Computing Copyright

Digital economy bill passed – file-sharing will carry on regardless

The Digital economy bill has been passed and now just awaits the Royal Assent.

I think that the bill will spectacularly fail to prevent file-sharing instead it will be a boon for the companies that offer virtual private networking services and teenagers will start file-sharing offline by exchanging DVD-ROMs full of MP3s.

I’m torn with regard to the Liberal Democrats as my local MP is Don Foster who not only voted against the bill, but was present at the barely attended second reading of the bill and argued against it in the debate. I’m displeased with the party as a whole though as they didn’t oppose the bill and it was Lib Dem peers Lords Razzall and Clement Jones who sought to amend the Digital Economy Bill to allow site blocking for copyright infringement, although in the end that clause was dropped.

Computing Security

The hype of cyberwarfare used to control the internet

Ryan Singel writing for Threat Level believes that the Cyberwar Hype Intended to Destroy the Open Internet

With the rise of the internet nation states have begun to lose control of their citizens and have introduced ever more draconian laws to try and claw some of that control back.

The War on Terror was framed as a Cold War for the 21st Century and a fog of fear was spread over the population but that fog gradually lifted as people realised that they were not at risk from Al Qaeda. Even when a nutcase tried to ignite explosives in his underpants on an aircraft and politicians and the news media spewed rhetoric about this dangerous new tactic of the terrorists and how something had to be done most people soon went back to their lives as if nothing happened.

The powers that be needed a new threat with which to control the people and the Chinese hacking of Google and others provided them the framing to do it.

Western civilisation is now under the peril of being destroyed by China in the form of computer hackers.

Google’s allegation that Chinese hackers infiltrated its Gmail servers and targeted Chinese dissidents proves the United States is “losing” the cyberwar, according to McConnell.

But that’s not warfare. That’s espionage.

We do not need as Mike McConnell to ‘reengineer the Internet to make attribution, geolocation, intelligence analysis and impact assessment — who did it, from where, why and what was the result — more manageable.’

The ‘Google hacking situation’ was first and foremost the infiltration of the servers of private industry not an attack on the United States itself. The IT security of American companies is an issue where the US government can be of assistance by offering advice or notifying of specific threats that they’ve become aware of, but not through monitoring and controlling the internet.


UK "terrorism" stop-and-searches ruled illegal

BBC News reports Stop-and-search powers ruled illegal by European court [via]


Civil Liberties 2009

Henry Porter believes that 2009 was a bad year for civil liberties.

It was not all bad news though as there was an increase in the levels of awareness about the erosion of civil liberties as more and more people became affected by the encroachment.

One particular example is the large number of innocent people in the DNA database and the great difficulties and apparent postcode lottery in getting oneself expunged from the database. Damian Green writes that DNA retention hampers policing.


Quarter of UK’s public databases breach data protection and rights laws

Alan Travis for The Guardian writes that a report commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust has found that a quarter of all the largest public-sector database projects, including the ID cards register, are fundamentally flawed and clearly breach European data protection and rights laws.

Claiming to be the most comprehensive map so far of Britain’s “database state”, the report says that 11 of the 46 biggest schemes, including the national DNA database and the Contactpoint index of all children in England, should be given a “red light” and immediately scrapped or redesigned.

The report Database State was produced by Ross Anderson and his team at the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge. The report says that more than half of Whitehall’s 46 databases and systems have significant problems with privacy or effectiveness, and could fall foul of a legal challenge.

Professor Ross Anderson from Cambridge, who wrote the report, and Michael Wills, the minister in the Justice Department, discuss the need to have an open debate.

Additional coverage by the BBC

Security Uncategorized

Taking Liberties with the British Library

The British Library are housing a new exhibition titled Taking Liberties, which examines current debates about vital rights and freedoms in society: detention without charge, the right to privacy, devolved government, free speech and so on.

One important feature of Taking Liberties is an interactive activity available both in the gallery, and online here. You are placed right in the centre of current debates about vital rights and freedoms in society: detention without charge, the right to privacy, devolved government, free speech and so on.

Taking Liberties Interactive is the online part of the exhibition.

Politics Uncategorized

British ‘careless’ with liberties

BBC News reports that former shadow home affairs minister David Davis believes that British people have been “careless” with their civil liberties, but that is beginning to change. Speaking at the Convention on Modern Liberty on Saturday, Mr Davis said people were growing increasingly angry at government intrusion in their lives.


The Convention on Modern Liberty

Live coverage of The Convention on Modern Liberty at The Guardian

Download Abolition of Freedom

Politics Security Uncategorized

Spy centre will track you on holiday

The Times reports that THE government is building a secret database to track and hold the international travel records of all 60m Britons.

The intelligence centre will store names, addresses, telephone numbers, seat reservations, travel itineraries and credit card details for all 250m passenger movements in and out of the UK each year.

The computerised pattern of every individual’s travel history will be stored for up to 10 years, the Home Office admits.

The government says the new database, to be housed in an industrial estate in Wythenshawe, near Manchester, is essential in the fight against crime, illegal immigration and terrorism. However, opposition MPs, privacy campaigners and some government officials fear it is a significant step towards a total surveillance society.

The Government have this mindset that damn the consequences that the more they know about its citizens then the safer we all will be even in the face of intelligent and reasoned opposition. [via]

Security Surveillance Uncategorized

Surveillance Unlimited: How We’ve Become the Most Watched People on Earth

Excellent new book has been published about how the UK has become a surveillance society.

SURVEILLANCE UNLIMITED is a gripping examination of the erosion of personal privacy and a disturbing look at the relationship between technology and society in modern daily life.

Nineteen eighty-four’s all-seeing eye is now a reality. Britain is a surveillance society, but in ways that Orwell could never have imagined. Your car is satellite-tracked, your features auto-identified on video, your e-mails, faxes and phone calls monitored. You are secretly followed via transmitters implanted in your clothes, via your switched-off mobile and your credit card transactions. Your character, needs and interests are profiled by surveillance of every website you visit, every newsgroup you scan, every purchase you make. Big Brother is here, quietly adding to your files in the name of government efficiency and the fight against organised crime and terrorism.

A review of the book has been posted on