Category: privacy and licensing

Who does that server really serve?

Who does that server really serve?

On the Internet, proprietary software isn’t the only way to lose your freedom. Software as a Service is another way to let someone else have power over your computing. Background: How Proprietary Software Takes Away Your Freedom Digital technology can give you freedom; it can also take your freedom away. The first threat to our control over our computing came […]

Web 2.0 versus Control 2.0

The fight for free access to information is being played out to an ever greater extent on the Internet. The emerging general trend is that a growing number of countries are attemptimg to tighten their control of the Net, but at the same time, increasingly inventive netizens demonstrate mutual solidarity by mobilizing when necessary. The Internet: a space for information-sharing […]

Privacy Isn’t Dead – It’s Not Even Sleeping

It’s become something of a predictable phenomenon: an article, op-ed, or blog post will surface with an incendiary quote indicating that privacy is dead, or that Internet users have given up privacy with abandon. A slew of data is thrown around – often reporting on teenagers’ online habits – and a eulogy for privacy is trumpeted. Last week, the process […]

The Beginning of the End of Data Retention

Last week, the German Constitutional Court issued a much-anticipated decision, striking down its data retention law as violating human rights. It was an important victory for Europe’s Freedom Not Fear movement, which was formed to oppose the EU Data Retention Directive. But it was also a reminder of the political work which remains to be done to defeat it. When […]

Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal

In 2003, after I unveiled a prototype Linux desktop called Project Looking Glass*, Steve called my office to let me know the graphical effects were “stepping all over Apple’s IP.” (IP = Intellectual Property = patents, trademarks and copyrights.) If we moved forward to commercialize it, “I’ll just sue you.” My response was simple. “Steve, I was just watching your […]

Federal Intellectual Property Enforcement Gears Up

Federal Intellectual Property Enforcement Gears Up

The Obama Administration has been slowly ramping up its attention to intellectual property issues. Over the past few months, we’ve seen an IP “summit” at the White House. We’ve seen the successful nomination of a new cabinet-level “IP Czar” position. We’ve seen the announcement of a new DOJ task force for IP issues. What does it all portend? Unfortunately, many […]

Unintended Consequences: Twelve Years Under the DMCA

Unintended Consequences: Twelve Years Under the DMCA

Twelve years after the passage of the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the law continues to stymie fair use, free speech, scientific research, and legitimate competition. A new report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) collects reported examples of abuses of the DMCA and the ongoing harm the law continues to inflict on consumers, scientists, and small businesses. The […]

Software sniffs out criminals by the shape of their nose

Forget iris and fingerprint scans — scanning noses could be a quicker and easier way to verify a person’s identity, according to scientists at the University of Bath. With worries about illegal immigration and identity theft, authorities are increasingly looking to using an individual’s physical characteristics, known as biometrics, to confirm their identity.

File-Sharing Software Potential Threat to Health Privacy

The personal health and financial information stored in thousands of North American home computers may be vulnerable to theft through file-sharing software, according to a research study published online in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. Healthcare professionals who take patient information home to personal computers containing peer-to-peer file-sharing software are jeopardizing patient confidentiality, note the authors of […]

Why I Will Not Sign the Public Domain Manifesto

Why I Will Not Sign the Public Domain Manifesto

By Richard M. Stallman: The Public Domain Manifesto (http://www.publicdomainmanifesto.org/node/8) has its heart in the right place as it objects to some of the unjust extensions of copyright power, so I wish I could support it. However, it falls far short of what is needed. Some flaws are at the level of implicit assumptions. The manifesto frequently uses propaganda terms of […]

Open letter to Google: free VP8, and use it on YouTube

Open letter to Google: free VP8, and use it on YouTube

With its purchase of the On2 video compression technology company having been completed on Wednesday February 16, 2010, Google now has the opportunity to make free video formats the standard, freeing the web from both Flash and the proprietary H.264 codec. Dear Google, With your purchase of On2, you now own both the world’s largest video site (YouTube) and all […]

The Toyota recall and the case for open, auditable source code

Public Safety is not a matter of Private Concern In a recent article, Slate’s Farhad Manjoo attempts to play down fears of faulty software in car braking systems as a potential cause of traffic accidents. Citing numerous studies which conclude that “the overwhelming reason we get in crashes is driver error,” Manjoo reasons that “the less driving people do, the […]

FreeBSD and the GPL

Linus Torvalds has said Linux wouldn’t have happened if 386BSD had been around when he started up. We trace the history of FreeBSD and how it’s affected the open source world. The first free Unix-like operating system available on the IBM PC was 386BSD, of which Linus Torvalds said in 1993: “If 386BSD had been available when I started on […]

Proposed guidelines for open government plans

Proposed guidelines for open government plans

Open Source for America (OSFA) represents more than 1,600 businesses, associations, non-governmental organizations, communities, and academic/research institutions who have come together to support and guide federal efforts to make the U.S. Government more open through the use of free and open source software. We applaud the Obama Administration’s Open Government Initiative and the December 8th Directive requiring all federal agencies […]

No Warrant Necessary to Seize Your Laptop

The U.S. Customs may search your laptop and copy your hard drive when you cross the border, according to their policy. They may do this even if they have no particularized suspicion of wrongdoing on your part. They claim that the Fourth Amendment protection against warrantless search and seizure does not apply. The Customs justifies this policy on the grounds […]

The Traceability of an Anonymous Online Comment

Yesterday, I described a simple scenario where a plaintiff, who is having difficulty identifying an alleged online defamer, could benefit from subpoenaing data held by a third party web service provider. Some third parties—like Facebook in yesterday’s example—know exactly who I am and know whenever I visit or post on other sites. But even when no third party has the […]