Leaked NSC Memo on Encryption – Is It All Just Kabuki?

Background: The leaked NSC Draft Options Paper – at The Washington Post

News Story: Obama Faces Growing Momentum to Support Widespread Encryption – The Washington Post

Skepticism: Obama Edges Toward Full Support for Encryption – But Does He Understand What that Means? – Kieren McCarthy at The Register:

“By voluntary cooperation [in the absence of compulsion], what is the White House saying? That the encryption is secure and backdoor-free until a company cooperates with the Feds, at which point the encryption is somehow dialed back, and messages and files can be suddenly magically read? That sounds like a backdoor. Does the White House want, say, Apple to volunteer, at the sight of a warrant, to intercept key exchanges in the cloud so that intercepted iMessages can be decrypted? Won’t that undermine the whole practice of end-to-end encryption by introducing backdoors by another name? Either encryption is secure and backdoor-free, or it isn’t and is generally useless. We assume by ‘voluntary cooperation,’ the President is willing to be told to get lost by the tech giants in November – if they have the strength to do so. If not, then all of this is a sham; a political maneuver to keep privacy-loving nerds quiet. It is very possible that the decision has already been made and outreach is about to begin, leading to the leak of the NSC memo.”


The Revived Encryption Wars Continue (updated)

The Latest (09.15.2015):

The FBI’s Problem Isn’t ‘Going Dark’ – Its Problem is Going Slowly – Marshall Erwin at JustSecurity

Of Course the Government Wants to Read Your Texts – Megan McArdle at BloombergView

Why the Fear over Ubiquitous Data Encryption is Overblown – Mike McConnell, Michael Chertoff and William Lynn op-ed in The Washington Post

Some Additional Background:

A History of Backdoors – Matthew Green at his A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering

Deep Dive into Crypto “Exceptional Access” Mandates: Effective or Constitutional—Pick One – EFF

Can the FBI and IC already Access Apple’s iMessages (and Tor Users)?

iPhones, the FBI, and Going Dark – Nicholas Weaver guest post at LawFare

Let’s Talk about iMessage (again) – Matthew Green at his A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering; Also from Matthew Green: Can Apple read your iMessages?

FBI Director Claims Tor and the ‘Dark Web’ Won’t Let Criminals Hide From His Agents – The Intercept’s Unofficial Sources

  “We can ‘win’ the crypto wars in public, and still lose behind closed doors. If Apple & WhatsApp quietly backdoor their crypto the FBI wins” – Christopher Soghoian (@csoghoian): July 10, 2015


FBI and Apple’s Encryption – Bruce Schneier

Apple and Other Tech Companies Tangle With U.S. Over Data Access – New York Times

Background – 2014-15, the Crypto Wars Return

Keys Under Doormats: Mandating Insecurity by Requiring Government Access to All Data and Communications (pdf; 34 pages) – MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Technical Report (July 6, 2015)

Code Specialists Oppose U.S. and British Government Access to Encrypted Communication – New York Times on the July 6th MIT report

Encryption, Public Safety, and ‘Going Dark’ – FBI Director James Comey writing at LawFare in advance of several Congressional hearings July 8th on encryption and related issues.

Let’s Get Real About Decryption, Says GCHQ Tech Director – ComputerWeekly

It’s Time to End the ‘Debate’ on Encryption Backdoors – Kevin Bankstown at JustSecurity arguing that it is time for FBI head James Comey to admit that he has lost the battle over encryption backdoors

Encryption, Biometrics, and the Status Quo Ante – Paul Rosenzweig at LawFare proposing mandatory biometric encryption, a novel, but problematic proposal in the encryption debate

The Battle Between Washington and Silicon Valley Over Encryption – CSM’s Passcode

James Comey, F.B.I. Director, Hints at Action as Cellphone Data Is Locked – The New York Times, and FBI director Attacks Tech Companies for Embracing New Modes of Encryption; James Comey says Data Encryption Could Deprive Police and Intelligence Agencies of Potentially Live-saving Information – The Guardian

How Do We Build Encryption Backdoors? – Professor Matthew Green (Johns Hopkins) analyzes the problems with building encryption backdoors, including split key approaches, at his A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering blog

You Can’t Backdoor a Platform – Jonathan Mayer at his Web Policy blog

As Encryption Spreads, U.S. Grapple with Clash between Privacy, Security – Ellen Nakashima and Barton Gellman writing in The Washington Post reveal that federal officials are considering a variety of means of ensuring access to encrypted communications, including split key approaches, as well as, in certain circumstances, mirror accounts. Under the split key approach (difficult from an engineering and cryptography standpoint), a technology company creates a decryption key that is split into pieces, with different pieces held by different parties, and all of the pieces are needed for decryption. But even aside from the question of trust in the holders of the key parts, risk of disclosure of the decrypted information and the like, as security expert/researcher, Dino A. Dai Zovi (@dinodaizovi) tweeted: “The big question of the #cryptodebate isn’t whether vendors can make a decryption key for USG, but what happens when other [governments] want it too?”

Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads for Police, even with Search Warrants – The Washington Post

iPhone Encryption and the Return of the Crypto Wars – Bruce Schneier

What NSA Director Mike Rogers Doesn’t Get About Encryption – Julian Sanchez at CATO

What President Obama is getting wrong about encryption – The Washington Post

The FBI Keeps Demanding Impossible Solutions to Its Encryption Problem – MotherBoard/Vice

Background – the 1990’s (and earlier) Crypto Wars

Keeping Secrets: Four Decades Ago, University Researchers Figured out the Key to Computer Privacy, Sparking a Battle with the National Security Agency that Continues Today. – Henry Corrigan-Gibbs (Stanford Magazine)

Encryption and Globalization – a 2011 academic paper (Columbia Science and Technology Law Review, Vol. 23, 2012) by Peter Swire and Kenesa Ahmad, which includes a brief summary of the original 90’s “Crypto Wars”

Crypto Wars – Wikipedia

Hacker Lexicon: What is End-to-End Encryption – Wired


Want to Protect your Phone from the Cops? You Might Want to Use a Passcode, Not a Fingerprint; Virginia Court Rules Using Fingerprint Technology to Protect Your Phone Doesn’t Carry Same Legal Rights as Passcodes – FastCompany


Some Recent Academic Papers of Interest

Constitutional Malware – Jonathan Mayer

Surveillance Duration Doesn’t Affect Privacy Expectations: An Empirical Test of the Mosaic Theory – Lior Strahilevitz and Matthew B. Kugler

Can Americans Resist Surveillance? – Ryan Calo

Investigating the Computer Security Practices and Needs of Journalists – Susan McGregor, Franziska Roesner, Polina Charters and Tobin Holliday

Circuit Fingerprinting Attacks: Passive Deanonymization of Tor Hidden Services – Albert Kwon, Mashael AlSabah, David Lazar, Marc Dacier, and Srinivas Devadas


Four New Resources

EFF has created a new tool, Democracy.io, to facilitate sending messages to members of the US Senate and House of Representatives. EFF Announcement: Launching Democracy.io as a Step Toward a Better Democracy

Version 5.0 of Professor James Grimmelmann’s (University of Maryland) Internet Law: Cases and Problems has been released (pdf casebook; $30 suggested price).

2015 edition of Professor Eric Goldman’s (Santa Clara University School of Law; High Tech Law Institute) Internet Law Cases and Materials has also been released (pdf – $8, hard copy – $20 plus shipping/tax, and kindle – $9.99 editions).

Politico has a Morning CyberSecurity Tipsheet. Sign up at the link.

All four have been added to my updated list of Internet Law and Policy Resources.


Quote of the Day

“For as long as the idea of the ‘mobile internet’ has been around, we’ve thought of it as a cut-down subset of the ‘real’ Internet. I’d suggest it’s time to invert that – to think about mobile as the real internet and the desktop as the limited, cut-down version.”

Benedict Evans, from his post: “Forget About the Mobile Internet“. Read the whole thing.



Law, Tech and Policy

Why It’s Hard to Sue the NSA: You Have to Prove It Spied on You – Wired

Tech Companies May be our Best Hope for Resisting Government Surveillance – Ryan Calo at Fusion; and his related academic paper: Can Americans Resist Surveillance?

A New Design (Indistinguishability Obfuscation or IO) for Cryptography’s Black Box – Quanta

Don’t Worry, Smart Machines Will Take Us With Them; Why Human Intelligence and AI will Co-Evolve – Stephen Hsu at Nautilus

Why Are There Any Jobs Still Left? Technology Eliminates Jobs, Not Work – Reason

Securing Today’s Data Against Tomorrow’s Quantum Computers – MIT Technology Review; Related: NSA Plans for a Post-Quantum World – Schneier on Security

A Bit of Internet History, or How Two Members of Congress Helped Create a Trillion or So Dollars of Value – David Post in The Washington Post

The Web We Have to Save: The Rich, Diverse, Free Web that I Loved — and Spent Years in an Iranian Jail For — is Dying; Why is Nobody Stopping It? – Medium

What Ever Happened to Google Books? – Tim Wu at The New Yorker

DIY Tractor Repair Runs Afoul Of Copyright Law – NPR

General Interest

We Need a David Carr Portable Companion; Here’s the first Draft – Karen Wickre at BackChannel/Medium

Harvard Linguist Points out the 58 Most Commonly Misused Words and Phrases – MetroWest Daily News on Steven Pinker’s book, The Sense of Style

How to Fix Twitter: Twitter’s 140-character Limit Doesn’t Get You Better Writing – Dave Winer; Why Twitter Must Blow Past 140 – Dave Winer; Should Twitter Lose the 140-character Limit or Would that be Suicide? – Mathew Ingram at Fortune; The Network’s the Thing – Eugene Wei

Richard Stallman: How I Do My Computing – Stallman.org

Two from BuzzFeed: Scientists Are Hoarding Data And It’s Ruining Medical Research – Ben Goldacre; Here’s What Actually Gets Terrorists To Tell The Truth — And It’s Not Torture – Peter Aldhous


The OPM Hack (link roundup – updated)

Update 08.31.2015:

China and Russia are Using Hacked Data to Target U.S. Spies, Officials Say– Los Angeles Times

How Bad? Very Bad:

Newly Disclosed Hack Got ‘Crown Jewels’; ‘This is Not the End of American Human Intelligence, but it’s a Significant Blow,’ a Former NSA Official Says– Politico

Hackers May Have Obtained Names of Chinese With Ties to U.S. Government – New York Times

The Hack on the U.S. Government was Not a ‘cyber Pearl Harbor’ (But it was a Very Big Deal) – Washington Post

Officials: Chinese Had Access to U.S. Security Clearance Data for One Year – Washington Post

Attack Gave Chinese Hackers Privileged Access to U.S. Systems – New York Times

China’s Hackers Got What They Came For – The Hill

Hacking as Offensive Counterintelligence;   China’s Hack Just Wrecked American Espionage and China’s Spies Hit the Blackmail Jackpot With Data on 4 Million Federal Workers – John Schindler at his XXCommittee blog and at The Daily Beast

How Was It Discovered? During a Product Demo:

Report: Hack of Government Employee Records Discovered by Product Demo Security Tools Vendor Found Breach, Active over a Year, at OPM During Sales Pitch – ArsTechnica

Level of OPM Incompetency? High. Very Old Software, Unencrypted Databases, and Foreign Contractors, Including Chinese, with Root Access:

Encryption “would not have helped” at OPM, Says DHS Official; Attackers had Valid User Credentials and Run of Network, Bypassing Security – ArsTechnica, with details of the OPM systems and lack of security

  “!! OPM IT outsourced to foreigner contractors, with root access, working from their home country. In this case, China” – John Schindler (@20committee): June 17, 2015

Oversight Chairman: Fire Leaders of Hacked Agency – Politico


5 Chinese Cyber Attacks That Might Be Even Worse Than the OPM Hack – Defense One


Former NSA and CIA Director, Michael Hayden (quote via Benjamin Wittes @ Lawfare.com) as to what he would have done if he had had the ability to get Chinese records equivalent to the OPM records when he was serving in his IC positions:

“I would not have thought twice. I would not have asked permission. I’d have launched the star fleet. And we’d have brought those suckers home at the speed of light . . . This is shame on us for not protecting that kind of information.”

From Benjamin Wittes writing on the OPM hack at LawFare in his post “Is the Privacy Community Focused on the Wrong Government?“:

“For the record, I have no problem with the Chinese going after this kind of data. Espionage is a rough business and the Chinese owe as little to the privacy rights of our citizens as our intelligence services do to the employees of the Chinese government. It’s our government’s job to protect this material, knowing it could be used to compromise, threaten, or injure its people—not the job of the People’s Liberation Army to forebear collection of material that may have real utility. Yet I would have thought that privacy groups that take such strong views of the need to put limits on American collection, even American collection overseas against non-U.S. persons, would look a little askance at a foreign intelligence operation consisting of the bulk collection of the most highly-personal information—an operation involving not only government employees but also those close to them. You’d think this would raise someone’s privacy hackles, if not mine.”

Adam Elkus writing at BusinessInsider:

“[C]leaning up the systematic dysfunction in OPM and other agencies will require a harsh and swift hand and plenty of pink slips. Fantasizing about super-hackers and visions of cyber-doom are more fun than the boring but necessary drudgery, for example, of modernizing a decrepit and decaying federal information technology base or ensuring that basic security protocols are observed.”

Megan McArdle at BloombergView:

“The serial IT disasters we have seen over the past seven years do not need a blue-ribbon commission or a really stern memo to fix them. If we want these holes fixed before they become catastrophic, we need leaders with a scorched-earth determination to have adequate IT. The only way that determination happens is if these failures become an existential threat to the careers of the politicians in charge.”


Wassenaar Arrangement Implementation (updated)

The Latest (08.01.2015) – Proposed Rules Pulled for Rewrite:

Pardon the “Intrusion” – Cybersecurity Worries Scuttle Wassenaar Changes – Lexology

Unusual Re-do of US Wassenaar Rules Applauded – Kaspersky Lab Threat Post

The US is Rewriting its Controversial Zero-day Export Policy – The Verge

Proposed Implementation:

Bureau of Industry and Standards’ Wassenaar Arrangement 2013 Plenary Agreements Implementation: Intrusion and Surveillance Items (pdf; 49 pages)

BIS FAQs on the Intrusion and Surveillance Items Implementation


Wassenaar Arrangement – Wikipedia

The International Rules that Have the Security World on Alert – The Verge

Analysis and Opinion:

Why an Arms Control Pact has Security Experts Up in Arms – Kim Zetter in Wired

Proposed U.S. Export Controls: Implications for Zero-Day Vulnerabilities and Exploits – Mailyn Fidler at LawFare

Changes to Export Control Arrangement Apply to Computer Exploits and More – Jennifer Granick and Mailyn Fidler at JustSecurity

What Is the U.S. Doing About Wassenaar, and Why Do We Need to Fight It? – EFF

Also from the EFF: Commerce Department FAQ on Proposed Wassenaar Implementation Gives Answers, Raises More Questions

Why Changes to Wassenaar Make Oppression and Surveillance Easier, Not Harder – ADD/XOR/ROL blog

Why You Should Fear the New Regulations More Than You Think – Dave Aitel


Regulating the Zero-Day Vulnerability Trade: A Preliminary Analysis (pdf; 78 pages) – academic paper by Mailyn Fidler forthcoming in “I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society”

Recommended: Law, Tech and Policy

Opinion: The Reasonable Expectation Fallacy – Dan Geer writing at CSM’s Passcode

The Intercept on XKEYSCORE: XKEYSCORE: NSA’S Google for the World’s Private Communications and Behind the Curtain; a Look at the Inner Workings of NSA’s XKEYSCORE

Hackers Installed Sophisticated Malware on U.S. Computers. Why Doesn’t Anyone Care?; The Worm was Designed to Gather Intelligence on the Ongoing Iranian Nuclear Talks – Reason on the Duqu2 worm

Cyber-Espionage Nightmare; A Groundbreaking Online-spying Case Unearths Details that Companies Wish You Didn’t Know About How Vital Information Slips Away From Them – MIT Technology Review

Introducing the ‘Right to Eavesdrop on Your Things’; Data Privacy is a Big Enough Deal that Americans Need a New Right – Stanford professor Keith Winstein at Politico

Presentation by Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz on how “Mobile is Eating the World”

As More Tech Start-Ups Stay Private, So Does the Money – Farhad Manjoo in the New York Times

The Rabbit-Hole of ‘Relevant’ – Mattathias Schwartz in the New York Times:

“When a law has a name like ‘Patriot’ or ‘Freedom,’ it’s a sign that you should read the fine print. Somewhere down there, in the terraced subclauses of some forgettable subsection, is a word with a special meaning, a word that offers shelter and concealment to whatever it is that the law actually does.”

Three Pieces on the Open Web: Dave Winer – Key Concept of the Open Web: Working Together; David Weinberger – The Internet That Was (and Still Could Be); As Corporations Like Facebook Gain Control Over More and More Online Activities, the Web’s Core Values are at Stake; and Dries Buyteart – Winning back the Open Web.

The Wait-for-Google-to-Do-It Strategy; America’s Communications ­Infrastructure is Finally Getting Some Crucial Upgrades Because One Company is Forcing ­Competition When Regulators Won’t – MIT Technology Review

A New Wave of US Internet Companies is Succeeding in China—By Giving the Government What it Wants – Josh Horowitz at Quartz

The End of Advertising As We Know It – Michael Wolff


Impact of Trade Pacts on IP and the Internet (link roundup)

Texts (TPP, TISA and TTIP):

TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership), TISA (Trade in Services Agreement) and TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) texts have not yet been made officially public, although at least portions of certain drafts have been leaked by Wikileaks (Wikileaks July 2, 2015 press release).

Trade Promotion Authority (2015):

Wikipedia on trade fast track

On Trade, Here’s What the President Signed into Law – White House blog

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the Role of Congress in Trade Policy (pdf; 24 pages) – Congressional Research Service

Analysis and Opinion:

Privacy Is Not a Barrier to Trade; How a Secretive Trade agreement Could Change the Global Internet – law professor Margot Kaminski at Slate

TISA: Yet Another Leaked Treaty You’ve Never Heard Of Makes Secret Rules for the Internet – EFF

A Congressional Straightjacket: Fast-Tracking the TPP – law professors Gregory Shaffer and Jack Lerner at The Huffington Post

Another Leaked Trade Agreement, Another Reason to Oppose Fast Track – law professor David Singh Grewal at The Huffington Post

TISA: analysis of the leaked ‘core text’ (pdf; 7 pages) – law professor Jane Kelsey

Leaked: What’s in Obama’s Trade Deal – Politico


Quote of the Day

Dave Aitel on the OPM hack:

“But there’s a little silver lining in the OPM hack, and it is this: (1) Covert identities are dead anyways, because databases full of biometrics are everywhere, and you can read someone’s fingerprints off any beer glass faster than you can say ‘Your Cover Is Blown, Ethan Hunt’. That’s not even counting the DNA revolution of being able to map the entire human family tree out that nobody is talking about yet. Regardless, you cannot hide WHO you are in the modern age if for no other reason than Facebook exists. Deal with it. (2) The entire clearance system as a whole has been obliterated by modern information sciences.”

From the Dailydave Digest; subscribe here.


New Department of Defense Law of War Manual Chapter on Cyber Operations (updated)

The new DOD manual is the first since 1956 (pdf; 1,176 pages, with the Cyber Operations portion (Chapter XVI) spanning 15 pages in the pdf, from page 994 to 1009).

Professor Kristen Eichensehr (UCLA Law School) writing at JustSecurity discusses how the new manual’s provisions treat hacking incidents such as the OPM hack.

Just Security’s “mini forum” (series of related posts) on the new Law of War Manual.


Are APIs Copyrightable (link roundup – updated for Supreme Court denial of cert)

Update: Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal in Google-Oracle Copyright Fight – New York Times:

“Monday’s Supreme Court decision, which was specific to this appeal, means the Oracle-Google saga will now move back to the lower courts to determine another aspect of the case: Even though Google was using copyrighted software, was it only making ‘fair use’ of it . . . ‘You shouldn’t let the owner of an A.P.I. end up owning the other person’s program,’ said Michael Barclay, special counsel to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a tech nonprofit devoted to civil liberties. ‘I don’t think we’ll find out how bad a day this is for a long time.'”

Previously – Solicitor General Brief Argued APIs are Copyrightable:

Considering whether to grant certiorari in the Google v. Oracle America case, the Supreme Court earlier in 2015 asked the government to weigh in on the dispute. In response, the Solicitor General filed its brief, surprisingly taking the position that APIs are subject to copyright protection.

The Solicitor General’s Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae (pdf; 23 pages)

News Reaction to Solicitor General Brief:

Let Oracle Own APIs, Justice Department Tells Top Court in Surprise Filing – Fortune

White House Sides with Oracle, tells Supreme Court APIs are Copyrightable; Unlicensed Use of APIs Might be a Fair Use, US says – ArsTechnica

Marc Andreesen tweet: “Obama Administration to software programmers: Drop dead!”

The Solicitor General’s Peculiar Brief in Google v. Oracle – Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), Disruptive Competition Project

Google Versus Oracle Case Exposes Differences within Obama Administration – Reuters

How Oracle Versus Google Could Ruin Software Development – Lifehacker


Oracle America v. Google – Wikipedia

List and Links to Rulings and Related Filings (under the Tab “Documents” following the brief article) – EFF

See, in particular, the November 2014 “Brief of Amici Curiae Computer Scientists in Support of Petitioner” (pdf; 27 pages, excluding list of amici and tables of content and cited authorities)

Appeals Court Ruling (May 2014) – Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

The Appeals Court Decision (pdf; 69 pages)

Reaction (at that time): Tech World Stunned as Court Rules Oracle Can Own APIs; Google Loses Copyright Appeal – GigaOm

Original Trial and Decision (May 2012) – U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

The Original Copyright Related Rulings: “Order re: copyright ability of certain replicated elements of the JAVA application programming interface” (pdf; 41 pages) and “Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on Equitable Defenses” (pdf; 3 pages)

News Article Summing Up the Patent Portion of the Case: Jury Clears Google of Infringing on Oracle Patents – ZDNet

Reaction (at that time): Google Wins Crucial API Ruling, Oracle’s Case Decimated; Java API Packages ‘free for all to use under the Copyright Act’ – ArsTechnica


Recommended Movies, TV & Music from the 1st Half of 2015:


Slow West (Rotten Tomatoes Critics 88%), Ex Machina (Rotten Tomatoes Critics 91%), Ida (from 2014)(Rotten Tomatoes Critics 96%), Locke (from 2014)(Rotten Tomatoes Critics 91%), and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (from 2014)(Rotten Tomatoes Critics 96%).

TV (in addition to Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Walking Dead, and The Americans):

Wolf Hall (Rotten Tomatoes Critics 100%), Fortitude (Rotten Tomatoes Critics 88%), The Missing (uk series; season one)(A.V. Club: B), Happy Valley (uk series; season one)(Rotten Tomatoes Critics 100%), Broadchurch (uk series; season two)(Rotten Tomatoes Critics 90% season one and 85% season two), Utopia (uk series; seasons one and two; U.S. David Fincher/Gillian Flynn version currently in production), Witnesses (Les Témoins) (french series; season one), Justified (Rotten Tomatoes Critics 100%), and Better Call Saul (Rotten Tomatoes Critics 100%).


Sufjan Stevens “Carrie & Lowell” (Pitchfork 9.3, Metacritic 90, AV Club A); Torres “Sprinter” (Pitchfork 8.0, Metacritic 81); Courtney Barnett “Sometimes I Sit . . . “ (Pitchfork 8.6, Metacritic 88, AV Club A-); Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment “Surf” (Pitchfork 8.3, Metacritic 87, AV Club A-); Levon Vincent [self titled] (Pitchfork 8.3, Metacritic 85); Waxahatchee “Ivy Tripp” (Pitchfork 8.1, Metacritic 81, AV Club B+); Twerps “Range Anxiety” (Pitchfork 7.5, Metacritic 70); Girlpool “Before the World Was Big” (Pitchfork 7.8, Metacritic 79); The Bad Plus Joshua Redman [self titled] (Metacritic 84); Los Hijos De La Montana [self titled]; The Drink “Company” (from 2014); Kamasi Washington “The Epic” (Pitchfork 8.6); and Screaming Females “Rose Mountain” (Pitchfork 6.7, Metacritic 77, AV Club B+).



Law, Tech and Policy

Got Your Number: Cyber-attacks Make Us Rethink the Idea of Social Security Numbers – California Magazine

Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends presentation

What is Code? – an excellent long-read by Paul Ford in Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Tomorrow’s Advance Man – Marc Andreessen’s Plan to Win the Future – New Yorker

Why the Blockchain Matters – Reid Hoffman at Wired UK

Quantum Computing is About to Overturn Cybersecurity’s Balance of Power – Washington Post

What is ‘Cybersecurity Law’? – Orin Kerr in The Washington Post

According To The Government, Clearing Your Browser History Is A Felony – TechDirt;   Also, When It’s a Crime to Withdraw Money From Your Bank – New York Times

General Interest

The Fallen of WWII – a captivating visualization (I watched the video (18 minutes); there is also an interactive version) of WWII casualties, including in relation to post-WWII conflicts. Highly recommended.

The Rise and Fall of Silk Road (part I and part II) – Wired; and Sunk: How Ross Ulbricht Ended up in Prison for Life – Inside the Trial that Brought Down a Darknet Pirate – ArsTechnica

26 years after Tiananmen, Chinese Millennials are Forgetting to Fear their Government – Gwynn Guilford at Quartz

Do You Fear an Elite Population of Enhanced Babies? – FuturePundit

These Stunning Photos of New Zealand’s Largest Gang Will Give You Sleepless Nights – Vice

Vinod Khosla @ The Stanford Graduate School of Business: “Failure Does Not Matter – Success Matters”

As is readily apparent from the video, Khosla has a very healthy ego, for the most part earned. There are various versions of this talk on the web, but this recent appearance at Stanford GSB is one of the better. The key portion is from the beginning to 35:30 (when the audience questions begin).


Where is the Internet?

Image © 2010 j.r.mchale; all rights reserved

An interesting short piece (five paragraphs and an eleven photo slide show) entitled Internet I.R.L. in today’s New York Times magazine about photographer Dave Greer‘s current project photographing where pieces of the internet backbone and related data centers are housed. Tidbit from the article about the One Wilshire building in the above photograph (taken by me from my former loft in downtown Los Angeles): “In 2013, One Wilshire sold for $437.5 million, the highest price per square foot (about $660) ever paid for a downtown Los Angeles office building. Why? Because the Internet. The building is one of the world’s largest data-transfer centers — tenants include network, cloud and information-technology providers — and serves as a major West Coast terminus for trans-Pacific fiber-optic cables.” An excellent reminder that the internet is not some amorphous thing ‘in the cloud’, but based on tangible, physical things, including circuits, switches, servers, cables and other equipment – in many cases, housed in buildings or buried under ground or sea.