IGF 2007 Workshop Proposals Online

Proposals for workshops submitted for the IGF 2007 in Rio are now published at http://info.intgovforum.org/wsl2.php.

A number of FOEonline coalition members submitted workshop proposals.  As the demand for workshop slots outweighs the number of available time slots the IGF Secretariat invites proposers to consider merging workshops before 22 July.

Dynamic Coalition on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Media on the Internet

4 to 6 to 7 to Infinity and beyond – Free Press’ Regulatory Con Game Continues

The Free Press has some new advocacy, which, true to form, moves the Net Neutrality goalpost yet again.   You see, no one really knows what Net Neutrality is, so, out of the kindness of their hearts, they’ve stepped in to fill that void…with an even lengthier definition.

Originally, the FCC’s Net Neutrality policy guidance covered just four principles:

To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.

To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.

To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.

To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

Then last October, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed two more principles for network providers to follow – a “nondiscrimination” principle, and a network transparency principle.

And then that changed again.

In May, seeking to accommodate an unfavorable court ruling which put into doubt the FCC’s ability to ensure any Net Neutrality principles, Genachowski proposed his “Third Way,” a plan he said that would act as a “a legal anchor that gives the Commission only the modest authority it needs to foster a world-leading broadband infrastructure for all Americans…”

The “limited” plan would:

Recognize the transmission component of broadband access service and only this component as a telecommunications service;

Apply only a handful of provisions of Title II (Sections 201, 202, 208, 222, 254, and 255) that, prior to the Comcast decision, were widely believed to be within the Commissions purview for broadband;

Simultaneously renounce that is, forbear from application of the many sections of the Communications Act that are unnecessary and inappropriate for broadband access service; and

Put in place up-front forbearance and meaningful boundaries to guard against regulatory overreach.

As late as this August, the Free Press said all of this was sensible and supportable.  Keeping the Internet open in this manner wouldn’t harm anyone.  Content providers could reach users without being shut out.  Users could get the services they wanted. And network providers could still take risk, innovate and make plenty of money.

What’s all this talk about the slippery slope of regulation? The “Third Way” was all perfectly reasonable, the group griped.

Well, the other shoe dropped yesterday.

Over a year has passed since Julius Genachowski arrived at the FCC, and nothing along the Net Neutrality front has happened.  This is not a bad thing, of course.  Net Neutrality regulations aren’t warranted.  But for the Professional Left they are.  It was a campaign pledge of President Obama, so it’s destined to occur.

Tired of waiting, the Free Press unleashed a new campaign to put pressure on the FCC to “do the right thing.”  In doing so, it basically says network providers have only limited rights to manage their networks.  Thus, the new definition of Net Neutrality covers seven points, each more restrictive than the other:

There is only one Internet: Rules must apply to wireless and wired services.

ISPs must not block applications, content, services or devices.

Strong non-discrimination rules are key to preserving the open Internet.

Paid prioritization is harmful because it allows ISPs to pick winners and losers online.

“Reasonable Network Management” cannot be a loophole that undermines the open Internet.

“Managed services” cannot be allowed to stifle the growth of the open Internet.

Users, not ISPs, should determine which applications need Quality of Service treatment.

So, we move from four principles, to six, to seven…to infinity and beyond (to borrow a phrase from Toy Story).  Boy, that goalpost keeps moving southward.

It kind of reminds me of the 14-point, Section 271 Bell long-distance checklist, which at one point was estimated to entail over 600 different regulatory requirements before any Bell was able to enter into the long-distance market.

America deserves more than this type of game.  The goalpost is already set.  We have a working market that satisfies consumers and promotes openness of the Internet.  America does need, nor does it desire, the regulatory con game engaged by the radical Free Press.

Media Freedom

Fijilive left off ‘legal’ media list, news editor quizzed

FIJI police have picked up the news editor of the Fiji web news pioneering agency Fijilive, Richard Naidu, for questioning – and then released him.State-owned Fiji Broadcasting Corporation News reported that he was questioned over a story that was published by the online news agency on Thursday.Criminal Investigations Department (CID) director Adi Sen was quoted as saying the police questioned
Café Pacific | Media freedom and transparency

Revenge of the Clipper Chip?

This NYTimes article discusses a bill which the Obama administration is proposing to submit to congress. The general background of the bill is that evolving technology has made it more difficult for law enforcement to conduct effective wiretaps and other intercepts because much of the targeted communication now takes place on the Internet and is often encrypted.

The actual text of the proposed bill does not appear to be available, but the article lists the following likely requirements.

  1. Communications services that encrypt messages must have a way to unscramble them.
  2. Foreign-based providers that do business inside the United States must install a domestic office capable of performing intercepts.
  3. Developers of software that enables peer-to-peer communication must redesign their service to allow interception.

The first of these is similar to the CALEA law which requires telecommunications carriers to design their services to enable automated real time intercepts. While this generally sounds reasonable when “we” say it, the idea is more ominous when coming from some other governments.

The second of these feels uncomfortably familiar. See my past blog posts (and here)on the attempts of privacy hostile countries to require similar concessions from RIM.

The third proposal is completely outrageous. In effect it says that I may not speak in a way which is unintelligible to the wire tappers. As a colleague quipped “I am hiring Navajo code talkers” This would require a back door be inserted in to cryptography tools. Experience shows that any crypto system with such a back door will be breached and then left vulnerable to the enormous number of criminal hackers on the Internet today.

In 1993 the US Government proposed a system called the “Clipper Chip” which would provide all encryption for personal computers, but to which the US Government would have back door access. This was a terrible idea then, it was widely ridiculed, and suffered a well justified death by 1996. This third proposal would be much worse. It is asking huge numbers of non-crypto experts to build back doors in to their systems. Frankly, the cryptography in most software is already badly broken in many cases. Something as subtle and complex as a secure and effective law enforcement back door would be far beyond their abilities and render currently poor security completely untrustworthy.

All this is not to mention the potential abuse by oppressive regimes, who will pounce on the capability to further crush dissent within their countries. Finally, it will be largely ineffective against serious threats. Very strong and easy to use cryptography is already available world wide, for free (GPG, ZPhone, TrueCrypt, etc.). This is a classic case of damaging the innocent while leaving the guilty and dangerous unaffected.

It seems to me that there is a pendulum swing to these things. Technology cuts both ways. Some times it favors the interceptor and some times it favors the communicator. In most ways the Internet has been a fantastic boon to law enforcement. Cloud computing, email hosts, social networking, open WiFi, and huge hard drive that encourage people to save everything all provide law enforcement with enormous amounts of information they could never have collected in the past.

It may not be shocking to anyone that there is no federal push to make that more difficult to access while pushing to enhance their ability to intercept encrypted communications.

All this is argument about a bill we have not seen yet. Let us hope that the furor that has swirled around it will cause it to be retraced or modified significantly before it is actually delivered to congress.

The Privacy Blog

Cash not Credit

Carabella Online Comic Chapter 9-episode 4

It’s all about who gets to see the money.

Episode 4 of Chapter 9 of Carabella’s Online Comic is here!

Written by Gerard Jones and drawn by Mark Badger

Buy itfrom NBM here

Privacy Activism

Dynamic Coalitions in Rio

The IGF Secretariat announced that all Dynamic Coalitions will be given a slot in the programme for thesecond IGF meeting in Rio de Janeiro from 12-15 November.

As the speakers are also potential panellists for the main session, Dynamic Coalitions are asked you to provide an initial list of speakers by 22 September 2007.

A revised tentative schedule is now available on the IGF web site. To accommodate as many events as possible, the Secretariat included new slots early morning, late afternoon and during lunchtime.

Dynamic Coalition on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Media on the Internet

How your private photos Facebook can be made public

A few months back we discussed Facebook photo album privacy settings and how you can make sure your bosses don’t see those Christmas party shots, for instance. And a few days ago we explained what content is viewable when you are logged out, including photos.

But there are still a couple of ways in which your photo albums – and your friends’ pics – can be seen by people outside your immediate circle (including ones who refuse to join Facebook) regardless of privacy settings. You would think that if you set your album to be viewed only by ‘friends’ that no one else could see them.

This isn’t necessarily true.

Unique album URL method:
When logged in and viewing your photos, there’s a special album URL (web address) displayed at the bottom of the screen. It takes the form (where the Xs represent random numbers/letters):


This is a unique URL and if people don’t know it they won’t be able to access your album (there was a loophole last year, now fixed, that allowed people to easily circumvent this by guessing the string of characters the Xs represented). However, anyone who has the URL will be able to view the album even if they aren’t on Facebook — yes, even if you only wanted friends to view the album. So, if you email an album’s address to 20 mates and they send it to all their friends, a lot more people than you intended could be viewing the album.

So, before we send that unique URL to our friends, we will consider who else might be told about it and the implications not only for ourselves, but for our friends.

Image URL method:
Go to anyone’s album and click on an image thumbnail. Right-click the image and choose to copy the image’s URL. You can paste the address (ctrl+V) into the address bar and view it even when logged out. You can also embed the image so it appears on other websites.

Oh, and here’s a little ‘Easter egg’ – delete everything up to any forward slash in the image’s URL, and you get this guy wearing a “Little Celtics Fan” bib. Now what’s all that about?

Facebook Privacy Watch

We’re back – kind of

It’s been more than a year since I’ve updated this blog, and that is an absolutely massive length of time in the world of the web. And particularly in the world of Facebook and its privacy policy!

In the past year we’ve seen Facebook make some massive changes to the way people interact with it. I’ll try and find an opportunity to resurrect this blog soon!

Facebook Privacy Watch

Celebrate the Freedom to Read: Read a Banned Book! (ACLU)

Celebrate the Freedom to Read: Read a Banned Book!: Via Blog of Rights: Official Blog of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Saturday marked the start of Banned Books Week, an annual event that celebrates the First Amendment and the freedom to read. For the uninitiated, Banned Books Week is a time when we reflect upon challenges to the First Amendment and triumphs of freedom of expression.

If banned books sound like something from the days of witch hunts, you'd be wrong. The American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom tracks books that have been "challenged," often by a well-meaning parent, to be removed from a public or school library. Books as recent the Gossip Girls series and Twilight have been on "challenged" lists in recent years. Thankfully, most challenges are unsuccessful.

You can learn more about banned books, including some interesting bar graphs that break down who's challenging books and why, on the ALA website.

As the country's foremost champion of the First Amendment, we go big for Banned Books Week! This year, ACLU affiliates across the country, from Arizona to Wisconsin, are celebrating the freedom to read with tons of events, from readings, to book store discounts, to discussions and exhibits of previously banned books. Check out a comprehensive list of ACLU events in your state here. And the ALA lists more events—including online events—on their site.

So celebrate your First Amendment rights this week and sit back, relax, and read a banned book!

Read Original Article (Via Blog of Rights: Official Blog of the American Civil Liberties Union.)

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Privacy Digest

Click Liverpool (UK): GuestScan hotel blacklist blasted by privacy campaign

Click Liverpool reports on a privacy controversy in the United Kingdom. Nonprofit advocacy group Privacy International is urging a government investigation of “a Bristol based company keeping a national blacklist of nightmare hotel guests.”
The new website GuestScan.com allows hotel owners to share information about “known or potential troublemakers” in an online hall of shame which [...]
Privacy Lives