McCain the E-tard

Crazier-than-batshit Senator and Presidential hopeful John McCain is up to no-good again. Mr. “Iron Triangle” is once again embarking on a quest to protect teenagers from the evil internet. How is he going to do this? By introducing legislation that is impossibly expensive for ISPs and content providers to comply with, the cost of which will of course be passed on to the consumer. Declan McCullagh from CNet reports:

A forthcoming bill in the U.S. Senate lays the groundwork for a national database of illegal images that Internet service providers would use to automatically flag and report suspicious content to police.

The proposal, which Sen. John McCain is planning to introduce on Wednesday, also would require ISPs and perhaps some Web sites to alert the government of any illegal images of real or “cartoon” minors. Failure to do would be punished by criminal penalties including fines of up to $300,000.

Why should we be worried?

Civil libertarians worry that the proposed legislation goes too far and could impose unreasonable burdens on anyone subject to the new regulations. And Internet companies worry about the compliance costs and argue that an existing law that requires reporting of illicit images is sufficient.

The fact that this man is a Senator is disturbing enough. The possiblility of him being elected President is downright frightening. If the worst does happen then we can only hope that he’ll blow a head gasket during one of his infamous temper tantrums. That and hopefully that he picked a decent running-mate.

Pictures that Lie

Media outlets manipulate images to the point of outright lying. Follow the link for some of the most egregious examples.

read more | digg story

Amazon database would put shoppers’ intimate details on the line is developing a system to gather and keep massive amounts of intimate information about its millions of shoppers, including their religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity and income. The database, which would combine information disclosed voluntarily by customers with facts gleaned from public databases, conceivably would give Amazon a larger or more detailed profile of its customers than any other retailer.

read more | digg story

Millions of Children to Be Fingerprinted in U.K.

British children, possibly as young as six, will be subjected to compulsory fingerprinting under EU rules being drawn up in secret. The prospect has alarmed civil liberties groups who fear it represents a ‘sea change’ in the state’s relationship with children resulting in a whole range of consequent privacy and personal security concerns.

read more | digg story

Bush Planted Fake News Stories on TV

Bush 'planted fake news stories on American TV'

Federal authorities are actively investigating dozens of American television stations for broadcasting items produced by the Bush administration and major corporations, and passing them off as normal news. Some of the fake news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted the companies' products.

Investigators from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are seeking information about stations across the country after a report produced by a campaign group detailed the extraordinary extent of the use of such items.

The report, by the non-profit group Centre for Media and Democracy, found that over a 10-month period at least 77 television stations were making use of the faux news broadcasts, known as Video News Releases (VNRs). Not one told viewers who had produced the items.

All that and his approval ratings still suck.

EFF: AT&T Forwards All Internet Traffic to NSA

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T for its wholesale violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of millions and contravention of federal wiretapping laws by forwarding all of the internet traffic of its subscribers to the National Security Agency (NSA).

The EFF has compelling evidence to back its claims including several internal AT&T documents and testimony from an AT&T telecommunications technician.

Read the article.

Debit/Credit Card Security Breaches Kept Secret

This article examines the recent rash of debit and credit card security breaches and how cardholders are kept in the dark about them. It seems that current law offers many loopholes for card companies to withold such information from their clients and worse yet, our bought and paid-for so-called representatives in congress are about to make it even easier for such information to be witheld from consumers.

Despite the recent epidemic of debit- and credit-card fraud and last year’s titanic breach at CardSystems Solutions, Congress is considering a bill that will let more companies escape taking responsibility for fraud, consumer advocates charge.

The bill, known as H.R. 3997 or the “Financial Data Protection Act of 2005,” would let companies decide when a data breach is significant enough to merit warning their customers. The House Financial Services Committee approved the legislation on Friday.

Once again it is obvious whose interests Washington is serving and it is not the average citizen’s.

Here is what Ed Mierzwinski had to say about the bill on his consumer blog:

The bill establishes weak duties to protect confidential consumer DNA yet grants broad discretion to ignore telling us when banks or other companies lose it. The bill gives identity theft victims only, but not everyone, a clunky consumer-unfriendly right to place a security freeze on their credit report. It then preempts the 8 states that give every consumer the right to a security freeze. Among these is New Jersey’s freeze, which is the most streamlined and consumer-friendly. The bill preempts all stronger state protections in a broad array of identity theft areas.

He who controls the data controls the universe.

Breaking into the FBI

THIRTY-FIVE YEARS ago today, a group of anonymous activists broke into the small, two-man office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Media, Pa., and stole more than 1,000 FBI documents that revealed years of systematic wiretapping, infiltration and media manipulation designed to suppress dissent.

read more | digg story

Hollywood Cripples Your Hardware

Ars Technica reports that “content providers” (ie. the music and movie industries) through pawns such as Intel are mandating crippleware for multimedia hardware such as DVD drives through licensing schemes that include $8 million (US) penalties for under-compliance.

Running a successful business is all about giving customers what they want at a price they can afford, but don’t tell this to copyright holders, who are pushing for even more control in the next generation of consumer devices. Intel, for instance, has introduced its next-generation link encryption technology called DTCP-IP, which protects content as it makes its way across unsecured IP networks—say, from your main computer to your media PC or television. At this week’s Intel Developer Forum, the company pushed manufacturers to adopt the technology, using what might be described as a “carrot and stick” approach, but without the carrot.

Important to note is that in addition to the fines by Intel, manufacturers can also have their devices “disabled in the field.” This means that say you buy an Acme DVD drive with DTCP-IP technology from Intel and Intel later determines that Acme’s implementation of DTCP-IP is not strict enough and results in “copyright infringement” then Intel can remotely disable all Acme DVD drives from accessing protected content. All of a sudden your DVD drive is worthless. This makes manufacturers vulnerable to lawsuits by angry consumers who had their drives disabled by Intel.

Boing-Boing’s Cory Doctorow writes:

It’s pretty creepy: you have to allow for “system renewability messages” that can revoke features and even disable the DTCP-IP when they’re submitted. Ever wonder why enemy space-stations always seem to have a big red “press this to make the whole space-station explode” button in science fiction movies? I mean, wouldn’t it be smarter to just not build “self-destruct” into your space-station? Well, that’s what DTCP-IP demands of its implementers.

Are consumers really supposed to swallow this poison pill with a smile? Is Hollywood’s hubris so vast that they actually believe consumers will allow them at their own caprice to permanently disable their computer hardware by remote control just so that we may be permitted to imbibe their crap movies and music? Apparently so but as I have told anyone who would listen, the only solution to this DRM mess is for consumers to assert their power by starving the beast. Nobody needs to watch movies or listen to copyrighted music. When their profits fall through the floor due to consumer boycott then “copyright owners” and their tech minions may finally stand up and take notice of the fact that you cannot make enemies and criminals of your customers and expect them to continue to patronize your business.

Ars Technica article | Boing Boing article

Caller ID spoofing becomes all too easy

In the last few years, Caller ID spoofing has become much easier. Millions of people have Internet telephone equipment that can be set to make any number appear on a Caller ID system. And several websites have sprung up to provide Caller ID spoofing services, eliminating the need for any special hardware.

read more | digg story

Update: Bruce Schneier’s related blog entry