Tag Archives: privacy

Private drones

Private droneIt’s becoming easy; we’re on the cusp. Soon, you will be able to assemble or buy a private drone that can go anywhere, record video, deliver a payload, retrieve a thing, whatever. Land, sea, and sky. Automated surveillance systems can be easy to control. Can you click on a spot on a map? That’s pretty much all you need.

How do we respond as a society when anyone can spy or kill as easily as clicking an app? How do you trace an attack that is delivered from the sky from anyone anywhere? How do you handle alibis when you can schedule a crime with cron?

I don’t know the answer, but it’s a continuation of a long trend toward putting more lethal power into more hands. I hope some smart people are thinking well about this.

Somehow, I don’t think a drone shield is going to be enough.

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Google is on the wrong side of the Real Name War

Google is requiring that G+ customers use their real names.

A vocal group has been fighting this requirement in a growing protest known as “Nymwars“.

Google’s requirement is based on their plan to use G+ as an identity service while the nymwarriors demand that real identities are sometimes used by oppressive regimes to stifle free speech and track political activists.

Google’s position violates the “Don’t be evil” code.  It also ignores an important market demand: profile management.  G+ should allow real people with real names to create public profiles of any nickname they like.  These nicknames would be persistently attached to the account, and bad behavior could remain accountable, but real people could remain anonymous to the public to avoid retribution or political oppression.

It’s usually a good idea to give users what they want, and in this case, Google could use this opportunity to become a new kind of identity provider: one that supports private links between private citizens and their public profiles.

Net Neutrality: No Compromise

To begin talking about Net Neutrality, it helps to clarify what the internet is. It’s simply data sent via TCP/IP (the protocol for sending data through routers). Some people host web sites, others connect to their company e-mail, others do other things – it’s all the internet.

Understanding that the internet is just a connection using TCP/IP, then Net Neutrality is simple, too. Net Neutrality simply means that your ISP may not interfere with the internet. They may not censor your packets (the data that is sent via TCP/IP). This means they can’t censor your news, keep you off of Skype, restrict your sending and receiving, or otherwise interfere with your communications.

Any compromise on this is wrong for two reasons: 1) Your ISP should not have the right to interfere with your free speech, and 2) ISPs should not be able to tax the value creation of the media industry.

ISPs should not be able to interfere with consumer access to media companies, nor tax those companies for access to consumers. ISPs should not be able to interfere with our speech or block our access to the speech of others.

ISPs are in the business of providing internet access, but they don’t own the internet; any attempts to eliminate net neutrality would violate our consumer rights and hurt the economy.

Truly Anonymous Surfing?

This article in Wired talks about a new method for masking online identities to provide ultra-anonymous Internet access. It was developed by Hacktivismo, an offshoot of the hacker collective Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc), and is called “Six/Four”, named after the June 4, 1989 massacre in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Six/Four combines peer-to-peer technologies with Virtual Private Networking (VPN) and “open proxy” connections, which allow one computer to establish direct, secure communications with another over the Internet. Traditional VPNs take the information along a single path from Point A to Point B. Six/Four’s route is more circuitous, sending its tunnel through a series of computers on its peer-to-peer network before heading to the public Internet. Data goes from Point A to Point K to Point Z to Point G, only eventually winding up at Point B. Each link in the chain only knows the link immediately before, not the final destination. Since every server along the way requires separate search warrant in order to view that computer’s logs (if they even still exist) to get your IP address, the approach adds layer after layer of anonymity between client and server. One developer says “It’s like a highway that’s redesigned for every Brinks truck that rides on it.”

W3C Approves Web Privacy Standard

The World Wide Web Consortium has approved the Platform for Privacy Preferences, or P3P, a standard that would allow browser software to automatically compare a user’s privacy preferences with the privacy policies of a visited web site.