Universal punchcard-based Turing machine implemented in Powerpoint animations

Tom Wildenhain developed a Turing-complete punchcard-driven universal machine that is embodied entirely in Powerpoint Animations and can execute any arbitrary code (albeit very slowly) and presented it at CMU's SIGBOVIK 2017 conference to great hilarity. Read the rest

Independent repair guy on the planned obsolescence of Apple products

Louis Rossmann is an independent service technician in New York City who has repaired Apple products for years. Read the rest

Human rights coalition from the global south to W3C: don't put DRM in web standards!

The Just Net Coalition -- whose membership roll includes leading human rights organisations from across the global south -- have written urgently to the World Wide Web Coalition and its founder, Tim Berners-Lee, calling on him to intervene to stop the Consortium from publishing its first-ever DRM standard, a system for restricting video streams called Encrypted Media Extensions. Read the rest

The Internet of Things will host devastating, unstoppable botnets

Bruce Schneier takes to the pages of Technology Review to remind us all that while botnets have been around for a long time, the Internet of Things is supercharging them, thanks to insecurity by design. Read the rest

Britons! Ask the W3C to protect disabled access, security research, archiving and innovation from DRM

With two days to go until the close of the World Wide Web Consortium members' poll on finalising DRM and publishing it as an official web standard, the UK Open Rights Group is asking Britons to write to the Consortium and its founder, Tim Berners-Lee, to advocate for a much-needed, modest compromise that would protect the open web from the world's bizarre, awful, overreaching DRM laws. Read the rest

More on the desperate farmers jailbreaking their tractors' DRM to bring in the harvest

John Deere says that farmers don't really own their tractors -- even the ones they buy used! -- because the copyrighted software necessary to run those tractors is licensed, not sold. Read the rest

Portuguese proposal to legalize breaking DRM passes Parliament

The amazing advocacy of the DRM-PT movement has resulted in the country's Parliament passing a bill that legalizes breaking DRM to accomplish lawful ends, such as exercising the private copying right, or making uses of public domain works or works produced at public expense. Read the rest

Unesco warns the World Wide Web Consortium that DRM is incompatible with free expression

Unesco's Frank La Rue has published a letter to Tim Berners-Lee, Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, warning him of the grave free-speech consequences of making DRM for the web without ensuring that lawful activity that requires bypassing it is also protected. Read the rest

How Netflix is driving permanent, terrible, standards-defined insecurity for billions of browser users

The New Scientist has published a good piece on Encrypted Media Extensions (previously), the World Wide Web Consortium's proposed standard for adding DRM to video streams; they're creating their first-ever standard that is encompassed by laws protecting DRM (such as the DMCA), and in so doing, they're creating new liability for security researchers, who'll face unprecedented criminal and civil liability just for reporting defects in browsers. Read the rest

With two weeks until the final vote, the Free Software Foundation wants you to call the W3C and say no to DRM

There's only two weeks left until members of the World Wide Web Consortium vote on whether the web's premier open standards organization will add DRM to the toolkit available to web developers, without effecting any protections for people who discover security vulnerabilities that affect billions of web users, let alone people who adapt web tools for those with disabilities and people who create legitimate, innovative new technologies to improve web video. Read the rest

Farmers in Canada are also reduced to secretly fixing their tractors, thanks to DRM

In 2011, the Canadian Conservative government rammed through Bill C-11, Canada's answer to the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, in which the property rights of Canadians were gutted in order to ensure that corporations could use DRM to control how they used their property -- like its US cousin, the Canadian law banned breaking DRM, even for legitimate purposes, like effecting repairs or using third party parts. Read the rest

Longstanding, unpatched Bluetooth vulnerability lets burglars shut down Google security cameras

A security researcher has published a vulnerability and proof-of-concept exploits in Google's Internet of Things security cameras, marketed as Nest Dropcam, Nest Dropcam Pro, Nest Cam Outdoor and Nest Cam Indoor; these vulnerabilities were disclosed to Google last fall, but Google/Nest have not patched them despite the gravity of the vulnerability and the long months since the disclosure. Read the rest

UC Berkeley nuked 20,000 Creative Commons lectures, but they're not going away

A ruling about a DC university held that posting course videos to the open web without subtitling them violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (while keeping them private to students did not) (I know: weird), and this prompted UC Berkeley to announce the impending removal of 20,000 open courseware videos from Youtube. Read the rest

Smart meters can overbill by 582%

A team from the University of Twente and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences have published a paper demonstrating gross overbillings by smart energy meters, ranging from -32% to +582% of actual power consumption. Read the rest

Testing products for data privacy and security

It’s an exciting and treacherous time to be a consumer. The benefits of new digital products and services are well documented, but the new risks they introduce are not. Basic security precautions are ignored to hasten time to market. Biased algorithms govern access to fair pricing. And four of the five most valuable companies in the world earn their revenue through products that mine vast quantities of consumer data, creating an unprecedented concentration of corporate power. A recent survey at Consumer Reports showed that 65% of Americans lack confidence their data is private or secure, with most consumers feeling powerless to do anything about it.

Landmark ruling shows Canada has one of the world's worst DRM laws

When the Canadian Parliament passed Bill C-11 -- Canada's answer to America's notorious Digital Millennium Copyright Act -- it was in the teeth of fierce opposition from scholars, activists and technologists, who said that making it a crime to modify your own property so you could do something legal (that the manufacturer disapproved of) had been proven to be a terrible idea in practice in the USA, and that Canada should learn from its neighbour's mistake. Read the rest

We are one RFID away from a dishwasher that rejects third-party dishes on pain of a 5-year prison sentence

Two years ago, I wrote If dishwashers were iPhones, a column in the Guardian that took the form of an open letter from the CEO of a dishwasher company that had deployed DRM to make sure you only used dishes it sold you in "their" dishwashers. Read the rest

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