of a friend (FOAF) patent because they didn't want anyone else buying it to use it against them, but they are also trying to negotiate with Friendster to become a partner/owner of the patent, though Friendster hasn't jumped in yet. Conversely, Visible Path is treating their processes for understanding people's network and connection habits as a trade secret, so that unlike patents where the process must be disclosed, Visible Path won't share how they do things ("We think that is a higher form of protection.") Visible Path says they operate differently than the Six Degrees patented method, because they evaluate the quality of FOAF connections verses the degrees between connections. At the end of the article, there is this prediction: "This industry [FOAF] is going to go in a thousand different directions," Mr. [Antony] Brydon said. "I think we're going to find that many of the things being protected today are completely irrelevant a year from now."

Somewhat related to that notion is this PC World article asking: will consumers change ip? Granted the examples given are the more commonly known ones such as the Verizon, et al cases with user's privacy in the balance over music sharing, but the question extends far further when you think about the ways we take technology, alter it or its intended uses or blend things never before blendable. Steve Lohr/NYTimes talks about this with Markets Shaped by Consumers where he discusses the ways consumers take technologies, find uses not intended by their creators, or cobble together solutions to problems in innovative ways. Among other things, he mentions the mountain bike, camera phones and text messaging, bluejacking, and FOAF networks like LinkedIn and Friendster.

The ways users shape IP via fair use, either directly by choice or because of the limitations through the architecture of the system they are using, and the issues surrounding consumer generated information, especially about themselves, raises questions of fair use and ownership of personal data and networks in a new way with FOAF networks. Note that this morning on NPR, Choicepoint was quoted as saying that in their system, users own their own data, not Choicepoint. And yet recently, Friendster changed its user policy to state:

    Friendster owns and retains all proprietary rights in the Web site and the Service. The Web site contains the copyrighted material, trademarks, and other proprietary information of Friendster, and its licensors. Except for that information which is in the public domain or for which you have been given written permission, you may not copy, modify, publish, transmit, distribute, perform, display, or sell any such proprietary information.

I take this to mean they believe they own the collective data, and without clear personal data ownership laws, I suppose we are subject to this, unless there is a case or new law that changes this arrangment.

Danah Boyd of SIMS was in last Thursday's Circuits section (by Michael Erard), and Peter Lyman is quoted, too. The article discusses the social issues and analog metaphors Danah studies about FOAF networks. While our analog FOAF networks are subject to social norms we can see, touch and control in different ways than those online, there are interesting issues in connecting one person's data and network to the next. Collapsing the analog social norms causes problems, when people from one network you belong to can suddenly see another digitally, but there is also an issue which will probably arise more in the future, where the blending of many user's information, both personal and created, or personal networks, creates something new. It is digital media in the most personal of ways.

As mentioned before, how do you do the IP when "It's the collective I.Q. of the Internet coming to your aid," [said James C. Spohrer, director for services research at Almaden].

So, my father's FOAF network (analog, of course) is extensive. He keeps in touch, even in retirement, with thousands of people, via written correspondence through email and letters, and for 42 years, has maintained a handwritten spreadsheet organizing the 3-4k handwritten xmas cards he sends out to his friends each year (there are more in his network but they don't necessarily receive these cards, and also, my parents visit with many of these people regularly, scattered around the world, for various reasons that are now mostly social). I don't know that Friendster or LinkedIn, etc., clunky as they are now, could accomodate or make sense of the multiple reasons and associated meanings of his relationships, or what is possible between his connections through muliple networks. But I'm sure he's never thought about who owns his data and networks, and the shifts over time these networks have experienced, and the information linking they accomodate. I'm sure he would find it bizarre but also interesting to contemplate that using a FOAF network might require this, where using one might release control over his life's work as one of the most networked people I know.

Dave Weinberger on FOAFs, the privacy aspects, and funny ways we use these online networks: putting the shill into social or Leveraging Mere Acquaintanceships for Business Success since 2003.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 13, 2003
Privacy in the Rink

Last night, the Blackhawks played the Calgary Flames. Chicago played lousy, and the food isn't nearly as good as PacBell Park which has sushi and garlic fries, though our waiter at the United Center was awfully cute... but it was a good time.

However, there was one disconcerting moment in digital privacy. The giant center media screens, which are so exciting you tend to watch them more than the rink below (we were in the club level, whatever that means, and so we kind of high up looking down), were straight across. Early on in the game, the announcer and the big flashing screen lights asked people to text message to some phone number, in order to just enter a drawing to win something (I can't even remember it, it was so insignificant). And I thought, well, what are you going to do with my phone number, my information, this date and time stamp, this message that you have recorded from me? Would I really give you this (and possibly more, if you have access to databases to cross my info to put more of the digital me together for a better audience profile) information, in exchange for the chance to win something, with no assurances that what I'm intending the information will be used for will be it? That this personal information won't be sold, traded, aggregated, given to the government or some unscrupulous company wanting to push ads out to phones? Who's taking the info, how do I trust you, what are you like?

I don't mean to sound paranoid, though I'm sure this does sound so, but between that, and the fact that if we'd bought the tickets (they were a gift), the Blackhawk company would have my creditcard info, also with time of entry (they scan the ticket bar code at the door), and I could see with repeated purchases, entry, and various text messages to the folks running the contests, they could really build quite an interesting customer database. As far as I can tell, from the 2pt font warranty on the back of the ticket, which is the only information from the Blackhawk company I could find that wasn't advertising, there is not much available regarding privacy for their audience. And since our privacy laws, with the exception of a few things like taping telephone calls or video rental records, are pretty non-existent, companies like this can mostly do whatever they want, unless they publish a privacy policy, in which case they are required to follow that.

I know it would be really boring for the announcer and the big exciting media screens to serve up a privacy policy during the quick text message contest, but really, we need good privacy policy across the board, so that every company or institution can make customers feel comfortable participating in things that use wireless technologies which could be great audience participation tools, knowing that our information will only be used for the contest, and the Blackhawk's processes to devise better services. Beyond that, they need to think through what it means from our perspective to give up personal information, and design something where we're happy to give it up, because we feel safe. That's good customer service.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 12, 2003
BRO: Software for Watching Your Surfing and eMailing Habits

Annalee Newitz/Salon says Don't look now, but the dean is watching about campus surveillance of internet activities.

    At the University of California at Berkeley, the everyday Web-surfing habits of students are regularly watched and recorded. Berkeley's Systems and Network Security group uses a program called BRO -- named after the infamous fascist icon from George Orwell's "1984" -- that keeps logs of every IP address students visit on the Internet from the campus network.
    Cliff Frost, UC-Berkeley's director of communication and network services, says that "this practice is under review right now," because the campus community feels it interferes with academic freedom. He expects that the university will continue to keep logs but will discard them after a month or two. "I'd love to keep that data forever," he adds, "if there weren't the threats of subpoenas for vile purposes."
    He is referring partly to recent actions by the Recording Industry Association of America, which has subpoenaed universities for the names of students allegedly engaging in music piracy. Techs must comb through saved logs for personal information to fulfill the subpoenas' demands. Some schools, including MIT, have refused to hand over the information by arguing that it is protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. FERPA is designed to stop students' personal data from being handed over to third parties, and no one has yet challenged the use of FERPA in these copyright cases.
    But there is a little-discussed section of the USA-PATRIOT Act that renders FERPA completely useless when federal officials subpoena personal student information for terrorism-related investigations. Not only do these federal subpoenas bypass FERPA, but the people served are not permitted to discuss them with anybody.

The article starts with an example at Raytheon at the University of New Hampshire where students were planning a protest, and the entity they were protesting pulled out of a presentation at the last minute, after the VP of student affairs got wind of the student plans. Apparently, this VP is not on the email list, but the list was being covertly monitored. Accessing the Internet on campus means that everything done is watched. This is not just for security (Patriot Act) purposes, but also to monitor illicit file sharing and other copyright violating activities. However, the privacy implications are huge, and because privacy protections are spotty or non-existent, this kind of surveillance is possible without notification, other than that buried in the various lengthy policies one clicks through upon setting up an account, or by going back later to view the information. But there is nothing explicit about the surveillance and therefore, users are surprised when action based on the surveillance is taken by schools.

Also, here is some information on BRO:

    What about privacy
    One of the greatest concerns about systems like this is the fact that potentially confidential data may be collected and examined by the system. As mentioned above, Bro is an automated system. So when we say Bro examines data, that data is not selected or seen by people. However, in order to be able to investigate suspicious activity, some data is logged and security personnel may examine that data. The data may include complete transcripts of login sessions, any files transferred over the network, email messages, etc.
    Obviously, this data is very sensitive and requires the highest level of protection. Access is restricted by the "Privacy and Confidentiality" sections of the University of California Electronic Communications Policy. This policy requires that the campus annually report on data that is accessed without users' consent. For the most part, this data is never seen by anyone other than security personnel if it's seen at all. Typically this data never leaves the systems where it's collected, which are physically and electronically secured. However, if an attack is confirmed, relevant data may be turned over to the managers of the affected systems as well as outside authorities and possibly law enforcement officials. Occasionally, aggregate data may be given to nonsecurity personnel for network and infrastructure planning. Of course, such aggregate data would be stripped of any personally identifiable content.

This document, in the naming, says it is from Winter 2001, but there isn't anything in the html code confirming this. Also, the description of the system emphasizes that BRO is meant to detect outside intrusions to the network, not internal activities of users. However, the Wired article indicates otherwise, as those in the Network department confirm in the quotes above, but they say the retention policy for logs is under review right now and may be changed so that logs over a month old are discarded in order to protect privacy.

UPDATE: Tracy Mitrano/EDUCAUSE have Civil Privacy and National Security Legislation: A Three-Dimensional View (pdf) (or htm)

Posted by Mary Hodder at 01:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
October 27, 2003
Computers, Freedom and Privacy Submission Deadline Friday

The deadline for submitting proposals for the 14th Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy is next Friday, October 31, 2003. The Conference runs from April 20-23 in Berkeley, CA.

I encourage you to submit proposals -- speaker suggestions, panels, workshops etc. The Call for Proposals is here. The online Submission page is here.

Disclosure: I'm on the program committee.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
October 16, 2003
Broadcast Flag Up Before the FCC by the End of the Month

Remember, if they force the broadcast flag on everyone, it will force digital TV, in order the make the flag effective, which means up to $750 per TV in upgrades or a whole new TV, and that means everyone has to get cable. No more over the air broadcast (but you -- the last 20% of American households that don't have it -- can pay up there too, if you haven't so far, by being forced to subscribe to cable). Oh, and just in case you're curious, there was a KTVU Ch2 story tonight on cable consumer costs that said Comcast has raised prices this year more than 6 times the rate of inflation (and this story was provided free, over the air! but later you'll have to pay for that too). And then, imagine the landscape with the latest FCC rules on media consolidation. Also, do you really want to pay so much more for HDTV, and actually get less functionality than you have now with your current TV?

So a very few media companies make all the content (check out Stephen Labaton/NYTimes on breadth (or lack of breadth) of media choice), own all the pipes, and then with the broadcast flag, will dictate to consumer electronics companies what devices they can make now to play/watch/use/record that content, and in the future (imagine the loss for innovation, because the content industry is dictating that, too with the broadcast flag). I'm thrilled. Are you? How about a reasonable balance between the content/copyright industry, and the rest of us? Remember, the monopopy we grant creators is in exchange for fair use rights like time shifting TV. This proposal only benefits the content industry; there is no trade off to benefit consumers.

EFF suggests you write, call or email your reps: here and Digital Consumer has this here (please think about how you feel and put it into your own words, because that is most effective in communicating to legislators). And Donna Wentworth, Frank Field, Dan Gillmor, Ernie Miller ("Any rule that mandates DRM is giving too much control to the entertainment industry.") and JD Lasica explain further what's wrong with the above scenario. Plus Frank links to a January article by Biz Week that talks about using tools like the Broadcast Flag to spy on users.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
October 14, 2003
Berkeley Library Planning RFID Tags For All Books

says Mathew Artz/Berkeley Daily Planet.

Berkeley librarians insist that embedding their books with a state-of-the-art monitoring device despised by privacy advocates will not grant Big Brother a glimpse at patron's reading material.

"We're not going to fight the Patriot Act this hard and then just give away information," said Berkeley Director of Library Services Jackie Griffin, who added that, after careful study, she planned to purchase Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) before next June.

But, UC Berkeley database researchers were skeptical, because they pointed out that it is the collective use of RFID that can be problematic. The more use, the more incentive for many to get readers to observe personal information. Of course, the Berkeley Public Library may be very responsible in their implementation, but if the RFID information is not encrypted, even if it's just a book title and author, if others read the tags as people walk by with the books, and then aggregate the information with other 3rd party personal information known about the person, there could be serious privacy concerns. In many ways, Berkeley is really a small town and the same folks walk by every day. As RFID is more widely adopted, readers might pick up several tags to collect a variety of information about one person. Imagine if a tag in your eye glasses, a tag in your book and a tag in your shoes gave aggregated information that meant it was pretty certainly you, pin pointing you at a particular place and time, that could then be aggregated with other address and birthday information about you that is publicly available.

It would change all our thoughts about being able to be anonymous on the street, read a book in private without the scrutiny of everyone around, and our possessions and consumer purchases too might be rated to tell whether we are a good target for advertising or some other message or information. Why is that a concern? Further segmenting people means that while some may only get targeted ads and information, and this might be good for getting information you want and spam/ads you don't, there may be others excluded from information that society uses to understand itself and make decisions. Differentiation in marketing, if it goes too far, might eventually lead to the exclusion of whole classes and types of people from information society uses to participate in certain kinds of interactions. It remains to be seen how this kind of exclusion could lead to the further amplification of classes in our society and culture.

Currently, the Berkeley Library uses UPC tags for each book, and offers self-checkout.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
October 09, 2003
Shift Key Again

Earlier today I mentioned Alex Halderman and his paper (pdf) on the CD protection scheme developed by SunnComm, which can be cracked! yes cracked, by holding down the shift key while putting the disk into your computer. Well, Donna writes that SunnComm is taking legal action against Halderman because he has based his paper on "erroneous assumptions" and because he has violated the DMCA.

"No matter what their credentials or rationale, it is wrong to use one's knowledge and the cover of academia to facilitate piracy and theft of digital property, said SunnComm CEO Peter Jacobs. "SunnComm is taking a stand here because we believe that those who own property, whether physical or digital, have the ultimate authority over how their property is used."

Really? How about the copyright balance, where things like fair use (and the right of first sale) are involved? We are talking about a copy protection that will be sold on lawfully purchased CDs, that users might want to play on their computer CD players. Is it fair use to space shift? While this question has not yet been definitely answered by legislatures and courts, a private company is effectively answering that for us.

More From Donna/Copyfight:
Later: Fred von Lohmann: "In America today, scientists shouldn't have to fear legal action for publishing the truth. Based on the apparent weakness of its technology, perhaps SunnComm should be hiring more Princeton computer scientists, instead of threatening to sue them."

Later #2: Ernie Miller @ LawMeme: "I do not know what 'device' Halderman could possibly have been trafficking in, unless they plan to go after him solely under section 1201(a) for actually circumventing such a device (a first as far as I know)."

Later #3: Dan Gillmor: "Plainly, [SunnComm's] aim is to silence any debate over the apparent lameness of its technology. This shouldn't be allowed to stand. I hope the EFF and other organizations will raise a defense fund; I'll contribute."

I decided to call SunnComm directly and complain about their abuse of the First Amendment and academic research: 602-267-7500. While they have the DMCA on their side, does not mean is it right for them to stifle academic freedom or the right to publish. The law is wrong here, as are SunnComm's actions. Where does this leave us if research is squashed, and information such as this just ends up being passed around, from user to user, with no research or writing done on these DRM systems. Where does that leave cryptography research? I am not advocating the mass breaking of laws, as researchers need to be sensitive and professional in their work, but there is something very wrong with the DMCA when this kind of thing happens.

/. discusses. And Alex gets interviewed.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 02:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
September 12, 2003
Lisa Rein on Subpoenas

Rein has this Commentary: What's Real and Make-Believe with the RIAA Subpoenas? She tells why sending subpoenas before a lawsuit starts departs from the norm, invades people's privacy by allowing personal information to get out, outside the context of judicial review, without the person being investigated having any chance to oppose the subpoena asking for personal information. This is a real problem and recently a litigant lost a case because they abused this subpoena power of the DMCA. But every person whose private information is inappropriately or abusively subpoenaed doesn't have the resources to sue. It's not a fair burden to place on people. The DMCA really needs to be corrected so that subpoenas come after a lawsuit is in place, and a judge can review the reasonableness of a subpoena. Just read it!

Check out her excellent video blog, too. I don't think anybody does what she does, and it's invaluable!

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
August 06, 2003
MATRIX: Your Personal Information in a Database Put Together By State Law Enforcement

Considering how quickly and easily database systems that collect citizen information can be abused, with personal data used against political opponents, as well as data reflecting massive mistakes that cause great harm to citizens, the reporting of the MATRIX program in Florida is alarming.

For examples of abuses happening now, see Grounding the Flying Nun by Dave Lindorff/Salon, who after making a remark about George Bush being dumb found herself on the "FBI no-fly list", along with some journalists and others included for political reasons, as well as folks who just had similar names to those who actually are criminals. Also, Andrew Gumbel/The Independent has this story on US anti-war activists hit by secret airport ban about political uses of the No-Fly list by the Transportation Security Administration.

On a national level, Congress has taken seriously their responsibility for oversight of the Total Information Awareness or Terrorism Information Awareness program. John Poindexter and the TIA/DARPA have found themselves responsible to Congress for their ideas (Reuters reports that Poindexter plans to offer his resignation over the latest TIA plan to use futures-trading market data to predict assassinations, terrorism and other events in the Middle East).

But if each state collects and maintains citizen's data, each with different standards for correcting, aggregating and using the data, and if states string together their databases, as several states would like to collaborate with Florida to do (Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Utah so far in the MATRIX -- click here for their contacts list; and the District of Columbia and Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York in the DC program as reported by Spencer S. Hsu/WDC Post), I think we will have a far more dispersed and frightening problem than what the TIA proposed. Does this mean Safire, and Harrow do another round of columns, Congress and (hopefully) State Legislatures get involved to control this effort toward Too much surveillance (by Safire) of citizens? How effective can we as citizens be in asking for legislative oversight when there are so many different states and entities involved?

Well, step one is in place: Robert O'Harrow Jr/Washington Post says that Florida is using our personal data in new and *interesting ways*, and the US government has taken note (specifically the Department of Homeland Security), as well as other states, wanting to use it to access our personal data to fight terrorists: U.S. Backs Florida's New Counterterrorism Database: 'Matrix' Offers Law Agencies Faster Access to Americans' Personal Records.

Florida officials say the system will be used only by authorized investigators under tight supervision. They said it includes information that has always been available to investigators but brings it together and enables police to access it with extraordinary speed.

Technical challenges include ensuring that data are accurate and that the system can be updated frequently.

"The power of this technology -- to take seemingly isolated bits of data and tie them together to get a clear picture in seconds -- is vital to strengthening our domestic security," said James "Tim" Moore, who was commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement until last month.

A senior official overseeing the project acknowledged it could be intrusive and pledged to use it with restraint. "It's scary. It could be abused. I mean, I can call up everything about you, your pictures and pictures of your neighbors," said Phil Ramer, special agent in charge of statewide intelligence. "Our biggest problem now is everybody who hears about it wants it."

MATRIX, which stands for Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange, has this to say (from their website) about Data Security:

Information submitted by a state may only be disseminated in accordance with restrictions and conditions placed on it by the submitting state, pursuant to the submitting state's laws and regulations. Information will be made available only to law enforcement agencies, and on a need-to-know and right-to-know basis. Data access permissions will be conditioned on the privileges of the user making the inquiry.

But what is that? How do we know the MATRIX system builders are protecting their systems from cackers (think identity theft paradise) or those who may want information but don't have proper clearance, and what is the mechanism for overseeing that properly accessed information is not improperly used against people? Who will have oversight, who will track this ongoing, who will make sure this system does not deteriorate into the Nixon enemies list or some other big brother attempt to control citizen's unlawfully?

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)
June 18, 2003
For Solving the Problem of Theft of Copyrighted Works, Orrin Hatch Suggests...

"If we can find some way to do this without destroying their machines, we'd be interested in hearing about that. If that's the only way, then I'm all for destroying their machines. If you have a few hundred thousand of those, I think people would realize the seriousness of their actions. There's no excuse for anyone violating copyright laws." (from the Washington Post/AP or htm) Sen. Orrin Hatch is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the hearing was Tuesday where he made this statement.

So, would your computer be destroyed without a court order or other due process? Without checking to see that the files were actually a copyright violation and not, say, your own personally ripped mp3s from your own lawfully purchased CDs? Or a file with a similar name as that of a copyright protected work, but one that is not another's copyrighted work at all? Like in the Penn State astronomy and astrophysics department case?

Dana Blankenhorn responds that if technology like this were developed it would get out and any hacker could use it to destroy any computer:

The nature of secrets is they don't stay secret long. The bigger the secret, the faster the discovery.... Orrin Hatch would be unable to compute anymore. Neither, for that matter, would I. Neither would you. That (secret, machine destroying) code would spread, not like a virus, but like spam, and destroy the Internet forever. You can "email" Hatch to suggest that he get a regular email address, as well as consider that his idea is unconstitutional.

Lessig comments that Hatch has been swallowed by extremists.

Donna blogs the Internet Law 2003 conference and links to some of these issues as well as P2P and technical self-help discussions at the conference. The Register weighs in too.

Update 061803: Senator Hatch can be emailed here:

Update 061803: Hatch's office has issued a statement about this:

"I am very concerned about Internet piracy of personal and copyrighted materials, and I want to find effective solutions to these problems.

"I made my comments at yesterday's hearing because I think that industry is not doing enough to help us find effective ways to stop people from using computers to steal copyrighted, personal or sensitive materials. I do not favor extreme remedies - unless no moderate remedies can be found. I asked the interested industries to help us find those moderate remedies."

Update 061903: See Ed Felten's write up on this issue.

Update 062003: Orrin Hatch, Software Pirate. Apparently, Orrin Hatch's website is using unlicensed software. D'oh!

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
June 16, 2003 Gets Closer to the Heavenly Jukebox Answer Post Napster

Jon Healey at the LATimes has an article on Personal Jukeboxes (htm) where technologies like Muse.Net let "people with high-speed Internet connections listen to the music on their computers from any other computer online" so that a collection of music is not about the bits on a machine but rather a collection of titles that can be anywhere. About 150,000 people use Muse.Net (of Mediacode, Inc.), which "increases consumers' appreciation of music without decreasing their willingness to pay for it" by letting one person access their own collection for about $20.00/yr.

"I just think it does all the right things," Ted Cohen, SeniorVP of EMI said after seeing the technology. "It lets people extend the reach of their music experience without tripping over artists' rights or content owners' rights."

On the other hand, there are security and privacy issues, with Muse.Net: "'You're asking me to register what I own,' Analyst Michael McGuire of GartnerG2 says. In Microsoft's Web services model, the entity that licenses and distributes songs 'knows who I am, what I have and what I'm doing with it at all times, theoretically.'"

In contrast, the NY Times has a piece on the difficulties of downloading (htm) courtesy of Frank Field... who also mentions the iPod/iTunes bundling possibilities; as well as this Miriam Rainsford (who started the Madonna remix project mentioned here before) piece on musicians and DRM:

As a musician I find the notion of using DRM technology abhorrent -- not only because of the risk that my works could be locked up indefinitely by technological means, despite my signing a non-exclusive distribution contract. Under anti-circumvention laws such as the DMCA and the forthcoming EUCD, it could well prove impossible for me to share my own work with my friends, or to distribute DRM-controlled content to another publisher.

But aside from the legal and practical aspects, I believe DRM to be against the spirit of music-making. Music is made for enjoyment -- and it is very difficult to create music without an atmosphere of freedom.

And Jenny at the Shifted Librarian talks about another idea to rent iPods filed with music.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
June 11, 2003
Lifelog and Privacy

Ed Felten had a great post the other day on Safire's column on Lifelog (htm) (brought to you by DARPA), and the Memex (bIPlog previously talked about the Memex), privacy and context, as well as potential conflicts of interest for bloggers and expectations for private conversations.

The DARPA LifeLog program is trying to build a smart Memex. LifeLog is supposed to be smart, so that it can figure out the context of actions, so as to help you recall more accurately and naturally....

Also, Joi Ito has a comprehensive report on International Research on Privacy for Electronic Government (cover sht; all the report is in pdf) on Privacy Enhancing Technologies in Japan, the US, Canada and Europe. From the US section:

Privacy Risks in Entertainment Technologies
A little noticed but potentially quite significant area of privacy concerns relates to the rapid deployment of technologically sophisticated entertainment systems, especially related to television broadcasting.

Most consumers are unaware of the degree to which their personal viewing activities may be subject to recording, tracking, analysis, and even commercial distribution use by broadcasters and related firms. The opportunities for this sort of data collection are in a number of areas.

With both types of TiVo units, the amount of data that the units are capable of collecting regarding users' interactions is extremely comprehensive. In fact the unit can literally record and log every action that a user makes including every press on the remote control, every program watched, how long programs are maintained and how often they are viewed, and virtually every other aspect of users' viewing and operational habits. Since the system also includes the capability of automatically watching for particular programs based on titles, actors, keywords, and other parameters, it can collect a great deal of data regarding the interests of viewers.

This section of the report includes ReplayTV and DishPlayer too. And it goes on to survey how DRM systems, which are intended to restrict copying and theft of copyright protected materials are increasingly being used to collect very detailed personal usage data, not just in the present or for the long-term, but also retrospectively.

Wired has this: DOJ Net Surveillance Under Fire about the Patriot Act, your web activities and your email.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 15, 2003
DHS Used to Track Down Texas Legislators

Texas is getting to be as interesting as Florida and Modesto.

Balkinization talks about the Texas legislators that flew the coop to prevent a vote on redistricting. However, one aspect of the story not mentioned is how the Speaker of the House there, Tom Craddick of Austin (who also left the state 30 years ago to prevent a vote, btw), in his quest to find them, had underlings asking the Department of Homeland Security to track them down (Star-Telegram). They did this by finding former Speaker Pete Laney's plane through the DHS's Interdiction and Coordination center.

The civil liberties issues should be clear. Using terrorism detection methods for purposes other than detecting terrorism is not right, but for gaining political advantage, it smacks of Watergate.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
April 19, 2003
Comp Lic II

Donna Wentworth points to Matt Morse's latest on the compulsory licensing column by Fred Von Lohmann last week, where a flat fee scheme is discussed. Derek Slater addresses the privacy issues of tracking file sharing and watermarks. Ren Bucholz, who used to manage a radio station follows with some insights into artist compensation and the radio station model, and Alexander Payne responds on taxation and ISPs.

They are talking about the complexities of implementing a compulsory license system to track downloaded music, resulting in an accurate distribution of fees to the artists. One thought is to count watermarked songs as they pass through a pipe, no matter where they are going or who is getting the music. This way privacy for users could be ensured, with even the smallest artists directly compensated. And a portion of the fees would go to artists regardless of who owns the rights. Payne addresses the taxation scheme, suggesting that a government tax wouldn't be the way to go. Instead, he thinks an ISP based market scheme would work, where only downloaders are charged, instead of every user, since many users do not engage in music file sharing. However, the privacy issues are ripe for abuse and if the fees per song were small enough, might not be worth charging directly per user.

I like the central heat metaphor put forth by Greg Blonder, because it protects privacy, makes fees really low because everyone pays, which then encourages the eventual participation by many more than just those currently downloading. Americans like flat fees anyway; witness our cell phone system as compared to Europe. Paying per minute/per song fees isn't as fun. People get niggly over every 25 cent song (mobile minute), as opposed to paying a flat monthly amount, where they use services without thinking. It would also discourage the trading of burned cds, because why bother if a user can just download something reliable and easy? Imagine users emailing each other playlists and links to songs they wanted to share as a form of expression, commenting, and trading recommendations, to legal works.

Maybe there could be a maximum monthly download, say 1gb of watermarked content, before increased flat fees were applied. Also, because most P2P downloading is currently illegal, and because it is something people with particular music tastes engage in now, the content and distribution model mean that the entire internet population does not participate. But if music downloading were simple, cheap (and flat fee), and the available content was directed at a much wider range audience, I think a much higher percentage of those on the internet would participate, making the flat fee a more equitable and reasonable solution. It would encourage experimenting with unknown and obscure content, in formats that are also less popular, and might even be a way of allowing for, even encouraging and compensating, artists sampled by other artists, bringing back a dying category killed by the copyright wars. And, it would maintain user privacy.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
April 15, 2003
Copyright and Free Speech

Copyright protection and free speech collided again this past weekend when a Georgia state court issued a temporary restraining order (pdf) that prevented two students from presenting information on how to break into and modify a university electronic transactions system at Interz0ne II, a Georgia security and hackers' conference held in Atlanta. reports that Blackboard Inc., a Washington D.C.-based education software company maker of the Blackboard Transaction System, first sent a cease and desist letter to the organizers of the conference and then turned to a state judge to block the presentation, "Campuswide System Vulnerabilities Update" (full PPT here of 9/02 presentation at Interz0ne I) by co-panelists Georgia Institute of Technology's Billy Hoffman (aka Acidus) and University of Alabama's Virgil Griffith.

The company, in its full complaint (pdf) told the judge that one of the two students physically broken into a networked, switched device, figuring out a way to mimic Blackboard's technology. Hoffman wrote on his website, which now simply links to, "if Blackboard wouldn't make their system more secure, or tell people how to secure it, I'll simply make compatible ones myself and give them away." (See also the 2600 mirror of the Acidus site.)

While conference organizers contend that the students' free speech rights were abridged, Blackboard argues that the information gained illegally would harm the company's commercial interests and those of its clients. The state judge agreed, at least temporarily, with the company's claim that because the alleged act would be illegal under the federal and state laws, publication of the resulting information should be blocked. Michael Stanton, a Blackboard spokesman, said "The temporary restraining order pointed out that the irreparable injury to Blackboard, our intellectual property rights and clients far outweighed the commercial speech rights of the individuals in question." Although as Ed Felten points out, the documents don't actually mention the free speech issues and it doesn't appear that the judge considered it when issuing the temporary restraining order.

A hearing on a permanent injunction against publication or presentation of the work will be held in Georgia state court Wednesday.

Posted by Valentina Pasquali at 05:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
April 05, 2003
Privacy Protection Bill Introduced by Feinstein

Diane Feinstein introduced The Privacy Act of 2003, S745 on 3/31/03. This legislation would make a two tier system, dividing personal information into two categories: 1. information like SS#'s, driver's license, some health and financial data, which would require customer's opting into a system allowing a company to sell the data, and 2. name and address information, allowing people to opt-out of systems where companies could sell that data. Importantly, the bill will "Protect the privacy of information regardless of the medium through which it is collected." So this might include RFID tag scans, IP addresses and anything we haven't thought of yet. It would still mean the information was collected through surveillance, but at least it couldn't be sold so easily.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 04:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
RFID and DeScramblers

Yesterday at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference, they talked about talked about RFID tags (discussed here before) and solutions to consumer tracking of goods, once the goods leave the store at Plenary Session #12 on Auto ID: Tracking Everywhere: with Katherine Albrecht (CASPIAN), Mark Roberti, Richard M. Smith and J.D. Abolins (moderator). One solution put forth by Roberti was to get a $200 scrambler for your house, so that everything you own, which in future might contain a tag not turned off (or killed) at the store, or that you were told by the store/seller was turned off, but actually wasn't, would be rendered unable to transmit. However, what happens when you, wearing tagged clothes, tagged personal effects like sunglasses, keys, wallet, cell phone, drive your car with tagged Michelin tires, etc., to a store. Everything is then not scrambled, the chips are turned on and being scanned from the parking lot and all points around the store, and they are linking past purchases including dates and costs, to your current purchases, to where you go in the store, to what entertainment you buy, and to what you drive, causing them to market items to you in the store based on this information, and even then selling this information later. What happens if you don't have $200 for the home descrambler? Does this mean people with money who are informed can protect their privacy, at least at home, but the rest can't?

One more question, would a scrambler device constitute circumvention of the RFID tag system, and would it then be subject to DMCA anti-circumvention claims, if you scrambled RF signals at home? (This is a crazy question, yes, but in light of printers and garage door openers and the DMCA, what's next?)

Update 03/07/03: Benetton has announced they aren't using RFID tags in their clothing. Instead, they are just studying it.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
March 31, 2003
Fear and Trust in the Networked Society

Sheldon Pacotti in Salon writes "Are We Doomed Yet?" looking at information technologies and the threats they pose to humanity. He is "alarmed by the ease with which our society is being frightened into abandoning its hard-won openness. Numerous ideas currently in circulation, taken together, foretell a future which might shock our late-capitalist sensibilities, but which could very well become our reality, by degrees, if we don't take the time now to ask fundamental questions about what we value as a people. "

The shift in science from the descriptive to the functional is the key. Instead of observing with language, it's about reconfiguring the natural world as language, which does not just describe, but digitally encodes. The shift to heightened granularity of choice makes this the age of fashion (as compared to the age of machinery in the last two centuries) where diversity and customization make every expression, from your genes to computing to your t-shirt a computational exercise in design for consuming.

"The power of our voices to reshape materials to suit our pleasure will soon be limited only by our salaries. But as advanced language-processing technology frees us as consumers, will it also make us free in more fundamental ways, as citizens, artists, parents, employees? Or will its functional nature -- and, by extension, its users -- be seen as a danger that needs to be regulated?"

"In crude terms, governments are deciding what to do about networks. Since the rise and fall of Napster, everyone seems to have a theory about what to do about piracy on the Internet, but piracy is the smallest of the threats waiting for us in the digital age." So it's not piracy, but dangerous technologies (he gives the example that posting DeCSS is unstoppable by the government, and if someone posted a new Ebola-AIDS genome, it would be just as unstoppable, but far more dangerous) that are threatening. And if there must be surveillance, he believes it should be through a completely open network.

"...Though we might be foolish to put too much faith in the romantic notion of the ?citizens' militia,? we should be very suspicious of laws that limit the creation or dissemination of knowledge. They threaten to create a privileged class of information shepherds who, though well-meaning at first, could easily abuse their dramatic power advantage over information consumers. We should not give up our freedom to know and to communicate unless we are certain that the new order would be vastly more secure than the present one -- and, as I argue above, the likelihood is that it would not."

So if computer code becomes the central form of expression, what happens to free speech, and the open society? He argues that we need the most educated, most open society in order to overcome the next generation of dangerous technologies. "The choice is not between a perilous freedom and a secure tyranny, but rather between fear and trust."

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
March 29, 2003
Super-Mini-DMCAs, Blogs and Media

Ed Felten has been covering the Super-DMCA issue in FTT including several posts as well as linking to various state bills as passed or proposed, and even posting the Massachusetts bill.

The Register picked it up, and just quotes him because it's so well done. Basically, several states have passed or are considering super-powerful, but state level (hence the mini descriptor), versions of the DMCA (pdf) that will make sending and receiving encrypted email illegal, as well as using network address translation for addressing packets (this is written from behind both soft and hardware firewalls with NAT turned on -- I can't imagine high bandwidth connections not using either or both of these to keep some measure of security), not to mention the usual OS's like Windows that use NAT would be outlawed. The Register covered this topic but essentially just reprinted Ed's explanation.

Which brings up the blogging and media issue. For sometime, the debate about whether blogging is journalism has been discussed, and while this is receding there are still those who believe it cannot be, because of the lack of editorial oversight and the unreliability of blogs (a biz tech reporter at a large regional paper told me this two weeks ago). In effect, Ed becomes a journalist for the Register, because they ripped his stuff. Ed's blog is a great contribution to the advancement of the debate around IP issues, because of his unique experience (CS prof, fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Tech, recipient of RIAA lawsuit, encryption expert, blogger). Like anything on the Internet, trusted sources are critical, but the blogging medium really has nothing to do with veracity and usefulness. The value of his writing stands regardless of the medium's lack of editorial oversight.

Update 03/30/03: Declan McCullagh also wrote about this Friday in CNet, and posted to Politechbot today (thanks to Frank on the CNet article as well).

Posted by Mary Hodder at 05:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
March 15, 2003
Welcome to the New Travel

A bag on a flight from Seattle to San Diego was found by its owner to have been inspected by someone commenting on the contents of his bag, which included some "No Iraq War" signs. The baggage inspector included the official preprinted inspection notice in the bag, but also wrote a note: "Don't appreciate your anti-American attitude!"

Robert O'Harrow, Jr. writes about the Aviation ID System and the Senate Commerce Committee's vote to support TSA disclosure of the systems' details and privacy implications. The CAPPS II system will rely heavily on commercial data systems about every American adult. In other words, your Choicepoint report, with information about every trackable purchase ($3 coffee at Starbucks? $2 bagel at Noahs? etc. from your debit card) as well as other kinds of activities you participate in, like your neighborhood watch association membership, or your work as a Boy Scout troop leader, all your speeding tickets, will be used to make decisions about screening you, or letting you fly at all. Even though laws, like the Privacy Act of 1974 discourage the government from doing this themselves, the Act doesn't discourage buying the info from a company, even if it's just the aggregated score. So the question is, how much of each person's report will be used, or will they just look at an aggregated score, and how much control will people have to correct mistakes or even know that any particular information is being used. In 2001, Glenn Simpson, in the Wall Street Journal (courtesy of IP/Farber) (or the WSJ -- sub req) reported the FBI using Choicepoint, as well as 35 other Federal agencies, to make decisions about citizens.

"This is really the beginning of a debate of how our country can fight [terrorism] ferociously, without gutting civil liberties," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), whose amendment "would require the TSA to report how it will mitigate errors and enable appeals from passengers who believe they were incorrectly identified as potential threats."

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
March 14, 2003
The Sensor Web

Benetton (CNet, Wired and SFGate) will embed radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in the labels of its clothing. Prada does it now, and Walmart, Proctor & Gamble and Tesco (who is designing shelves to read the tags) are thinking about it. These companies want to track inventory in the store, but with a 5 foot range, and the potential to transmit data from one sensor to the next through a series of RFID tags located in many items, the contents of say, your house, could be scanned out front or as you walk near sensors on the street, wearing something from one of these stores. It seems like all benefits are on the business side and very little good is on the consumer/customer/user side (whatever we are this week...). I can't wait for the anti-circumvention lawsuit for removing the tag.

This year, Phillips Electronics will send Benetton 15 million of these sensors the size of a grain of sand that hold about 1k of data, or a paragraph of rewritable text. Phillips has sold a half billion of the chips mostly used in smart cards for transportation systems. What's kind of odd is that Karsten Ottenberg of Phillips Semiconductors said (in SF Gate) RFID tags "could be used for 'customer loyalty' rewards that could earn consumers such benefits as frequent flyer miles, free music downloads or discount coupons." I'm not sure how this would be implemented or what he had in mind, but the only additional information RFID tags might give other than just adding to the aggregated purchase information already collected at the cash register is for the retailer to scan clothing worn into the store or past some other sensors. This seems to contradict his other statement that, "cautioned that the chips will store no data about the customer, and will be essentially useless after the garments leave the store."

A few years ago, this was much more experimental and speculative. Now, in practice, the issues around privacy are staring at us, quietly, and the question is, do we take the fatalist approach, where we allow this to be inevitable and give in to it, or take the communitarian view, where we give up privacy for the good of the community (commercial community?), or do we look at building privacy into the systems that use sensors and collect data, and think about public policy to protect people from the only part that is truly inevitable: the sensor web is here. What we decide or let happen now will as usual, be very hard to change later, as a matter of policy and inertia.

Update 3/17/03: (from Frank/Furdlog) The Boston Globe has an article today on the RFID chip, mentioning CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering) which is working to create privacy protections against the RFID chip.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
March 11, 2003
Santa Cruz Libraries Post Warning

...that the FBI may be spying on the Library's book check-out and computer systems. "Questions about this policy," patrons are told, "should be directed to Attorney General John Ashcroft, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 20530."

Rep. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., has introduced the Freedom to Read Protection Act that would repeal the library and bookstore provisions of the Patriot Act. Apparently, a letter written by Assistant Attorney General Daniel Bryant to Senator Patrick Leahey saying "Americans who borrow or buy books surrender their right of privacy," has brought about quite a bit of support for this bill. Librarians, under a gag order to keep them from revealing when they have been served with a warrant, said in a recent survey (almost 60 percent of the 906 respondents) that they believed it was unconstitutional. One librarian is simply stating regularly when there are no warrants, so that when there is no statement of anything, people will know there is a warrant that has been served. Huh? Does this feel odd to you? Reminds me of when the State of California required public school teachers to sign a loyalty oath to the state, and the only people who signed were the ones they were actually concerned about, because they wanted to stay under the radar. Do we really want public policy that creates situations like this?

Julie Cohen, at the DRM Conf two weeks ago, talked about her "right to read anonymously" (pdf) ideas. Eight years later, this is more true than ever: "the new information age is turning out to be as much an age of information about readers as an age of information for readers." And yet her idea that "reading is so intimately connected with speech and freedom of thought that the First Amendment should be understood to guarantee such a right" seems further and further from the understanding our government implements in its policies.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
February 12, 2003
Google Shapes What We Know, Especially About Each Other

The Boston Globe Mag looks at Google and the way it has changed our expectations about finding information, especially about each other (my bIPlog activities come up first in searching my name...). As things become more transparent (go to where any hopes of lying about your age end there), people face themselves in arenas they weren't expecting, where having been Googled, they are confronted by their past, or worse, totally dismissed. In person, we consider more easily how people grow or change over time and are human and fallible, especially in youth. But the Internet and Google remove us from each other, altering what sociologist Erving Goffman calls, the "right and duty of partial display" in social situations. The other side is the Googler admitting they found information on the web about a person they know. And who wants to seem like a paranoid snoop, so the result is silence. And the social and privacy contract is altered in a very strange way.

And the question comes to mind, is your digital identity your personal intellectual property? Is your Google identity yours or someone else's? And by extension, is your clickstream a personal expression (carefully chosen and shaped by you)?

There is the tension between privacy, and the fact that we have such piecemeal protections in the US, and the idea of getting used to a certain amount of transparency. "In time, we will adjust. 'People get used to invasions of privacy,' Jonathan Zittrain says." But since we don't have comprehensive privacy protection like Europe does, people in the US are at somewhat of a disadvantage, where we must be the gatekeeper of our information, and think about where the information will go, beyond where we release it. Being technically savvy is a minimum requirement for this, and that leaves a lot of people out.

Google isn't as visually interesting as where if you end up in the database, it will reveal all sorts of interesting associations, like this.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
January 23, 2003
The "Mother of All Knowledge Management Projects" has an article called Integrating America talking about how difficult it will be to get 22 federal agencies, with 170,000 employees, using 500 applications, and an unknown number of stovepipe systems to work together in a single system. Among the problems: multiple standards, multiple ways of thinking about the data reflected in system design, multiple security systems, gigs of data traversing limited bandwidth, the difficulty of finding people good at labeling, categorizing and organizing information.... One problem not explicitly addressed: the freshness of the data they are trying to gather and analyze.

CIO says it would not be surprised if the Department of Homeland Security fails or only partially succeeds, and yet they are hopeful the DHS is somewhat successful because of 9/11.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
December 24, 2002
"What Do Intellectual Property Owners Want?"

Andy Oram writes about the new censorship, how DRM should be developed, and how it will fail because developers want to take neither the time for an open review process with other researchers, nor are they cooperative toward DRM as the security profession tends to attract people that are averse to using systems that protect people's rights.

Oram says "perfect control will fail. That's the first grounds for optimism.... The second is that people will get bored of controlled content and will turn to open systems that are intrinsically more exciting and engrossing." See his article "Stop the Copying and Start a Media Revolution." And, "third is that the public fights back. The ElcomSoft case shows that the public can understand the issues and stand up for its rights when given a voice."

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
December 19, 2002
ISAT Report Recommends Developing Technologies to Protect Privacy

The Pentagon released a study done at the end of 2001, before the TIA was even a glimmer in John Poindexter's eye, called "Security with Privacy" (PDF), by the Information Sciences and Technologies Study Group. It recommends DARPA and other government agencies develop technologies to protect against the "misuse of data-mining systems similar to those now being considered by the government to track civilian activities electronically in the United States and abroad."

EPIC filed a Freedom of Information Act (PDF) request to get the study, which looked at technologies, not policy or the TIA, and concludes that "...technologies can be adapted to permit surveillance while minimizing exposure of individual information.... Perhaps the strongest protection against abuse of information systems is Strong Audit mechanisms. We need to watch the watchers."

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 28, 2002
University Campuses A Key IP Battleground

The recording and movie industry believes that, in the post-Napster age, some of the most rampant abuses of their copyrighted material occurs on college campuses, where students have access to high-speed broadband systems that allow easy file-sharing over peer-to-peer networks. In a good summary of this issue, the Mercury News reported that the RIAA and other industry associations have urged leaders in higher education to monitor their students and impose restrictions on violators. As a result, in recent months, universities across the country have been reassessing their policies and issuing new rules regarding the use of university networks, including limiting such file-sharing by students and warning students of disciplinary action if they violate copyrights. Some went so far as to seize students' computers, like U.S. Naval Academy (see posting below), while some campuses are wary of student privacy and are trying to make it a student-led initiative to raise awareness of intellectual property and copyright infringements.

Posted by Feiwen Rong at 12:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
November 22, 2002
A DMCA Déjà Vu at Princeton?

Good thing for Alex Halderman ('03) that Ed Felten is on the faculty. The Princeton senior could use his professor's seasoned advice right about now on the perils of doing computer science research under the rule of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

On Monday, Halderman presented his junior paper, "Evaluating New Copy-Prevention Techniques for Audio CDs," at the 2002 ACM Workshop on Digital Rights Management -- an act that could be seen as a violation of the DMCA.

Posted by Maggie Law at 10:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
November 20, 2002
"Progressive Actionable Intelligence"

EagleForce Associates, has teamed with Autonomy Corporation to develop critical IT infrastructure for the "Intelligence, Defense, and Security Markets."

EagleForce develops SECURAIR, a concept technology that profiles airport passengers and assigns each a "threat assessment score."

Autonomy has a contract with the Department of Homeland Security to provide information analysis technology connecting 200,000 employees across various agencies. Autonomy's technology will enable Poindexter's covert observers to use natural language to describe our movements as we send email, make credit card purchases, walk through airports and other public places, etc.

Here's an idea: The Department of Misinformation should partner with The Department of Homeland Security to produce a reality show based on all the aggregated content they are ripping from our daily interactions. Then we could see our tax dollars at work.

Posted by Ethan Eismann at 09:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
November 19, 2002
Cyber Rights Fading Fast (Last One Out, Turn Off the Lights)

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that police do not need to be present to collect evidence from an Internet service provider. This case was about a man using email to engage in sexual conduct with minors; the police faxed the warrant to Yahoo. Having the police present is one of the checks and balances of the 4th Amendment warrant process that has been in place since the 1700s.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 17, 2002
Darknet's Future

At the Association for Computing Machinery conference workshop on DRM tomorrow, four (Microsoft) researchers give the scholarly take on Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution. Darknet is a collection of networks and technologies used to share digital content. Interesting points: the legal system can disable the current darknet systems, but as users become more sophisticated networkers, smaller more personally established networks will take over and DRM will be useless for tech-savvy pirates. Examples: think about IM-ing a DVD to a few people, or small world networks strung together to quickly diffuse content.

Their conclusion: "There seem to be no technical impediments to darknet-based peer-to-peer file sharing technologies growing in convenience, aggregate bandwidth and efficiency." Also, they believe strong DRM may be a disincentive to legal commerce as people worry about privacy issues, and movie pirating is less of a problem because rentals on or offline are so cheap and easy, in contrast to the current state of music.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
November 15, 2002
No Fly List Comes Online

Yesterday James Dempsy of the Center for Democracy and Technology talked at Boalt Hall, asking whether our government is gaining increased security by trading civil liberties post 9/11 with changes the Homeland Security Act (closer to being passed) makes to our system. He also asked whether the checks and balances are in place to monitor what security agencies do. One point he made is that there is no public oversight for the process of making lists of people the goverment is tracking.

Salon has a story about a "do not fly" list with 1,000 people prohibited from flying at all, and another group that gets searched every time. When people question the searches, here is the response: "The computer spit you out," ... the agent (said). "I don't know why, and I don't have time to talk to you about it." In addition, the Transportation Security Administration admits it has no guidelines for putting people on the list, or taking them off. NBC also has a story about John Thomas having problems flying because he shares the name of a man on the FBI's ten most wanted list. The man on the FBI list was arrested 9 months before, but the name still appears on the No Fly List.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
Web Browsing as Criminal Behavior?

A Swedish technology company, Intentia, filed a complaint against Reuters for hacking into their website and obtaining the company's financial report. The catch is that Reuters did not bypass any security measures. They simply typed in a URL and viewed the financial report from one of Intentia's publicly available web pages. Intentia argued that this web page was "private" because there was no explicit link to it. Reuters countered that anything accessible on a public website, whether or not it's linked to, is undoubtedly public. Why all the confusion? One computer science professor, Edward Felten, suggests that website owners clarify the difference between public and private information by protecting private information with a password.

Posted by Lisa Wang at 01:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 14, 2002
Your Personal IP, Soon To Be Govt. Property

I'm no huge fan of William Safire, so when I find myself nodding in agreement, I know something big is up. Read this piece on the impact of the Homeland Security Act. If left unamended, it gives extraordinary powers of electronic information gathering to our government, and in particular a new office headed by John Poindexter, the same fellow who brought us Iran/Contra. Essentially, the Hooverian fantasy of a "mega-database" tracking every citizen is funded in this bill. The only comfort: so far, the government has been famously inept in the IT integration department.

Posted by John Battelle at 07:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
October 04, 2002
Will they be at your door next? (Part 2)

That scraping sound you hear is U.S. District Judge John D. Bates scratching his head over the DMCA right now. The AP reports today that faced with making a decision on the RIAA v. Verizon Communications saga, he's having trouble interpretting the legislation that Congress passed in 1998, lamenting that they "could have made this statute clearer."

Meanwhile, music companies, file swappers, and ISPs are holding their breath....

Posted by Maggie Law at 04:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
September 17, 2002
Will They be at Your Door Next?

This is old news (sorry), but new to me: On August 26th, the SF Chron reported that the RIAA wants YOU (yes, you) to face criminal and civil charges for file swapping.

Well, not you exactly... yet. The Recording Industry Association of America has singled out a "very egregious" KaZaa user who it claims is sharing 666 files. (Egregious? That's positively satanic!) In an interesting twist, Verizon Communications is fighting the subpoena to divulge the offender's identity in the name of customer privacy rights. The song files in question are stored on the customer's hard drive, not on Verizon's network. Therefore, they argue, it stretches the DMCA beyond its true scope.

Posted by Maggie Law at 01:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)