Thursday, October 02, 2003

Legal Theory Blog. Razor sharp. Like I say - I REALLY need to catch up.
Nesson Fisher and Zittrain in conversation. Great stuff.

Derek Slater is on form too quizing Prof Nesson's ideas for getting us all out of the P2P cul-de-sac. I need to spend more time on this!
The Times is reporting that Tony Blair has become a convert to David Blunkett's grand plan on national identity cards. Another step in his New Labour leadership style demo. No doubt he wants to be seen to be tough on Labour, tough on the causes of Labour.
Can't resist this.
Anita Ramasastry has done a typically incisive analysis of the privacy issues related to the recent JetBlue case and the US government's proposals on the CAPPS11. The 1974 Privacy Act in the US only relates to databases compiled by the government and does not cover government's access to private sector databases.

"Soon, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) - which was
involved in the JetBlue data transfer - will begin to implement CAPPS II.
CAPPS II will attempt to update and revamp the existing federal no-fly
list program by employing the same kind of private sector data that
JetBlue provided to Torch Concepts.

Disturbingly, however, CAPPS II currently lacks meaningful privacy and
due process safeguards. Thus, not only should the Privacy Act be
amended, but so should the CAPPS II proposal.

Otherwise, consumers may find that data that they have provided to
companies in the private sector is now being used to target them for the
same scrutiny would-be terrorists receive. "

The defense contractor that analysed the data on 5 million JetBlue passengers, had been contracted by the army "to determine how information from public and private records
might be analyzed to help defend military bases from attack by terrorists
and other adversaries."

The contractor synthesised the JetBlue data with data bought from a large aggregating company and created a set of profiles:
(1) Young Middle Income Home Owners with Short
Length-of-Residence; (2) Older Upper Income Home Owners with
Longer Length-of-Residence; and (3) travellers with "anomalous

As Prof Ramasastry says, "The third category, by definition, might potentially include renters,
students with both home and school addresses, older persons who have
moved recently, and persons with low incomes. Of course, such persons
are in some senses the norm in America. Yet the program may have
deemed them "anomalous" - and, thus a risk from a security standpoint. "

The other problem comes when there are errors in the data or it gets misused by the various actors (or their employees) engaged in the processing or transfer of the data.

The guy that is trying to sell his electronic voting machines to Ohio state, told Republicans in a recent fund-raising letter that he is "committed
to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." If you read in a novel you wouldn't believe it. Not, of course, suggesting that we should believe everything we read on the Net. Although, Walden O'Dell, chief executive of Diebold Inc., has been reported as having said similar things in the past.

Monday, September 29, 2003

I've just lost a large post on electronic voting machines when IE Explorer crashed and I don't have the time to re-generate it, so I'll just point to this flash animation and a Salon article on alleged irregularities on the development of standards on same.
Insightful essay by science fiction writer Orson Scott Card on the problems the music industry is having with MP3s. He has a solution to the copyright term debate too,

"Twenty years after the author's
death or the author's hundredth birthday,
whichever comes last -- that's a workable
standard to provide for the author and his
or her immediate heirs. It comes to an end,
and the work enters the public domain as it

And let's eliminate this nonsense about
corporate authorship. If a corporation
claims to be the "author" for copyright
purposes, then the whole life of the
copyright should be twenty years, period.
They make most of their money in twenty
years, except on a handful of works that
enter the public consciousness...

If you changed the law that way, suddenly
"work for hire" contracts would disappear,
and the real creators would be treated
with more respect by the big companies --
because they'd much rather have a fair
contract with an author whose copyright
will last many decades than to have
outright "authorship" of a twenty-year