How to break the internet: Put judges in charge of the technology

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imageSoftware can’t be programmed by committee and technology doesn’t work when law makers and judges make programming decisions that they’re utterly under qualified to make.

 

 

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Program logic works as a package deal.  It’s part of a larger picture… a larger plan.  You can’t have people that don’t understand the technology making technological and micro decisions, like judges dictating that some software must do X or must do X in a specific way, or that search engines must “know” not the serve results that might offend.

Take this latest example of a judge in Germany ruling that YouTube is responsible for everything its users upload and is dictating to YouTube that they must apply a certain type of filter that the judge came up with.  Here’s the ZDNet story about it:

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You (judges) can’t make these dictates because you don’t understand:

  1. The feasibility.
  2. The development cost.
  3. The performance cost.
  4. The effectiveness of it.
  5. Whether it’s even possible.

Non technological people tend to understand technology through the eyes of fictional Hollywood productions.  They tend to think that computers and software are decades or even centuries more advanced than they really are.  imageFrom CSI’s fictional holodeck like morgue to Criminal Minds’ Garcia performing cross join queries across disconnected datasets from different sources as fast as her boss asks for it, while he’s still asking (sometimes before he asks), which, in reality, would take days or weeks to research if the database exists, where it’s housed, who owns it, gaining permission to access it, learning their technology to get a feed of it, writing code to import it into your local database so that you can then write a query against it, which might take minutes to execute (after your weeks of research and development to get to that point), depending on how complex it is.

imageIt’s not just judges, but lawmakers too.  You can’t just insert any gear you want into the middle of a complex machine and expect it to just work.  These technologies are very carefully thought out an rigorously tested by very experienced and knowledgeable people who’ve been doing it every day of their lives for years or decades.

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Understanding the Android App Store: ArsTechnica.com doesn’t understand it nor risk vs freedom

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imageIn this story on ArsTechnica.com, I find it funny, annoying, and pointless that people point out that there are some malware apps in the Google Android app store. The Google app store (now called “Google Play”) is nothing more than a consolidated place for apps that would otherwise be available on the creator’s on web sites. But, unlike the web, Google can and does take down apps that are proven to be malicious. Just like on Windows, it’s the user’s responsibility to not download junk from sources they don’t trust and to use common sense. It’s the difference between freedom on an open system vs. a closed system. With freedom, there are risks. With a walled garden, there are fewer risks (not zero), but much less freedom. Each has its own merits and no one can be blamed for which they choose. I personally choose freedom. I’m a big boy and I’m educated and can manage my own risks. But that’s just me.

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See also:  Understanding what Android actually IS

Take this quote from the ArsTechnica.com story:

“The apps, which were reported here by McAfee researcher Carlos Castillo, masqueraded as video players offering trailers of Android games and anime content. In the background and without warning, they also obtained the phone number and a unique identifier of the infected device and sent the information in clear text to a remote server under the control of the software developers”

Whenever you install an Android app, you’re given a list of the phone’s data and features the app is requesting access to from the OS. So, I call bull sh!t on “and without warning”. If you’re downloading a video player and the app store says it asks for access to your contacts, you simply refuse to let the app be installed. I have refused the installation of several apps based on this simple logic — apps whose function has nothing to do with what it’s requesting access to. Simple. BTW, the “unique identifier” is normal for all apps that have ads to support them. Not much different than a web site getting your IP address or a Windows/Mac/Linux desktop app that sends your MAC address and/or other hardware IDs, but unlike Windows/Mac/Linux desktop apps, Android apps can’t be installed without you being told, point blank and openly, what they’re requesting access to from the OS.

Pointing out that there are malicious Android apps is no more relevant than pointing out there are malicious Windows apps or malicious Mac apps or malicious Linux desktop apps. Yep. We know that. That’s the price of freedom — risk. And, for people that “don’t know any better”… I call BS on that too since the app store shows you what any Android app you’re about to install is requesting access to. It’s usually a very small list and takes only seconds to see and decide. I have no pity for morons that blindly click “Allow” and neither should you. If you’re intelligent enough to read and install an app, you’re smart enough to decide if a video player should have access to your contacts.  Hint:  The answer is “NO!”

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Poll: What do you do for privacy concerning your webcam(s)?

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Considering that there are various types of spyware floating around that literally spy on you using your own webcam, do you take any precautions to protect your privacy?

Do you cover up or disconnect your webcam on your PC/mobile to protect your privacy just in case some spyware found its way onto your machine to send images of you back to the hacker(s)?

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