Saturday, October 20, 2001

Electronic Frontier Foundation ACTION ALERT
Defeat the "Security Systems Standards and Certification Act" (SSSCA)
Draft Bill Would Require All Software and Digital Devices to Include Federally-Mandated Copy-Prevention Systems
posted by Irdial , 9:47 PM Þ 

The Conet Project now on
posted by Irdial , 12:06 PM Þ 

Nooo! Listening to shortwave station is suspicious now? Why don't they just put the whole frigging country in the can, sheesh?!
posted by Mikkel , 12:52 AM Þ 
Friday, October 19, 2001

Tips for spotting suspicious activities
October 18, 2001 Posted: 7:06 p.m. EDT (2306 GMT)

(CNN) -- U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has told Americans to keep alert in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks and report anything suspicious to law enforcement agencies, with a "heightened sense of awareness."

But a definition of suspicious behavior is difficult to establish, because there is no "cookie-cutter" behavior for terrorist activity, said Thomas Sweeney, co-chair of the private sector liaison committee for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a group exploring the boundaries between private security and law enforcement, in order to improve security on both sides.

However, there are several things to look for, added Sweeney, who is also the police chief in Glastonbury, Connecticut. It's better to spot things at the level of suspicion, before they become an incident, he said.

Be sensitive to your environment.

Watch for:

1. Someone attempting to gain access to something they shouldn't have or somewhere they don't belong.
Examples include getting near chemicals, vehicles or buildings without proper credentials, Sweeney said.

2. Strange or frequent comings or goings

3. Someone carrying a weapon
People should already be notifying police if they notice unauthorized people carrying weapons or using them threateningly, Sweeney said.

4. Someone who appears to be concealing something or attempting to put something over on somebody

5. Clues on the job
Sweeney says some crime solving has come from tips by people at work -- for example, film processing or computer-repair employees who noticed something out of the ordinary.

6. Suspicious mail or packages (Read the tips)

7. Watch for people conducting themselves in a strange manner or making unusual requests
Example: The case of a student pilot interested only in learning how to steer a plane, not take off or land. Sweeney said it might be something that strikes you as not appropriate for whatever environment you're operating in, or something that just seems abnormal.

8. Watch for someone listening to Shortwave Radio regularly at the same time of day, whilst writing down notes
posted by Irdial , 6:52 PM Þ 

Oh yeah, I saw that. Using dot one myself, I'm not that vulnerable though, since I'm the only user of this system, and the only way someone could get access to a desktop would be by knowing the root password (since I always lock it up when leaving it)...

Here in Denmark the whole terrorist thing is getting out of hand. People are mailing powder to each other and screaming hysterically. A danish tabloid called Look & Listen, had a quite ridiculous frontpage; A picture of the prince Frederik, "Frederik in Danger!", and then a small insert of Osama bin Laden with "Alarm in the royal house." What the hell is that supposed to mean? Did Osama show up or something? Sheesh! =)

And then Pia Kjærsgaard, the leader of The Danish People's Party (which are a bunch of damn racists, if you ask me), called the western civilization the only civilization. How about that?!

/me listens to Aqua Regia - NYC Smile on me (which totally rocks! Oh please please, oh god, goddamit!)
posted by Mikkel , 12:33 PM Þ

Michael Flaminio, Insanely Great Mac, October 17, 2001

Mac OS X 10.1 users will want to take note of a local security hole. The X 10.1 bug allows anyone to gain root access via the Terminal.

The security hole can be used on any Mac OS X 10.1 local terminal. Using the exploit, anyone can gain root access via the Terminal application.

For most Mac users this may to be too big of a deal, since under OS 9, most anyone with access to the desktop essentially already has administrative level access. However, for those depending on OS X's security for either multiple user security or system integrity, may be in for a surprise.

To access the exploit:

- Log into OS X 10.1 under any user.
- Open the Terminal application, then quit the application
- Open the NetInfo Manager application and keep it as the foreground
- Open the Terminal application from the Recent Items Menu.

You will then be logged in as root in the terminal.
posted by Irdial , 8:54 AM Þ 

National Journal's Technology Daily, PM Edition, October 16, 2001

HEADLINE: PRIVACY: FBI To Require ISPs To Reconfigure E-mail Systems

PHOENIX -- The FBI is in the process of finalizing technical guidelines that would require all Internet service providers (ISPS) to reconfigure their e-mail systems so they could be more easily accessible to law enforcers. The move, to be completed over the next two months, would cause ISPs to act as phone companies do to comply with a 1994 digital-wiretapping law. "They are in the process of developing a very detailed set of standards for how to make packet data" available to the FBI, said Stewart Baker, an attorney at Steptoe & Johnson who was formerly the chief counsel to the National Security Agency (NSA).

The proposal is not a part of the anti-terrorism legislation currently before Congress because the agency is expected to argue that the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) already grants it the authority to impose the requirement, Baker said. He added that some ISPs already meet the requirements.

Baker, who frequently represents Internet companies being asked to conduct electronic surveillance for the FBI, made the revelation Tuesday in a panel discussion at the Agenda 2002 conference here on how the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are likely to affect the technology industry and civil liberties. He elaborated on the plan in an interview.
posted by Irdial , 8:49 AM Þ
Novel Security Measures
A man was kept off a recent flight because of a book he was carrying.
posted by Irdial , 8:42 AM Þ 

From the priceless Iconocast:
And speaking about looking back, here's the latest installment of the "Photoshop war" being waged online:

Too bad those Imperialist Running Dogs cant spell "KABUL"!
posted by Irdial , 8:28 AM Þ 

bush's great oxymorons : [18/10/01] : "friendly troops"
posted by alex_tea , 6:00 AM Þ 

Alex: newspapers.
Which brings to mind a contest the school paper I work for held. It was a super-easy contest, it was just that the prize was 50000 copies of the newspaper (various issues) so we only got a few entries. Actually, two to be specific.

Here in Canada, Justice Minister Anne McLellan has announced a new bill that will make it "easier to capture suspected terrorists." Basically, anyone can be arrested outright if they're thought of as suspicious by anyone. The bill defines a terrorist as anyone who takes actions for "political, religious, or idealogical purposes." Apparently our charter of rights doesn't matter anymore. We used to have a bill like this, it was called "martial law." This bill is expected to pass by the end of the year. I wouldn't count on it.
posted by Barrie , 5:33 AM Þ 
Thursday, October 18, 2001

Attention Washington! You smell like rotten eggs. You are self defeating! Did YOU know that? The instant you started funding the Taliban** you sentenced yourself to murderous embarressment and inevitable economic faliure.

Our weapons are bone age. Yours are big. I guess you are the man then huh? We think you should suck a lemon. We think you should give up and stop trying to rule the world. Surrender this school yard objective or we will all simply ignore you like the insecure bully you obviously are.

**(on May 17th, 2001, US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, announced a
gift of $43 million US to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan to help the US
fight the "war on drugs".) -Robert Scheer LA Times May, 2001
posted by john , 8:09 PM Þ 

more PGP questions.

irdial says the winner will recieve "5000 in cash"

5000 what? frogs? lire? kronur? GBP?
posted by alex_tea , 1:05 PM Þ 

"A Mercury News article reports Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and John Ashcroft have been meeting to discuss creation of a national ID database including fingerprints, facial scans, etc. Other supporters include Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy. They claim these cards would be 'voluntary', much as the act of leaving your home or purchasing groceries are voluntary activities." Update: 10/18 01:48 GMT by M: Hah! btempleton writes: "Here is a prototype of Larry Ellison's new national ID card."

Someone Clever Said:
This has a way of being inevitable unless you, the people, fight like grim death against it.
Here in Australia we had a proposal for the `Australia Card' -- basically the same as this proposal, only not as technologically sophisticated. It was put to the people's vote (referendum or an election issue? I don't remember) and the people's response was to tell the proposers how to fold it into sharp corners, and where to stick it afterwards. That's Ok, though, because then they introduced the Tax File Number, which is a wannabe SSN -- you need it to earn an income (failure to provide a TFN is not illegal, but automatically results in you being taxed at 49.5%), to open a bank account, or just about anywhere else where you are using money in a non-trivial way.

The TFN was possible because we (the Australian population) had just fought furiously and won against a more draconian scheme, and were tired. Also, this almost slipped under the radar without comment, as the parliament rushed it through with very little debate, in the house or in public.

This may turn out to be another High Aim Tactic. Ask for something which is absolutely ridiculous, and let yourself be beaten back to what you wanted in the first place. Even if Ellison is serious (surely not...?) his overtures can -- and probably will -- be used by others with the same barrow to push.

The question is where to draw the line. How much freedom from surveillance do you want? Once you have figured that out, don't settle for one jot less! As soon as you rationalise that `I don't really need to be able to X' and bargain away the right to be able to do so, then you have just lost something precious which you will never get back.

Of course, things are rarely that simple, and some things are obviously stupid. (Such as, eg, `I demand the right to stockpile Anthrax spores'.) But the apparatchiks will use these examples to persuade you that the right to freely assemble, for example, is just too dangerous for you to have. It will not be put to you like that. It will be that some travel may have to be restricted, or that restrictions based on profiling [Hmm, you have travelled in the middle east, your family name is arabic, and you talk funny...] will be instituted `for the time being'.

If history teaches us anything, it is that `for the time being' can be translated `for the foreseeable future', and that just means `until it is no longer profitable to do so'.

Wasn't it a Founding Father who said `the Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance'?
posted by Irdial , 11:08 AM Þ 

us millitary propaganda broadcast transcripts:
Here's a complete text of one broadcast: "Attention Taliban! You are condemned. Did you know that? The instant the terrorists you support took over our planes, you sentenced yourselves to death. The Armed Forces of the United States are here to seek justice for our dead. Highly trained soldiers are coming to shut down once and for all Osama bin Laden's ring of terrorism, and the Taliban that supports them and their actions.

"Our forces are armed with state of the art military equipment. What are you using, obsolete and ineffective weaponry? Our helicopters will rain fire down upon your camps before you detect them on your radar. Our bombs are so accurate we can drop them right through your windows. Our infantry is trained for any climate and terrain on earth. United States soldiers fire with superior marksmanship and are armed with superior weapons.

"You have only one choice ... Surrender now and we will give you a second chance. We will let you live. If you surrender no harm will come to you. When you decide to surrender, approach United States forces with your hands in the air. Sling your weapon across your back muzzle towards the ground. Remove your magazine and expel any rounds. Doing this is your only chance of survival."
posted by Irdial , 10:52 AM Þ 

does anyone know much about the nmap -e switch for
routing packets thru a specified device? more specifically,
how to actually specify the device(ie: device #, pci slot, mac addy et al).
please feel free to email me

posted by john , 7:48 AM Þ 
Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Can a Machine Think?
A.L.I.C.E. just won the Loebner Prize.
Remember Eliza for the Mac? A.L.I.C.E. is performing on a significantlly higher level, as expected, but still completely hopeless at responding as a human would. If it performs like crap, start over. I've had some very witty chat's, snappy come-backs 'n all.
Check out two Eliza's psykoanalysing eachother!
posted by Claus Eggers , 10:57 PM Þ 

barry: lots of people commented on how "good" my girlfriend looked playing the theremin; however this just served to fuel her whole feminist musician thing and she got realy angry.. not during the performance anyway..

also, emailing the key... you should be able to export the signed key to a text file, or copy it to the clipboard. then paste it into a mail and post it to irdial. the ascii key should look just like the one irdial emailed out yesterday.

i guess the whole point of this pgp party is to sign keys. email me if you want to swap signatures.
posted by alex_tea , 3:17 PM Þ 

What is amazing to me is that people are counting the numbers of people who were killed according to their nationality.

One of the most serious complaints against Americans is that it is believed that they think that the lives of Americans are more valuable than the lives of people from other countries. When people are killed, human beings are lost, not the property of a nation, or members of an artificially constructed or imagined group. It doesn’t matter that there are more people from other nations that are missing, because all humans have the same intrinsic worth. And if there were more people who held non-USA passports/nationality, so what? Should Uncle Sam be doing anything different based on the proportion of "foreign nationals" that have been killed? Would there be any bombing if no Americans had been killled?

What is the purpose of separating people in this way? Classifying people by nation causes enough problems when people are alive, but what can the gain be in separating people when they are dead, save as a way to seek a worldwide licence to extract vengence? Statistics are useful and enjoyable, but when applied to people, statistics become a very dangerous double-edged sword, that sends messages of a kind that the world needs to hear less of.

Is it possible that the idea that American lives are more valuable than other people’s lives is something that is deeply encoded in the American psyche? So deeply that it just rolls off of the tongue without thought?

Some would immediately argue that its people of other nations that do not value the lives of their own countrymen. This may or may not be true, but when a country takes on the responsibility of policing the world, and meting out punishments to entire countries, it needs to be extra careful about how it counts and handles the living and the dead, wherever they live and die.

Wayne Madsen

What is being largely lost in the grief and sorrow following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center is the fact that the current count of dead and missing reveals more foreign nationals died in the attack than Americans. Although the major media has reported that other nations lost a number of their citizens, it is not being reported that their numbers, some 3061, are in excess of U.S. casualties, currently estimated at around 2589. These figures do not include any Canadians who may have been lost in the cataclysm. From information culled from a number of wire service accounts, the estimates of dead and missing by country are:

Revised 16 October 2001

Great Britain 300
India 250
Chile 250
Germany 230 (+130)
Colombia 208 (-)
Pakistan 200
Mexico 150 (-350)
Turkey 120 (-11)
Philippines 117
Russia 117 (+21)
Israel 110 (-23)
El Salvador 101 (+30)
Honduras 100 (-)
Nigeria 94 (+)
Canada 63 (+)
Australia new: 55 (+)
Bangladesh 55 (+)
Brazil 55 (-)
Greece 50 (+)
Japan 44 (-26)
Ireland 44 (+)
Netherlands 43 (-360)
Hungary 41 (+)(missing)
Italy 38 (-)
Dominican Rep. 31 (+6)
Ecuador 30 (-4)
Poland 30 (+)
South Korea 30 (+)
Guyana 25 (+20) new: 21 (-4)
Austria 27 (-)
Japan 23 (-)
Cambodia 20
Hong Kong 16 (-3)
South Korea 15 (-)
Czech Republic 15 (+5)
Slovakia 10 (+)
France 10
Spain 8
Yemen 8 (+)
Jamaica 7 (+) new: 17 (+10)
Taiwan 7 (-)
Guatemala 6 (+)
Haiti 6 (+) (may be more)
Zimbabwe 6
Switzerland 5 (-101)
Yugoslavia 5 (+5)
Iran 5 (+)
Argentina 5 (+)
Trinidad & Tobago 4 (+) new: 5 (+1)
China 2 (-2)
Portugal 4 (-)
Egypt 4 (+) prob. more
Belize 4 (+) new: 1 (-3)
Malaysia 4 (-)
Lebanon 3 (+)
Panama 3 (+)
Antigua & Barbuda 3 (+) new: 2 (-1)
Grenada 3 (+) new: 2 (-1)
Peru 3 (-)
Belarus 3 (+)
Venezuela 3
Barbados 3 (+) new: 4 (+1)
Jordan 2 (+)
New Zealand 2
Zimbabwe 2 (-)
Thailand 2
Indonesia 2 (-)
St.Kitts / Nevis 2 (+) new: 3 (+1)
St.Vincent / Gren. 2 (+) new: 1 (-1)
Paraguay 2
Ukraine 1
Ghana 1 (-)
St Lucia 1 (+)
Sri Lanka 1 (+)
Uruguay 1
Bulgaria 1 (+)
Belgium 1
Costa Rica 1 (+)
Paraguay 1 (-)
Burundi 1 (+)
Kenya 1
Bahamas 1 (+) new: 0 (-1)
Norway 1
Gambia 1 (+1)
Sweden 1
Dominica new: 1 (+1)
Guinea "Several missing"
Senegal "Several missing"
Denmark 0 (-1)
Finland 0 (-1)

posted by Irdial , 9:59 AM Þ 

Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 11:42:54 -0400
From: Duncan Frissell
Subject: How many Divisions does Silicon Valley Have?

A few weeks ago in the New York Times, the foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman attacked Techno-Libertarians for their lack of a sufficiently bellicose foreign policy.

April 18, 1998, Saturday Section: Editorial Desk


I don't think I like Silicon Valley.

That's all right, Silicon Valley doesn't like you either.

Here's why: I'm as impressed as anyone with the technologies that Silicon Valley is producing and the way they are changing how we must think about economic power and how nations interact. But what is so striking about Silicon Valley is that it has become so enamored of its innovative and profit-making prowess that it has completely lost sight of the overall context within which this is taking place.

It has not "lost sight of the ... context" so much as it sees the context all too well and has rejected it utterly.

There is a disturbing complacency here toward Washington, government and even the nation. There is no geography in Silicon Valley, or geopolitics. There are only stock options and electrons.

I wouldn't call it "complacency" so much as "rejection." Techno-libertarians (the true targets of this piece) are quite aggressive in rejecting Washington.

When I asked an all-too-typical tech-exec here when was the last time he talked about Iraq or Russia or foreign wars, he answered: "Not more than once a year. We don't even care about Washington. Money is extracted from Silicon Valley and then wasted by Washington. I want to talk about people who create wealth and jobs. I don't want to talk about unhealthy and unproductive people. If I don't care enough about the wealth-destroyers in my own country, why would I care about the wealth- destroyers in another country?"

Sounds like a perfectly straight-forward political position to me. Libertarians have always been anti-war and anti "entangling alliances.", even back during WWII. Leftists used to be anti-war as well but some of them have strayed from that position. Someone has to keep it up.

What's wrong with this picture is that all the technologies Silicon Valley is designing to carry digital voices, videos and data farther and faster around the world, all the trade and financial integration it is promoting through its innovations, and all the wealth it is generating, is happening in a world stabilized by a benign superpower called the United States of America, with its capital in Washington D.C.

Armed neutrality is a perfectly acceptable foreign policy. Super power and nation state politics have murdered 170 million human beings in this century alone ( Until an alternative racked up that quantity of dead, we'd be well ahead of the game. Some people just don't like super powers -- however benign.

The hidden hand of the global market would never work without the hidden fist. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps (with the help, incidentally, of global institutions like the U.N. and the International Monetary Fund). And those fighting forces and institutions are paid for by all the tax dollars that Washington is "wasting" every year.

The *UN* and the *IMF* give me a break. There is little evidence that if those two disappeared anyone would notice save those who would miss a paycheck.

As for the U.S. armed forces, there is no doubt that it is very convenient to have well-trained and equipped troops available from time to time but that says nothing about the organizational form that produces such forces. The U.S. military is impressive but it is also inefficient and expensive. A few years ago, the Economist (in one of its "Survey's of Defence" proposed an international regiment to suppress insurgency. Such an institution could be public or corporate. A mercenary regiment independent of national bureaucracies could produce a very effective force that could suppress "commerce raiding" without the high costs and risks involved government armed forces. A private "82nd Airborne", equipped with off-the-shelf technology, which would focus on the bottom line both in terms of money and men, could give everyone the protection they need without the high cost and high death rate associated with government armed forces. An armed civilian population in any country that would trust its subjects with arms would make any attack even more costly.

Because of the intense competition here among companies, and the continuous flood of new products, there is a saying in Silicon Valley that "loyalty is just one mouse-click away." But you can take that too far. Execs here say things like: "We are not an American company. We are I.B.M. U.S., I.B.M. Canada, I.B.M. Australia, I.B.M. China." Oh yeah? Well, the next time you get in trouble in China, then call Li Peng for help. And the next time Congress closes another military base in Asia -- and you don't care because you don't care about Washington -- call Microsoft's navy to secure the sea lanes of Asia. And the next time the freshmen Republicans want to close more U.S. embassies, call America Online when you lose your passport.

The techno-libertarians of Silicon Valley don't believe in passports. They are working to eliminate such inefficiencies. If government or private piracy picks up again on the "sea lanes to Asia", a simple restoration of licensed privateers could end that problem. Maybe Russia's Northern Fleet could find something more useful to do as privateers than they are now sitting around drinking, contemplating suicide, and juggling Russia's largest cache of nukes. Note that US Naval vessels can't sail these days without civilian electronics techs (contractors) to maintain and operate the intelligence and weapons systems. Privatizing the rest of the system is not as big a step as most people think.

Mercenaries and privateers have a long history and can be easily put back to work. Note too that in spite of their reputation, mercenaries and privateers have (by any measure) killed fewer civilians and overthrown fewer governments than have military forces consisting of government employees.

Harry Saal, a successful Silicon Valley engineer, venture capitalist and community activist -- an exception to the norm -- remarked to me: "If you ask people here what their affiliation is, they will name their company. Many live and work on a company campus. The leaders of these companies don't have any real understanding of how a society operates and how education and social services get provided for. People here are not involved in Washington policy because they think the future will be set by technology and market forces alone and eventually there will be a new world order based on electrons and information."

The denizens of the Valley are well aware of how "education and social services" *fail* to "get provided for". They have to try and hire the illiterate output. Arguing the domestic policy success of government is even rougher than arguing its foreign policy success.

They're exactly half right. I've had a running debate with a neo-Reaganite foreign-policy writer, Robert Kagan, from the Carnegie Endowment, about the impact of economic integration and technology on geopolitics. He says I overestimate its stabilizing effects; I say he underestimates it. We finally agreed that unless you look at both geotechnology and geopolitics you can't explain (or sustain) this relatively stable moment in world history. But Silicon Valley's tech-heads have become so obsessed with bandwidth they've forgotten balance of power. They've forgotten that without America on duty there will be no America Online. "The people in Silicon Valley think it's a virtue not to think about history because everything for them is about the future," argued Mr. Kagan. "But their ignorance of history leads them to ignore that this explosion of commerce and trade rests on a secure international system, which rests on those who have the power and the desire to see that system preserved."

This is a fascinating historical debate but it can't have much to say about future security policy. We know that periods dominated by markets (the mid-19th century for example) have fewer wars while periods dominated by governments (most of the 20th century) have more wars. The record of nation states in managing conflict is not one designed to make us confident of future peace. Alternative methods of social organization have at least as great a chance at keeping the murder rate in the 21st Century a bit lower than the murder rate during this past Century of Blood.

POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
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posted by Irdial , 9:04 AM Þ 

I have signed the key but... what exactly to you mean by "e-mail it?" Am confoosled.
Alex: Mmm, theremin.
posted by Barrie , 2:19 AM Þ 

i think those stockhaysen quotes were taken out of context. i think what he was saying was that the whole event was a spectacle, and massive display of power? control? a symbol to strike fear into america. saying it was a work of art is no different from the hundreds of thousands of culturally illiterate americans* saying it was like a movie. is cinema not an art form?

anyway, according to my lovely girlfriend who was playing theremin to a stockhausen inspired piece tonight they are doing this opera or play with graphic racist overtones, although she hasn't detailed this out to me so please don't quote me on this...

check this out : live feed of google search terms! (it's down now; but keep it for future reference)

have a look around tsluts too... some funny stuff including the rsi inducing bunny rabbit game.

you should all also read mute magazine lots of stuff on security / hacking / privacy plus comes with a cd of some goodish music.. nothing outstanding, nice samples though... and you get a map too...

pgp party? i'll show you my key if you show me yours ;)
posted by alex_tea , 1:12 AM Þ 
Tuesday, October 16, 2001

This week we are holding a PGP Party, with a special cash prize, sponsored by some concerned netizens with very deep pockets.

Here is how to join in the party and win a huge cash prize:

Go get PGP


go get GNUPG

If you opt for GNU Privacy Guard (GPG) and you run windoze, you might want to take a look at WinPT which is a GUI for GNUPG. PGP is simpler to use than GNUPG so you may want to start with that.You can always adopt GNUPG after you are comfortable with PGP.

Download and install PGP or GPG for your platform.

Read the manual.

Generate your keypair, and then sign the Irdial-Discs Key with your new key.

Here is the Irdial-Discs PGP public Key:

Version: PGPfreeware 6.5.2 for non-commercial use


Once you have signed the Irdial-Discs key, email it to

We will draw names of those that have successfully signed our PGP public key out of a hat. Four lucky Irdial-List subscribers will win 5000 in cash. If you have already signed the Irdial-Discs public key, you will be automagically entered into the draw. The winners of the draw will be announced on BLOGDIAL on Tuesday October 23 2001.
Void where prohibited.
posted by Irdial , 10:05 PM Þ 

Press release: FOR IMMEDIATE USE : 16th October 2001


*) Home Office undecided whether ISP data retention to be voluntary or compulsory

*) Data revealing who you talk to, what you read, where you are, collected for "national security"

*) Data can be trawled for public order, minor crimes, tax, health and safety

*) E-Commerce to bear open-ended storage and data-protection compliance costs

As part of an emergency package of anti-terrorism measures, Home Secretary David Blunkett announced yesterday (Note 3) that Internet Service Providers would be "enabled" to retain logs detailing the online activity of their customers (but NOT the contents of communications).

Data protection legislation (Note 4) currently protects electronic privacy by prohibiting blanket storage by ISPs of logs recording such details as websites browsed, To and From addresses of e-mails, and which 'newsgroup' articles are read by a subscriber. Other "communications data", such as the telephone number used to dial-up the Internet, may be kept so long as it is relevant to billing or fraud control.

Although Mr.Blunkett's use of the word "enable" (rather than "require") implied that compliance will be at the ISP's discretion, the lead official told FIPR that retention may be made compulsory, enforced through civil law. The same source said a ministerial certificate will assert "national security" exemptions (Note 5) so that ISPs and telephone companies will not be in breach of European Directives. The government will only specify later exactly what data may be collected and for how long in a Code of Practice in consultation with ISPs.

No new legislation is necessary for police and intelligence agencies to collect the data once it is recorded by ISPs and telephone companies. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act 2000 (Note 5) allows records to be obtained for broad purposes including tax, health and safety, public order offences and minor crime. Although "communications data" provides a complete map of private life, revealing who you talk to, what you read, and where you go, the authorities can rubber-stamp compilation and trawling of large and detailed databases. In contrast, inspection of the contents of a single e-mail requires a warrant from a Secretary of State, and a search for documents requires a court order.

Bulk requests can be made on groups or the history of an individual and kept by police and intelligence agencies indefinitely under data protection exemptions. This includes the exact co-ordinates of your geographic location - which 3rd-generation mobiles produce continuously whilst the phone is switched on.

Computerised 'traffic analysis' (tracing links between individuals) is a powerful new form of mass-surveillance, but is only efficient at keeping tabs on the law-abiding. Professional terrorists know how to cover their tracks - for example throw-away use of pre-paid mobile phones. Reports of the modus operandi of the September 11th terrorists indicate they used Web-based e-mail from public terminals. Clearly it is not persuasive to argue for privacy to be sacrificed in the name of fighting terrorism if the measures would not in fact be effective.

A leaked report from the National Criminal Intelligence Servcie last year revealed that police and security agencies are nevertheless pressing for a mandatory data retention law to warehouse the traffic data of the entire population for several years ( Blunkett's proposals amount to blanket 'dataveillance' for non-terrorist investigations, using the the tragic events of Sep 11 as justification.

Providers of e-commerce authentication services could be affected as well as ISPs and telcos. Anyone offering "provision of access to, and of facilities for making use of...the transmission of communications" [RIP S.22(4) & S.1 defs] could face extra costs of providing suitable storage devices and media, and full compliance with data protection legislation.

Caspar Bowden, director of Internet think-tank FIPR (Foundation for Information Policy Research) commented:

"Sensitive data revealing what you read, where you are, and who you talk to online could be collected in the name of national security. But Mr.Blunkett intends to allow access to this data for purposes nothing to do with fighting terrorism. Minor crimes, public order and tax offences, attendance at demonstrations, even 'health and safety' will be legitimate reasons to siphon sensitive details of private life into government databases to be retained indefinitely. This would be in flagrant breach of the first and second Data Protection Principles."

Contact for enquiries:

Caspar Bowden Foundation for Information Policy Research +44(0)20 7354 2333

Notes for editors -----------------

1. The Foundation for Information Policy Research (, is a non-profit think-tank for Internet policy, governed by an independent Board of Trustees with an Advisory Council of experts.

2. FIPR's analysis of the RIP Act ( stimulated media debate, and led to amendments ensuring that people who lose decryption keys or forget passwords are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and prohibiting detailed surveillance of web browsing without a full warrant.

3. Home Office Press Release 15/10/2001: "BLUNKETT OUTLINES FURTHER ANTI-TERRORIST MEASURES" ( 006819dc/2a5fc6811dec4c7180256ae6004fa4d3?OpenDocument)

3. The Telecommunications Data Protection Directive 1996, implemented in UK law as SI 2093 (1999). The Office of the Information Commissioner (contact Iain Bourne) has stated that ISP blanket (i.e. for all subscribers) logging and retention of online Internet activity is prohibited. Logging of telephone numbers is permitted whilst relevant for billing or fraud control.

4. Section 32. of SI 2093 allows a certificate signed by a Minister of the Crown to over-ride the prohibition on blanket data retention for National Security purposes (

5. Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, Part.1 Chapter.2, Section 22 ( This Part is not yet in force and the relevant Code of Practice is open for consultation until November 2nd (

6. Data Protection Act 1998, Schedule 1, (
posted by Irdial , 9:26 PM Þ 

"In the week after the September 11 onslaught, the German avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, 73, was forced to apologise after describing the terrorists' actions as "the greatest work of art one can imagine". Four of his concerts were cancelled in the furore after his remarks."
posted by Irdial , 10:24 AM Þ 
Monday, October 15, 2001

Google image search is amazing. If you have an unhealthy interest in old computers as I have it's a must - search for "z88" and see what I mean (or maybe miss the point if you're not quite as deranged as me).
posted by captain davros , 11:11 PM Þ 

How do you lick the envelopes?
posted by captain davros , 11:08 PM Þ 

What if 100 people sent out 1000 dusted envelopes each?
posted by Irdial , 10:13 PM Þ 

Doesn't it say where she's from? Hm. Google found me a Natalie de Clermont ... But she died in '79. Damn you, get a homepage so we can return your card!@# =P

If that S 044 205 563 491 is her social security number, and she is American, she's most likely from Connecticut (that's the prefix, 044, see this site).

I tried looking her up on Highschool Alumni's Connecticut thing, but it would take ages, since there are some 100 highschools in connecticut and their search facilities suck.

According to InfoUSA, there live 26 people in CT named Clermont, none of them with the first name Natalie (but then again, if she lives at home or isn't listed, that brings us nowhere). Yahoo! People returned 13 results, still no Natalie. SearchBug: 17, still no go.

I give up. Anyone else want to try?
posted by Mikkel , 9:25 PM Þ 

Check it out: scrollbar on the left

No scrollbar not on the left, but this is the station with direct line to ObL
posted by Irdial , 4:36 PM Þ 

Lost & Fround Part 2: Found in a London street
posted by Irdial , 3:58 PM Þ 

re: WGET - This is because wget obeys robots.txt which was set to exclude all robots (to keep out search engines. I've changed it now so it should allow wget in. You might need need to use --user-agent=Wget if it still doesn't work.

Other news: broadcast a lot of the moster music series over the weekend on Radio 4A - Brighton pirate, as well as doing two shows of my own. Not that I remembered to tell anyone here. I'm looking for collaborators for a game of radio consequences for the next broadcast if anyones interested.

And now in all its cheapskate and geeky glory is my computer history.

1978? - saw my first computer, actually a keyboard and teletype printer connected via some incredibly sloow line to a main frame (and thence to another somewhere across the atlantic). Played star wars.

1978-80 - marginally involved in building various pre ZX81 homebrew boxes/kits -0 one of which came in a plywood case with a homemade keyboard arranged in alphabetical order because the owners couldn't type

1981? -TI-99A -uugh

1994/5 - got my first Unix account (and net access)- love at first sight! Actually preceded by a couple of months on an ancient VAX machine runnig openVMS.

1998 - given 386 with 4Mb of RAM - still running strong and in regular use today, it was actually in use as an intanet server running apache for a while. Teamed up with a 10" black and white monitor from a car boot sale - eventually replaced by a 16 colour grey scale monitor from a skip. Also set up my first production linux server for a cheap net access project that was employing me at the time.

2000 - 486 w/ 20Mb. Originally a donation to the net access project which was largely jerry-built out of bits of cheap and donated kit (including tyhe infamous giant bag o' random network cards that was the bane of my life for 6 months) but deemed too crap even for this. Needless to say this was a giant trechnological leap forward for me - still not powerful enough to run X-windows but then I've always had a bad case of terminal nostalgia.

2001 - finally moved into the world of colour when I found an SVGA monitor in the skip, and I 've even been vaguely promised a pentium machine. I also have root on 6 linux boxes and 3 sun boxes that don't belong to me so I'm very happy.

posted by paul , 12:27 PM Þ 

yo! just saw stockhausen - amazing... on my palm pilot again, waiting for afx to finish... been reading a mag called mute check it out!
posted by alex_tea , 12:05 AM Þ 

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