Thursday, May 13, 2004

In the Guardian,

"Brian Hadfield, the managing director of Unisys UK, a
US-based technology company that has worked on national
identity schemes in South Africa and Malaysia, questions the
usefulness of an ID card in countering the terror threat."

San Bernardino County in California are reportedly planning to defy an order by the Secretary of State banning the use of specific electronic voting machines in the presidential election in November. The county uses Sequoia machines, though, so I didn't think the order affected them anyway.
Brendan O'Neill at Spiked has a conspiracy theory in his sights about the leaking of the torture photos from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The photos from Abu Ghraib may have only recently been published
but many in the American media have known of their existence for

... Whether or not it was military figures in the Pentagon who leaked the
photos to the press, some of them have certainly used the ensuing
scandal to launch attacks against the civilian leadership in the
Department of Defence over the war in Iraq, specifically against
Donald Rumsfeld. One 'senior general at the Pentagon' told the
Washington Post: 'I do not believe we had a clearly defined war
strategy…. [Rumsfeld] refused to listen or adhere to military advice.'
A special forces officer said: 'Rumsfeld needs to go, as does Paul
Wolfowtiz [Rumsfeld's deputy].' (14)

In an unprecedented move, the Army Times, the US military
newspaper that gets distributed to American forces around the
world, published an editorial in the wake of the torture scandal calling
for Rumsfeld to resign, describing the torture scandal as 'a failure of
leadership from start to finish'. "
From James Heald of FFII:

"See stories on the FFII 'breaking news' wiki at

* Luxembourg has called in the text. There /will/ now be a
round-the-table discussion of it by the ministers.

It will now /not/ be taken as one of the 'A items' nodded through
en-bloc at the start of the agenda.

* The leading German official has confirmed Germany still opposes the
proposed text.

* Belgium and Slovenia are also likely to follow Germany on this.

* Poland: Richard Stallmann and others have made a big impact at a
lengthy session in the Polish parliament.

Previously Poland appears to have been keeping its head down.

* France: Le Monde has reminded the French president that he had
previously promised to opposed software patents, before the French
presidential election in 2002

The issue is very much "in play".


In the UK and Ireland, our best chance I think is to try to convince the
powers that be that the proposed draft will simply not go through the
European Parliament, however much the Patent Office is pushing for it,
because it gives *nothing at all* in the three most important areas
where the Parliament expressed concern:

-- *nothing* to give explicit reassurance that ordinary discussion of
algorithms in the form of code fragments will not be silenced by program
claims. (article 5.2). A provision that such discussion should be
considered 'fair use' would at least offer an olive branch here.

-- *nothing* to prevent dominant patent owners locking out specific
competitors for interoperability by refusing patent licences, short of a
full-scale EU Competition commission investigation. (article 6a). (The
EP wanted to allow automatic unfettered use. As a compromise Denmark
has suggested creating new fast-track procedures to allow compulsory
RAND licensing -- but this is rejected in the Irish draft)

-- most importantly, *nothing* to clarify what should be considered
"technical". The EP wanted a reference to "control of the forces of
nature" as the acid test, and a statement that the mere processing of
data is not technical.(articles 2, 3a and 4). But all the EP's
amendments in this area are rejected.

Past UK case law also supports the idea that methods which merely
address generic data relate to "computer programs as such", and only
become technical if the data has a specific technological relevance
beyond this; thus the current Patent Office manual states:

"1.26.4 The reference in Merrill Lynch to Vicom involving an
increase in speed (see 1.26.2) does not mean that an increase in speed
of itself is enough. This point was considered in Options Clearing Corpn
Inc's Application (unreported) when the hearing officer concluded that
Vicom was allowable because it produced an advance, namely an increase
in speed, in a technical field, namely the technical field of image
enhancement, and not simply because of the advance itself".

This principle should be upheld; but the EPO is already granting patents
far beyond this.

The European Parliament proposed a specific amendment that a mere
increase in the speed of data processing should not of itself be
considered technical; but this amendment is also to be rejected.

If the Council makes no attempt to engage with the Parliament on any of
these concerns, it seems quite likely to lose the entire Directive."

Bertie and the boys (i.e. the Irish government), as they say in Ireland, may not have as smooth a ride on EU software patents as they expected.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Eolas strikes back; Microsoft prepares appeal
Story speaks for itself.
BIPlog reports on self destructing DVDs.

"What's the latest way to access expression in the film world? EZ-D, a DVD "purchase" with a timeclock that allows you to
watch the movie as many times as you want for 48 hours, then poof! -- the work disappears.

Question is, how happy are we about moving to a model where we buy things for two days at a time? Should we let the line
between ownership and not be so E-Zly blurred? Are imploding expressive goods a good idea?"
Clay Shirky thinks Groklaw may be the MVP in the SCO v IBM linux legal dispute.

"GrokLaw: MVP of the SCO Wars

Liz has convinced me that one of the most profound effects of weblogs is the communal workings of those who publish them,
and that they contribute significant new value to collaboration across disciplines and boundaries...

...By way of background, SCO, once a technology company,
has become a company devoted to a single legal strategy:

1. Assert rights to the Unix operating system
2. Assert infirnging contributions of Unix source code to Linux
3. Sue firms that sell or use Linux, especially deep-pocketed IBM
4. Profit!!!1! (or at least buyout by IBM, to save them the expense of the suit.)

Much of the matter is in dispute, and IANAL, but what is clear is this: a) many SCO employees contributed to the Linux kernel, back when SCO was a tech company (“oldSCO”), with the approval of their bosses, and b) the Groklaw is doing an astonishing, world-changing job of finding, documenting and publicizing these occurrences (alongside much other work on the case.)

Today’s entry reads:
Groklaw has reported before on contributions made to the Linux kernel by Christoph Hellwig while he was a Caldera employee. We have also offered some evidence of contributions by oldSCO employees as well. Alex Rosten decided to do
some more digging about the contributions of one kernel coder, Tigran Aivazian.


This paper is a group effort. Alex’s research was shared with others in the Groklaw community, who honed, edited, and added further research. Then the final draft was sent to Tigran himself, so he could correct and/or amplify, which he has done. Look at that second graf: “This paper is a group effort.” Everyone always says that about complex work, but this is different. This is the end of two-party law, where plaintiff and defendant duke it out in an arms race of $350/hr laywers and “Take that” counter-motions.

Instead, we have a third party, Groklaw, acting as a proxy for millions of Linux users, affecting the public perception of the case (and the outcome SCO wants has to do with its stock price, not redress in the courts.) Groklaw may also be affecting the case in the courts, by helping IBM with a distributed discovery effort that they, IBM, could never accomplish on their own, no matter how may lawyers they throw at it.

There are two ways to change the amount of leverage you have. The obvious one is to put more force on the lever, and this is what SCO thought they were doing — engaging IBM in a teeter-totter battle that would make it cheaper for IBM to simply buy SCO.

The other way to get more leverage is to move the fulcrum. Groklaw has moved the fulcrum of this battle considerably closer to SCO, making it easier for IBM to exert leverage, and harder for SCO to. I can’t predict how the current conflict will end, but the pattern Groklaw has established, of acting on behalf of the people who will be adversely affected by a two-party legal battle, has already been vindicated, even if SCO avoids bankruptcy."

How the Net can make a difference.
Straight from the Source: Perspectives from the African Open Source Movement. Highly recommended. If you can't manage the full 17 pages, at least read the summary. Extract -

"For a software developer working in Africa, Philip Mbogo's problem is as basic as it gets: "I don't have a computer," he said. "I have to go for unpaid work in order just to get on a computer." Internet access is also an expensive rarity, so he counts himself fortunate to work as an intern at an Internet service provider where he takes as much advantage of the bandwidth as he can. "Anything I can get I download. I even got [a Linux distribution called] Debian, which takes two days [to download]."

African software developers face many obstacles as they struggle to work in this field. But these "coders", as a group, form a community marked less by their frustration and isolation than by their perseverance and resolve. This theme dominated AfricaSource, a workshop held in Namibia in March 2004 and organised by the Tactical Technology Collective, AllAfrica Foundation and SchoolNet Namibia. The meeting in the small town of Okahandja of 40 software developers from 25 countries was for many the first chance to collaborate and compare notes.

Lack of access to the means and tools of production is the issue African programmers most commonly identify as the greatest barrier to success in their work. But at this event, coders got a chance to share the innovative ways they work around the problem. "We buy computer parts bit by bit. In the space of three or four months we have a computer," says Ayeni Samuel Olaoluwa, a web developer from Nigeria, who saves up to 50% this way. Another method he has devised is keeping his freelance clients' work on computers he uses as part of his day job. "I am able to hide stuff on the server, but when I leave the company I'm in trouble."

The prohibitive costs of bandwidth and hardware are an obstruction most programmers face, but it affects coders most seriously at the time they are preparing to enter the job market. Without the opportunity to earn salaries that would help them afford equipment of their own, ambitious market entrants eager for work face the prospect of successive, often unpaid, internships just to prove their skills.

This predicament is widespread across Africa, says Ghanaian Guido Sohne, "There are not enough projects available to work on to employ the available talent…. In most African countries IT is not part of the economic production process. It's actually more expensive to computerise your accounting system than to hire more people to do it manually." So when programmers do find jobs, a large percentage tend to find themselves ushered into system administration and technical roles, where they are overworked and their skills are underutilised."

I complain that my office desktop computer crashes half a doxen times a day. I at least have the access and can always revert to the laptop when the inevitable Micrsoft blue screen of death makes its regular appearance.
Ed Felten points to an op ed piece in CSO magazine by Simson Garfinkel that demonstrates, yet again, how careless we are in our use of computers.

I was in Silicon Valley with
nothing to do, I stopped by
one of the valley's famed
stores that sell used and
"recycled" computers...

...But the real treasure trove that day wasn't on the store's display shelves; it was in the
warehouse. The cavernous space out back had several shelves stacked high with old hard
drives, each $5, "as is and untested," according to the sign...

...I bought 20 of them.

I took the drives home and started my own forensic analysis. Several of the drives had
source code from high-tech companies. One drive had a confidential memorandum
describing a biotech project; another had internal spreadsheets belonging to an
international shipping company.

Since then, I have repeatedly indulged my habit for procuring and then analyzing
secondhand hard drives. I bought recycled drives in Bellevue, Wash., that had internal
Microsoft e-mail (somebody who was working from home, apparently). Drives that I
found at an MIT swap meet had financial information on them from a Boston-area
investment firm. Last summer, I started buying drives en masse on eBay.

In all, I bought and analyzed the content of more than 150 drives with the help of Abhi
Shelat, another graduate student at MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science. We found
that between one-third and one-half of the drives still had significant amounts of
confidential data, even though many had been through a Format or FDisk operation. On
another third, someone had deleted the document files but left the applications behind. It
was a simple matter to undelete the data files and retrieve their secrets as well.

In fact, only 10 percent of the drives I purchased had been properly sanitized.

Much of the data we found was truly shocking. One of the drives once lived in an ATM. It
contained a year's worth of financial transactions—including account numbers and
withdrawal amounts—from a organization that had a legal requirement to not divulge such
information. Two other drives contained more than 5,000 credit card numbers—it looked
as if one had been inside a cash register. Another had e-mail and personal financial
records of a 45-year-old fellow in Georgia. The man is divorced, paying child support and
dating a woman he met in Savannah. And, oh yeah, he's really into pornography...

...Perhaps the saddest observation in our story is that erasing information from hard drives is
not difficult—with a little bit of Web searching, we found more than 50 programs that
purport to clean your hard drive so that the information on it cannot be recovered using
even the most advanced technical means...

...One key reason for today's poor disk sanitization practices is that it's very difficult to tell
the difference between a disk that has been properly sanitized and one that's simply been

...Another reason, we suspect, is that most people don't appreciate
the risk—the used-computer market is literally awash with
personal information from businesses and individuals, yet there
are relatively few cases of that information being used for
nefarious purposes."

ON the latter, it's only a matter of time. Garfinkel concludes:

"In the end, preventive technology is a better solution to the sanitization problem. If you use an encrypted file system, you can sanitize a disk simply by erasing the key. I'd like to see that sort of technology built in to hard drives. Or better, perhaps someday soon, all disk drives will come with a self-destruct feature—just like Star Trek's Enterprise did!"
Avi Rubin has had recent first hand experience of being on the receiving end of a false positive experience at an airport in California. The equipment detected non eixistent explosives in his belongings.

Prof Rubin also points to a slighly longer version of the hilarious clip from The Daily Show at Comedy Central on electronic voting.
I always seem to come away from reading Noam Chomsky's ideas with deep concerns about the world we live in and that which our children are inheriting. This essay in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 tragedies, invokes just those feelings. The mere mention of Chomsky causes some people to foam at the mouth, but even when I can't accept his theses, reading them is enlightening if also anxiety and depression inducing!
Donna is pleased that the antidote to the DMCA is getting a hearing on Capitol Hill.

Fair Use Gets Fair Play on Capitol Hill

This Wednesday, May 12th, marks the first time since the DMCA was enacted in 1998 that Congress will hold hearings on
legislation to reform it.

The Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act, or DMCRA, has three important goals:

#1: Warning: You're About to Pay Full Price for a Hobbled CD

The DMCRA would require labels on copy-protected "CDs," letting us know that we can't actually use what we've purchased
except under limited circumstances. That's right -- you get advance warning that you're paying the same price for less

#2: You Get to Reclaim Fair Uses of Digital Media That You Already Have in Analog Media

The DMC_R_A would put the Rights back in the DMCA. The bill amends the DMCA to allow you to circumvent copyright
controls on digital media for legitimate purposes -- for example, to make the fair uses that copyright law ordinarily and
traditionally allows.

Among other things, this would mean that:

a.) when most scholarly communication, publishing, instruction etc., takes place using digital media/online, our ability to share
knowledge and learn from one another won't be a distant and fast-fading memory;
b.) when researchers want to "tinker" to advance our scientific knowledge, they won't face a significant barrier -- like the
repeated threat of litigation; and
c.) when librarians seek to preserve our history in digital media, they won't have to wait three years at a time to beg the
Copyright Office for the narrowly defined technical ability to do so.

#3: These Will Be Real, Not Phantom/Illusory Fair Use Rights

The DMCRA would affirmatively allow the creation/distribution of devices that circumvent copyright controls, when the devices
have substantial non-infringing uses. That means inventors will be able to invent the next VCR or TiVo without asking
Hollywood's permission first. And if a researcher has created a circumvention tool for the purposes of researching/testing
web-filtering mechanisms, the researcher won't be limited to describing the controversial results. He or she could share the tool
with the scholarly community.
Cory Doctorow is lamenting, along with numerous others, the current state of play (or possibly more apt not-play) on the gadget side of Sony's business.
Waldon O'Dell, Diebold's CEO, today admits in the NYT that he made a "huge mistake" last year in declaring he wanted to deliver the election for George Bush. He's getting out of politics and planning to stay out as long as Diebold are in the voting machine business. Good for him.
The Washington Post, last week, had a good article on the electronic voting shenanigans in the US. There was nothing new in it but lots of useful links to related stories.

There are lots of very experienced election registrars genuinely supporting electronic voting and suggesting there has been too much focus on the tecnology and not enough on the overall election process, which has other built in safeguards, not least of which are vast numbers of dedicated election officials of impeccable integrity. Whilst I understand that point of view and the need to 'get the job done', whilst critics complain about 'hypothetical scenarios that have never happened', there have been significant failures with these machines. Officials who have not experienced such failures believe that they will not happen on their watch. But the security of the system is only as good as the weakest link and at the moment the weakest link is the technology, as has been repeatedly demonstrated.

Folk like Avi Rubin and David Gill really do understand the technology. With people of that calibre saying it neither implements security that is possible nor even implement security safeguards that are easy, we should be taking serious notice. Deploying technology in such a mission critical way fundamentally requires an understanding of that technology.

Whilst I have every sympathy with election officials, I have none at all for those like the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA - the trade association representing amongst others, surprise suprise, the electronic voting machine vendors) spouting complete nonsense like "Electronic voting systems work, and work well. Our recent survey shows that over two thirds of Americans believe that electronic voting is a secure, reliable way to conduct elections." This reminds me of the line from one of my favorite BBC TV shows of all time, Yes Prime Minister where Sir Humphrey Appleby is persuading the Prime Minister that he should invest in Trident: "It's the biggest and the best and the British people must have the best." Also the following sequence where Sir Humphrey and Bernard are discussing opinion polls:

Bernard: "He thinks..he thinks it's a vote winner."

Sir Humphrey (Sir H).: "Ah, that's more serious. What makes him think that?"

Bernard: "Well the party have had an opinion poll done. It seems all the voters are in favour of bringing back national service."

Sir H.: "Well have another opinion poll done showing the voters are against bringing back national service."

Bernard: "They can't be for it and against it."

Sir H. : "Oh of course they can, Bernard. Have you ever been surveyed?"

Bernard : "Yes. Well not me actually, my house. Oh I see what you mean."

Sir H.: "Well Bernard you know what happens. Nice young lady comes up to you. Obviously you want to create a good
impression. You don't want to look a fool, do you?"

Bernard: "No."

Sir H.: "No. So she starts asking you some questions. Mr. Wooley, are you worried about the number of young people without

B: "Yes"

Sir H.: "Are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?"

Bernard: "Yes"

Sir H. "Do you think there is a lack of discipline in our comprehensive schools?"

Bernard: "Yes"

Sir H.: "Do you think young people welcome some authority and leadership in their lives?"

Bernard: "Yes."

Sir H.: "Do you think they respond to a challenge?"

Bernard: "Yes."

Sir H: "Would you be in favour of re-introducing national service?"

Bernard: "Y… oh ..well I suppose I might be."

Sir H.: "Yes or no?"

Bernard: "Yes"

Sir H. : "Of course you would, Bernard. After all you've told you can't say no to that. So they don't mention the first five
questions and they publish the last one."

Bernard: "Is that really what they do?"

Sir H.: Well no not the reputable ones no but there aren't many of those. So alternatively the young lady can get the opposite

Bernard: "How?"

Sir H.: "Mr Wooley, are you worried about the danger of war?"

Bernard: "Yes"

Sir H. : "Are you worried about the growth of armaments?"

Bernard: "Yes."

Sir H. : "Do you think there is a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?"

Bernard: "Yes."

Sir H. : "Do you think it is wrong to force people to take up arms against their will?"

Bernard: "Yes."

Sir H.: "Would you oppose the re-introduction of national service?"

Bernard : "Yes."

Sir H. : "There you are you see, Bernard, the perfect balanced sample. So we just commission our own survey for the ministry
of defence. See to it Bernard."

The Boston Globe has picked up the story of the arrest of Japanese professor, Isamu Kaneko, over file sharing software Winny.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

John Lettice is on the ID card case again at the Register, this time pointing out that Department for Homeland Security and a biometric company, Identix, which is is also supplying equipment for the UK Passport Service's ID card pilot, are on the receiving end of a lawsuit in the US. Two men are suing for slander and product liability as the Identix system helped to give them other people's criminal records.

One of the men actually got jailed for being a convicted felon carrying a gun, despite the fact that the crime on his record had been perpetrated by someone else who even had a completely different name, Kellogg as opposed to Benson.

How could that happen? Especially when UK Home Secretary, David Blunkett, seems to believe these seems are "impossible" to fool. It seems Benson had been fingerprinted for a traffic violation. Kellogg convicted of multiple crimes. But the admin number on their respective electronic fingerprint cards was accidentally duplicated. And when the records were entered on the criminal justice database, Benson got credited with Kellogg's crimes.

As Lettice concludes:

"For the rest of us, the real issue is how fallibility in software and human input can produce
extremely serious errors in systems which are intended to provide virtually infallible
identification. There is here no dispute that Benson's and Kellogg's biometric records are
entirely different (Benson has only nine fingertips, for starters), but the processes operated
in such a way that Benson's record got the convictions. These spread from Oregon to
California, and Benson's attorney claims that he is still recorded by the FBI as having
been arrested as a felon in possession of a firearm.

Organisations deploying such systems should of course be extremely concerned that they
are not subject to such errors. Aside from the impact on the victims, the creation of false
records will damage the integrity of the database they're used in initially, and the sharing of
this data will result in the corruption spreading into other systems. The further it gets, the
harder it will be to undo the damage. But the more sure the designers are that they've
ruled out problems like this, the harder it will be to have errors corrected. If it's
impossible, then the people complaining have got to be mad, right? The issue of how you
deal with the data is actually far more important than getting the technology to produce a
"unique" biometric."
Jonathan Wallace is fretting about president Bush again:

"Harry Truman understood that authority and responsibility are one, that they must lie in the same place. He put a sign on his desk that said, "The buck stops here." ...

...George Bush does not understand. It is impossible to determine where, if anywhere, in this administration the buck actually stops. The President too often seems to be the child of his vice president, Dick Cheney. The fact that they will be appearing together before the 9/11 Commission is not confidence inspiring. It is almost certainly planned this way so that Cheney can interrupt the president if he starts to blither...

...John later asks the president what his biggest mistake has been since September 11. "In the last used to like to joke that it was trading Sammy Sosa."

And the President, God help us, replies:

Hmmm. I wish you'd given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it....I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't yet.
Which is why they won't send him before the experts on the 9/11 Commission without Dick Cheney there to interrupt and talk over him whenever necessary.

While we are all sweating it out, waiting for something to pop into the president's head, ask yourself the very serious question: where does the buck stop in this administration?"

Out-Law reports on the UK government's proposals for a national ID card: ID Card Database emerges from the shadows

This piece nicely reminds us that in its original consultation exercise on what David Blunkett was then calling an "entitlement card" the government said “it is most unlikely that entitlement information relating to specific services would be held on the central register” which, of course, is the complete opposite of what it says in the draft bill on the subject published last week.

Chris Pounder of Masons (who also publish Out-Law) says:

“The Government’s proposals, if enacted in their current form,
could amount to the lawful, secret, unrecorded access by the
police and security services to centralised details which could,
over time, list all the important public and private services used
by each card-holder during his or her life-time”.

“This raises very serious and new privacy concerns about the
central registry database, as the two Commissioners charged with
protecting privacy in the ID Card scheme could be in the dark
about the volume and nature of the access requests to the central
registry database by the security service and police."

A society where we can map anyone in detail but not monitor everyone in detail. Hmmm, now where have I heard that one before?
Ian Brown at FIPR has pointed me at a piece by Toby Young in the Times where he considers the downside of recording the minutiae of life, which is now (naturally) facilitated by technology.

THE first law of technology is: anything personal
invariably becomes public. So it will be with the
SenseCam, a miniature camera that can record a
person’s entire day and store it in a computerised
diary. Developed by Microsoft’s British engineers,
the SenseCam will allow us to keep our entire lives
on disk. What a treasure trove of memories!
Alternatively, what a catalogue of indiscretions for
others to peruse! "

"It is only a matter of time, probably after some
horrible and shocking event, before Parliament
sets up a Department of Personal Records
requiring citizens to download their weekly
behaviour on to a national database. Strictly in the
interests of national security, of course."

"There is a second law of technology: it goes wrong"

He should have added that the third law of technology is that we use it unthinkingly and carelessly leading to adverse emergent properties...

I had a bad day in the office yesterday, when I was supposed to be on study leave, sorting out some difficulties with the new electronic computer marked assignment for my Internet law course. (Difficulties created by a completely avoidable accumulation of minor errors which the system then made difficult to correct and leading to the perception of a right-and-left-hands communications breakdown).

Monday, May 10, 2004

Academics Patent P2P Spoofing That shoudl provide some fun.
More academics as criminals news from Slashdot. An assistant professor of computer science at the University of Tokyo has been arrested for encouraging copyright infringement. He created P2P software 'Winny' based on Freenet, which unfortunately for him it seems, became rather popular.

I wonder how much this arrest might be related to some sensitive Japanese police information getting distributed round the Net via Winny? Or whether this may have been a minor contributory factor in the decision to make the arrest? I'm sure most of us would be annoyed if sensitive information from our systems got p2p'd in a widespread fashion.

This might be an interesting case to watch, especially since the Japanese have a more relaxed attitude to copyright infringement, at least when it comes to comics. That's, no doubt, an unfair generalisation, as comics are a pretty specific area but then, as an old college friend of mine used to delight in pointing out, generalisations are generally wrong.
The UK chancellor is apparently going to spend £150 million this summer with a view to expanding evoting.

“E-voting is a key measure to tackle so-called disengagement among young people,” said a Whitehall source. “Given the rapidly increasing use of text messages it is crucial that this is properly developed as a method of voting.”

Let's get the Big Brother and Pop Idol fans on their mobiles and that will solve the electoral participation crisis.

Give me strength. I'm seriuosly tempted to change the title of my book to Technology is The Answer to Everything (And The Eegits who believe this).
Frank Field's latest contribution to the DRM debate - DRM is a folding chair.

"Here’s the real point – the folding chair really draws its effectiveness from the cultural norms that have built up around
it. An experienced Cambridge driver knows not to mess with a parking space that has a folding chair in it, even though she/he
has never experienced the consequences that I describe above. Speaking personally, I can’t name a single person who has
actually had this problem, but every Cambridge resident collectively knows that it would happen — even though a folding chair
is, practically speaking, a completely ineffective limit on the use of a parking space."