July 6, 2007

Working Control, Online and Off [4:59 pm]

China city tightens Internet control after protestpdf

A Chinese city planned to censor online chatroom exchanges and ban anonymous postings after residents used the Internet to organize a mass protest against a chemical plant, Chinese media reported on Friday.

Under a new city regulation, online users would have to use their real names when posting messages on more than 100,000 Web sites registered in Xiamen, a port city in southeastern coastal Fujian province, the Beijing Youth Daily said.

“The names registered must be the same as the ones on your identity card,” it quoted an unnamed government official as saying, adding postings would be screened in advance of being posted and any unacceptable material would be blocked.

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No Safe Harbor In Belgium/EU, Apparently [3:53 pm]

Filesharing ruling against ISP hailed as precedentpdf

Belgian music copyright group SABAM, which brought the case, said on Friday it would consider taking other ISPs to court after its victory in the three-year-long case against Belgian ISP Scarlet, formerly part of Tiscali.

[...] The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents hundreds of record companies worldwide, said the case could set a precedent for the international fight against piracy.

“The court has confirmed that the ISPs have both a legal responsibility and the technical means to tackle piracy,” IFPI Chairman and Chief Executive John Kennedy said in a statement.

“This is a decision that we hope will set the mould for government policy and for courts in other countries in Europe and around the world.”

Should be quite the show as this one plays out. Gotta try to find the decision….

The IFPI press release; the SABAM press release (local copy) is even more inflammatory:

It appears from the sentence that the court retained none of the arguments put forward by TISCALI (SCARLET) as regards the right of privacy, the right of secrecy of correspondence and the right to freedom of expression. Nor accepted it the ISP’s argument that “the requested technical measures came down to imposing a duty of supervision of the entire P2P activities, which is contrary to the legislation on E-commerce”. As to the risk for TISCALI (SCARLET) of losing – due to the implementation of filtering measures – its waiver of liability for activities of mere conduit, the court decided not to uphold this argument.

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A Look At Second Life [11:56 am]

Where the Avatars Roampdf

Second Life, however, is a different animal. Instead of showing the guiding hand of an author, this universe is created by the choices of its participants, or “residents.” They can build, buy, trade and talk in a world entirely without rules or laws; a pure market where choice and consumption are the highest values. [...]

But Second Life is more consequential than its moral failures. It is, in fact, a large-scale experiment in libertarianism. Its residents can do and be anything they wish. There are no binding forms of community, no responsibilities that aren’t freely chosen and no lasting consequences of human actions. In Second Life, there is no human nature at all, just human choices.

And what do people choose? Well, there is some good live music, philanthropic fundraising, even a few virtual churches and synagogues. But the main result is the breakdown of inhibition. [...]

Of course, the real question is whether this tells us anything at all about ourselves or our institutions.

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Smart Radios, But Closed Source Preferred? (updated) [10:44 am]

Feds snub open source for smart radios

But a new federal rule set to take effect Friday could mean that radios built on “open-source elements” may encounter a more sluggish path to market–or, in the worst case scenario, be shut out altogether. U.S. regulators, it seems, believe the inherently public nature of open-source code makes it more vulnerable to hackers, leaving “a high burden to demonstrate that it is sufficiently secure.”

If the decision stands, it may take longer for consumers to get their hands on these all-in-one devices. The nascent industry is reluctant to rush to market with products whose security hasn’t been thoroughly vetted, and it fears the Federal Communications Commission’s preference for keeping code secret could allow flaws to go unexposed, potentially killing confidence in their products.

By effectively siding with what is known in cryptography circles as “security through obscurity,” the controversial idea that keeping security methods secret makes them more impenetrable, the FCC has drawn an outcry from the software radio set and raised eyebrows among some security experts.

For a counterpoint, see What’s App? New Web Ways to Connectpdf

That is an entrepreneurial sentiment shared by many of the thousands of developers racing to create applications for social-networking sites, blogs and, most recently, the iPhone. Less than a week after Apple’s launch of the iPhone, hundreds of applications are available for the device, with many from homegrown developers.

The open design of technology is making it possible for more people, and brands such as the energy drink Red Bull and the Ford modeling agency, to experiment with building Internet applications. Add-on applications include features that insert photo slideshows on MySpace or a gas-station locator for the iPhone. Application developers can test their creations on an audience of millions simply, quickly and cheaply. The goal: find out what works, maybe generate advertising revenue, and turn it into an independent business.

The programs range from the practical to the ridiculous. [...]

Which domain would *you* prefer?

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OT: A Real Part Of My Dismay [7:48 am]

He is, after all, the President of my country Granted, this doesn’t even come close to getting him off the hook, but it does mean that we ought to look at ourselves more closely. After all, it’s not fair to say “I really like A, but A’s spouse is a jerk” — A picked the spouse, and sticks with her/him, and that means thinking carefully about what that says about A: Shame on Bush — and uspdf

Someday, historians will ponder our strange collective passivity in the face of Bush-Cheney madness. Why did the editorial boards of our major newspapers either parrot the administration line or raise only muted criticism on so many issues, and for so long? Where were the tough journalistic questions? Why didn’t more members of Congress protest the administration’s blatantly unjustified policies and transparent constitutional outrages?

For that matter, when Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, John Ashcroft and countless others found that the administration was, at Cheney’s insistence, adopting policies they knew to be irresponsible and even illegal — when they found they had been locked out of the decision loop entirely — why didn’t any of them go public with their protests back when it would have made a difference?

It’s hard not to conclude that collectively, we were all too cowardly, slothful or puffed up with our own self-importance to ask the right questions and stand up for principle. The administration didn’t trick us; we tricked ourselves. Someday, the Bush era may come to seem like a bad dream, a shameful, inexplicable interlude in American history. We’re right to be outraged by Bush and Cheney, but we should also save a bit of outrage for when we look in the mirror.

Related: Man up, you dovespdf; also two other voices of outrage: Commuter in Chiefpdf; An Unpardonable Actpdf

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