March 09, 2002

Intel's got a lot of integrity. It was the only company that spoke up at the SSSCA hearings that went on all last week on Capitol Hill.

Consumer representatives weren't invited to Senator Hollings' little get together. Luckily, Leslie Vadasz, one of Intel's founders, delivered an elegant statement on our behalf, and followed it up with a follow-up letter to Hollings.

The EFF has put together a little letter we can all send to Intel to show our support. I'm on my way out the door to SXSW (Lawrence Lessig is speaking about the Creative Commons at 3pm today), but I'll be sending one out this weekend.

Check out the latest EFFector:
ALERT: Oppose SSSCA; Support Intel's Bravery A Bad Law and a Sneaky Process .

Has the Bush Administration forgotten that using Nuclear Weapons in any capacity will kill everything else on the planet within in a few years after they've initially wiped out the enemy?

What part of "kill everything else on the planet" do they not understand? Hey guys. That's us! Us too! Us too! Get it? We all die. Every one of us, and the animals...and the plants....the whole she-bang! Get it now?

Take a look at:
Secret Plan Outlines the Unthinkable
--A secret policy review of the nation’s nuclear policy puts forth chilling new contingencies for nuclear war,
By William M. Arkin for the L.A. Times.

Like all such documents since the dawning of the Atomic Age more than a half-century ago, this NPR offers a chilling glimpse into the world of nuclear-war planners: With a Strangelovian genius, they cover every conceivable circumstance in which a president might wish to use nuclear weapons--planning in great detail for a war they hope never to wage.

In this top-secret domain, there has always been an inconsistency between America's diplomatic objectives of reducing nuclear arsenals and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, on the one hand, and the military imperative to prepare for the unthinkable, on the other.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration plan reverses an almost two-decade-long trend of relegating nuclear weapons to the category of weapons of last resort. It also redefines nuclear requirements in hurried post-Sept. 11 terms.

In these and other ways, the still-secret document offers insights into the evolving views of nuclear strategists in Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's Defense Department.

While downgrading the threat from Russia and publicly emphasizing their commitment to reducing the number of long-range nuclear weapons, Defense Department strategists promote tactical and so-called "adaptive" nuclear capabilities to deal with contingencies where large nuclear arsenals are not demanded.

They seek a host of new weapons and support systems, including conventional military and cyber warfare capabilities integrated with nuclear warfare. The end product is a now-familiar post-Afghanistan model--with nuclear capability added. It combines precision weapons, long-range strikes, and special and covert operations.

But the NPR's call for development of new nuclear weapons that reduce "collateral damage" myopically ignores the political, moral and military implications--short-term and long--of crossing the nuclear threshold.

Under what circumstances might nuclear weapons be used under the new posture? The NPR says they "could be employed against targets able to withstand nonnuclear attack," or in retaliation for the use of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, or "in the event of surprising military developments."

Planning nuclear-strike capabilities, it says, involves the recognition of "immediate, potential or unexpected" contingencies. North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya are named as "countries that could be involved" in all three kinds of threat. "All have long-standing hostility towards the United States and its security partners. All sponsor or harbor terrorists, and have active WMD [weapons of mass destruction] and missile programs."

China, because of its nuclear forces and "developing strategic objectives," is listed as "a country that could be involved in an immediate or potential contingency." Specifically, the NPR lists a military confrontation over the status of Taiwan as one of the scenarios that could lead Washington to use nuclear weapons.

Other listed scenarios for nuclear conflict are a North Korean attack on South Korea and an Iraqi assault on Israel or its neighbors.

The second important insight the NPR offers into Pentagon thinking about nuclear policy is the extent to which the Bush administration's strategic planners were shaken by last September's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Though Congress directed the new administration "to conduct a comprehensive review of U.S. nuclear forces" before the events of Sept. 11, the final study is striking for its single-minded reaction to those tragedies.

March 08, 2002

GREAT editorial by Eric Hellweg for Business 2.0 on the SSSCA:
Memo to the Record Companies: Downloading Can't Be Stopped
--The recording industry is feeling the heat after years of technophobia and abusive behavior toward consumers. Can it muster the strength to try something new?

To make matters worse, the industry is turning to Washington for a bailout. Most absurd among its proposals to Congress is the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA), sponsored by Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), which would force computer equipment companies to install government-sanctioned copy protection on all hardware and consumer electronics devices. Does Hollings really believe consumers will let the government decide what kind of hardware goes into their PCs and iPods? Such a move would, as Intel (INTC) executive vice president Leslie Vadasz said during a preliminary hearing on the matter, "substantially retard innovation, investment in new technologies, and ... reduce the usefulness of our products to consumers."

Instead of trying to rewrite copyright law, the labels should instead brush up on the laws of supply and demand.

Now there's a new website that streams hearings from Capitol Hill:
Capitol Hearings.org (a service of C-SPAN).

(Friendly Fascism Alert :-):
This chilling editorial by Nat Hentoff for the Village Voice provides some enlightening information about the absurdity of the provisions of the USA Patriot Act which enable law enforcement and government agencies to force libraries and bookstores to hand over their records and furthermore does not allow them to talk about it publicly.
Big John Wants Your Reading List.

This is now the law, and as I wrote last week, the FBI, armed with a warrant or subpoena from the FISA court, can demand from bookstores and libraries the names of books bought or borrowed by anyone suspected of involvement in "international terrorism" or "clandestine activities."

Once that information is requested by the FBI, a gag order is automatically imposed, prohibiting the bookstore owners or librarians from disclosing to any other person the fact that they have received an order to produce documents.

You can't call a newspaper or a radio or television station or your representatives in Congress. You can call a lawyer, but since you didn't have any advance warning that the judge was issuing the order, your attorney can't have objected to it in court. He or she will be hearing about it for the first time from you...

...As I often do when Americans' freedom to read is imperiled, I called Judith Krug, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association. I've covered, as a reporter, many cases of library censorship, and almost invariably, the beleaguered librarians have already been on the phone to Judy Krug. She is the very incarnation of the author of the First Amendment, James Madison.

When some librarians—because of community pressure or their own political views, right or left—have wanted to keep books or other material from readers, Judy has fought them. She is also the leading opponent of any attempt to curb the use of the Internet in public libraries.

As she has often said, "How can anyone involved with libraries stand up and say, 'We are going to solve problems by withholding information'?"

I called to talk with her about the FBI's new power to force libraries to disclose the titles of books that certain people are reading—and she, of course, knew all about this part of the USA Patriot Act. And the rest of it, for that matter.

She told me how any library can ask for help—without breaking the gag order and revealing a FISA visit from the FBI. The librarian can simply call her at the American Library Association in Chicago and say, "I need to talk to a lawyer," and Judy will tell her or him how to contact a First Amendment attorney...

George Orwell said: "If large numbers of people believe in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech even if the law forbids it. But if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them."

Today, the public doesn't even know about this provision in the strangely titled USA Patriot Act. A lot of people are still afraid to get on a plane. Is Ashcroft fearful that if people find out about his interest in what they're reading, they'll be afraid to go to libraries and bookstores—and will start asking questions about what the hell he thinks he's doing? And where is Congress?

March 05, 2002

Today's a voting day in my state (California). Is it in your state? Then GO OUT AND VOTE! :-)

I still have to figure out what's up for grabs this time around in the election. The only thing I know for sure is that I'm voting for Barbara Lee.

Remember Barbara Lee? She was the one dissenting vote against the USA Act.

415-554-4411 is the number to call in San Francisco to find out the location of your polling station.

March 04, 2002

Major Security and Privacy Issues on the Morpheus Network

The Morpheus network underwent two serious attacks last week. Users have only recently been allowed to reconnect to the network using the new Morpheus Preview Edition.

The explanation below is made up of excerpts from the statement published on the MusicCity website from Steve Griffin, the StreamCast/Morpheus CEO:

This week MusicCity and Morpheus users suffered dual attacks. First, early this week MusicCity's servers were hit by a massive Denial of Service attack. Soon thereafter, Morpheus users found that a separate attack had been launched on their computers and their Morpheus software programs.

It appears that the attacks included an encrypted message being repeatedly sent directly to your computers that changed registry settings in your computer. Later, it appears our ad servers were attacked resulting in messages being sent to other sites without our knowledge, which threatened our most basic revenue model. We believe some of these attacks continue as Morpheus users attempt to connect to the old Morpheus User Network. This was why it is important to quickly deploy our new software product...

...These attacks have forced us to more quickly deploy our new software product in order to allow you to bring the largest p2p community back together. Since it appears that the attack on your computers came from the closed proprietary FastTrack-Kazaa software, we have opted not to continue with this p2p kernel. We believe it to have the ability to access your computer at will and change registry settings. In addition, we remain committed to NOT bundling any spy ware with our product.

We are pleased to migrate to an open Protocol product with the release of Morpheus Preview Edition, which is based on the very large network of Gnutella users...Since our company and your p2p network are being attacked, we would appreciate your constructive comments for improvement, not simply criticisms. With you help and input, we will continue to provide the pre-eminent p2p software product in the world.

Lastly, we want to address some of the misinformation we've seen recently. There have been many comments that we caused these problems intentionally. Let me assure you that we would NEVER treat the Morpheus users in this fashion...

But WAIT, there's MORE (also from the Morpheus website):

BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU CLICK A recent press statement announced that KAZAA/Sharman Networks has a new program that allows you to re-connect to the Kazaa/FastTrack Network. This new program is NOT endorsed by MusicCity and will NOT allow you to connect to the Morpheus/Gnutella P2P network. We find it interesting that someone sent a message to your computer earlier this week which prevented your Morpheus Software product from joining the network and now a new software installer suggests that it allows you to re-connect.

Meanwhile, according to LimeWire, unique users have reached an all time high that was most likely caused by all of the Morpheus network's part-time users briefly connecting to the network in the course of installing the new software.

March 03, 2002

Looks like Microsoft broke a pretty serious promise it first made in March of 1999: to remove the function from Office 2000 that uniquely identifies every file.

In a letter from Yusuf Mehdi, Director of Windows Marketing at Microsoft, he promises that:

"The forthcoming release of Office 2000 will not include the ability to insert unique identifier in documents."

Unfortunately the Office 97 Unique Identifier Patch and Office 97 Unique Identifier Removal Tool. are no longer available. But thanks to Brewster Khale's Wayback Machine, I can get a complete index of snapshots from when it existed since 1999.

Using the wayback machine, I was able to locate the last released version of the Office 97 Unique Identifier Patch. An updated version for Office 2000 doesn't seem to ever have been made available. I'm not sure if the Office 97 patch works with later versions of Office (or even if this patch works, for that matter, because I haven't tested it -- just linking to it FYI :-)

For more information, check out:

Microsoft Office 97 and 2000 Have A Dirty Little Secret

Windows 98 Knows Who You Are

Microsoft Attaches an ID to all Office Documents!