Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


The Web We Have to Save

Hossein Derakhshan was recently released from jail in Iran. He’s written a long and thoughtful article “The Web We Have to Save.” It’s worth reading in full, but here’s an excerpt: Some of it is visual. Yes, it is true that all my posts on Twitter and Facebook look something similar to a personal blog: […]


Wassenaar Restrictions on Speech

[There are broader critiques by Katie Moussouris of HackerOne at “Legally Blind and Deaf – How Computer Crime Laws Silence Helpful Hackers” and Halvar Flake at “Why changes to Wassenaar make oppression and surveillance easier, not harder.” This post addresses the free speech issue.] During the first crypto wars, cryptography was regulated under the US […]


3D-printed guns and the crypto wars

So there’s a working set of plans for the “Liberator.” It’s a working firearm you can print on a 3d printer. You can no longer get the files from the authors, whose site states: “DEFCAD files are being removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls. Until further […]


Guns, Homicides and Data

I came across a fascinating post at Jon Udell’s blog, “Homicide rates in context ,” which starts out with this graph of 2007 data: Jon’s post says more than I care to on this subject right now, and points out questions worth asking. As I said in my post on “Thoughts on the Tragedies of […]


Lives, Fortunes and Sacred Honor

Around the 4th of July, some smart, public minded folks put forth a “Declaration of Internet Freedom“. And while it’s good in a motherhood and apple pie sense of good, wholesome fun for the whole family, it lacks the punch and panache of the Declaration of Independence to which men pledged their lives, fortunes and […]


"Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us.."

So following up on our tradition of posting the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain on the 4th, I wanted to use one of those facts submitted to a candid world to comment on goings on in…Great Britain. There, the government has decided to place anti-aircraft missiles on the roof of a residential building near […]


Google+ is not a space for free expression

Earlier today I noticed something funny. My Google profile picture — the picture associated with my Gmail account, my GChat account, my Google+ account, etc — had vanished. A bug? Nope. It turns out, Google — without telling me — went into my account and deleted my profile picture. See “Dear Google+” for the details […]


Outrage of the Day: DHS Takes Blog Offline for a year

Imagine if the US government, with no notice or warning, raided a small but popular magazine’s offices over a Thanksgiving weekend, seized the company’s printing presses, and told the world that the magazine was a criminal enterprise with a giant banner on their building. Then imagine that it never arrested anyone, never let a trial […]


What's Wrong and What To Do About It?

Let me start with an extended quote from “Why I Feel Bad for the Pepper-Spraying Policeman, Lt. John Pike“: They are described in one July 2011 paper by sociologist Patrick Gillham called, “Securitizing America.” During the 1960s, police used what was called “escalated force” to stop protesters. “Police sought to maintain law and order often […]


Thoughts on this Independence Day

Emergent Chaos has a long tradition of posting the American Declaration of Independence here to celebrate the holiday. It’s a good document in many ways. It’s still moving, more than two centuries after it was written. It’s clearly written, and many people can learn from its structured approach to presenting a case. And last but […]


New York memorials

There’s an excellent column in the old liberal tradition of celebrating liberty in this week’s New Yorker. It’s Memorials by Adam Goptnick, and includes a quote from John Stuart Mill at his rhetorical peak.


I'd like some of that advertising action

Several weeks back, I was listening to the Technometria podcast on “Personal Data Ecosystems,” and they talked a lot about putting the consumer in the center of various markets. I wrote this post then, and held off posting it in light of the tragic events in Japan. One element of this is the “VRM” or […]


Sedgwick, Maine versus the Feds

“Maine Town Declares Food Sovereignty, Nullifies Conflicting Laws.” So reads the headline at the 10th Amendment center blog: The Maine town of Sedgwick took an interesting step that brings a new dynamic to the movement to maintain sovereignty: Town-level nullification. Last Friday, the town passed a proposed ordinance that would empower the local level to […]


Unmeddle Housing More

Last month, I wrote: But after 50 years of meddling in the market, reducing the support for housing is going to be exceptionally complex and chaotic. And the chaos isn’t going to be evenly distributed. It’s going to be a matter of long, complex laws whose outcomes are carefully and secretly influenced. Groups who aren’t […]


Police Officers should be able to speak out

I got this in email and wanted to amplify it: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition prides itself on the willingness of our members to stand up and take action against drug prohibition. Last fall, LEAP member Joe Miller did exactly that. A California police officer for eight years before taking a position as a deputy probation […]


Mubarak and TSA agree: No advantage to them leaving

In “TSA shuts door on private airport screening program,” CNN reports that “TSA chief John Pistole said Friday he has decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports, saying he does not see any advantage to it.” The advantage, of course, is that it generates pressure on his agency to do better. […]


I have a dream

It’s MLK Day. Here’s a pdf of the speech. Or watch it online:


TSA News roundup

Act: Get this 2-page Passenger’s Rights Sheet: Outrage: “Gaping Holes in Airline Security: Loaded Gun Slips Past TSA Screeners” (Matthew Mosk, Angela Hill and Timothy Fleming, ABC News) “TSA + Police + JetBlue Conspire Against Peaceful Individual at JFK” (George Donnelly, “TSA Lies Again Over Capture, Storage Of Body Scanner Images” (Steve Watson, […]


Grope up: Enough is Enough edition

Analysis: “‘Strip-or-Grope’ vs. Risk Management” Jim Harper, Cato@Liberty blog. Really solid thinking, although I usually don’t like asset-centric approaches, I think that for the physical world they make more sense than they do in software threat modeling. TSA more likely to kill you than a terrorist. thread at Flyertalk (thanks Doug!) “Has Airport Security Gone […]


Daily Grope Up

Outrage: Transcript: Senate hearing on TSA, full-body scanners (yesterday, not one Senator cared.) Today’s hearing: TSA Success Story (You can win in line.) If someone had done that to me at a nightclub I’d call the cops. Violated Traveling with scars Search this one for “pump” to learn about a diabetic’s experience. What would […]


It's time to call your Senator!

There’s no news roundup today, the stories are flying, unlike people, who are sick and tired of the indignities, the nudeatrons and the groping. If you want to see them, you can follow me on twitter or National Opt Out day Tomorrow, there’s a Transportation Security Administration Oversight Hearing whose only witness is TSA Administrator […]


Daily Grope-Up: The Groping Will Continue Until You Drive Edition

“‘Naked’ scanners at U.S. airports may be dangerous: scientists” (National Post) The head of the X-ray lab at Johns Hopkins says “statistically, someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays.” “DHS chief tells pilot, tourism reps scans and patdowns will continue ” ( includes link to a CNN story “Growing backlash against TSA […]


Lies, Damned Lies and TSA Statements: Today’s news grope-up

Earlier this week, the White House responded to the UC San Francisco faculty letter on nudatrons. (We mentioned that here.) National Academy of Sciences member John Sedat says “many misconceptions, and we will write a careful answer pointing out their errors.” TSA has claimed that pictures will have blurred genital areas to “protect privacy.” Except […]


Today's TSA news grope-up

“Terror chief tries to board plane with banned liquids” (Mirror, UK) Obviously, the UK needs to get with the TSA program and exempt Ministers from search. Flight attendants union upset over new pat-down procedures “Airport security reaches new levels of absurdity” (Salon’s Ask the Pilot blog) “Know Your Options at the Airport” (ACLU of Massachusetts) […]


TSA Body Scanners News: Why show ID edition

First, a quick news roundup: EPIC is suing DHS for improper rulemaking, violations of the fouth ammendment, the privacy act, the religious freedom restoration act, and the video voyerism prevention act. The ACLU has a news roundup and a form to report on TSA behavior. The Airline Pilots Association advises pilots to show resistance. So […]


Turning off the lights: Chaos Emerges.

See what happened when Portishead, England turned off their traffic lights in September 2009 in this video. And don’t miss “Portishead traffic lights set to stay out after trial” in the Bristol Evening Post.


It's not TSA's fault

October 18th’s bad news for the TSA includes a pilot declining the choice between aggressive frisking and a nudatron. He blogs about it in “Well, today was the day:” On the other side I was stopped by another agent and informed that because I had “opted out” of AIT screening, I would have to go […]


AT&T, Voice Encryption and Trust

Yesterday, AT&T announced an Encrypted Mobile Voice. As CNet summarizes: AT&T is using One Vault Voice to provide users with an application to control their security. The app integrates into a device’s address book and “standard operation” to give users the option to encrypt any call. AT&T said that when encryption is used, the call […]


Free Hossein Derakhshan

Apparently, the Iranian Government has sentenced Hossein “Hoder” Derakhshan to 19.5 years in jail for “collaborating with enemy states, creating propaganda against the Islamic regime, insulting religious sanctity, and creating propaganda for anti-revolutionary groups.” If you think putting bloggers or journalists in jail is wrong, please, please take a moment to sign the petition to […]


Rights at the "Border"

“I was actually woken up with a flashlight in my face,” recalled Mike Santomauro, 27, a law student who encountered the [Border Patrol] in April, at 2 a.m. on a train in Rochester. Across the aisle, he said, six agents grilled a student with a computer who had only an electronic version of his immigration […]


Transparency, India, Voting Machines

India’s EVMs are Vulnerable to Fraud. And for pointing that out, Hari Prasad has been arrested by the police in India, who wanted to threaten and intimidate him question him about where he got the machine that he studied. That’s a shame. The correct response is to fund Hari Prasad’s work, not use the police […]


The Next Unexpected Failure of Government

In looking at Frank Pasquale’s very interesting blog post “Secrecy & the Spill,” a phrase jumped out at me: I have tried to give the Obama Administration the benefit of the doubt during the Gulf/BP oil disaster. There was a “grand ole party” at Interior for at least eight years. Many Republicans in Congress would […]


Why we need strong oversight & transparency

[The ACLU has a new] report, Policing Free Speech: Police Surveillance and Obstruction of First Amendment-Protected Activity (.pdf), surveys news accounts and studies of questionable snooping and arrests in 33 states and the District of Columbia over the past decade. The survey provides an outline of, and links to, dozens of examples of Cold War-era […]


On Politics

In “Jon Stewart on Obama’s executive power record” Glenn Greenwald writes: When ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero last week addressed the progressive conference America’s Future Now, he began by saying: “I’m going to start provocatively . . . I’m disgusted with this president.” Last night, after Obama’s Oval Office speech, Jon Stewart began his show […]


Where's the Checks and Balances, Mr. Cameron?

[Update: See Barry’s comments, I seem to misunderstand the proposal.] The New York Times headlines “ Britain’s New Leaders Aim to Set Parliament Term at 5 Years.” Unlike the US, where we have an executive branch of government, the UK’s executive is the Prime Minister, selected by and from Parliament. As I understand things, the […]


Showing ID In Washington State

Back in October, I endorsed Pete Holmes for Seattle City Attorney, because of slimy conduct by his opponent. It turns out that his opponent was not the only one mis-conducting themselves. The Seattle PD hid evidence from him, and then claimed it was destroyed. They have since changed their story to (apparent) lies about “computer […]


Free speech for police

David Bratzer is a police officer in Victoria, British Columbia. He’s a member of “Law Enforcement Against Prohibition,” and was going to address a conference this week. There’s a news video at “VicPD Officer Ordered to Stay Quiet.” In an article in the Huffington Post, “The Muzzling of a Cop” former Seattle Police Chief Norm […]


Nelson Mandela

Twenty years ago today, Nelson Mandela was released from prison on Robben Island, where he was imprisoned for 27 years for considering violence after his rights to free speech and free association were revoked by the government. I learned a lot about the stories when I visited South Africa, and then more when my mom […]


Ignorance of the 4 new laws a day is no excuse

The lead of this story caught my eye: (CNN) — Legislatures in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico met in 2009, leading to the enactment of 40,697 laws, many of which take effect January 1. That’s an average of 753 laws passed in each of those jurisdictions. […]


The New School of Air Travel Security?

As I simmer with anger over how TSA is subpoening bloggers, it occurs to me that the state of airline security is very similar to that of information security in some important ways: Failures are rare Partial failures are generally secret Actual failures are analyzed in secret Procedures are secret Procedures seem bizarre and arbitrary […]


TSA Security Operating Procedures

Via Gary Leff, we learn that “The TSA Puts Their Sensitive Security Screening Procedures Online For All To See (oops).” It’s another “we blacked out the doc without blacking out the data” story. The doc is 93 pages, and I don’t have time to more than skim it right now. I think that the redactions […]


An advance in the "balance" between security and privacy

Today on Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that the European Parliament has adopted what may be the first useful statement about the balance between security and privacy since Franklin: “… stresses that the EU is rooted in the principle of freedom. Security, in support of freedom, must be pursued through the rule of law and subject to […]


"As far as I know, effective immediately"

Asked about the timing, the unbriefed propaganda minister mumbled: “As far as I know, effective immediately.” When that was reported on television, the Berliners were off. Baffled border guards who would have shot their “comrades” a week earlier let the crowd through—and a barrier that had divided the world was soon being gleefully dismantled. West […]


Prisoners in Iran

There are apparently many people being held without charges by Iranian government. But as far as I know, I’ve only ever met one of them, and so wanted to draw attention to his case: During this entire time, our son has had just two short meetings with us for only a few minutes. Please imagine […]


Another Long Time Fugitive Arrested

Yesterday, Luis Armando Peña Soltren was arrested after forty years on run for hijacking a plane to Cuba. Soltren “will finally face the American justice system that he has been evading for more than four decades,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. I understand that Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and David Lynch are already circulating a […]


Tetraktys is the Best Cryptographic Novel Ever

I’ve been remiss in not posting a review of Tetraktys, by Ari Juels. Short review: It’s better written and has better cryptographers than the ones in any Dan Brown novel, but that’s really damning it with faint praise, which it doesn’t deserve. It’s a highly readable first novel by Ari Juels, who is Chief Scientist […]


Quick Thoughts on the New Blogging Regulations

I want to congratulate the folks at the FTC, who’ve decided we all need to follow some rules about what bloggers can say. See for example, “ Epicenter The Business of Tech FTC Tells Amateur Bloggers to Disclose Freebies or Be Fined” at Wired. These new rules are documented in an easy to read 81 […]


Gates Was Hardly An Exception

There was a lot of news when Henry Lewis Gates was arrested back in July, essentially for mouthing off to a cop. What happened was a shame, but what is more of a shame is that this sort of thing isn’t that rate. Time magazine had a recent article about this, Do You Have the […]


Happy Banned Books Week!

Quoting Michael Zimmer: [Yesterday was] the start of Banned Books Week 2009, the 28th annual celebration of the freedom to choose what we read, as well as the freedom to select from a full array of possibilities. Hundreds of books are challenged in schools and libraries in the United States each year. Here’s a great […]


A Little Temporary Safety

So I saw this ad on the back of the Economist. (Click for a larger PDF). In reading it, I noticed this exhortation to “support the STANDUP act of 2009:” The STANDUP Act* (H.R. 1895) creates a National Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law that [limits nighttime driving, reduces in-car distractions, puts a cap on the […]


Happy Emancipation Proclamation Day!

That on the first day of January in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any state, or designated part of a state, the people whereof thenceforward, and forever free; and the executive government of the United States [including the military and naval authority thereof] […]


Happy Bastille Day!

It’s hard not to like a holiday which celebrates the storming of a prison and the end of a monarchy. Photo: Vytenis Benetis .


Va Pbaterff Nffrzoyrq, Whyl 4 1776

My usual celebration of Independence day is to post, in its entirety, the Declaration of Independence. It’s very much worth reading, but this year, there’s a little twist, from a delightful story starring Lawren Smithline and Robert Patterson, with a cameo by Thomas Jefferson. Patterson sent Jefferson a letter which read, in part: “I shall […]


Ron Paul supporter inadvertently gets iPhones banned from U.S. aircraft

Via CNN: Steve Bierfeldt says the Transportation Security Administration pulled him aside for extra questioning in March. He was carrying a pocket edition of the U.S. Constitution and an iPhone capable of making audio recordings. And he used them. On a recording a TSA agent can be heard berating Bierfeldt. One sample: “You want to […]


Happy Juneteenth!

Celebrate Juneteenth, but remember that we have not eliminated the scrouge of slavery.


Chaos in Iran

Millions of people in Iran are in the streets, protesting a stolen election. Nate Silver, who did a great job on US election statistics has this: However, given the absolutely bizarre figures that have been given for several provinces, given qualitative knowledge – for example, that Mahdi Karroubi earned almost negligible vote totals in his […]


Mr. Bureaucrat, Please Report to Room 101

As I’ve said before, all non-trivial privacy warnings are mocked and then come true. Sixty years ago today, George Orwell published 1984. He unfortunately failed to include a note that the book was intended as a warning, not a manual. Today, in England, there are an unknown number of surveillance cameras, including many around Orwell’s […]


It’s a warning, not a manual, part MCMLXXXIV

“He had set his features into the expression of quiet optimism which it was advisable to wear when facing the telescreen…” Photo: “Under surveillance,” Toban Black, in the 1984 Flickr pool.


Giving Circles and de Tocqueville

There was an interesting story on NPR the other day about “giving circles.” It’s about groups of people getting together, pooling their money, investigating charities together, and then giving money. The story mentions how the increasing bureaucratization* of fund-raising leads to groups whose involvement is “I write them a cheque each year.” It also mentions […]


Need ID to see Joke ID card

A bunch of folks sent me links to this Photography License, which also found its way to BoingBoing: Now, bizarrely, if you visit that page, Yahoo wants you to show your (Yahoo-issued) ID to see (Matt’s self-issued) ID. It’s probably a bad idea to present a novelty version of a DHS document to law enforcement. […]


Who should be punished for torture?

Normally, I try to post funny bits over the weekend, but I can’t let this week’s news slip by. I have deeply mixed feelings about how to handle those who tortured. On the one hand, they were only following orders. On the other hand, they were following orders which clearly required contortions to see as […]


Statebook and Database State

So while Statebook is a pretty entertaining demo, “Database State” is a disturbing look at how real the underlying data collection is in the U.K. Via Boingboing.


Torture is a Best Practice

I was going to title this “Painful Mistakes: Torture, Boyd and Lessons for Infosec,” but then decided that I wanted to talk about torture in a slightly different way. The Washington Post reports that “Detainee’s Harsh Treatment Foiled No Plots” and [UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office] Finally Admits To Receiving Intelligence From Torture. From the […]


Facebook: Conform or else

Robert Scoble, discussing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg: He also said that his system looks for “outlying” behavior. He said if you behave like an average user you should never trigger the algorithms that will get you kicked off. Let’s be specific here: if you behave like the system’s Harvard undergraduate founders and primarily-male engineering staff […]


MI5 Head Critiques Government on Liberties

The BBC reports: A former head of MI5 has accused the government of exploiting the fear of terrorism to restrict civil liberties. Dame Stella Rimington, 73, stood down as the director general of the security service in 1996…”Furthermore it has achieved the opposite effect – there are more and more suicide terrorists finding a greater […]


Change I Can Believe In

From (the new) Except where otherwise noted, third-party content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Visitors to this website agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.


Citizens, Juries and other Balances

Following on my post on Parliaments, Dukes and Queens, I’d like to talk about other checks on the power of government, besides throwing tea into the harbor. In Britian, “a jury has failed to clear police in the death of Jean Charles de Menezes.” The jury is the first group who, frankly, has not whitewashed […]


Of Parliaments, Dukes and Queens

Four interesting stories recently, all having to do with the ancient relationship between a sovereign and a parliament, or the relationship of hereditary rulership to democracy. I secretly admire the emergent forms of government which have proven stable despite their chaotic origins. I’m fascinated by these imperfectly republican nations like Canada and the United Kingdom, […]


Terrifying Financial Blacklists Falling Down

There’s a list, maintained by the UN security council, of people who can’t have their money. Once you’re on the list, there’s no way to get off. The global blacklisting system for financiers of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups is at risk of collapse, undermined by legal challenges and waning political support in many countries, […]


Actually, Randall, We Tried That

And the reason it doesn’t work is that just because you’re allowed to own something doesn’t mean you’re allowed to export it. The use, ownership, production, etc. of crypto was never restricted, only its export. In an Intenet-enabled world, export control brings lots of hair with it, which is why it was important to fight […]


Thoughts about Democracy in America

There’s a place in de Tocqueville where he talks about America’s civic strength coming from the way we organize: those voluntary organizations which come together to solve a problem as a community. He pointed out that what we got from that was not merely that particular problem solved, but a sense of community and a […]


100 Mile Constitution Free Zone

Government agents should not have the right to stop and question Americans anywhere without suspicion within 100 miles of the border, the American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday, pointing attention to the little known power of the federal government to set up immigration checkpoints far from the nation’s border lines. The government has long been […]


"Secure Flight" now part of the Bush Administrations Legacy

We welcome the Bush administration’s continuing dedication to excellence and security in developing clear and appropriate rules to prevent terrorists from flying: In this respect, there are major discrepancies between the (nonbinding) description at the start of the regulatory notice issued today, and the actual regulations that follow it (the last 20 pages of the […]


Death Penalty Protestors are Terrorists

The Washington Post reports upon the further cheapening of the word “terrorism” in, “Md. Police Put Activists’ Names On Terror Lists.” The fifty-three people with “no evidence whatsoever of any involvement in violent crime” who were put on a list of terrorists include anti-death-penanty protestors. It’s really hard to keep from laughing about this. Are […]


The Skype Issue

According to The New York Times in, “Surveillance of Skype Messages Found in China,” the Chinese provider TOM has software in place that reads Skype text messages, and blocks ones that use naughty words and terms, like “Falun Gong,” “Independent Taiwan,” and so on. A group of security people and human rights workers not only […]


This Week in Petard-Hoisting, the Palin Edition

If you are the sort of person who looks at odd legal rulings and opinions, you may remember that a few years ago the US DOJ issued an opinion that stored emails are not protected under the Stored Communications Act. The DOJ reasoning is that when you leave read email on your server, it’s not […]


Canadian PM FAIL

Dear Mr Harper, In general people do not care for the government to be tracking their religious affiliation. In particular however, there are few groups who care less for this sort of tracking than Jews. Seriously, you’re not going to get votes by sending Rosh Hashanah cards to your Jewish constituents. It freaks us out, […]


44 Years

Mary Dudziak posted the testimony of Fannie Lou Hamer before the credentials committee of the 1964 Democratic convention. It’s worth reading in full: Mr. Chairman, and to the Credentials Committee, my name is Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, and I live at 626 East Lafayette Street, Ruleville, Mississippi, Sunflower County, the home of Senator James O. […]


The Omnivore's Hundred

I find it interesting that security people and foodies are strongly correlated. Or at least are strongly correlated among the ones I know. Very Good Taste has a list of things called The Omnivore’s Hundred, a list of things worth trying, modulo this and that. You mark things you have tried, and mark things you […]


King Log or King Brutalist

A Christian Science church near the White House filed suit against the city on Thursday, accusing it of trammeling religious freedom by declaring the church a historic landmark and refusing to allow church leaders to tear it down. The building, a stark structure with walls that soar toward the sky, is an eyesore or a […]


This Is Not Writing; You Are Not Reading

The Paper of Record has a hilarious article, “Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?” which asks important questions about what Those Darn Kids are doing — spending their time using a mixture of hot media and cold media delivered to them over the internets. I’ll get right to the point before I start ridiculing […]


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, RIP

The author of The Gulag Archipelago and other important works on the barbarity of the Soviet Union passed away today. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was 89. My sympathies to his family and friends.


New FISA Analysis

Vox Libertas, a blogger at the Daily Kos has written an analysis of the new US FISA law in his article, “I think I understand the FISA bill. Do I?” Vox Libertas has taken an approach that I can appreciate. On the one hand, many people are unhappy with the telecom immunity. I’m one of […]


Laptops and border crossings

The New York Times has in an editorial, “The Government and Your Laptop” a plea for Congress to pass a law to ensure that laptops (along with phones, etc.) are not seized at borders without reasonable suspicion. The have the interesting statistic that in a survey by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, 7 of […]


In Congress Assembled, July 4, 1776

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776 The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which […]


Hats Banned in Yorkshire to Aid CCTV Identification

The Telegraph reports in “Hats banned from Yorkshire pubs over CCTV fears” that Pubs in Yorkshire have been ordered to ban people from wearing flat caps or other hats so troublemakers can be more easily recognised. And in other news this weekend, MPs have stamped their little feet insisting that Britain is not a surveillance […]


Praises for the TSA

We join our glorious Soviet brothers of the TSA in rejoicing at the final overthrow of the bourgeoisie conception of “liberty” and “freedom of expression” at the Homeland’s airports. The People’s Anonymous Commissar announced: This change will apply exclusively to individuals that simply refuse to provide any identification or assist transportation security officers in ascertaining […]


The Emergent Chaos of the Elections

First, congratulations to Barack Obama. His organization and victory were impressive. Competing with a former President and First Lady who was the shoo-in candidate is an impressive feat. I’d like to talk about the Obama strategies and a long chaotic campaign in two ways. First in fund-raising and second, on the effects of a long […]


Supreme Court Narrows "Money Laundering"

The Supreme Court narrowed the application of the federal money-laundering statute on Monday, ruling for criminal defendants in two cases in which prosecutors had employed broad definitions of two of the law’s major provisions. The two rulings are likely to crimp the government’s ability to bring money-laundering cases, although not necessarily to the degree that […]


RIM speaks out on BB security

El Reg writes that the India Times writes that RIM has “blackballed” (El Reg’s words) the Indian Government’s requests to get BB keys, saying what we suspected, that there are no keys to give. The India times says: BlackBerry vendor Research-In-Motion (RIM) said it cannot hand over the message encryption key to the government as […]


This May Be FUD

You may have seen this article from the India Times, “Govt may get keys to your BlackBerry mailbox soon.” Many people have been commenting on it, and the hand-wringing should build up to a good storm in a few days. The gist of the article is that the Indian Government has told RIM that if […]


Bush’s Law — Less Safe, Less Free

I’d like to review two recent books on the war on terror: “Bush’s Law: The Remaking of American Justice” by by Eric Lichtblau, and “Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror” by David Cole and Jules Lobel. Both are well written assaults on the way in which the Bush administration […]


Who Watches the Watchlists?

The idea of “watchlists” has proliferated as part of the War on Terror. There are now more than 63 of them: As part of its regular “risk management” service, which provides screening, tracing, and identity and background checks on potential clients or trading partners, MicroBilt will now offer a “watch list” service that checks these […]


Generativity, Emergent Chaos and Adam Thierer

Jonathan Zittrain, a professor at Oxford, has a new book, “The Future of The Internet.” He’s adapted some of the ideas into a long and worthwhile essay, “Protecting the Internet Without Wrecking It.” In that essay, he uses the term “generativity” to refer to a system which has what I would call ’emergent chaos.’ A […]


Algorithms for the War on the Unexpected

Technology Review has an article, “The Technology That Toppled Eliot Spitzer.” What jumped out at me was the explicit statement that strange is bad, scary and in need of investigation. Bruce Schneier is talking a lot about the war on the unexpected, and this fits right into that. Each category is analyzed to determine patterns […]


Liechtenstein Über Alles?

The New York Times had a story, “Tax Inquiry? Principality Is Offended:” After weathering days of criticism from Germany over a spectacular tax evasion case, Liechtenstein — sometimes seen as the inspiration for the satirical novel from the 1950s about a tiny Alpine principality that declared war on the United States — is digging in […]


Chill, dude.

Because Baltimore police officer Salvatore Rivieri seemingly was unable to tell he was being filmed. Pity. There’s some infosec relevance to obsessing and overreacting to one thing, while being oblivious to another that could prove far more damaging.


One man's vulgarity is another's lyric

DOYLESTOWN, Pennsylvania (AP) — A man who wrote a vulgar message on the memo line of a check he used to pay a $5 parking ticket has apologized in writing, leading police to drop a disorderly conduct charge against him. David Binner sent the check after receiving a $5 parking ticket. He calls it “a […]


Guinness is Good For You, but don’t tell anyone

A pint of the black stuff a day may work as well as an aspirin to prevent heart clots that raise the risk of heart attacks. Drinking lager does not yield the same benefits, experts from University of Wisconsin told a conference in the US. … The researchers told a meeting of the American Heart […]


Toasting Repeal Day

Today marks the 64th 74th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition in the United States. For 14 years, Americans were unable to legally have a drink. This led to a dramatic growth in the acceptance of organized crime and violence. Al Capone made his money in the demon rum, and was willing to fight for […]


Total Kabab Awareness

In a May, 2006 post entitled Codename: Miranda, I joked about having my grocery purchases linked to another Chicagoan due to poor schema design. There, I joked about buying: … granola, yogurt, hummus — the healthy stuff which probably alerts Admiral Poindexter’s Bayesian classifier to my fifth-column status. Maybe this wasn’t jocular after all, as […]


Gordon Brown on liberty

While this great tradition can be traced back to the Magna Carta, it was the rise of the modern state with all the new powers at its disposal that made the 17th century the pivotal period in the struggle against arbitrary and unaccountable government —— as Britain led the way in the battle for freedom […]


MIT, Logan, the Chilling Effect and Emergent Chaos

If you’re not hidden under a rock, you know about the latest bomb scare in Boston. Some MIT kid forgot that Boston cops think anything with an LED on it is a bomb. A lot of people are saying she got what she deserved, or that she’s lucky to be alive. These people probably think […]


TSA knows what you read

Privacy advocates obtained database records showing that the government routinely records the race of people pulled aside for extra screening as they enter the country, along with cursory answers given to U.S. border inspectors about their purpose in traveling. In one case, the records note Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Gilmore’s choice of reading material, […]


Free, as in milk

What the hell are the idiots at Facebook thinking? If there’s anything stupider than banning a woman from breastfeeding in public, it is banning a picture of a woman breastfeeding on the grounds that it is “obscene”, which is what the morons at Facebook have done, as reported (for example) by the Toronto Star. Attention […]


Fake Steve and Real Mackey

So with the small, literal men at the New York Times poking through the veil of anonymity that allowed Fake Steve to produce the best blog since “The Darth Side,” we have a serious threat to the stability of the republic, which is the false hope that by assigning people names, we can control them. […]


Maybe if I yell at you, you'll trust in what I'm saying

Tourists visiting the White House must now adhere to a dress code which bans jeans, sneakers, shorts, miniskirts, T-shirts, tank tops, and flip-flops. Since this is an extremely important rule, signs were posted and emails sent White House staff (writes Al Kamen in the Washington Post). A telling detail, per the WaPo: The e-mail reminder […]


Help EFF Analyze Formerly Secret FBI Docs

In “Help EFF Examine Once-Secret FBI Docs,” the folks at EFF ask for your help doing what Congress won’t. Engaging in oversight of our civil servants: We’ve already started scouring newly-released documents relating to the misuse of National Security Letters to collect Americans’ private information. But don’t let us have all fun — you, too, […]


Pseudonyms In The News

The Wall Street Journal reports that the CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, posted on the Yahoo! Finance board for Whole Foods under the pseudonym Rahodeb, which is an anagram of Mackey’s wife’s given name. (It’s also an anagram of “A Bread Ho,” but since the WSJ doesn’t stoop to that sort of cheap joke, […]


In Congress Assembled, July 4, 1776

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776 The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which […]


Lrn 2 uZ ‘sed’, n00bz

The iTunes Plus music store opened up today, which sells non-DRM, 256kbit AAC recordings. In case you have missed the financial details, the new tracks are $1.29 per, but albums are still $9.99. You can upgrade your old tracks to high-quality, non-DRM, but you have to do it en masse and it’s only for the […]


Shock Horror! Ashcroft Am Not Devil Incarnate!

In 27 B Stroke 6 Threat Level, Kevin Poulsen writes, “News from Bizzaro World: Ashcroft Opposed Taps.” Kevin, your reality tunnel is showing. There are many things that Ashcroft was (I apologize for using the past tense), starting with prig and prude. I’m not particularly a fan of his, but the Venn diagram of what […]


Buy Gas, Get Busted for Pedophilia?

The BBC reports “Motorists hit by card clone scam:” Thousands of motorists who use a bank card to buy petrol are thought to have lost millions of pounds in an international criminal operation. It is believed cards are being skimmed at petrol stations, where the card details and pin numbers are retrieved and money withdrawn […]


Another Side Of Copyright

These days when you read an article about copyright that involves students, it also involves the RIAA or the MPAA. This article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, on the other hand, is about two high-school students taking on Turnitin. The students specifically asked that certain papers of theirs not be included in Turnitin’s database […]


Names Don’t Matter, Accountability Does

Riffing on what Arthur has said, I’ll take a slightly different exception to Mike Rothman’s rant on anonymity. Kathy Sierra’s been treated pretty shabbily. The problem isn’t anonymity, it’s a lack of accountability. These people are behaving unacceptably, and we don’t know who they are. However, there are cases where people have acted in similarly […]


A telling remark

In the “inconvenient coincidences” category, it seems that Al Sharpton’s great-grandfather was a slave owned by relatives of the late segregationist US senator Strom Thurmond. Thurmond’s niece, Ellen Senter (via an AP report) provides an interesting perspective: I doubt you can find many native South Carolinians today whose family, if you traced them back far […]


"A trade founded in iniquity"

At Balkinization, Scott Horton discusses how “Two Hundred Years Ago Today, the Global Campaign for Human Rights Achieved Its First Victory:” “As soon as ever I had arrived thus far in my investigation of the slave trade, I confess to you sir, so enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did its wickedness appear that my own […]


Security Cameras and the Obedience Imperative

“People are shocked when they hear the cameras talk, but when they see everyone else looking at them, they feel a twinge of conscience and comply,” said Mike Clark, a spokesman for Middlesbrough Council who recounted the incident. The city has placed speakers in its cameras, allowing operators to chastise miscreants who drop coffee cups, […]


It’s a Flawless Plan for Making Money

First, you take a business away from legitimate enterprises, claiming only the state can run it without it sinking into a wretched hive of scum and villany. Then, you ban competition. Then, you decide that you’re better off selling the monopoly rights to the highest bidder. It’s what Illinois is doing with their state lottery. […]


I'm Glad I'm a Beta!

27B Stroke 6 tells us of a story. The domain was removed from the net by GoDaddy, its registrar. Why? Because MySpace complained. He’s got a mailing list archive and it has some stuff in it that pissed MySpace off — security information about phishing attacks. That’s well and good, but GoDaddy yanked the […]


Old-Fashioned Values

This is probably the most important minute of video you’ll see this week, but on a better week, it won’t be. Thanks to manfromlaramie for finding this.


Information Security Needs

The NYT reports, “Rough Treatment for 2 Journalists in Pakistan” and indeed reporting is dangerous in countries where they do not respect the sort of basic rights we in the civilized world have championed for nigh 800 years. However, a computer was seized, sources were roughed up and possibly jailed or killed: Since then it […]


Everything Old is New Again

“They are a handful of miserable resuscitators of a degenerate dead religion who wish to return to the monstrous dark delusions of the past,” said Father Efstathios Kollas, the President of Greek Clergymen. Hundreds of followers of Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Artemis, Aphrodite and Hermes stood in a circle, a mile from the Acropolis, in what […]


Habeas Corpus? What Habeas Corpus?

On January 18th, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. As part of the hearings, there was a discussion of habeas corpus. As part of that discussion, Gonzales said: There is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. Yes that’s right, our own Attorney General thinks that there is […]


It's Amazing What A Little Oversight Can Do

Two in the Washington Post today: “Secret [FISA] Court to Govern Warrantless Taps” and “Vast Data Collection Plan Faces Big Delay:” In a report to Congress to be released today, the Treasury Department concluded that the program was technologically feasible and has value, but said it needs to determine whether the counterterrorism benefit outweighs banks’ […]


Robert Anton Wilson Defies Medical Experts

Robert Anton Wilson Defies Medical Experts and leaves his body @4:50 AM on binary date 01/11. All Hail Eris! On behalf of his children and those who cared for him, deepest love and gratitude for the tremendous support and lovingness bestowed upon us. (that’s it from Bob’s bedside at his fnord by the sea) RAW […]


What Congress Can Do To Prevent Identity Theft

Seventy Percent of Americans think we need more laws to protect them from identity theft and all that. I can think of a situation we need protection from. Here is a scenario. Let us take the case of a lender, Larry. We need a law to make it so that if Larry lends money to […]


Secret Laws, Obnoxious Laws … No Law's Not Looking So Bad

First, from 27B/6, we learn that “Supremes Won’t Hear Secret Law Challenge,” and that the administrative agencies such as TSA are free to propogate laws and regulations we can’t see or challenge. Second, via Kansas City Newzine, we learn about the totally screwed up set of rules which are ‘REAL ID,’ featuring this chilling quote: […]


A Pledge

Having thought about my previous post, “On airport advertising,” I’d like to see what content-based restrictions are in place. If the ACLU applies and is accepted, I’ll donate $500 for the ACLU to buy bins that advise people of their rights when passing through airport screening. [Update/clarification: I’ll pay for the ACLU to inform travellers […]


Fingerprinting Visitors

In a scary story, the Christian Science Monitor reports “US creates terrorist fingerprint database:” Last year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the completion of a database system that collects electronic fingerprints of both the index and middle fingers of every noncitizen entering the US. The system now documents 64 million travelers. The Homeland […]


Radical Transparency and Society

In “Radical Transparency to improve resilience,” John Robb posts about Chris Anderson’s ‘radical transparency:’ Think about how these tactics can be applied to societal resilience: Show who we are. Show what we are working on. “Process as Content.” Privilege the crowd. Let readers decide what is best (aka: wisdom of the crowd) Wikify (this another […]


Akaka-Sununu Bill Repeals Key Aspects Of The Real ID Act

Daniel Akaka and John Sununu have introduced a bill to repeal title II of the Real ID Act. From the press release: The Identification Security Enhancement Act (S. 4117) replaces REAL ID with language from the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-458), which took a more measured approach in mandating tougher […]


Million Dollar Blog Post

My friend Austin Hill has put up the Million Dollar Blog Post. They, and their sponsors, will donate up to a million dollars to charity, at $1 per comment. I think charity is tremendously important. I’ve been lucky enough to have a set of skills that are well rewarded in today’s world. (I’m reminded of […]


The Pat-Downs at Public Stadiums

Two Seattle Seahawks fans are suing the stadium for unreasonable searches: “There’s no specific reason, or identifiable credible threat to Seahawks fans and because the stadium is a public stadium, it is unconstitutional to require these pat-downs,” said Chris Wion, one of the Seattle lawyers representing the plaintiffs. “I think this is the same type […]


Sample Comments for TSA?

Last night, I blogged about the ridiculous TSA Scores and how hard it is to comment on them. Then I realized that I don’t have a good sample comment. Well, I have lots of comments, but now and then we pretend that this is a family blog, and that anyone under 21 might be interested […]


On Elections

I heard on the radio last night that these are the most expensive elections in US history. (It was not clear if that was accounting for inflation, or considering Presidential elections as well.) They also said that only about 50 of the 454 Congressional seats are considered to be in play. This years after McCain-Fiengold […]


Remembering the Hungarian Revolution

I like to celebrate moments of human freedom, even when they are not as successful as we would hope. And so, it’s worth remembering the Hungarian revolution against Soviet rule. Nick Szabo has a fine post about it, which started fifty years ago yesterday, and it was the featured article on Wikipedia yesterday, “The Hungarian […]


More on the Military Commissions Act

At the Volokh Conspiracy, Jonathan non-Alder points to the John Yoo op-ed which …argues that Congress sent a message to the Supreme Court with the passage of the Military Commissions Act: Mind your own business and leave the war on terror alone. In this regard, Yoo argues, the law was, above all else, a “stinging […]


Words to live by

No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of […]


Does anyone remember laughter?

Via Stupid Security, I learned of a gent whose T-shirt was deemed a security risk because it showed crossed pistols and could upset passengers. He was allowed to board the plane, but only after turning his shirt inside out. Good thing he wasn’t wearing a Zeppelin shirt. I guess Bush would be OK (ironic, given […]


The Core Values and Morals of Our Citizens

So Chris’ post “Are they stupid, or just lying?” got me thinking. Chris was talking about the spectacle of the House voting to ban the sale of horsemeat. But he had this quote: Added Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn.: “The way a society treats its animals, particularly horses, speaks to the core values and morals of […]


Are Things Out of Whack?

In North Dakota, the state agricultural commissioner, Roger Johnson, has proposed allowing () farming, and has been working with federal drug regulators on stringent regulations that would include fingerprinting farmers and requiring G.P.S. coordinates of () fields. “We’ve done our level best to convince them we’re not a bunch of wackos,” Mr. Johnson said. The […]


New Security Measures: Effective, Non-intrusive

Or not. The BBC reports that “10,000 bags misplaced at airports,” and a “Boy boards [a] plane without tickets (sic).” Meanwhile, here at home, we have a program that engages in behavioral profiling in some airports. How effective is it? The New York Times reports in “Faces, Too, Are Searched at U.S. Airports:” In nine […]


Airline Threats: Nothing to Fear Except Fear Itself

I’m glad to hear that they caught a set of people with real plans and capabilities to carry out an act of mass murder. Too many of the recent groups arrested have fit better into the “round up some suspects” line of thinking. I don’t have a lot to add to FDR’s fine words, but […]


Sky Marshalls Have Suspicious Behavior Quotas?

The air marshals, whose identities are being concealed, told 7NEWS that they’re required to submit at least one report a month. If they don’t, there’s no raise, no bonus, no awards and no special assignments. Even better, the people who are “suspicious” are put into secret databases with no way to find out why their […]


Church 2.0

Check out Benjamin Sternke’s “Church 2.0: Emergence/Chaos theory.” Itn’s an interesting examination of how churches need to evolve to respond to a different type of parishoner: Church 2.0 will leave room for the Holy Spirit in its planning and structuring and strategizing. She’ll leave room for happy accidents to emerge. She’ll be patient with chaos, […]


ACLU: Feds snooping on Fedwire?

Press release describes a FOIA request seeking info on governmental surveillance of Fedwire, among other programs. This would be troubling. It is difficult to overstate the extent to which the Federal Reserve System values its reputation for ethical behavior and fair play. A reputation, I might add, that based on my observations it deserves.


With the Advice and Consent of The Blogosphere?

So I’ve been too busy to blog the Spector bill, but the astounding quality of analysis that’s been applied to Spector’s “”Judical Review” for Spying On Americans” bill has been really astounding. Early reports in (say) the Washington Post were really positive, saying that the bill was quite a positive development. Then legal bloggers got […]


DOD Monitoring of Students Extended to Email

The Department of Defense monitored e-mail messages from college students who were planning protests against the war in Iraq and against the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy against gay and lesbian members of the armed forces, according to surveillance reports released last month. While the department had previously acknowledged monitoring protests on campuses as […]


Hamdan Analysis

On the plane home from England, I watched V for Vendetta. (If you haven’t seen it, the basic story is that terror attacks cause turn England into a police state, and a masked freedom fighter terrorist blows things up and kills people and makes it all better. Oh, he plays with Natalie Portman’s head, too. […]


Innovation, Emerging From Chaos

Following up on Friday’s internet innovation post, I’d like to clarify a few things: First, net neutrality is about regulating a set of regulated monopolies, whose services and profits are protected by the state against new entrants. The regulatory apparatus has fairly clearly been captured by the regulated. The discussion about larger packets misses the […]


The "Privacy-Enhanced Data Mining" Trap

The Associated Press pushed a story to the wires about the Data Surveillance workshop which I’d mentioned a while back: As new disclosures mount about government surveillance programs, computer science researchers hope to wade into the fray by enabling data mining that also protects individual privacy. Largely by employing the head-spinning principles of cryptography, the […]


Happy Juneteenth!

I’m deeply in favor of holidays which celebrate freedom. We need more of them. Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is an annual holiday in the United States. Celebrated on June 19, it commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas. The holiday originated in Galveston, Texas; for more than […]


Scottish and Procedural Liberty

In “Scots Crush Cars Over ‘Document Offenses,’” Rogier van Bakel writes about bad new UK law: Now cars can be seized and crushed if document offences are detected — and the region’s top police officer said yesterday a “clear message” is being sent to would-be offenders. … Tough new powers in the Serious Organised Crime […]


Boycott Sivacracy!

I have a proposal for all British and American faculty who care about global justice: Please boycott me. Siva Vaidhyanathan asks that we boycott him in “A Modest Proposal: Boycott me.” I think its the best response I’ve seen to the British boycott of Israeli academics.


Jurisdiction as Property

Nick Szabo has a fascinating article on “Jurisdiction as property and peer-to-peer government.” I’m not going to attempt to summarize it, but will simply quote the opening: Modern civics and political science is often taught as an absurd dichotomy: that government is a “monopoly over the use of force” and that the absence of government […]


Why Johny Can’t Precipitate

There’s a great story in Wired “Don’t Try This at Home,” about how our obsessions with terrorism and safety have destroyed the ability of our children to learn chemistry: The chemophobia that’s put a damper on home science has also invaded America’s classrooms, where hands-on labs are being replaced by liability-proof teacher demonstrations with the […]


The SSN Is Also A Poor Identifier

There’s an idea floating around that a major problem with SSNs is their dual use as identifiers and authenticators. (For example, Jeremy Epstein, “Misunderstanding the risks of SSNs,” in RISKS-24.29) This is correct, but the phraseology leads to people trying to solve the problem by saying “if we just used SSNs as ID numbers, and […]


Voting Registration Fraud

One of the motivators often discussed for voter ID card requirements is voter registration fraud. I believe that ID card requirements are like poll taxes, and are not justified. I believe that they’re not justified even if they’re free, because of personal privacy concerns, regarding addresses. You know, like Gretchen Ferderbar had before her 911 […]


President Bush Calls for National ID Card

[Bush] also proposed to cut back on potential fraud by creating an identification card system for foreign workers that would include digitized fingerprints. He said that a tamperproof identification card for workers would “leave employers with no excuse” for violating the law. Of course, that means the rest of us will need the cards, too, […]


"NSA Has Massive Database of Americans’ Phone Calls"

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY. The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary […]


Free At Last!

“The United States said on Friday it had flown five Chinese Muslim men who had been held at the Guantanamo Bay prison to resettle in Albania, declining to send them back to China because they might face persecution. The State Department said Albania accepted the five ethnic Uighurs — including two whose quest for freedom […]


Some Government-Issued-ID is More Government-Issued Than Others

So Representative Julia Carson discovered when she tried to use her United States House of Representatives ID card to vote: Carson’s card does not have an expiration date as the new law requires of valid voter IDs, and Indianapolis poll workers tried to reach election officials before allowing the five-term Democratic congresswoman to cast her […]


What Does Rumsfeld Need to Do To Be Fired?

Law prof. Marty Lederman explains (in great detail) that “Army Confirms: Rumsfeld Authorized Criminal Conduct:” On November 27, 2002, Pentagon General Counsel William Haynes, following discussions with Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz, General Myers, and Doug Feith, informed the Secretary of Defense that forced nudity and the use of the fear of dogs to induce stress were […]


Big Brother Has Your Best Interests At Heart

So pay no attention to the thoughtcriminals who are not bored, and their ridiculous propaganda documenting “Abuses of surveillance cameras.” We all know that cameras never lie, film can’t be edited or mis-interpreted, the police would never use cameras to look in your bedroom window, and that the videos taken will be strictly controlled. Those […]


Slippery Slope, Gaping Chasm and Torture

In February of last year, I told you about Lester Eugene Siler, a Tennessee man who was literally tortured by five sheriff’s deputies in Campbell County, Tennessee who suspected him of selling drugs. The only reason we know Siler was tortured is because his wife had the good sense to start a recording device about […]


US Travel ID to have RFID Readable at 25 feet

Declan McCullagh and Anne Broache have the story in “New RFID travel cards could pose privacy threat:” Homeland Security has said, in a government procurement notice posted in September, that “read ranges shall extend to a minimum of 25 feet” in RFID-equipped identification cards used for border crossings. For people crossing on a bus, the […]


Lady Liberty

These folks would like to put a monument to the Bill of Rights in every state. Clearly a better use of cash than a ginourmous diamond in New York’s harbor.


British National ID

“You may have heard that legislation creating compulsory ID Cards passed a crucial stage in the House of Commons. You may feel that ID cards are not something to worry about, since we already have Photo ID for our Passport and Driving License and an ID Card will be no different to that. What you […]


Palestinian TV and Regulatory Capture

There’s an article about the chaos of Palestinian TV on Wired News, “Live From the West Bank,” which starts: Helga Tawil Souri reclines on the couch at a friend’s house in the Palestinian West Bank, getting sucked into an Egyptian movie about a woman in an insane asylum. Right before the climactic face-off, though, the […]


Presidential Power, At Its Lowest Ebb

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales left open the possibility yesterday that President Bush could order warrantless wiretaps on telephone calls occurring solely within the United States — a move that would dramatically expand the reach of a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program. From the Washington Post, “Warrantless Wiretaps Possible in U.S..” It used to […]


"Now war is declared — and battle come down"

The UK, having already abolished liberty, is now hard at work on abolishing any relevance Parliament might have. See In “Who wants the Abolition of Parliament Bill,” David Howarth writes: The boring title of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill hides an astonishing proposal. It gives ministers power to alter any law passed by […]


My Blogging Will Be Light

I’m on the road this week, here and there, with here being, well, illustrated and there being Seattle, at Microsoft’s Blue Hat event. Some things that I’m hoping to find some time to write about include: “Person to Person Finance” at the Economist (paywall) is fascinating, and I think there’s a fascinating question of if […]


John Robb on Big Bangs

In Big Bangs, John Robb uses complex aircraft dynamics as a fascinating metaphor for society: If we look at today’s global environment we see a moderately unstable system. It is a relatively high performance system that is increasingly controlled by global markets. This explains why it is spreading so quickly. However, our drive towards a […]


"Illegal Political Activity"

Something is seriously wrong when the New York Times has an article “I.R.S. Finds Sharp Increase in Illegal Political Activity,” and fails to mention the free speech issues associated with the claptrap coming out of Congress: While pointing out the extent of the problem, the agency published more guidance for nonprofit organizations, including examples of […]


Hasta La Vista Secure Flight

As mentioned on Freedom To Tinker and by Lauren Gelman, at the Center for Internet and Security, the TSA has mothballed it’s plans to deploy Secure Flight. Though the TSA will surely come up with something else, this is definitely a step in the right direction.


That's gotta sting

This administration reacts to anyone who questions this illegal program by saying that those of us who demand the truth and stand up for our rights and freedoms somehow has a pre-9/11 world view. In fact, the President has a pre-1776 world view. Our government has three branches, not one. And no one, not even […]


An unethical strategy?

Voting is a means of aggregating individual preferences in order to obtain a collective choice from a set of potential outcomes. Arrow notwithstanding, various voting schemes are often used for very important decisions. Voting is also used to select the winner of the Guy Toph Award, in Hillsborough County, Florida. In this case, the voters […]


The Trouble With Illicit

[Update: I meant to tie this more closely to “Illicit” book review, because I think this illustrates those hard choices.] There’s some fascinating competing legal goals on display in the Washington Post story “Area Police Try to Combat a Proliferation of Brothels:” “Sometimes it takes five or six interviews to break these girls [sic], to […]


On the NSA Wiretaps

One of the noteworthy aspects to the ‘NSA Wiretap’ revelations is how it has galvanized a broad swath of people, far beyond the “usual suspects” to state that the program was a mistake, and we need to function within the rule of law. For example, Suzanne Spaulding, former assistant general counsel at the CIA: Before […]


Russell Tice and NSA Wiretaps

Democracy Now has a radio interview, downloadable in several formats, and a transcript at “National Security Agency Whistleblower Warns Domestic Spying Program Is Sign the U.S. is Decaying Into a “Police State.” Reason’s Julian Sanchez has an interview “Inside The Puzzle Palace:” REASON: You’re referring to what James Risen calls “The Program,” the NSA wiretaps […]


Liberty Breeds Security

Another method, says Princeton University economist Alan B. Krueger, is to increase the civil liberties of the countries that breed terrorist groups. In an analysis of State Department data on terrorism, Krueger discovered that “countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which have spawned relatively many terrorists, are economically well off yet lacking in civil liberties. […]


Real ID Even More Expensive Than Predicted

Bruce Schneier links to an AP article about the hideous costs of the RealID Act. Early estimates were for $120 million, current estimates are for $300 million for the first year alone, and that’s just for three states, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington state. So we can safely say that nationally we’re looking at billions of […]


Microsoft, China, and Cultural Imperialism

Rebecca MacKinnon has a post on Microsoft’s removal of a blog, run by Michael Anti from their MSN Spaces blog site. (“Why Microsoft censorship in China matters to everybody.”) I’m finding the justifications and responses (both official and unofficial) to be fascinating and ultimately confusing. Matt Marshall at SiliconBeat has “Microsoft and Bokee mired in […]


The Machinery of Repression

The New York Times reports on the completion of the first phase of the treat-visitors-like-criminals US-Visit system. The article is informative, and tells us: The fingerprint check at the borders has turned up just 970 hits of visa violators or criminal suspects. The total rises to about 15,000 with inclusion of the cases identified overseas […]


Nuclear Surveillance

In search of a terrorist nuclear bomb, the federal government since 9/11 has run a far-reaching, top secret program to monitor radiation levels at over a hundred Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area, including mosques, homes, businesses, and warehouses, plus similar sites in at least five other cities, U.S. News has learned. In numerous […]


Emergent Properties of the Long Tail

Chris Anderson warms the cockles of our heart as he discusses the psychological acceptability of “The Probabilistic Age:” When professionals–editors, academics, journalists–are running the show, we at least know that it’s someone’s job to look out for such things as accuracy. But now we’re depending more and more on systems where nobody’s in charge; the […]


I'll have to check with my manager

If you watch “The Simpsons”, you’ve probably seen “Puberty Boy“, the pimply-faced kid who appears in many episodes in a variety of menial jobs. Well, it looks like he may be working for the NSA: Q If FISA didn’t work, why didn’t you seek a new statute that allowed something like this legally? ATTORNEY GENERAL […]


" L'état c'est moi"

Via USA Today: Days after the Sept. 11 attacks, the head of the National Security Agency met his workforce at the nation’s eavesdropping and code-breaking headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., near Washington, for a pep talk. “I told them that free people always had to decide where to draw the line between their liberty and […]


Government Secrecy and Wiretaps

I’d like to respond to Dan Solove’s article “How Much Government Secrecy Is Really Necessary” with the perspective of a veteran of the 1990s crypto wars, in which we fought the NSA for the practical right to build and use encryption to protect sensitive data. A central tenat of the government’s position was that there […]


Fighting Terror: Police, not Armies

Democracies do not fare well with military dictators, nor when entrusted to overpowering and internally focused armies. Armies are trained, quite rightly, to kill and ask questions later. Police forces are trained to exercise discretion, sustain the rule of law, respect human rights, understand the freedoms we have embodied neatly in a Bill of Rights […]


DMCA vs. Security Research

Last month, I commented on how the DMCA was preventing research on spyware: …the legal cloud that overhangs this sort of research. That legal cloud was intentionally put there by the copyright industry, in the form of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The law makes it hard to understand what research you can perform when […]


Centers for Disease Control Want To Track All Travel

In “CDC plans flight e-tracking,” Bob Brewin of Government Health IT writes: Battling a pandemic disease such as avian flu requires the ability to quickly track sick people and anyone they have contacted. In response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials have proposed new federal regulations to electronically track more than 600 million U.S. […]


More on Deborah Davis

The story of Deborah Davis is getting lots of attention. Rob sent me Refusal to present ID sparks test of rights, which includes: “I boarded the bus and spoke with the individual, Deborah N. Davis . . . asking why she was refusing,” wrote the first Federal Protective Service officer in an incident report posted […]


Happy Thanksgiving!

As you enjoy your Turkey, recall that the Pilgrims who ended up in Plymouth were fleeing the Anglican church, England’s state religion. The English church, of course, split from the Roman church so that Henry VIII could get a divorce. The little people, however, were not allowed the chance to split their churches in quite […]


My Software is Mine.

People often become emotionally entangled with the software they use. It’s not a geek-only thing, although geeks often become more entangled with a broader range of the software they use. Normal people speak of “My Excel is screwed up,” or feel bad that their Sony CD has messed things up for them. One of the […]


Aspirin and the Regulation of Medicine

As we discuss the effects of various laws designed to protect us from various and sundry, we often lose track of the real, tangible benefits of liberty that we’re giving up. They’re sometimes hard to see, in the same way the Internet was hard to see in the early 90s. It was here, but most […]


Deborah Davis and the Denver "Public" Transit System

On the 9th of December 2005, a Denver woman is scheduled to be arraigned in U.S. District Court. Her crime: refusing to show ID on a public bus. At stake is nothing less than the right of Americans to travel freely in their own country. The woman who is fighting the good fight is named […]


A great idea whose time has come

Ben Edelman explains how Sony can use a messaging mechanism already built into the XCP system to inform people who are not yet aware of the “Sony rootkit” they’ve unwittingly installed, and what they can do about it. This is so obviously the right thing to do that I can almost guarantee Sony will not […]


More on "Freedom To Tinker, Freedom to Learn"

In “Freedom To Tinker, Freedom to Learn,” I made some assumptions about the user interface for the $100 laptop. In “Alan Kay at WSIS,” Ethan Zukerman explains that Alan Kay will be doing much of the user interface design work: Kay began by explaining that most people aren’t using computers to do the most important […]


The Importance of Due Process to Gary Gordon Smith, Abu Bakker and Adel ?

The United States is holding captive at Guantanamo Bay at least two men it knows are innocent of any wrongdoing. These men were cleared by the military courts, almost two years ago, and they are still in captivity. It makes me too angry to write about, so go read Requiem: In the comments to an […]


Torture and the "Ticking Bomb" Argument

Alex Tabarrok has some interesting arguments as to why torture should be made illegal in “Torture, terrorism, and incentives.” I’d like to extend his argument: President Bush, Dick Cheney and others who support the use of torture by the United States and its agents usually rely on the ticking time bomb argument. Sometimes torture is […]


"To none will we sell, to none deny or delay, right or justice."

The United States senate voted today to deny habeas corpus to prisoners at Guantanamo. The United States Supreme Court had recently held that United States courts have jurisdiction to consider challenges to the legality of the detention of foreign nationals captured abroad in connection with hostilities and incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay. The vote today would […]


Gordon Johnston vs. The NFL Who Cried Wolf

Gordon Johnston didn’t want to be frisked. So as the 60-year-old high school teacher approached the gates of Raymond James Stadium here for a Buccaneers football game last month, he lifted the team jersey he was wearing to show it wasn’t necessary. He was concealing no bombs. It didn’t work. So reports the Washington Post […]


Digital Pearl Harbor

[U]se of commercial products with unbreakable cryptography could seriously undermine the ability of law enforcement to perform critical missions such as protecting against threats posed by terrorists, organized crime, and foreign intelligence agents This from a rather lightweight report prepared by the Congressional Research Service. I may have read it with a jaundiced eye, but […]


Are You Selling This Computer to Me or the RIAA?

(I wrote this a few weeks back, and forgot to post it. It’s even more fun with the bruhahaha about Sony/BMG screwing with your computer if you buy their “music.”) In conversation with Lucky Green, he commented that “You won’t be able to buy a laptop w/o a TPM in a few years.” This doesn’t […]


Freedom to Develop

Two related posts from last week that I’d like to tie together. Jeff Veen writes about the lack of either Mac software or standards compliance in Polar Heart Rate Monitors in “Polar Heart Rate Monitors: Gimme my data,” and Bob Frankston writes about how the telcos use the regulators to stifle competition and innovation in […]


The CIA's "Prisons"

Yesterday’s Washington Post had a long, sickening article on “CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons:” The hidden global internment network is a central element in the CIA’s unconventional war on terrorism. It depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign […]


Lowering Ourselves

It occurs to me that when a senior US governement lawyer says: foreign citizens passing through American airports have almost no rights. At most, Mary Mason told a hearing in Brooklyn, N.Y., passengers would have the right not to be subjected to “gross physical abuse.” that they are in direct contradiction to the US Constitution […]


Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks passed away this evening. She was 92.


People Hate Being Laughed At

Omid Sheikhan has been sentenced by the Iranian court to one year in prison and 124 lashes. Omid was first arrested last year, confined for two months, including one in solitary confinement, and tortured, due to his blog which featured satire on the Iranian situation. When he was brought to court on October 8 he […]


Who's On Drugs?

Over at the History News Network, Keith Halderman reports on medical marijuana. It seems that the cool kids don’t want to be taking any drug that old geezers use: “Nine years after the passage of the nation’s first state medical marijuana law, California’s Prop. 215, a considerable body of data shows that no state with […]


The Future of Government: Exclusive and Effective?

In Balkinization, Stephen Griffin writes about the efforts to get government and society functional again in New Orleans in “The Katrina Experiment.” In a pair of posts that are, to me, closely related, Michael Froomkin writes about “My notes from the ‘The Great Debate’ at State of Play III” and “Summing Up ‘The Great Debate’ […]


The Big Privacy Picture

“Smart Borders: A wholesale information sharing and surveillance regime” is Krista Boa’s overview of the amorphous and opaque ‘Smart Border’ program: Smart Borders encompasses a range of individual and cooperative initiatives, including US-VISIT, biometric passports in both nations, automated passenger risk assessment, and no fly lists among many others, all of which put privacy rights […]


Web 2.0: What Will Emerge From Chaos?

Over at Infectious Greed, Paul Kedrosky responds to a reader about the “Web 2.0” meme: As much as I love trying the new technology and services, very little has changed in how I use the web. Only RSS aggregation has truly offered me value. Everything else I enjoy trying out and then utterly forget it […]


What About My Needs?

While everyone (FCC, FBI, RIAA) is lining up to decide what software you can run, I’d just like to ask that I be included in the list. The Federal Communications Commission thinks you have the right to use software on your computer only if the FBI approves. No, really. In an obscure “policy” document released […]


Sweet Land of Databases

In “Stuck on the No-Fly List,” Ryan Singel discusses the procedure for, no not getting off the list [1], but for getting onto yet another “cleared” list.[2] Confused? I was too. The head of the Terrorist Screening Center [3] told me recently that I’d mixed up “No-Fly” and “Selectee.” As Daniel Solove explains in “Secure […]


Never Enough

After the 7/7 London bombings, France decided it was not enough. So, even though France has already one of the toughest anti-terrorism judicial arsenal in Europe, it is adding to it. Indeed, French newspaper Le Monde just revealed the clauses of the new anti-terrorist law due to be formally presented to the government on October […]


Chinese Censorship

Rebecca MacKinnon has the story on how AOL is refusing to collaborate on blocking freedom in China, in “Internet Censorship & Corporate Choices.” Companies do have a choice, and the choices they make matter a great deal. Security technologies that help protect people from their governments are not yet internationalized and easy to use. So […]


You Don’t Need To See His Identification

If you’re a jack-booted thug, one of the saddest moments in Star Wars is when Obi-Wan Kenobe and Luke Skywalker slip past the Imperial Stormtroopers, out looking for stolen property. Had the Stormtroopers been a little more on the ball, all of those innocents on the Death Star would still be alive. You may not […]


Yahoo & China

Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang said the company was merely following Chinese law – it had no choice. But as human rights groups have been pointing out, Yahoo! has been going above and beyond the strict legal requirements for some time. In 2002 it signed the Internet Society of China’s Public Pledge on Self-Discipline for the […]


Voter ID Cards

Kip Esquire, who I enjoy reading, writes: The voter ID proposal, already causing a stir in Georgia, is a reasonable compromise. ID cards help deter voter fraud, yet if the cards are free, then the “poll tax” histrionics evaporate (see, e.g., my previous post). I agree that some histrionics may go away, but the real […]


Journalist Shi Tao Jailed For 10 Years, after Yahoo! Helped

Both T-Salon and RConversation are reporting a Reporters Without Borders story, “Information supplied by Yahoo ! helped journalist Shi Tao get 10 years in prison:” The text of the verdict in the case of journalist Shi Tao – sentenced in April to 10 years in prison for “divulging state secrets abroad” – shows that Yahoo […]


Oxford No Longer Accepting "Child Prodigies"

Yinan Wang, the 14-year-old Chinese boy who clinched a place at Oxford University last week, will be the last child prodigy to study there under reforms being considered by admissions tutors. Despite an almost perennial flurry of headlines on children barely in their teens being offered places, the university is considering an unprecedented blanket rule […]


Small Bits: Alex Haislip, Chinese Censorship, TSA Xrays

Alex Haislip is blogging up a storm at VC Action. I love journalist bloggers; there’s so much interesting backstory that they talk about. And working at Red Herring, Alex has more dirt than he could dish and stay in business. 😉 Curt Hopkins points to a fascinating story about the folks who run the great […]


No Child Left Alone

The EFF is directing attention to the Leave My Child Alone! colalition. Did you know that President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act mandates that public high schools turn over private student contact information to local military recruiters or risk losing federal education funding? Not only that, but the Pentagon has compiled a database of […]


Short Bits on Terrorism

Thurston points to “London blasts – expert comments” at the London School of Economics. I know you all come here for the bombast and snark, so be warned: These are trained professionals. Do not try this on your blog. Boyodite William Lind reports on the “Modern Warfare Symposium,” organized by (ret) Colonel Mike Wyly. The […]


Flag Desecrations?

Over at Sivacracy, Ann Bartow is running a series of pictures on flag desecration.


Real American Heroes

Marty Lederman has a long post, “The Heroes of the Pentagon’s Interrogation Scandal — Finally, the JAG Memos” about the Judge Advocate Generals of the Armed Forces, who took a stand against the President’s position that the United States could behave as it has at Guantanamo and elsewhere: The memos are extraordinary. They are written […]


Question Authority: The Life You Save May Be Your Own

Gary Wolf has an article in Wired this month: In fact, the people inside the towers were better informed and far more knowledgeable than emergency operators far from the scene. While walking down the stairs, they answered their cell phones and glanced at their BlackBerries, learning from friends that there had been a terrorist attack […]


Why Not Accept Random Searches?

In comments, Izar asks why we feel that having policemen check up on us is an affront to our liberty. He also asks that we call him a “serf of the totalitarian state machine,” so I shall. I suppose I might feel differently if, regularly, people around me were being murdered by terrorists. But the […]


Canadian Telco Telus Blocks access to Union Website, How to Access

Michael Geist has the scoop at “Telus Blocks Subscriber Access to Union Website.” Short version: Telus and their union are fighting. Telus has chosen to prevent their customers from reaching “Voices for Change, the union website. I urge Telus customers to call and customer support and ask what’s up. Repeatedly. Voices for change also suggests […]


What Do You Have to Do To Get Fired Here?

Ryan Singel has the scoop. The GAO report to Congress is also covered in the New York Times, “Flight Database Found to Violate Privacy Law:” “Careless missteps such as this jeopardize the public trust and D.H.S.’ ability to deploy a much-needed, new system,” Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, wrote on Friday to Secretary Michael […]


Consent, Submit, Forest, Trees

Kip Esquire has a good post, “On ‘Consenting’ versus ‘Submitting’ to a Search.” The upshot is: If you happen to be stopped for a search such as this, you should not say “Yes I consent” or “Sure, go ahead.” Rather try saying something like “I consent to nothing, but if you are requiring me to […]


New York to Randomly Beat People In Hopes of Beating Terrorists

Police will begin randomly beating people entering city subways, officials announced Thursday after a new series of bomb attacks in London. “We just live in a world where, sadly, these kinds of security measures are necessary,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “Are they intrusive? Yes, a little bit. But we are trying to find that right […]


More on the FBI and ACLU

Over at Volokh, Orin Kerr writes “The New York Times ACLU Story Begins to Look A Bit Fishy.” The essence of Kerr’s argument is that with the ACLU’s request for any document mentioning the ACLU, of course they’re going to get a lot of documents: I should point out that it is at least theoretically […]


Fingerprints at Disney: The Desensitization Imperative

The Walt Disney Corporation has started fingerprinting all visitors to their parks. They claim, incorrectly, that the fingerprint scans can’t be turned into pictures of fingerprints. True Americans understand that fingerprinting is for criminals. A presumption of guilt — of criminality — underlies a company taking your fingerprints. In “Welcome to Disney World, please let […]


A New Birth of Freedom in Iraq?

The Committee to Protect Bloggers reports that prominent Iraqi blogger Khalid Jarrar has been taken into custody by the Iraqi mokhabarat, or secret service. Jarrar is author of Secrets in Baghdad and is the brother of Raed from Raed in the Middle. B.L. Ochman has the scoop. Raed has more. If the United States is […]


Nothing to Hide, but "Nothing to Hide"

You’ve heard of the tube, of lorries and bobbies, but “cleanskins?” It’s a word that has emerged from London after last week’s bombings. The English police believe the suspects in the case are “cleanskins” – young operatives with no background of terrorism or crime. It’s more difficult to investigate cleanskins because they have no criminal […]


"Israeli Style Profiling"

Less useful is another call for “Israeli style profiling,” in Bill West’s Bolstering Transit Security the Old Fashioned Way: The more such officers there are, and the better trained they are, especially if they are trained in behavioral profiling techniques like the Israeli security services have used for decades, the better protected these transportation systems […]


"The Great Equalizer"

Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy tells the Post Gazette that “Eminent domain ‘is a great equalizer when you’re having a conversation with people…’” Indeed it is. Pictured is another “great equalizer.” (Quote via John Tierney in “Your Land Is My Land,” in the New York Times.)


Two Minutes Hate in the Blogosphere

Fred, who did graphic design for RECon, is doing a comic book of 1984. (The copyright on 1984 has expired in Canada.) He also had great “Big Brother is Watching You” posters, one of which I bought. Fred (pictured, left) was also good enough to introduce my talk, and provide a hanging banner. You can […]


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776 The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the […]


Doing the Devil's Work

The Internet, with its freedom of communication, scares a lot of people. Some people argue that this is “just political,” but its not. Chinese repression includes information about health issues, such as the abuse of antibiotics to control avian flu. (See, for example, “Bird Flu Drug Rendered Useless in the Washington Post.) The companies that […]


Iran's New President a "Moderate"

“After all, he didn’t kill his hostages…” London, Jun. 29 – Iran Focus has learnt that the photograph of Iran’s newly-elected president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, holding the arm of a blindfolded American hostage on the premises of the United States embassy in Tehran was taken by an Associated Press photographer in November 1979. Prior to the […]


TSA Lies, Could Face Time Fines

Homeland Security officials who defied Congress and misled the public by creating secret files on American citizens while testing a new passenger screening program may have engaged in multiple counts of criminal conduct, and at least one employee has already lied to cover-up the misdeed. Read “TSA Lies, Could Face Fines” at Secondary Screening. Pictured […]


China's Internet Blocking and Ethics

Rebecca MacKinnon has a post about US companies which are selling internet censorship technologies to China, “Confirmed: All Typepad blogs blocked in China:” It’s a complicated issue. We need greater scrutiny of U.S. tech companies in China by bloggers, journalists, human rights activists, and anybody who cares about free speech and corporate accountability. We need […]


More Terrorist Slander Against Heroic Prison Guards

Except this time, the “terrorists” are American veterans working for a private company in Iraq: “I never in my career have treated anybody so inhumane,” one of the contractors, Rick Blanchard, a former Florida state trooper, wrote in an email quoted in the Los Angeles Times. “They treated us like insurgents, roughed us up, took […]


Small Bits: Soviet Realism at DHS and in China, Going Public, Lameness, and Curves

Artiloop reports on a security poster on the Marc commuter trains. Its clearly the work of a thoughtcriminal, encouraging ironic responses. I want to heroically help plan the tractor factory. I’ve been meaning to discuss the Chinese blog crackdown, but instead I’ll just juxtapose it with Soviet Realism. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled […]


Madison, The Bill of Rights, Raich

The Supreme Court today handed down a decision in “Gonzales vs. Raich.” Larry Solum has done outstanding work blogging it. The essence of the case was the limits of the commerce clause, and the case was decided that the commerce clause places, essentially, no limits on what Congress may legislate. Respondents nonetheless insist that the […]


Cakeeater on Tiananmen

CakeEater has a beautiful post on the man in front of the tanks: Then the tank tried to get around him. And he moved in concert with it, shifting to stay directly in its path. I remember being stunned when this happened. I remember saying, “Holy Shit!” to no one in particular in the family […]


The Voting-Industrial Complex

The fine folks over at Black Box Voting demonstrate that Diebold can’t even build an optical scan voting machine without screwing it up in “Optical scan system hacked (3 ways).” If we existed in a reality-driven world, these people would be permanently disqualified from participating in the vote counting process. Vote counting is, as Stalin […]


June 4th, 1989

At our best, the United States inspires people around the world to reach for freedom and democracy. In the student led rallies in Tiananmen Square, the students built a statue of liberty as one of the centerpieces of their protest. I remember watching the protests on TV, being thrilled by the power of people to […]


Privacy and Courage

I met Hossein Derakhshan at Blognashville. He and I respectfully disagree about the value of privacy to bloggers in oppressive regimes. He points out (correctly) that a blogger who has the courage to use his or her own name gains credibility. While I don’t disagree, I think there are people out there who don’t blog […]


Speaking of Usability: Privacy and Openness

Jon Mills, who has been heading up Florida’s Committee on Privacy and Court Records. He has an article in the HeraldTribune: How do we balance the competing values of privacy and openness? The Internet makes possible greater openness, so indispensable to good government, and allows for greater convenience in accessing government services, including court records. […]


French Elections

You might not know it if you read only the American press, but the French voted today in a referendum on the European Union’s proposed Constitution. It’s an awful document, and the French are expected to reject it, plunging the EU into crisis, and leading to the Chancellor being made Emperor. If the EU would […]


Small Bits: Xrays, Free Speech, Law, Cowards and Crypto School

Justin Mason has a good post on the new backscatter radiation xray machines that TSA would like to deploy. My favorite part: They create child pornography. Interestingly, these are one of the relatively few places that a privacy invasion makes us safer. Also interesting is that different people perceive either the hand-pat or the naked […]


Global Internet Freedom Act in House

… SEC. 5. SENSE OF CONGRESS. It is the sense of Congress that the United States should… (3) deploy, at the earliest practicable date, technologies aimed at defeating state-sponsored and state-directed Internet jamming by repressive foreign governments and the intimidation and persecution by such governments of their citizens who use the Internet. Rebecca MacKinnon has […]


The Altered Deal

In “…And Another Thing: Those Jedi Children Were a Threat,” Gene Healy refers to the Weekly Standard review of Attack of the Clones, with its famous defense of the Empire. Make no mistake, as emperor, Palpatine is a dictator–but a relatively benign one, like Pinochet. It’s a dictatorship people can do business with. They collect […]


Adopt a Chinese Blog

To help folks in places like China blog, there’s the obvious problems of protecting their privacy against the local authorities. But often, the audience that a blogger seeks is not the international, but the local. A blogger in China should be able to write in Chinese and share their thoughts with the people around them. […]


About Episodes 7, 8 and 9

Stuart Berman reminded me of the original plan, which was a 9-episode epic cycle for Star Wars. At some point, Lucas made the decision to allow others, the novelists, the game creators, and even the fans to define what happens after Return of the Jedi. It was a brilliant choice. The original Star Wars was […]


Emergent Bits: Iranian Blogger, Economics, Security myths

Iranian blogger Mojtaba Saminejad has declared a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment. The Committee to Protect Bloggers has asked that we observe a media fast next Thursday, May 26th and not blog. There are also email addresses to write to to ask that Mojtaba be released. Ethan Zuckerman has some fascinating comments on the […]


Welcome to the 21st Century

Only 14 years after they were liberated by American-led forces, our ally Kuwait…gives women the vote. The Chicago Tribune reports: KUWAIT CITY — Parliament extended political rights to Kuwaiti women Monday, but religious fundamentalists who opposed women’s suffrage succeeded in attaching a clause requiring future female politicians and voters to abide by Islamic law. The […]


Small Bits of Chaos: Airports, Junk Mail and Employment Law (Context-free)

Scared Monkeys asks “Could Iris Scanning be Coming To an Airport Near You?” (As if the TSA hadn’t wasted enough money on machines that don’t work, or seizing zippo lighter cameras.) Maybe the camera in their iris scanner was busted? New blog “The Dunning Letter” claims to be from a long-time junk mailer, now repentant. […]


The Right to Self-Treatment

The Mutualist Blog has a great article on how and why the right to choose your own medical treatments was removed, and what that means to you.


Undertow of Totalism

Orcinus has a great, long post on “Undertow Of Totalism.” He starts with Two Minutes Hate, and goes from there. Read it, and then ask yourself, does your blood boil when someone mentions Ann Coulter? Michael Moore? If it’s one or the other, ask yourself if you’re being played, and stop. Pay no attention. Participate […]


Copyright, Aggregators, and Readership

I’ve been thinking lately about licensing my content under a Creative Commons license, maybe non-commercial, attribution. As I think about such things, I look for scenarios where I’d be sad I’d done such a thing. While I haven’t come up with any, I’ve been noticing lately that more and more of my readership comes via […]


Portland Withdraws Support from Terror Task Force

Mayor Potter, a former Portland police chief, earlier this year requested that the federal government grant him, the police chief and the city attorney top-secret security clearance — the same as task force officers — so that city leaders could have access to case files and more frequent updates. Potter said he wanted the ability […]


Victory Against RFID Passports is Near

“The State Department seems to be putting down the purple Kool-Aid and looking at the serious problem this technology presents,” said Mr. Scannell, who runs an Internet site called; the first part of the name stands for radio frequency identification chips. “But no matter how much stuff you layer on the technology, it is […]


Banks as Big Brother

“AML software will change international banking forever,” said Suheim Sheikh of SDG Software, an Indian software firm hoping to tap into the big new market. “Governments across the world will have their eyes on bank customers,” he added. “Since the software can monitor so many accounts, so many transactions, all kinds of people will be […]


What Are You Hiding, Democrat?

Time Magazine reports: The State Department has traditionally put together a list of industry representatives for these [Inter-American Telecommunication Commission] meetings, and anyone in the U.S. telecom industry who had the requisite expertise and wanted to go was generally given a slot, say past participants. Only after the start of Bush’s second term did a […]



Speaking of distributed innovation, the Open Source Vulnerability Database is a great project, dedicated to accumulating deep technical knowledge about computer security vulnerabilities, and making it freely available. And now it turns out, they have a blog! Mark Ward has an interesting article, “Predicting Vulnerabilities, Quotes and more.” When the patch comes out, many people […]


Distributed Innovation

In the New York Times, Virginia Postrel writes about the work of Eric von Hippel, head of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at the Sloan School of Management at MIT, who has a new (academic) book, “Democratizing Innovation.” But a lot of significant innovations do not come from people trying to figure out what customers […]


Small Bits: Ameritrade, Tax & web privacy, revolution, medicine

It turned out someone I had dinner with last night had gotten an Ameritrade letter. According to her, Amertrade is not offering credit monitoring service.* “Lotus, Surviving A Dark Time,” has some good analysis: Well, duh with a PR stamp. How could they have heard of any such “misuse?” If customers had any bad experiences, […]


Lebanese Democracy

The fine folks at Spirit of America are blogging their time in Lebanon. Yesterday, they point to Pulse of Freedom, where folks working towards real democracy in Lebanon are blogging. Very cool.


DNA Dragnets Not Needed

In January, I blogged about the city of Truro, Mass, trying to get DNA samples from all 790 residents. (“DNA Dragnets” and “DNA Dragnets and Criminal Signaling.”) The New York Times reports that they’ve arrested someone: Mr. McCowen was first considered a possible suspect in April 2002, three months after the murder, Mr. O’Keefe said, […]


Small Bits: Iran annoyed, Academic Publishing, Immigration law, Iraqi Justice

Iran seems to be annoyed that Canada is engaged in a minimal attempt to find out who murdered Zahra Kazemi, and see that they’re brought to justice. It seems that more and more academics are getting the word: Access to your research is good. I wonder when the computer scientists at IEEE and ACM will […]


AdScam in Canada

Apr. 10 – People who compare Adscam to Watergate are missing a vital difference. Whereas the Watergate hearings began with the use of private donations to President Nixon’s re-election campaign for illegal operations, Adscam is increasingly exposing the use of public, taxpayer money to fund the election campaigns of the Liberal Party. So says Being […]


Dear American Airlines

Over at Boing-Boing, Cory posts the latest in his saga of having American Airlines ask for a written list of his friends. As I thought about this story, I realized something very worrisome. I fly American! I also realized that I don’t know if I’ll have the right papers with me when I do. So […]


Anonymous Blogging Project

I’ve mentioned the Spirit of America anonymous blogging project before. To help move things forward, I’ve offered Jim Hake my assistance as a project coordinator. As Jim describes the project: The project is to review all available technologies and techniques and get the input of the best minds available to put together a plan for […]


Small Bits: Canada, DNA, Microsoft and Tea

While publicly recalling their Ambassador over the brutal murder of Zahra Kazemi, the Canadian government was playing host to Iranian officials, looking for security information, reports the CBC: In dozens of e-mails, there is no mention of Kazemi, and no one questions why Canada would help Iran, considered by some to be a brutal police […]


One Nice Thing About a Written Constitution

A legal principle which prevents people being tried for the same crime twice is being scrapped in England and Wales. The ban on “double jeopardy”, which has existed for around 800 years, will be consigned to history from Monday. The Court of Appeal can now quash an acquittal and order a retrial when “new and […]



My local supermarket has Stroopwafels! They’re cleverly hidden in the cookie section, which I carefully avoid (due to a lack of willpower). But next time someone gripes about global free trade, I have a miniature stroopwafel to throw at them. Yes, I got the mini ones. No, I’m neither illiterate, nor smoking anything. I got […]


Iranian Treatment of Journalists

Rape, Torture, and Lies An ongoing Canadian saga has a sad new twist today: photojournalist Ziba Zahra Kazemi was likely brutally tortured and raped before her death in Iran in 2003. Arrested after a demonstration, the official Iranian line has been that her death was an accident due to injuries from a fall. The ER […]


Optimism about the Future

I was talking to someone about a New York Times story “U.S. Is Examining a Plan to Bolster the Rights of Detainees.” The story contains the line: Those changes include strengthening the rights of defendants, establishing more independent judges to lead the panels and barring confessions obtained by torture, the officials said. I made a […]


Watch Lists: Juan Carlos Merida

Juan Carlos Merida is an unusual victim of the watch lists. He knows why he’s on one. As the New York Times reports, while a volunteer at the Airman Flight School, he gave rides to lots of students. The students he gave rides to included Zacarias Moussaoui, who is currently awaiting trial on suspicion of […]


Lying to Congress, Murdering Prisoners Now Legal

Ryan Singel reports that lying to Congress is now legal, at least according to TSA spokeswoman Amy Von Walter. “Von Walter also indicated the agency is working to make sure that the public and Congress are better informed about the agency’s actions.” In other news, the Pentagon will ignore the recommendation of the Army Criminal […]


"What Would Gandhi do?"

“What would Gandhi do?” is the title of a soul-searching post by Joi Ito about positioning. It reminded me of a passage in William Shirer’s memoir of his time with Gandhi. I’d like to quote the passage, which ends chapter 11, and then add some comments. The context is Gandhi’s visit to England, and in […]


Screening the Open Society Paradox

If you’ve been enjoying the Chaos-Paradox spat, Ryan Singel’s Paradox Still a Paradox is not to be missed: But when it comes to big data brokers that compile dossiers on Americans and list marketing firms that enhance their lists with data bought from data brokers, Bailey thinks they should be immune from the return gaze, […]


Small Bits: Simson, Maoists, and a £219m Heist Attempt

Simson Garfinkel has won a Neal award for his writing for CSO. Congratulations! (His latest column is on Skype.) Whiskey Bar has a comparison between Maoists and American Conservatives in Scenes From the Cultural Revolution. Willie Sutton finds the Internet, according to this story. Israeli police are investigating with British forces an attempted robbery […]


"Taxation Ventage"

Justin Mason has a great rant, titled “taxation ventage.” In the US, every worker is required to prepare and file their own taxes, in detail. Nowhere outside of India can do bureaucracy quite like the US, as far as I can tell — even the brits have embraced simplicity to a greater degree — so […]


Privacy and Background Checks

In a comment, Axinar writes: Is it reasonable for an employer to know whether or not a potential employee has a history of violence or theft? Well, probably. And with our liability situation the way it is, generally any company with deep pockets is virtually REQUIRED to run background checks because if an employee “goes […]


What to do, What to do?

Over at Open Society Paradox, Dennis Bailey challenges me: Emergent Chaos documents some problems but ends with a personal slam against ChoicePoint’s CEO. [Ed Note: Technically, we call that the “middle,” not the end.] What would Emergent Chaos have us do? Should we follow the Fair Information Practices and allow 300 million citizens to be […]


Emergent Uses of Technology

I love navel gazing. I try not to expose my readers to too much of it, but this post by Seth Schoen at EFF’s Deep Links captures the spirit I think about when talking about emergent chaos: The Business Models working group‘s mission has been based on the premise that “no system can be properly […]


Hank Asher

Dennis Bailey at The Open Society Paradox objects to my characterization of Hank Asher, and says: Rather than debate the merits of the program, they have to make this a personal attack on the man. Well, let’s talk about the programs. DBT, the first company Asher founded, was deeply involved in disenfranchising Florida voters. MATRIX […]


New American Privacy Law: What Could It Say?

With recent events (Choicepoint, Bank Of America, PayMaxx, and Lexis Nexis) leading to a new privacy law for the United States, what should it say? How can we tell a good law from a bad one? Some disclaimers: I’m not entirely in favor of a new law. There’s a lot of potential for harm when […]


"Rendition" or Openness?

Juan Non-Volokh writes: Ignatius notes that espionage and interrogation experts tend to doubt that torture works. As a friend with experience in that area put it to me: Torture makes people tell you what they think you want to hear, when what you want is the truth. Nonetheless, rendition may result in the torture of […]


Alec Muffet on ID Cards

Alec Muffet provides the best way I’ve seen to get people to take up National ID Cards: Loyalty points. He claims to be kidding, but I’ve already picked up a dozen citizenship points by turning him in for Mocking the Crown. That brings me nearly halfway to an upgraded room next time I’m in the […]


Small Bits: How to live, drive, be identified, and stuck in a database.

A great essay on living and working creatively by Milton Glaser (via BoingBoing) What it takes to get a drivers license in Germany. Stefan Brands On Quintessenz and the Biometric Consortium. Quintessenz is an Austrian civil liberties group that’s learned about how NSA is driving the biometrics industry. What may be the largest database on […]


More on Watch Lists

To follow up to my post on Terror Suspects and Firearms, I’d like to take a moment to rail against the Kafka-esque implementation of “watch lists” in the United States. For the FBI, or other investigative or intelligence agencies, to have lists of “interesting people” makes perfect sense. You’ll always have people who you suspect […]


Terror Suspects and Firearms

The New York Times is running a somewhat alarmist article, Terror Suspects Buying Firearms, Report Finds. The report says that At least 44 times from February 2004 to June, people whom the F.B.I. regards as known or suspected members of terrorist groups sought permission to buy or carry a gun, the investigation found. In all […]


Identity Trail

There’s some great blogging at the Identity Trail conference. I wish I’d been there. Read the official blog for Friday, Saturday AM, Saturday PM, or Michael Froomkin‘s post.


Small Bits: Teen Drinking, TSA Databasing, hope, and trust.

This New York Times story discusses the “need” to submit high school students to Breathalyzer tests to ensure they’re not drinking. It’s a good thing we have all those mandatory ID checks. It seems they’re highly effective at stopping teen drinking, so there’s no need for such tests. The TSA is maintaining a secret database […]


MMR & Autism

There’s a belief out there that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination is linked to autism, with some scientific sounding hypothesis as to what the causal link is. The BBC is reporting on a study done by Hideo Honda of the Yokohama Rehabilitation Center, along with Yasuo Shimizu and Michael Rutter of the Institute […]


It's Not About Not Feeling Pain

On Monday, I had the opportunity to see Ed Tufte teach. Much of his analysis revolves around failures to think clearly. Things like poor presentation of data, or selection of data to not include enough context. He said he was in Houston last week, giving a class to the people who were responsible for the […]


Astrologers and National ID Cards

I often hear folks who believe in astrology saying things like “That’s just the scorpio in her.” Or, “All Leos act that way.” I rarely hear them say “That’s so unlike a scorpio.” Underlying this is a mind-set which searches for ‘evidence in favor’ of a proposition. This search is a fundamental, and common, misunderstanding […]


Small Bits of Chaos: Tempest Tents, Medical Records, Openness

One of the neat things about talking to different sorts of conferences is that you find neat stuff that you don’t otherwise see. At the Southeast Cybercrime Summit, I was supposed to talk about “Reducing Crime In Cyberspace, a Privacy Industry View.” (The talk I used to give for Zero-Knowledge.) Due to a small error […]


Cultural Imperialism at its Best

Thomas Barnett has some links and analysis about the effect of Iraq on the middle east: Yes, there will dangers along the way. But tell me that any of this happens when it does without the invasion of Iraq. Bush is engineering his own serious change in the Middle East, with the simplest and most […]


Good Folks Looking for Help

A group that wants to assist free speech in authoritarian nations is looking for a technically savvy person — a CTO or lead engineer type — who can do a short term study, possibly leading to a longer-term job. This is a paying gig for the right person. The project is intended, in its intitial […]


Free Mojtaba and Arash!

Sending people to jail for expressing their opinions is wrong. In the west we’ve understood why it was wrong since John Stuart Mill wrote On Liberty. So please, for the betterment of Iran, and the entire world: Mojtaba and Arash are Iranian bloggers jailed for their ideas. What ideas is almost not relevant. Even if […]


Small Bits: T-Mobile, Google, Passports, Terrorism

Jack Koziol has a long post on security issues with T-Mobile’s web site. (Via /.) Did you know that Google’s “Dissatisfied? Help us improve” link only appears on the first page of a search? That’s fascinating–they expect their search to be so good that they get what you want on page 1, and you’ll complain […]


An Open Society?

Eric Rescorla discusses this account: Officer Primiano expressed extreme frustration with me as soon as I began speaking of my rights to photograph in public places. She wanted to debate the wisdom of my taking pictures and asserted that in the wake of the Sept 11th attacks on our country, I should be more interested […]


JAG Heroics

Michael Froomkin applauds those “Military lawyers at the Guantanamo Bay terrorist prison tried to stop inhumane interrogations, but were ignored by senior Pentagon officials.”


Dave Eggers and the Pirate Store

By reading this post, you agree not to do anything to get the author or Dave Eggers in trouble, even if those actions that lead to trouble are entirely their own, and you’re just commenting on them, even in a sort of approving way that happens to continue the unfortunate chain of events that were […]


US National ID Card

This was first created in December 2004’s Intelligence bill, loosely called the Patriot II act because it snuck in provisions like this without the Representatives knowing it. The deal is basically a no-option offer to the states: either you issue all your state citizens with nationally approved cards, or all federal employees are instructed to […]


Could We Trade Judges?

NPR is reporting that The Bush administration is seeking to justify the imprisonment of an American citizen using secret evidence. The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to throw out the case based on evidence that is being withheld from the man’s lawyers. Perhaps we could trade judges with Yemen. (Via Hit & Run.) […]


SSNs and Drivers Licenses

JihadWatch is upset because (9/11 hijacker) Nawaf Alhazmi got a CA drivers license with a fake SSN. But so did 184,000 other people, most of whom have not turned terrorists. Perhaps we should focus on things other than SSN fraud in tracking down terrorists?


Vaclav Havel on the EU

For some reason, enemies of Václav Havel want him to waste his astounding moral authority by becoming Secretary General of the UN. I prefer he remain a private citizen, where there is nothing to hold him back from this most elegant dressing down of the European Union: I vividly remember the slightly ludicrous, slightly risqué […]


Small Bits: ICANN, Mock Trials, S.116, etc

Ian Grigg and I have a letter to ICANN about Verisign. See his post. Eric Rescorla has a Kafka-esque excerpt from the “trial” of Mustafa Ait Idr, who wasn’t allowed to see the evidence against him. Mort points me to US Senate Bill 166116, introduced by Diane Feinstein, making it a crime to sell social […]


Privacy and Obscenity?

Put bluntly, the law of obscenity, no matter how longstanding, has never satisfied constitutional requirements, and it never will. Finally, a judge has been brave enough to say as much. This opinion is notable for that reason – and for Judge Lancaster’s novel approach. His opinion attacks the obscenity laws on privacy grounds – and […]


Small Bits of Hope

Some moving blog posts from Iraq include Hammorabi, Messopotamian, and Iraq the Model The first thing we saw this morning on our way to the voting center was a convoy of the Iraqi army vehicles patrolling the street, the soldiers were cheering the people marching towards their voting centers then one of the soldiers chanted […]


Good Luck to Iraqis!

In tomorrow’s elections. I have to say that despite a great deal of skepticism in the feasibility, and disappointment over the execution, of Bush’s vision for the Middle East, it represents the one of the core American beliefs. Lincoln called the ideas of democracy the last, best hope of mankind, and in that, he was […]


Small Bits of Chaos: Vidal, SP2, Iraq

Gore Vidal has a few choice words about the President’s Inaugural address, at DemocracyNow. A Russian company, MaxPatrol, has published a paper on bypassing heap and stack protection for Microsoft Windows XP with SP2. Winterspeak has an interesting summary of Iraq: The big bet that President Bush placed all these months ago, the bet that […]


Small Bits of Chaos: Brazilian Democracy, Traffic Cameras, Locks, Hamas, and Curtains

Lessig discusses what democracy looks like in Brazil: I remember reading about Jefferson’s complaints about the early White House. Ordinary people would knock on the door, and demand to see the President. Often they did. The presumption of that democracy lives in a sense here. And you never quite see how far from that presumption […]


Small Bits of Chaos: Taxes, Orientation, Liberty, Fraudulent Licenses

Scrivner writes about the perverse nature of the AMT. Chuck Spinney at D-N-I asks “Is America Inside Its Own OODA Loop?” The article contains some very clear writing on the meaning of orientation, and applies that idea: He showed why the most dangerous internal state of an OODA loop occurs when the Orientation process becomes […]


Congrats to David Akin

I first met David Akin when he was covering Zero-Knowledge Systems, where I worked. David was always insightful, and even when he thought he saw us blowing smoke, he was pleasant about it. So I’m both disappointed and excited to see that he “will join CTV’s Ottawa bureau as a Parliamentary Reporter.” I sincerely hope […]


"Just the Standard Rhetoric"

…Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Muslims making the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that Rushdie was an apostate whose killing would be authorised by Islam, according to the Iranian media. How very reassuring and level-headed of the British to respond by saying: The Foreign Office said: “The key thing from our point of view […]


Small Bits: Secret Law and Security, Root-Fu, New Blog, and Canadians Stagnate

Cory Doctrow points to a letter he’s sent American Airlines about The security officer then handed me a blank piece of paper and said, “Please write down the names and addresses of everyone you’re staying with in the USA.” and his Kafka-esque experience in trying to find out why they were asking. Good on Cory […]


Small Bits of Chaos

The Globe and Mail has a good story on how copyright law is preventing the re-release of “Eyes On the Prize:” The makers of the series no longer have permission for the archival footage they previously used of such key events as the historic protest marches or the confrontations with Southern police. Given Eyes on […]


The Iron Fist and the Orange Revolution

There’s a fascinating and moving article in the New York Times about how elements of Ukranian intelligence aided Yushchenko in his bid to overturn the first, fraudulent election: Whether the collaboration was a convergence of political aims, or a pragmatic understanding by the siloviki that Mr. Yushchenko’s prospects were rising, is subject to dispute. Yulia […]


More on DNA Dragnet

Chapell nails the “why you might have nothing to hide, but hide anyway” angle: Even more troubling is the possibility that the person who’s DNA was inside this woman may very well have had nothing to do with the crime. But rest assured, that won’t matter to the hundreds of police, FBI, press, and other […]


On Torture

The New York Times reported yesterday that the White House fought for the CIA’s right to torture. In a letter to members of Congress, sent in October and made available by the White House on Wednesday in response to inquiries, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, expressed opposition to the measure on the grounds that […]


Small Bits of Chaos

Scrivner points out a basic lack of agreement amongst the pundits: Damn that Bush, cleverly whipping up this fantasy of a threat to scare people into voting for him. … Damn that Bush, ineptly bungling America’s defense against the most dangerous threat Ian has a post about Ron Paul trying to ban the government issuance […]


Educated Pat-Downs

Eric Rescorla has two good posts on screening at Educated Guesswork. I’d still like to expand the range of questions, and ask, is intense personal screening effective or needed? Can we use air marshals, different aircraft designs, and armed pilots so that we don’t need to compare rub-downs to millimeter-wave xrays?


Small Bits of Chaos

Much as I hate blogging anything from Slashdot, Why the Space Station Almost Ran Out of Food is great. (The previous crew had permission to borrow the current crews’ food, but didn’t record how much they’d eaten.) Maybe they could get jobs working for the Social Security administration. John McWhorter has a new book out, […]


Jihad Watch: Muslims claim unfair treatment at Canadian border

I’ve been debating if I should respond to this idea of unlimited searches of Muslims again, and realized that there’s a perhaps interesting analogy. JihadWatch quotes an AP story BUFFALO, N.Y. — An Islamic civil rights group Wednesday accused U.S. border agents of religious profiling after dozens of American Muslims were searched, fingerprinted and photographed […]



With Yushchenko at 52% of the votes to Yanukovich’s 44%, it seems likely that he Yushchenko will be the next leader of the Ukraine. Congratulations to all who stood up for a fair and honest vote. Oh, and it means I can get a nicer stylesheet in place, too.


Good Luck To Ukraine!

I hope that your elections go smoothly, fairly, and peacefully, and that when they’re done, the people’s will is respected.


TSA Backs Down

Starting today, the federal Transportation Security Administration is telling its screeners to keep their hands to the “chest perimeters” of women unless handheld metal detectors beep when waved over their breasts. I’ve mentioned outrage at TSA intrusiveness in the past. (From, via CSOOline.)


Anti-American Nuts Unfairly Accuse Military of Torture

[DOD interrogators presented themselves as FBI agents and…] These tactics have produced no intelligence of a threat neutralization nature to date and CITF believes that techniques have destroyed any chance of prosecuting this detainee. If this detainee is ever released or his story made public in any way, DOD interrogators will not be held accountable […]


Effects of democracy on health

The British Medical Journal has just published a study showing either that democracy makes you live longer, or living in a dictatorship kills you, by three Spanish professors.


Not Just A Good Defense

Michael Froomkin comments: We vastly overestimated the speed with which non-techies would take up the toys; the growing and enduring dominance of one software platform that didn’t take up the toys; and especially the ability of the empire to strike back via both tech (trusted user) and law (DMCA and worse). Some time about four […]


Econ and Security papers

Ross Anderson has added three papers to his Economics and Security Resource page: Fetscherin and Vlietstra’s DRM and music: How do rights affect the download price? shows that the prices of music tracks sold online are mostly determined by the rights granted to the purchaser – including the right to burn, copy or export the […]


Three By Froomkin

Michael Froomkin has three nice posts today. First, Inside The TSA, we learn that power tends to corrupt: This account of the goings-on at the MIA TSA branch, brought to you by the feisty local Miami New Times, is worse than not pretty. It’s pretty ugly: allegations of theft from passengers’ bags, sexual harassment (of […]


First They Came For The Jews

The normally insightful JihadWatch writes: It sounds terrible: restricting their civil liberties. Until you read into the story and find that they’re talking about registration, profiling, and monitoring of mosques and Islamic organizations. Horrors! Registration may inconvenience some people, but after all, a lot of people were inconvenienced on 9/11; as with all these measures, […]


Releasing Criminals

My friend Sameer takes issue with my hoping for experimentation by criminals, on two grounds: First, he believes I’m encouraging violence. This wasn’t my intent. I assume that there are all sorts of ways to non-violently behave badly, from calling a guard snookums to having a tattoo needle in your cell. However, I don’t know. […]


A good day for liberty

In its powerfully worded decision, the [UK Law Lords] said that the government’s “draconian” measures unjustly discriminate against foreigners since they do not apply to British citizens and constitute a lopsided response to the threat of a terrorist attack. (From The New York Times, see also the BBC or Volokh.) WASHINGTON (AP) — A [US] […]


State Failure 101

Global Guerrillas has a great post on how US efforts in Iraq are broken: Unfortunately, the US effort to rebuild Iraq is out of synch (a full 180 degrees) with what is really needed.  If we map US efforts to Maslow’s hierarchy we see something quite unsettling. 


Two on Liberty

Ed Hasbrouck has a long post on the impact of the new “intelligence reform” bill on privacy and liberty. The CBC has an article on Australia imposing random drug tests on its consumer-units, or citizens, or something.


BarlowFriendz: A Taste of the System

John Perry Barlow writes about the apparently limitless suspension of the Constitution that’s already happened in airports. But randomly searching people’s homes against the possibility that someone might have a bio-warfare lab in his basement would reveal a lot of criminal activity. And it is certainly true that such searches would reduce the possibility of […]


Regulating Private Spaceflight

Doug Barnes writes: There is a clear basis for regulation of objects that, with great force, fling themselves into the sky and have an opportunity to subsequently land on random people and property. Even from a purely selfish point of view, it’s not going to be good for the development of a commercial spaceflight industry […]


Nice point

…it’s pretty scary when the only Asian leader taking your side is the allegedly former crony-capitalist-in-chief of an island police state best known for its canings and outlawing of bubblegum. Says Doug, and who am I to argue with him?


oooh, look an unscientific poll!

Go tell the pollsters that we’ve had enough government sponsored groping. [Update: You may use BugMeNot for a login, or you might want to create a new one for the poll, and feed the bugmenot database.]


Kerik for DHS?

The New York Times is reporting that Bernard Kerik, formerly of the NYPD, has been tapped for homeland security secretary. [Update: VikingZen has an alternate suggestion that shouldn’t be missed!],br> [Update 2: Declan has found a more relevant set of links than I did. Thanks to Secondary Screening.]


Freedom to travel in Ukraine

This information has been confirmed by another listener. She said that in ticket sales offices on Hnatyuk street in Lviv the cashier was extremely friendly to those who were traveling to Kiev, but she did record the passport data into some sort of catalogue. Maidan-INFORM has been stressing, that such practice of registering movement of […]


Paralyzed woman walks again

A SOUTH Korean woman paralysed for 20 years is walking again after scientists say they repaired her damaged spine using stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood. Hwang Mi-Soon, 37, had been bedridden since damaging her back in an accident two decades ago. Last week her eyes glistened with tears as she walked again with […]


CIA funded overthrows?

Cryptome points to a fascinating article in The Guardian about how the US is training young activists to undermine corrupt regimes: Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat […]


New look

For Yushchenko, and fair elections. It’s a small thing, but show your support. Turn your blog orange.


The revolutions are being blogged

From Iraq, the start of a new political party, and the jitters that come from living under totalitarianism. From Ukraine, people continue to rally and demonstrate against the hijacking of their democracy: The past four days have taught me something valuable: when I’m watching the situation unfold on television, I grow tense, fearful that it’s […]


Bush & Putin

Will President George W. Bush now stand up to Russia’s blatant imperial overreach in Ukraine? Will Mr. Bush protect America’s interest in the spread of democracy and free markets? While the President has touted good relations with his Russian counterpart, it is clear that Vladimir Putin financed and actively campaigned on behalf of an authoritarian […]


The democracy meme

“I will not accept the results of the presidential election until it is proved to me and the Ukrainian people that they are legitimate and credible in accordance with conditions set down by the constitution,” [Yanukovych] said in a statement. “I need no fictitious victory, a result which could lead to violence and victims. No […]



These women and a good many others, both frequent and occasional travelers, say they are furious about recent changes in airport security that have increased both the number and the intensity of pat-downs at the nation’s 450 commercial airports. And they are not keeping quiet. … Most of the women interviewed said they did not […]


No fly list

A man with an expired passport got onto Air France flight 26 on Saturday, November 19th: Flight 026 from Paris to Washington Dulles International Airport was diverted to Bangor, Maine, after U.S. officials discovered that the man was listed on the government’s no-fly list. The man’s name also was on the State Department’s terrorist watch […]


Cost, Value of government

After the election, I asked What’s a Free Election worth?.” John Robb over at Global Guerrillas has a partial answer, which is what the 2nd intifada has cost both sides over 4 years: 10% of Israel’s GDP (roughly 2.5% of GDP per year), and a stunning 300% of GDP over 4 years for the Palestinians. […]


Secretly admired blogs

Discovered a bunch of friends’ blogs today: You Must Be Present to Win (Doug Barnes), Creative Destruction (Sameer), Evil Geniuses For A Better Tomorrow (Jim McCoy, from whom I stole the “Most Evil Genius” gag title I used while at Zero-Knowledge).


Stolen EFF docs at WIPO negotiations

The EFF is doing a great job trying to prevent bad law from being created at a global level. There’s a bizzare story of EFF docs being stolen and trashed to prevent their message getting out. Cory writes: We ended up posting a guard over the table — thanks to Rufus Pollock from the Campaign […]


TSA's identity obsession

US Homeland Security undersecretary Asa Hutchinson said the current practice of airlines giving the names of passengers to US officials 15 minutes after take-off did not make sense. … “If we have to have information 60 or 45 minutes before, you’ve got to close off the passengers that come in at the last second,” he […]


TSA ignores the public

As I and others >predicted, the TSA has chosen to run roughshod over our concerns. Interestingly, they claim that we have implicitly consented to the data being used this way. That’s interesting, because in the comments which I sent to them, I explicitly stated that I don’t consent. (Search this document for the words “do […]


Comments on the TSA’s dissing of America

Thanks to Ed Hasbrouck for catching the TSA’s disdainful response to the American people. Quotes are from the TSA’s Notice of Final Order for Secure Flight Test Phase and Response to Public Comments. Because the document is apparently a scan of a printout, I can’t copy text, and thus chose which words I bother to […]


WTO, Bastion of liberty?

Antigua and Barbuda have won a case at the World Trade Organization, claiming that US laws against internet gambling are a violation of the WTO rules.


More on 700 Arrests

Yesterday, I mentioned the 700 arrests [in the United States] in an attempt to deter terrorist activity. Also yesterday, several residents of The Hauge violently objected when the police showed up to arrest them. This is a pattern in the arrest of Al Qaeda suspects: Some of them decide that shooting the police is the […]


9th Circuit limits police privacy

The chief warned Anthony Johnson to point his video camera elsewhere, then wrestled the camera away and put Johnson in jail for recording communication without permission, court records say. … A 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel last week reinstated Johnson’s suit, which had been thrown out by a federal magistrate in Tacoma, and […]


Vonage, FCC

U.S. regulators ruled Tuesday that providers of Internet-based phone call services fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government and cannot be regulated by states. … Vonage has been battling public utilities officials in Minnesota who want the company to register in the state as a telecommunications service, subjecting it to rate regulation and other […]


NC Voting Issues Could Lead To Special Election

“The bottom line that we have heard from the manufacturer is that these votes are not missing. They’re lost,” county commissioner-elect Tom Steepy said. “It’s very disheartening. It really is.” Damn right it is. Voting machines should produce paper ballots, or their CEOs should offer to commit sepuku over any failures. (From Carteret Voting […]


700 arrests made to avert election terrorist attack

Jihad Watch points to an AP story: More than 700 people were arrested on immigration violations and thousands more subjected to FBI interviews in an intense government effort to avert a terrorist attack aimed at disrupting the election. As with past unrealized al Qaeda threats, law-enforcement officials said yesterday they don’t know for sure whether […]


Happy Berlin Wall Day!

We need more holidays that celebrate liberty. The fall of the Berlin Wall is a good a day as you can find. However, Wikipedia points out that: Some believe November 9 would have made a good German National Holiday, since November 9 is also the date of the declaration of the Weimar Republic in 1918. […]


Hamdan vs Rumsfeld

The only three facts that are necessary to my disposition of the petition for habeas corpus and of the cross-motion to dismiss are that Hamdan was captured in Afghanistan during hostilities after the 9/11 attacks, that he has asserted his entitlement to prisoner-of-war status under the Third Geneva Convention, and that the government has not […]


Al Qaeda's use of cryptography – scant evidence

Not too long ago, I gave a talk on privacy technology to the Atlanta chapter of the High Tech Crime Investigators Association. It was a talk that several of us at Zero-Knowledge had learned to give. The basic method for talking to police about privacy is to start from the need to reduce and prevent […]


"Good thing there's a monopoly"

“Unionized employees at the SAQ are launching a four day strike that will shut down Quebec liquor board stores for the weekend.” Says the Montreal CBC site. The SAQ is Quebec’s government owned liquor monopoly. Non-SAQ stores can sell only bad wine and some beer. (No, really, there’s a list of approved wines that others […]


Return Addresses

Canada Post has apparently told the world that they’ll only deliver mail with a return address. This is clearly silly, phone books are full of valid return addresses for your city. Over at StupidSecurity, nrh asks: Part of the reason I delayed was that I was trying to find out if this was even legal. […]


British Petition

There’s a petition to stop ID cards in the U.K. Alas, there’s no where for residents of Clark county, Ohio, to express opinions. (Via Steve at Fractalus.)


"Stop … Hurting … America"

Sure, the Electoral college is mostly winner-take-all, but America isn’t. The “red/blue” divide nonsense on TV is all about polarizing the country. See the map bigger here. It’s like Jon Stewart said to the boys at Crossfire: Stop hurting America. (Via BoingBoing.)


Liberties Eroded

On three occasions over the past five months, Tubiana said, outside judges assigned to review the vendor’s case have set deadlines for investigating magistrates to either indict or release him. The deadlines have passed, but his client remains locked up, court documents show. “There is in fact no control” over these magistrates, he said. “They […]


What's a Free Election worth?

As we go into the 54th Presidential elections under the US Constitution, two things , possibly related, have struck me. The first is the elections in Afghanistan. Millions of people ignored threats and went out to vote. Millions of them were women, given a say in their country’s government for the first time. The other […]


Rehnquist's Health

The announcement suggests that Rehnquist is suffering from anaplastic thyroid cancer, a rare and aggressive form of the disease, said Herman Kattlove, an oncologist and medical editor for the American Cancer Society. The anaplastic variety is the only type of thyroid cancer that is treated with chemotherapy. “It’s not treatable by surgery, only by chemotherapy […]


Hello? Earth to Justice Dept…

The New York Times reports: Lawyers for many of the detainees, including the ones named in the Supreme Court ruling, say the Bush administration is purposely ignoring the justices’ mandate and stalling. They cite the government’s refusal to acknowledge that detainees are entitled to free access to lawyers to make their cases before federal judges. […]


Enblogment, bias

Larry Lessig and Dave Winer have the very clever idea of a polling site based on blog links and click-throughs: [Lessig] wrote a passioned essay about the Presidential election of 2004, and he wanted to tell people who agreed with his choice to click on a link to express their support. And if they really […]


Paranoia is rampant

Neither, of course, is true. But these rumors testify to one of the most distinguishing — and disturbing — aspects about this election: Paranoia is rampant. “I haven’t seen an election in which more people are worried about what’s going to happen to them on Election Day,” said Herb Asher, an Ohio State University political […]


Canadian Charter of Rights And Freedoms

So let me get this straight… Quebec Court Judge Danielle Cote handed down a 153-page ruling that found two sections of the federal Radiocommunication Act violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. … Cote extended a grace period of one year before her ruling would come into effect. So the law is a violation […]


Canadian Charter, II

It seems a bizarre right to be allowed to watch TV, but not say insensitive things. (It’s sad that the car dealer felt ok insulting customers and turning away business. It’s sadder that the courts are intervening where the right answer would be more speech, publicizing intolerance and shaming the dealer.)


Johnnie Thomas again

On one occasion [Johnnie Thomas] was told that she had graduated to the exalted status labeled, ‘Not allowed to fly.’ She discovered that there was no method available for having ‘her’ name removed from the DNFL; indeed, one person from her local FBI office dismissively told her to hire a lawyer (although ironically, he refused […]


Howard Stern vs. Michael Powell

Michael Powell was on the Ronn Owens show. 15 minutes into the show, Howard Stern calls in. Listen here. As Sama says, Stern is an unfortunate advocate for free speech. But its nice to hear someone directly challenge America’s censor. (Via BoingBoing.)


Sixth Circuit Reverses Lexmark

One of the worse bits of law to come out of the Clinton years was the “Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” (DMCA). The law made it a crime to break any copy protection scheme, even if the data it was protecting was subject to some form of fair use. The law had lots of nasty chilling […]


Marginal Revolution: Democracy: Theory and Practice

Steven Landsburg makes a very entertaining point about democracy: …It is worth observing that if you really believe in democracy, and if the election is close, then it doesn’t much matter who wins. The theory of democracy (stripped down to bare essentials, and omitting all sorts of caveats that I could list but won’t) is […]


The Security/Security Tradeoff

People trying to infringe our privacy often claim that they’re making a tradeoff between security and privacy. Sometimes they’re even right. But I think today, we’re trading security for “security,” giving up real protection for an illusion. For example, the TSA is spending lots of money to build and connect databases all about travelers. For […]


"Television cameras captured the moment the Cuban leader fell"

Unfortunately, the BBC is simply reporting on him falling over, not on his 45 year dictatorship being toppled, the Cuban people gaining a measure of self-determination, or the freedom to speak one’s mind: A few blocks away, a 27-year-old man who didn’t want to give his real name, had some advice for the only president […]


Must … extend … grasp!

Each aircraft operation … with a MTOW of more than 12,500 pounds, must conduct a search of the aircraft before departure and screen passengers, crew members and other persons, and all accessible property before boarding in accordance with security standards and procedures approved by TSA. … [Seperately, charter aircraft run as clubs…] These clubs transport […]


"I do not approve"

Alex Tabarrok writes: The headline in the Washington Post yesterday read “FDA Approves Artificial Heart for Those Awaiting Transplant.” The language annoys me – it sounds as if the FDA gave a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval to the artificial heart. Consider how much clearer the tradeoffs of medical policy would be if instead the […]


$103 Million

To date, the government has wasted over $100 million in a flawed effort to improve airport security by identifying passengers and, well, doing something to the naughty ones. Meanwhile, the reality is that airport screeners continue to miss items like knives, guns and bombs. Meanwhile, there’s lots of good work in computer vision systems, which […]


Unsecure Flight, Because TSA is Asking For It

The ever-energetic Bill Scannell has set up for you to politely but forcefully register your comments with the TSA on what they’re doing to our privacy. Why use Unsecure Flight over the TSA’s site? It’s easier! There is a public record of your comment, the TSA can’t silently discard it. There’s a plethora of […]


More on Patches & EULAs

In a comment below, Nudecybot mentions Mark Rasch’s “You Need A Cyber-Lawyer” article in Wired News. I don’t buy this line of reasoning. Making a decent auto-lawyer requires being able to parse legalese, which is a hard problem. Now, legalese is a subset of English, so you might think that the weather parsers, or similar […]


Why Profiling Won't Work

WVLT VOLUNTEER TV Knoxville, TN reports: ” Accused Domestic Terrorist Arrested In Knox County.” According to the criminal complaint, the FBI says that Ivan Braden was planning to enter this Armory Friday, armed with guns and bombs. … The feds say the former 278th soldier planned to take people hostage at the Lenoir City Armory and […]


Obfuscated Voting Contest

There’s a long running contest to write C code that’s hard to understand. Daniel Horn has taken it one step further–the goal is to write a program that looks right, but actually produces bogus counts in on of several ways. It’s brilliant!


Good News from the Courts

“We cannot simply suspend or restrict civil liberties until the War of Terror is over, because the War on Terror is unlikely ever to be truly over,” Judge Gerald Tjoflat wrote for the panel. “Sept. 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country.” A three judge […]


Bush's Certainty

A few days ago, I commented on Bush’s lack of self doubt. Now Ron Suskind takes on the theme in a 10 page article in The New York Times, entitled “Without A Doubt.”


Counter-point On ID Cards

The always insightful Michael Froomkin has an article called The Uneasy Case For National ID Cards, which I wanted to link to earlier. I don’t like his arguments, being a believer that privacy invasion is a slippery slope. I expect that laws put in place to protect privacy around a national ID card will be […]


John Gilmore, you have a fan

I was flying home recently from a very quick jaunt out to do a customer install. I went to the back of the plane to stretch, and noticed that (horror of horrors) there were people congregating and talking! Fortunately, they were white Americans, so they weren’t scary. Anyway, I got to talking with them, and […]


Financial Cryptography: The Medici Effect

Gramme has a long interview with the author of the Medici Effect over at Financial Cryptography. The book focuses on how the Medicis helped drive the Renaissance by bringing together a slew of people from different cultures and backgrounds. Far too often people become narrowly focused on issues that their peers agree are important. They […]


"A Sign Of The Times?"

A woman said she drove home to San Diego from Denver rather than submit to what she viewed as an intrusive search by airport security screeners. Ava Kingsford, 36, of San Diego said she was flagged down for a pat-down search at Denver International Airport last month as she prepared to board a flight home […]


Afghan Elections

The elections in Afghanistan have apparently gone off with fewer problems than expected, which is outstanding. (And hey, the ink I mentioned to Sama makes an appearance!) I am slightly worried by a line in The New York Times article, ” International organizations, which spent $200 million to finance the election, indicated that they had […]


Want to Save American Lives?

Do you want to save American lives? Stop senseless deaths? Here’s some ideas: Require real driver training, and enforce traffic laws. Ration the sale of alcohol to prevent the nasty diseases over-indulgence causes. Ban tobacco. Ban firearms. Require calisthenics in the morning, by neighborhood, and in the afternoon, at work. Ban the use of corn […]


ACLU vs. Ashcroft

The ACLU has made the TSA explain to the American people some subset of the faulty reasoning, faulty processes, and broken systems behind the so-called “No fly” lists, which have now snared, along with Johnnie Thomas and David Nelson (all of them), 3 members of Congress. Read the articles, Faulty ‘No-Fly’ System Detailed (Washington Post) […]


The FBI and Library Subpoenas

Orin Kerr discusses (deep breath!) Michael Froomkin links (via Proof Through the Night) to this story from a Seattle TV station about a local library that has fought off an FBI subpoena for a list of names and addresses of who took out a book on Osama bin Laden. Kerr does a good job of […]


Virginia Misses Point, Over-reacts

In response to 9 hijackers getting fraudulently issued ID cards from the state DMV, Virginia is considering issuing harder-to-fake ID cards that will broadcast your identity. As long as the value of an id card keeps going up, the reward for breaking the system will go up as well. If you want to rely on […]


Electronic Voting Machines Will Destroy American Democracy

If you somehow missed it, AP released a “test article” claiming Bush had won re-election. BoingBoing has the story, and screen captures of a web site that carried it. We all know that computers don’t make mistakes, and that software is bug-free. More seriously, we need to take a lesson from Florida, and understand that […]


Cherishing the Customer, Redmond Style

My 12-year-old at home doesn’t want to hear that he can’t put all the music that he wants in all of the places that he would like … says Steve Ballmer. It’s good to see Microsoft, like the health care industry, catering to people other than end-users. If they were as smart collectively as they […]


That settles it

One of the best signs that things are going down the tubes is that officialdom tries to control information flow. I now know that things in Iraq are officially going to hell, because the security situation is bad enough that they’re trying to prevent people from learning about it. Kroll, a large physical and investigative […]


Nevada Gaming Commission vs. Diebold

It’s always good to see our best resources being applied to the most important things in society, like voting. The “independant” validation, paid for by the software creators, is closed to the public. But when the Nevada Gaming Commission gets into the act, it seems they know a scam when they see one. (Disclaimer: I […]


Cultural Imperialism At Its Best

Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja is being detained for 45 days over charges of inciting hatred against the [Bahrain] regime. His Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) ignored warnings it had contravened association laws, a government statement said. The centre had protested at the arrest, saying Mr Khawaja was just “practising his basic rights, namely free speech”. […]


"Post-Totalitarian Stress Disorder"

This – the damage done to individual psyche – and not just to the physical infrastructure and institutions of the country, is what we have to always keep in mind when assessing the progress of reconstruction and democratisation in places like Iraq. If things aren’t moving ahead as fast as expected, if cooperation is lacking […]


"All Persons Held As Slaves Shall Be Forever Free"

Happy Emancipation Proclamation Day! On Sept 22, 1862, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation: “…all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; Now, like many government proclamations, there was more […]


Iraqis Target Forigners

Omar writes about A group of Iraqi citizens in Al Karkh/ Khidr Al Yas arrested 6 Syrian terrorists after placing a land mine at the gate of Bab Al Mu’a dam bridge from Al Karkh side. According to New Sabah newspaper, after a road side bomb exploded missing an American convoy that was patrolling in […]


New York Protests

Eugene Volokh rightly criticizes a corespondent for his ad-hominum attacks on NYC Mayor Bloomberg, who said (I’m quoting Volokh): But Bloomberg insisted that there’s no proof that the NYPD did anything wrong. “There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that there was any intent by any law-enforcement official to hold people any longer than was absolutely […]


Jefferson Nickels

Samablog points to the new nickel design which will have either a buffalo or a depiction of the pacific coast on the back. The buffalo refers to the Louisiana Purchase, while the pacific coast refers to Lewis and Clark’s expedition . Despite his careers as a lawyer, diplomat, Secretary of State, and President of the […]


Qui Custodes Custodiat?

There’s a brilliant post over at Orcinus about the 9/11 commission, whose (outstanding) report I’m just getting around to reading. Really, if the Kerry campaign is serious about persuading the American public that Bush is a serious liability when it comes to securing the nation from the terrorist threat, this should be Exhibit A: Bush […]


"Four More Pretzels?"

Over at American Spectator, Shawn Macomber writes about being arrested in New York this week, and suggests a reality TV show is in order: It could be called POWDERKEG! Each week, I’ll be arrested without my rights being read to me and held for 14 hours while police refuse to tell me what charges I’m […]


Free Wheelchairs for Paraplegic Children

If you ever saw Julia Child or Jacques Pepin take apart a chicken, you’ll remember how easy they made it look. It’s a level of skill that we can all aspire to. Watching Ed Hasbrouck take apart the latest incarnation of free wheelchairs for paraplegic children is like watching Julia Child take apart a chicken. […]


Lewis Carroll

Or, if you prefer, the original can be found elsewhere. It’s always nice when things I want to abuse like that are in the public domain. (Obligatory Lessig link.) But beyond that, think how much poorer literature in the computer science field would be if we didn’t have Alice In Wonderland to freely quote from, […]


Hands off my bag!

The fine folks at have the first set of their tote bags emblazoned with the 4th ammendment, and are shipping! Get yours before they’re outlawed!


Shut down these shadowy groups?

“The president said he wanted to work together (with McCain) to pursue court action to shut down all the ads and activity by the shadowy … groups,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters Shadowy? What’s shadowy about free speech? There’s a very bad law in place which restricts your ability to spend your money […]