Monthly Archives: February 2008

Privacy in Germany: Courts Support It

papier.jpg Interesting that Germany has more respect for privacy than the U.S. does:
Government surveillance of personal computers would violate the individual right to privacy, Germany’s highest court found Wednesday, in a ruling that German investigators say will restrict their ability to pursue terrorists.

The Karlsruhe-based Federal Constitutional Court said in a precedent-setting decision that data stored or exchanged on a personal computer is effectively covered under principles of the constitution that enshrine the right to personal privacy.

“Collecting such data directly encroaches on a citizen’s rights, given that fear of being observed … can prevent unselfconscious personal communication,” presiding judge Hans-Juergen Papier said in his ruling.

Court Shoots Down Computer Surveillance, By MELISSA EDDY, Associated Press Writer, 27 Feb 2008

Although apparently Germany also has lazy cops who think spying on individuals is their birthright, just like in the U.S. Not regular police, mind you, but
…secret services’ ability to use virus-like software to monitor suspected terrorists’ online activity.
The court rightly said suspicion is not enough:
“Given the gravity of the intrusion, the secret infiltration of an IT system in such a way that use of the system and its data can be searched can only be constitutionally allowed if clear evidence of a concrete threat to a prominent object of legal protection exists,” Papier said.
And a judge has to approve it.

Now that’s risk management.


Encrypted BitTorrent: Take That, Comcast!

tf-shirt-2.jpg Why am I not surprised?

Several BitTorrent developers have joined forces to propose a new protocol extension with the ability to bypass the BitTorrent interfering techniques used by Comcast and other ISPs. This new form of encryption will be implemented in BitTorrent clients including uTorrent, so Comcast subscribers are free to share again.

BitTorrent Developers Introduce Comcast Busting Encryption, by Ernesto, TorrentFreak, on February 15, 2008

BitTorrent itself is a hack to route around slow uplink speeds by using many uplinks all at once, so why not another hack to encrypt BitTorrent headers to make them harder for the likes of Comcast to detect?

Continue reading

Censorship Connected with Violent Terrorism

turkey_kerincsiz.jpg Over in Turkey:
Kemal Kerincsiz, the lawyer who tried to prosecute Orhan Pamuk, Hrant Dink, Elif Shafak, and several other writers for “insulting Turkishness,” has been arrested with 32 others following an investigation into a weapons cache discovered in Istanbul last year.

That investigation uncovered evidence of active plots to assassinate Pamuk, three politicians, and a prominent journalist and to stage a series of bombings in the coming year, according to reports appearing in the Turkish Press. One source, CNN Turk, has reported that Kerincsiz and twelve others have been charged with inciting people to armed revolt.

Pamuk Prosecutor Arrested, Charged in Plot, PEN American Center, January 28, 2008, seen on Bruce Sterling’s Beyond the Beyond.

I wonder how many other cases like this there are?


Availability Is Not Security If an Abandoned Sea Anchor Cut the Cable?

art.cable.jpg I see in some fora people are still arguing that security involves countering malicious actors, and availability alone is not security, even if people are depending on availabity.

Were all those recent cable cuts in the Med. and the Persian Gulf not security issues, even though some of the affected companies are now planning to spend $300-400m on physical security to fix the problem?

If the culprit had been a Russian mobster or Al Qaeda or the CIA rather than (in one case) an abandoned ship anchor, then it would have been security, but now it’s not?


U.A.E. Cable Cut of 30 Jan 2008

There’s been a lot of talk about the numerous cable cuts in the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf in the past few weeks. It’s interesting to see the Internet route around damage. Here is a visualization of the first cable cut, off Alexandria, on 30 Jan 2008.


Publicity about Internal Fraud: Still an Issue after 30 Years

top_hansom_cab.gif Adam quotes a 30 year old book about computer security and notes that the IRS then and now doesn’t adequately protect taxpayers’ information and promises to do better. His quote that I like best, though is:
Top management people in large corporations fear that publicity about internal fraud could well affect their companies’ trading positions on the stock market, hold the corporation up to public ridicule, and cause all sorts of turmoil… (Computer Capers, page 72)

Computer Capers: Tales of electronic thievery, embezzlement, and fraud, by Thomas Whiteside, Ty Crowell Co., 1978

That’s why corporations fear a breach reporting reputation system. That’s also why we need one.

-jsq ~