Archive for March, 2009

The secret ACTA access list

Earlier this week, the Obama White House decided that you and I don’t have a right (or need) to know the details of the future of intellectual property in the United States (or the broader world) when they declared the contents of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement a “National Security” secret. Shockingly, it turns out that the national security threat is only posed by average citizens and consumers. That fact becomes clear when you take a look at the list of “cleared advisors“, the members of the 27 United States Trade Representative (USTR) advisory boards.

The list is a veritable who’s who of corporate lobbyists and anti-consumer groups, including the RIAA, MPAA, Monsanto, Citigroup, Wal-Mart and AIG. You know, some of the same people that brought you the financial meltdown. Clearly, the people we want deciding intellectual property policy for the future. As you read this list, remember that President Obama feels that these individuals are more trustworthy than you are, that their guidance is more critical to the republic than any input you might provide through your limited access via your representatives and the Freedom of Information Act. As the poet De la Rocha put it, “Land of the free? Whoever told you that is your enemy!”

Read on for a partial list, courtesy of Knowledge Ecology International.
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Obama declares ACTA treaty “National Security” secret

Oh, Bushama. What a disappointment you are. Courtesy:

Image: Wired

Oh, Bushama. What a disappointment you are.

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Just last week, I wrote about Obama’s defense of Bush’s warrantless wiretap program. Well, allow me to sound the death knell for civil liberties reform coming out of the White House. Obama has declared the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA (PDF), to be a national security secret and therefore out of reach with the Freedom of Information Act. This piece of legislation seeks to criminalize peer-to-peer file sharing and subject mp3 players, flash drives, laptops and any other digital storage device to border searches and allow internet service providers to monitor their customers’ communications.

Since this is a treaty still being negotiated, there isn’t really anything “actionable” I can point you at to try to right this heinous policy. Still, I strongly encourage you to contact your representatives (using the handy links above) and let them know that you don’t want your iPod, laptop or digital camera seized and copied every time you try to leave the country. Bastille-time, anyone? So much for the new era of openness. Check out a RussiaToday video on ACTA after the jump.

If ratified, leaked documents posted on WikiLeaks and other comments suggest the proposed trade accord would criminalize peer-to-peer file sharing, subject iPods to border searches and allow internet service providers to monitor their customers’ communications.David Kravets – Threat Level

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JOCO elections violate federal voting system standards

This is an update to yesterday’s post on Diebold’s handy one-touch deletion of e-voting machine logs. As I posted in the comments of yesterday’s piece, I spoke with Johnson County Election Commissioner Brian D. Newby. He assured me that he was aware of the issues with Diebold systems and that Johnson County uses an updated version of the GEMS software, version 1.18.24.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the problems mentioned are not confined to the older versions of the vote tabulation software. In reality, every Diebold/Premier Election Systems machine that is being used to vote in the United States (optical “scantron” and touch-screen), not just here in Johnson County, KS, does not log critical information such as when files are intentionally deleted from the system or unintentionally erased. In plain English, the Diebold/Premier system doesn’t keep track of the paper trail of your vote and has a one-touch delete button for anyone to destroy any record of them not keeping that paper trail.

This all came to light in a hearing earlier this week in California. You can view the video of that hearing after the jump including this choice snippet, the only question about the logs, 45 minutes into the video (yes, you can jump ahead):

“The failure to log certain system events,” [California Deputy Secretary of State Chris] Reynolds said, “I think you mentioned that in subsequent versions of this, these things have been corrected?”

“Uh no, not . . . not yet,” said Justin Bales, western regional manager for Premier/

Basically, if you vote in Johnson County, KS (or any of the more than 30 other states that use Diebold/Premier systems), you should have ZERO confidence that your vote is being counted. There is no transparency in your elections and you should demand that your election officials implement a plan to fix your electoral system before anyone “votes” again.

For those of you in JOCO, I can tell you that Commissioner Newby is very personable and called me back within a couple hours to answer my questions about the system. He is an award-winning election official, so let’s hope he holds up to that past standard and responds to the concerns of his citizenry. After all, transparent, fair elections are the cornerstone of a (d)emocratic society. That’s what we want to pretend to be, right?
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