Death by DMCA

There is a long, well written (but really long) article on the IEEE spectrum site that discusses the DMCA and how many consumer products were put to death by the legislation.

Internet records = Phone records?

Should ISPs be mandated to keep internet records of their customers? It is a question that I’ve debated with others for a while now without any real resolutions. Phone companies, I believe, are required to keep records of their customers for 3 years. It does make sense on occasion, if the information is required for a criminal investigation. The issues with doing something similar for internet records are three-fold, as I see it:

  1. The hard disk space/processing power required to keep such records are much more intensive than for a phone company. ISPs don’t want to have to invest in such technologies.
  2. People are used to a free (not as in beer) and somewhat anonymous internet. It will take an entire generation of users to come and go before such legislations will be accepted.
  3. The potential for misuse of a persons web-surfing habits is much higher than with a persons phone record. If keeping reocords is mandated, then there need to be strict safeguards against its misuse.

Internet crime is on the rise and as more of the worlds economy and infrastructure moves online, so will crime. While some form of record keeping is necessary and perhaps inevitable, such a legislation needs to be carefully considered before it is implemented. The New York Times has an article that reports that the US is asking companies to now do this.

The article is reproduced below with all credit going to the author and the NY Times.

U.S. Wants Companies to Keep Web Usage Records

The Justice Department is asking Internet companies to keep records on the Web-surfing activities of their customers to aid law enforcement, and may propose legislation to force them to do so.

The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales held a meeting in Washington last Friday where they offered a general proposal on record-keeping to a group of senior executives from Internet companies, said Brian Roehrkasse, a spokesman for the department. The meeting included representatives from America Online, Microsoft, Google, Verizon and Comcast.

The attorney general has appointed a task force of department officials to explore the issue, and that group is holding another meeting with a broader group of Internet executives today, Mr. Roehrkasse said. The department also met yesterday with a group of privacy experts.

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Cyber-Terrorism – Reality or Bust?

Scott Borg, the director of the US Cyber Consequences Unit (CCU), a Department of Homeland Security advisory group claims that cyber-terrorism is the new 9/11. In an article in The Independant, he talks of all kinds of scenarios, some plausible, others downright silly, in my humble opinion. Anyway, this is the article, all credits go to them:


According to cyber-security experts, the terror attacks of 11 September and 7 July could be seen as mere staging posts compared to the havoc and devastation that might be unleashed if terrorists turn their focus from the physical to the digital world.

Scott Borg, the director and chief economist of the US Cyber Consequences Unit (CCU), a Department of Homeland Security advisory group, believes that attacks on computer networks are poised to escalate to full-scale disasters that could bring down companies and kill people. He warns that intelligence “chatter” increasingly points to possible criminal or terrorist plans to destroy physical infrastructure, such as power grids. Al-Qa’ida, he stresses, is becoming capable of carrying out such attacks.

Most companies and organisations seem oblivious to the threat. Usually, they worry about e-mail viruses and low-grade hacker attacks. But Borg sees these as the least of their worries. “Up to now, executives and network professionals have worried about what adolescents and petty criminals have been doing,” he says. “In most cases, these kinds of cyber attacks aren’t very destructive. The reason is that businesses generally have enough inventory and extra capacity to make up for any short-term interruptions.”

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Getting Some Focus

So I’ve been, for a while, trying to find some focus for this blog – some direction, some specific topic that I would concentrate on. But it would have to be something I was passionate about. But it also had to be something in which my passion would grow. Things that I am passionate about already (tech, cricket, etc.) are all pretty much saturated, in terms of blogs out there, and in terms of the potential for me to vastly increase my knowledge base. It suddenly hit me some time ago -> Intellectual Property in the Digital Age and Computer Related Crimes.

Why this? There are a few reasons. IP is something I’ve always followed, since I’m a big music fan. The effects of DRM on music sales, etc, is something I know a fair bit about and I have strong opinions on. My girlfriend, Revathi, is interested in IP Law and some of her enthusiasm has rubbed of on me. Look for her blog. Finally, and probably the most influential reason is that in the last 2 terms I’ve taken 3 classes that relate to this topic. Sex, Crime and Violence on the Internet, Intro to Computer Crime, and Intellectual Property Theft, all taught by Dr. D’Ovidio have been fantastic for me. They’ve been interesting, the topics are close to my heart, and it has opened up a whole new field that I had no idea I was this keenly interested in.

So from now on, apart from the usual rambles, cricket rants and random rubbish, Intellectual Property in the Digital Age and Computer Related Crimes will be the focus of this blog.