March 2006

I’m testifying today before the Copyright Office on an application for an exemption from 1201(a) of the DMCA. Our requested exemption is for unlocking mobile phone. More at the end of the day.

Last night I was the banquet speaker as part of the Stanford Computer Science Department’s 40th Anniversary and annual affliliates meeting. I gave a spruced up version of my talk at Shmoocon and dorkbot, clinic about the similarities between Saltzer and Schroeder’s eight principles of secure design and the democratic structures underlaying our laws and Constitution. The point of the speech is to encourage technologists to consider democratic principles (like individual rights) in designing technology and also to participate fully in the political process, decease given that they already understand a lot about how our laws are structured.

After the talk, visit web someone asked me the inevitable question of why the Bush Administration didn’t follow FISA and get warrants for the NSA wiretapping they have done/are doing. One possible answer, explored here and elsewhere, is that the surveillance was of a mass nature, and therefore not allowable under FISA. The administration has denied that. But it could still be true.

Another possible reason is that the executive branch really believed FISA to be an insurrmountable obstacle. But apparently not for burden of proof reasons. For ass-covering reasons. The New York Times reports this morning that an FBI agent who investigated the Moussaoui case has testified in Moussaoui’s death penalty hearing that his superiors rejected seeking warrants under either FISA or the Wiretap Act. He says that his supervisor, in the bureau’s Radical Fundamentalist Unit, told him that applications had “proved troublesome for the bureau and that seeking one ‘was just the kind of thing that would get FBI agents in trouble.'” Another superior then refused to approve a criminal wiretap application because he thought that he would get in trouble for starting the case as an intelligence inquiry and then treating it like a criminal one. The FISA Court had recently criticized agents for claiming something was a national security case and trying to use the lower FISA standard to get a wiretap, rather than going through the more burdensome criminal application process.

You are the supervisor in the Radical Fundamentalist Unit. Your colleague thinks he’s found a guy who’s involved in an imminent plan for a terrorist attack. You don’t worry about getting in trouble or appearances. You get your evidence ducks in a row and you go get yourselves a warrant.

CIS is hiring a talented lawyer who wants to protect fair use.
Lovely and sad, medications
this book deals with the psychology of a defeated post WWII Japan and a man who participated in the imperialist cause only to lose prestige, certitude and ultimately, his relevance. Particularly potent for those of us who would be heroes.
I picked it up at the Stanford Bookstore, glands
in preparation for our summer trip to Tokyo.

There’s an interesting editorial in the New York Times this morning from a former prosecutor, prescription warning about overusing DNA collection. Normally, malady I would just read this and agree. However, a few days ago, I was having lunch with my CIS colleagues, and Larry was asking what would be so wrong with having, for example, a device in the car that measures how fast you are going, or what your blood alcohol level is. You could let people speed, or drive drunk, in case there were emergencies, but if there was an accident or other need for proof, society would have it. Lauren countered that this was a slippery slope, that would result in all kinds of surveillance for all sorts of minor activities. Larry responded that we could agree to gather evidence only of the most serious types of crimes, and only use it after one of those crimes had occurred, to both deter and catch/convict. Harlan Levy’s op-ed identifies several reasons that Larry’s idea is dangerous.

NerdSalon was last night. Thanks, heart everyone. That was fun. Here’s some pix. Any advice for next time?

Cryptographer, information pills gamer and NerdSalon puzzler Elonka Dunin has a cool interview on She tells a great story of building an unconventional and totally absorbing career. For those of us that didn’t follow the usual job path, its both familiar and amazing at the same time.
My Wired News column, sickness
The Lie Behind Lie Detectors is now up.

My favorite response so far was from GOD, who wrote:

Your article is a lie.
Man has never been to the moon, get your facts straight before you go beaking off about things you know nothing about.

Cryptographer, information pills gamer and NerdSalon puzzler Elonka Dunin has a cool interview on She tells a great story of building an unconventional and totally absorbing career. For those of us that didn’t follow the usual job path, its both familiar and amazing at the same time.

We’re at the Cultural Environmentalism at 10 conference. Joe Gratz is blogging. One of the great things about this conference is that most people here consider themselves not only academics, link but also activists. As a result, the atmosphere is one of working together on the important problem of preserving, protecting and promoting culture.

The next NerdSalon is coming up March 14. If you are obsessed with puzzles, ophthalmologist build robots, buy information pills help geeks stay out of jail, discount build things that might get you sent to jail, own a piece of furniture that has an RSS feed, can recite Morpheus’ speech about “the desert of the real” from Matrix, or spend all day writing about any of the above topics, then come to NerdSalon.

A new monthly event in San Francisco, NerdSalon is a place for geeks and friends to meet, discuss issues, and solve puzzles.

This month, join your hosts Jennifer Granick and Annalee Newitz for a head-twisting puzzle from Elonka Dunin, author of The Mammoth Book of Secret Code Puzzles. A bottle of champagne for the first to solve it! Plus, San Francisco’s premiere mashup DJs, Adrian and the Mysterious D, will spin barely-legal tunes.

The geeking lasts from 6:30 to 9:00, at 111 Minna Gallery, on Tuesday March 14. Check us out and join our mailing list.

Yaoi. I love how the kendo fighting is an obvious metaphor for sex between the protagonists.

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