My latest Guardian column, The FBI wants a backdoor only it can use – but wanting it doesn’t make it possible, draws a connection between vaccine denial, climate denial, and the demand for backdoors in secure systems, as well as the call for technologies that prevent copyright infringement, like DRM.
The thing all these issues share is that the relevant scientific communities view them as settled questions: vaccines don't cause autism, humans are warming the world, you can't make a copy-proof bit, and you can't make a backdoor that only good guys can fit through.
But in policy circles, each of these is still viewed as controversial, though the backers of the controversy have different motives and power relationships. My column examines two interventions that have made a difference in climate and vaccine denial, and asks what we might do about mathematical denial.
Computers only ever work by making copies: restricting copying on the internet is like restricting wetness in water. Nevertheless, big corporations with hawk-eyed activist investors get away with buying “digital rights management” technologies that purport to prevent unauthorized copying.
Cryptographers (who don’t work for DRM companies) think this is ridiculous, the alternative medicine of computer science. But just as the NHS funds homeopathic “medicine” in public hospitals, legislatures continue to treat digital locks as going concerns, because orthodoxy and political expedience demands it. The entertainment industry is a powerful adversary, the security services are more powerful still.
It’s tempting to play along with them here, offer them more magic beans in the form of backdoors that we pretend only the good guys can fit through, or in the form of purportedly copy-proof bits, but the stakes are awfully high, and climbing steadily.
The FBI wants a backdoor only it can use – but wanting it doesn’t make it possible
[Cory Doctorow/The Guardian]
Steven Boyett writes, “Humble Bundle has released a unicorn-themed Bundle, with proceeds to benefit the World Wide Fund for Nature and Fauna & Flora International. For as little as $1.00, you can get Ariel, by Steven R. Boyett (full disclosure: that’s me); Unicorn Mountain, by Michael Bishop; Homeward Bound, by Bruce Coville; and Unicorn Triangle, […]
Brewster Kahle, who invented the first two search engines and went on to found and run the Internet Archive has published an open letter describing the problems that the W3C’s move to standardize DRM for the web without protecting otherwise legal acts, like archiving, will hurt the open web.
Timothy from Creative Commons writes, “The purpose of copyright is to empower — not frustrate! — creativity and knowledge production. Nowhere is a balanced copyright more important than in education. But 15-year-old EU copyright laws don’t take into account modern digital and online teaching methods, tools, and resources.”
Yeah, Bluetooth audio is pretty common these days, so why should you care about these earbuds? Look how happy that woman up above looks. She’s got FRESHeBUDS in. Boom. There’s your reason. She’s also at the beach and it appears to be a very nice day.But for the sake of promotion, wireless earbuds are fast becoming the […]
“Gets stuff done,” is a good way to be described by anybody. Especially by coworkers or bosses. Because whether you’re in finance or a children’s librarian, stuff needs to get done. But how do you make sure stuff gets done? You definitely can’t do all the stuff yourself, unless your company/organization/government office consists entirely of you. And […]
Even the most expensive pair of hi-fi headphones can’t match the feeling of bass rumbling through your body at a live show. That’s why music aficionados designed The Basslet, an accessory that reproduces that sensation from your wrist. Does it make your whole body shake with deep subs? Not really, because that would be terrifying, but […]