Thursday, February 16, 2006

Proposed law targets tech-China cooperation

Declan McCullagh reports: "Proposed law targets tech-China cooperation."

After Senate hearings where the big US tech cos. including Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google and Cisco were criticised for facilitating the abuse of civil liberties in China, there is now a bill, called the Global Online Freedom Act of 2006, being proposed to limit these activities. Don't bet on it surviving too long, particulary not in its reported current state.

325000 names on US terrorism list

The Washington Post says that there are 325000 names on the US National Counterterrorism Center database of terrorist suspects.

More drm security woes

From Heise online: "Two German Video-DVDs use a new copy protection scheme which creates a security risk on Windows machines. The copy protection mechanism called Alpha-DVD was developed by Settec, a Korean company spun off from electronics giant LG."

Searchable digital archives

The Stanford Technology Law Review has an interesting article, No Analog Analogue: Searchable Digital Archives and Amazon's Search Inside the Book by Jonathan Kerry-Tyerman, of the University of San Francisco.

He argues that the Amazon "Search Inside" the book feature actually infringes current copyright law but that because it serves the purposes of copyright law, as stated in the US Constitution, that it should not create liability for the providers of such programs. It's a neat argument and it has been made before but it doesn't always persuade the courts. Google v the publishers, in the Google Book search case, has the potential to provide a clear line in the law. It remains to be seen whether the opportunity is grasped.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

ID cards in the UK within two years

The ID card bill got through the Commons yesterday. It's a shame that Gordon Brown, no lover of the ridiculous scheme to say the least, has now decided as part of some handover deal with the Prime Minister, that he will be a leading public advocate for it. In recent days he's been uncharacteristically energetically dishing out all the tired and baseless soundbites about how ID cards will combat terrorism and benefit fraud etc. He's no doubt been convinced that it will be a convenient "he opposed ID cards, he's soft on terrorism" soundbite to throw at Tory leader David Cameron when the campaign for the next election comes along in three years or so. It's a decision he'll eventually come to rue, though, as this is one expensive white elephant of an information system, which will almost certainly cause at least as many political problems for the New Labour government, as the poll tax did for the Tories. With a £19 billion price tag (the most trustworthy estimate has got to be the LSE's) that will only grow, and the hassle it will cause so many people.

On the bright side, this one information system will provide technology academics with a hugely rich source of "how not to do it" case study material for years. Though I'd seriously prefer it if they somehow, even at this late stage, found some excuse to extricate themselves, in advance, from the predictable political disaster to come.

Update: Ian Brown, as usual, has some useful things to say on the subject.