Wood and trees

Some people are so caught up in their own problems that the implications of their musings on the subject completely evades them. Maybe it doesn’t.

The Register ran a piece a few months back on computer security expert Kaspersky based on a ZDNet interview with the man. From the interview-

If you had the power to change up to three things in the world today that are related to IT security, what would they be?
Internet design–that’s enough.

That’s it? What’s wrong with the design of the Internet?
There’s anonymity. Everyone should and must have an identification, or Internet passport.

[…]

I’d like to change the design of the Internet by introducing regulation–Internet passports, Internet police and international agreement–about following Internet standards. And if some countries don’t agree with or don’t pay attention to the agreement, just cut them off.

The Rezistenta blog writes about a speech he made at a conference in Romania, which contained the following phrase-

Anonymity is the key, and we must eliminate it.

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  • Swarup  On February 11, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I won’t be surprised if this man is appointed by Obama as his Internet Czar.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On February 11, 2010 at 7:39 pm

      He’s Russian. Obama has a better man for the job. From a post that I started last month but failed to complete-

      An article on Cass Sunstein—nudger-in-chief, father of “libertarian paternalism,” and a member of Obama’s Czarium—that ran in the New York Post a few months back-

      Cass Sunstein, a Harvard Law professor who has been appointed to a shadowy post that will grant him powers that are merely mind-boggling, explicitly supports using the courts to impose a “chilling effect” on speech that might hurt someone’s feelings. He thinks that the bloggers have been rampaging out of control and that new laws need to be written to corral them.

      […]

      In “On Rumors,” Sunstein reviews how views get cemented in one camp even when people are presented with persuasive evidence to the contrary. He worries that we are headed for a future in which “people’s beliefs are a product of social networks working as echo chambers in which false rumors spread like wildfire.” That future, though, is already here, according to Sunstein. “We hardly need to imagine a world, however, in which people and institutions are being harmed by the rapid spread of damaging falsehoods via the Internet,” he writes. “We live in that world. What might be done to reduce the harm?”

      Sunstein questions the current libel standard – which requires proving “actual malice” against those who write about public figures, including celebrities. Mere “negligence” isn’t libelous, but Sunstein wonders, “Is it so important to provide breathing space for damaging falsehoods about entertainers?” Celeb rags, get ready to hire more lawyers.

      Sunstein also believes that – whether you’re a blogger, The New York Times or a Web hosting service – you should be held responsible even for what your commenters say. Currently you’re immune under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. “Reasonable people,” he says, “might object that this is not the right rule,” though he admits that imposing liability for commenters on service providers would be “a considerable burden.”

      But who cares about a burden when insults are being bandied about? “A ‘chilling effect’ on those who would spread destructive falsehoods can be an excellent idea,” he says.

  • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On February 11, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    i can fell people talk about protecting internet privacy as if it’s for the greater good. india doesn’t follow it. most of the stuff i talk about on the internet can get be in jail if they decide to track me down. but they need to get hold of the administrator to reveal my ip and since most of them are registered in the US, they can’t plus admin’s either choose to flush the ip’s from the DB every week or something to assure the users of anonymity.

    i don’t know what to say about people who send emails to news stations warning about a coming attack. these attacks put the govt. and the economy in jeopardy. china is the only country that has been able to control insurgency. talibunnies got there asses whopped the last time around and round two is still pending consideration. maybe the design of the internet needs to be changed. though there should be laws that specify which crimes to be tracked and which not.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On February 11, 2010 at 7:49 pm

      # “there should be laws that specify which crimes to be tracked and which not.”
      Speech is not a crime. Violation of property rights is. Indian politicians, jurists and journalists seem to be incapable of understanding this. The whole world talks about China while they conveniently forget the UK, Australia, Canada, the US and India. Here’s an article where Sachin Pilot talks about “free speech”-

      “Indian cyberspace is very free,” he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal this week. “It’s through what prism you see it. …It’s hard to justify pornography on the Internet.”

      Religion and politics have killed millions. How many has porn killed?

      • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On February 11, 2010 at 9:05 pm

        im not against free speech, p0rn or sachin pilot. there are some things on the internet that should be combated like child p0rn, terrorism etc. for that to happen, you need to track them first. there’s another critical issue mainly it’s border-less issue. people from one country deface govt. websites of another country and nothing happens. i know you’d like to discuss semantics of terrorism and free speech of india. i too get puzzled at that part.

        maybe your right. india is not mature enough to understand what needs to be curbed and what doesn’t. in the end, it’s a question of the man behind the power.

        i disagree with sachin pilot though. indian cyber police know the tricks to track down an IP and arrest the person they want. the thing that stops this from going over board is because of the lack of computer knowledge our babu’s have. i mean what would the independent common house wife working for NCW do when she finds a naked picture of a morphed aishwaria rai on the web? rusta roko’s, mahila mukti blah blah. the fact that most of them do not surf the web is a good thing.

        • Aristotle The Geek  On February 12, 2010 at 2:46 am

          # “there are some things on the internet that should be combated like child p0rn, terrorism etc”
          I would stick to crimes that can be defined objectively. There have been cases where prosecutors in the US are charging kids with CP for “sexting,” and people getting slapped with T charges for doing nothing at all, or even blowing off some steam.

          As regards pornography of any kind, if it involves people who have not given consent or are unable to give consent, the very act being recorded is criminal. The video/ photograph is only a record of the same. Once consent has been procured, the law doesn’t enter the picture.

          As regards terrorism, only those actions which would have lead to an imminent attack ought to be prosecutable; not anything and everything under the sun that “might” be termed as “threatening.”

          Here’s the FBI wanting something-

          The FBI is pressing Internet service providers to record which Web sites customers visit and retain those logs for two years, a requirement that law enforcement believes could help it in investigations of child pornography and other serious crimes.

          Oh yes. Record all “non-content data” related to every hit by every internet user in the US over a two year period to help solve serious crimes. No other intentions. Absolutely none at all.

          • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On February 12, 2010 at 1:12 pm

            a crime is a crime. if there trying to solve something, there at least “trying”. i don’t understand why you try so hard to pull out the negatives to ridicule the whole initiative. if you have the intelligence to say that some muslim was just “blowing off some steam” on the internet then why cannot you apply the same intelligence in the other side. say a cyber crime official questions a man on log results of him surfing on CP. unknown to the official, the man landed on the website my mistake. how could you possibly know the truth before questioning?

            i ask the question, why is CP on the internet? how the hell do you tell the difference between a 15 yr old and 18 yr old? would the kids be “sexting” each other if they knew they were being tracked? similarly, if a CP host knew he was being tracked then would he host the content and would a guy get a chance to mistakenly land on this content so as to be question by the cyber crime official?

            what’s genuine and what isn’t? am i as a security official required to possess a gift to telepathically read a person’s mind through the display screen on this computer to figure out if he’s intentions and genuine or if he’s “just blowing off some steam”? or if he genuinely got a hard on a CP picture? are the security officials supposed to wait for the research community to invent a pill that will give them these super powers? a simple syringe shot? or an orange flavoured juice which the official takes just before he sits in front of his computer to pursue his mission?

            maybe your pushing for a way to minimize false arrests but your technically asking for something which is “magical”. if your fighting for internet freedom and privacy, i guess i agree with you for the greater good.

            • Aristotle The Geek  On February 12, 2010 at 11:40 pm

              # “i don’t understand why you try so hard to pull out the negatives to ridicule the whole initiative. if you have the intelligence to say that some muslim was just “blowing off some steam” on the internet…”
              I wasn’t thinking of “muslims” when I wrote that, though “they” too are subject to the same principle. A small sample-
              * Buddhi
              * Don’t do anything “suspicious”
              * Don’t write anything against the Sri Lankan regime (he’s been granted bail, pending appeal)

              # “…then why cannot you apply the same intelligence in the other side. say a cyber crime official questions a man on log results of him surfing on CP. unknown to the official, the man landed on the website my mistake. how could you possibly know the truth before questioning?”
              My point goes to the root of the debate. Porn being somewhat in fashion, thanks to the CJI’s statement on the ban, let me be a bit more explicit on the issue, including CP.

              Assault is a crime, regardless of the age of the victim. So is battery. And so is murder. Age merely brings up the critical issue of consent. So, a photograph or video of an “extreme” kind which records a crime is merely evidence of the crime and can be used in combination with other evidence to arrest and prosecute the people involved. But I don’t see how possession of such material can be made criminal. That most countries have laws against it does not prove the case for such laws. I don’t think many people will support this position but I don’t see any logical flaw in the argument. I am not writing about the ick factor involved, but the law. It hardly needs to be said that staged versions (consensual acts) of the above ought not to be made criminal.

              Let me give another example. Say A violently murders B in broad daylight and someone (C, not an accomplice) just happens to record the act on camera. Who’s the guilty party? A or C or both?

              The issue is not as cut and dried as you may think it is. Try this or this, and this. And I am not even beginning to get into the heads of the crazy Brits. Here’s a gem-

              [T]he UK Government passed a law criminalising possession of “extreme pornography”. Whilst BBFC-rated films are exempt from the legislation, it covers screenshots from BBFC films, and would also apply to unrated films. Hostel: Part II was cited in the House of Commons as an example of a film where screenshots could become illegal to possess.

              You can see the film any number of times, but if you take a screen shot, you are committing a crime. Brilliant.

              When you outlaw possession of books, photographs, videos etc for one reason or another, you aren’t punishing a physical action, but a non-physical one; in other words, a thought crime.

              That’s why I keep writing about “actual” crimes. I don’t care what people fantasize about as long as they don’t put their fantasies into practice. When they do so, or are on the verge of doing so (imminence), arrest them.

              # “would the kids be ‘sexting’ each other if they knew they were being tracked?”
              They are KIDS. And are they killing, stealing from, or raping someone? Targeting them, wrecking their lives, is pathetic to say the least.

              # “am i as a security official required to possess a gift to telepathically read a person’s mind through the display screen on this computer to figure out if he’s intentions and genuine or if he’s ‘just blowing off some steam’?”
              Bin Laden is guilty not for running an online terror university, but for planning 9/11. Nowhere am I suggesting that countries stop investigating or keeping track of “suspicious people”. I am simply saying that only actions ought to be punished, not “thinking,” regardless of the violent or disgusting nature of such thoughts.

              # “maybe your pushing for a way to minimize false arrests”
              False arrests is no doubt an important part. But I am thinking in terms of free speech. In every age, the majority has always been uncomfortable or angry with certain practices, thought processes and political positions. And they have used the law to exact revenge, punish thought crimes. That power needs to be taken away from them. Your or my aesthetics or politics cannot be used to judge people guilty of crimes. Objective standards need to be put in place.

              Rand didn’t like porn. But she still thought it ought to be protected as free speech

              It is not very inspiring to fight for the freedom of the purveyors of pornography or their customers. But in the transition to statism, every infringement of human rights has begun with the suppression of a given right’s least attractive practitioners. In this case, the disgusting nature of the offenders makes it a good test of one’s loyalty to a principle.

              • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On February 13, 2010 at 2:25 pm

                A small sample
                it’s again a question of the man behind the power. do you mean to say that as long as there are suppressive regimes in the world or as long hyperboles dictate some people’s actions, that anonymity is a necessity. again, you are pushing this with the thought of the “greater good” in mind. and i agree with that. there’s nothing as neutrality as long as your part of the party or parties. your either fall here or there. the CCP guarantee’s normalcy and growth to it’s people in return they ask there people to give away some of there freedom and that they keep them in power. a similar understanding can also be found in SL where the media is asked or made to ignore the human atrocities. since were not a party here, we’d express disgust but a good % of the population of SL will agree to that understanding.

                in the end, you need to wait for a few years or a couple of decades for the actual reckoning. most people of 1992 accept bal thackeray as there saviour. even my dad does because BT for them, was that man who not only assembled a force of resistance but even launched an attack after that. more than 15 years later, the new generation see’s those things and the history is open for various interpretation to them.

                on p0rn
                were the only group in the animal kingdom who has problems with there kids watching an act of copulation. untouched tribes in south american jungles openly copulate in front there kids. im not trying to be sharp but simply pointing at a society who believe in a thing called god but are untouched by religion or any thought of “decency” or “morality”.

                on CP
                any performers below 18 is considered as CP. your saying staged versions needs to be decriminalized. but the age of consent varies from 12 to 18 in different countries now doesn’t it? i don’t think people see a problem with two 14 yr old’s filming each other having consensual sex but the idea of a 45 yr old jacking off to that video is what “icks” people off. there was a recent case in australia where they banned or barred small breasted women from performing in pornographic movies because someone had suggested that it was equivalent to CP simulation. this is again one of those till-death arguments. i’ll back off. i don’t see a point nor are we going to agree on anything.

                on snuff films
                there are sh!t load of them on the internet. death is scary. there are those which show an incident and there are those which “are staged”. people chopping other people’s heads off, putting bullets in back of there heads etc etc. i think you can make out the difference between a crime and an incident.

                i guess it is just a recent phenomenon that hollywood and BBC has started showing penises, bushes or full frontal nudity very commonly. i think were at a point now where anything besides intercourse, fellatio and cunnilingus is fine for the eyes.

                When they do so, or are on the verge of doing so (imminence), arrest them.
                your asking the west to abstain on it’s favourite practice – pre-emption.

                They are KIDS. And are they killing…
                like i said before, i think there worried that the pictures or the videos might be misused by middle aged men or women. i know you’ll say, why B has to suffer because of A? that is an argument i won’t get into.

                I am simply saying that only actions ought to be punished, not “thinking,” regardless of the violent or disgusting nature of such thoughts.
                i think you should write your thoughts on pre-emption.

                Objective standards need to be put in place.
                some things are too complex to be defined according to objective standards but rand has a point and there’s no harm in trying.

                • Aristotle The Geek  On February 13, 2010 at 10:33 pm

                  # “do you mean to say that as long as there are suppressive regimes in the world or as long hyperboles dictate some people’s actions, that anonymity is a necessity…”
                  Lots of people, including dissidents, work in the open. Similarly anonymity is often used in non-productive ways.

                  My position is that anonymity is a choice. Those who don’t want to show their face, whatever the reason, ought to be able to work that way. And people are free to suspect the credibility of the person in question. The question of credibility gets sorted out in the marketplace of ideas.

                  Governments, and people who are at the receiving end of malicious (or well-deserved, for that matter) attacks don’t like anonymity because they experience loss of control. If you can track down a person, you can call him a tax cheat, traitor, wife beater and try to make the person irrelevant by concentrating on the person rather than the issue at hand. Can’t do that to an xyz.

                  # “…again, you are pushing this with the thought of the “greater good” in mind.”
                  Its the principle behind it, not utilitarian ideas like the “greater good.”

                  # “the new generation see’s those things and the history is open for various interpretation to them.”
                  The sena, and similar outfits across India, have had a negative influence on the politics of the country. But then, they couldn’t have survived without some kind of support could they? The silent majority supporting the vocal minority. Beyond a particular point however, such rhetoric is an invitation to Balkanization.

                  # “your asking the west to abstain on it’s favourite practice – pre-emption.”
                  Not entirely. Abstaining from self-defense is immoral. Its Gandhigiri at work, and I don’t subscribe to that ideology. But we have stretched the idea of preemption so much that we now punish precrime. That is unacceptable. Its easy to talk about imminence, but difficult to draw the boundaries. If I come across material on the same, I’ll consider writing a post on it. I’ll only say that not being able to define it doesn’t invalidate the concept.

                  • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On February 14, 2010 at 2:38 pm

                    Those who don’t want to show their face, whatever the reason, ought to be able to work that way.
                    virtual crime is as real as real. the virtual world and the real world. here again, like in the real world, places and borders can be arranged in public and private space. some people like to reveal themselves in some places and others like to be anonymous. what is public and private on the world wide web? can a forum which requires registration be called a private place? can this wordpress blog which is open for everyone to see, to read and participate be called a public place? so if i say something here which is not acceptable as per my country’s law, i’d be put in jail right? what if they change the design? implement internet passports? would that be hard? would countries join and pile together a few hundred million and reorganize the virtual world? i think it all depends on how positively you push the advantages of anonymity v/s how far can they push the disadvantages of anonymity? i think those in favour of anonymity should distinguish between public space and private space quick, else they’ll loose it all.

                    • Aristotle The Geek  On February 15, 2010 at 1:24 pm

                      # “virtual crime is as real as real”
                      As long as the “crime” is against real property, yes. And it would be a tort. Hacking someone’s website, or violating the TOS of a website would be a tort, the former being relatively more serious. Abusing someone—calling them names—from one’s own blog or site or forum, as long as the service providers don’t have rules against it, wouldn’t be a tort (or crime). This is how things ought to be.

                      # “what is public and private on the world wide web”
                      If you are referring to (relative) privacy, how does it matter in the legal sense? In any case, on the WWW, people are not forced to visit particular sites. They are free to abstain from visiting sites whose content they do not approve of.

                      # “so if i say something here which is not acceptable as per my country’s law, i’d be put in jail right?”
                      As per Afghan law, married men do not require their wives’ consent in case of intercourse. So, again, a law doesn’t gain legitimacy just because it is on the books.

                      # “i think those in favour of anonymity should distinguish between public space and private space quick, else they’ll loose it all.”
                      The difference isn’t relevant, free speech is. Governments which don’t care for free speech hardly care about other technicalities.

  • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On February 16, 2010 at 12:31 am

    They are free to abstain from visiting sites whose content they do not approve of.
    very tricky stuff. p0rno sites index page asks a user to enter if he/she is over 18/21 else leave. and no kid would click “no” and reject his curiosity.

    talk about p0rn, things have changed big time. lol we were circulating softcore magazines around 6-7 std in school. took a more year or two till we got hold of a hardcore magazine and it wasn’t till college till we got access to vcd’s. but hat’s off to the new generation. these days, even 5 std kids are burning dvd’s on there computer and passing them around in school.

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