Ed Felten pwns FTC

The glorious Ed Felten, Princeton professor and RIAA taunter extraordinaire–"Your DRM smells of elderberries, ha!"–has been appointed the Federal Trade Commission's first Chief Technologist. He will advise the agency on emerging tech issues and policy. Felten currently directs Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy, and has educated decades' worth of students about how to examine off-limit topics in security for the benefit of us all, such as electronic voting booths and DMCA-protected encryption systems. — Read the rest

Ed Felten: a redesigned "safe" Internet won't be safe

Responding to a New York Times article on a Stanford research project that proposes a new Internet with no anonymity and limits on which software you can run (a "safer" Internet), Princeton's Ed Felten explains two gross misconceptions in the piece:

First is the notion that today's security problems are caused by weaknesses in the network itself.

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Ed Felten explains the AACS revolt

Ed Felten has a great rumination on the AACS key debacle in which a copy-prevention software vendor is threatening to sue hundreds of websites for publishing a 16-byte number; Felten points out that it's not just censorship that's upsetting the Internet — it's the absurdity of claiming to own a number:

While it's obvious why the creator of a movie or a song might deserve some special claim over the use of their creation, it's hard to see why anyone should be able to pick a number at random and unilaterally declare ownership of it.

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Ed Felten's lecture: "Rip, Mix, Burn, Sue" — UPDATED

Ed Felten, the legendary engineer who led the team that broke the music industry's watermarking scheme and whom the music industry threatened with legal action if he presented his findings at a technical conference, has given an amazing lecture on copyright and technology as part of the Princeton President's Lecture series, called "Rip, Mix, Burn, Sue: Technology, Politics, and the Fight to Control Digital Media." — Read the rest

Ed Felten's radical technology agenda

Great article about Ed Felten's political awakening and the work that the Comp Sci professor has done to turn lawmakers on to the dangers of allowing entertainment companies to call the shots in the technology world.

In September, in written testimony before a House of Representatives hearing, Mr.

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Ed Felten, spam-vigilante martyr

Ed "Tinkerer" Felten sent out a notice of his new blog to a mailing-list and got fingered as a spammer with the Lord-of-the-Flies crew at SpamCop, who blackballed his email address with no appeal, and as a consequence, his ISP shut down his account — it was that or have their mail-relays on everyone's blacklist. — Read the rest

A curiously incomplete history of the early years of DRM

Ernie Smith's Motherboard article on the early years of DRM gets into some fascinating stories about things like IBM's Cryptolope and Xerox PARC's Contentguard (which became a patent troll), Intertrust's belief that it is "developing the basis for a civil society in cyberspace" and the DeCSS fight.

The 2016 elections taught us to watch for attacks that undermine the legitimacy of elections

Princeton computer scientist and former White House Deputy CTO Ed Felten (previously) writes about the security lessons of the 2016 election: first, that other nation-states are more aggressive than generally supposed, and second, that you don't need to hack the vote-totals to effect devastation on an adversary — it's sufficient to undermine the election's legitimacy by messing with voter rolls, "so there is uncertainty about whether the correct people were allowed to vote."

A taxonomy of algorithmic accountability

Eminent computer scientist Ed Felten has posted a short, extremely useful taxonomy of four ways that an algorithm can fail to be accountable to the people whose lives it affects: it can be protected by claims of confidentiality ("how it works is a trade secret"); by complexity ("you wouldn't understand how it works"); unreasonableness ("we consider factors supported by data, even when you there's no obvious correlation"); and injustice ("it seems impossible to explain how the algorithm is consistent with law or ethics").

If the 2016 election is hacked, it's because no one listened to these people

Ever since the Supreme Court ordered the nation's voting authorities to get their act together in 2002 in the wake of Bush v Gore, tech companies have been flogging touchscreen voting machines to willing buyers across the country, while a cadre computer scientists trained in Ed Felten's labs at Princeton have shown again and again and again and again that these machines are absolutely unfit for purpose, are trivial to hack, and endanger the US election system.

Did the FBI pay Carnegie Mellon $1 million to identify and attack Tor users?

Documents published by Vice News: Motherboard and further reporting by Wired News suggest that a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University who canceled their scheduled 2015 BlackHat talk identified Tor hidden servers and visitors, and turned that data over to the FBI. — Read the rest