Apr 14, 2001

Teaching Kids About Hacking
Hacking & Cracking
4/14/2001; 5:18:27 PM 'Technical ignorance is an excuse used by too many parents and teachers in their failure to teach kids cyberethics, computer security consultant Winn Schwartau says.

'So Schwartau wrote a book, Internet and Computer Ethics for Kids, to educate both computer-savvy youngsters and technically challenged adults.

'Schwartau has been honored for his security work by heads of governments and the military in the United States and Europe, and has written or contributed to a dozen well-regarded books on computer and Internet security.'

*whistle* Wow, is this ever a minefield.  Read this and roll it around and look at it from a few angles.  This one brings up a lot of interesting questions, like...

'"Kids do not need or want to be preached to by me or by anyone," Schwartau said. "They want to grow and think and make a few mistakes along the way. Didn't we?"'

I agree with this in general. But these "mistakes" are the kind of thing that might bring the FBI down on you.  Perhaps a bit more protection is in order...?  Or not. Touchy issue.

One other comment. You may not know this if your life doesn't revolve around computers like mine does, but cracking is fun. I don't do it much, and I always make sure it's both legal and ethical when I do it (want to make my day? Ask me to break your software), but on those rare occasions when I have time, the desire, and the opportunity, it's always great fun. Granted, I usually look for security holes rather then steal passwords from people, but the thrill is probably much the same. If you've got computer-savvy children, I'd recommend preparing yourself for the possibility your children will get in over their head.

Book excerpts are available from the web site.

Apr 12, 2001

MS sabotages MP3 quality under Win-XP
Music & MP3
4/12/2001; 12:25:41 PM

'According to a superb story in today's Wall Street Journal, MS "plans to severely limit the quality of music that can be recorded as an MP3 file using software built into the next version of its [PC] operating system, Windows XP. But music recorded in the Redmond software company's own format, called Windows Media Audio, will sound clearer and require far less storage space on a computer."

'..."The industry doesn't want [MP3] pushed, and Microsoft and RealNetworks don't want it pushed. The consumer is going to eat what he's given," the paper quotes former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chief technologist David Farber as saying.'

Apr 12, 2001

Just Compensation
Music & MP3
4/12/2001; 8:34:10 AM

'In finding that balance [between cable television and broadcast television], Congress kept separate two questions the [music] labels want you to confuse. One question was whether broadcasters should be paid for their content. Answer: Yes. The second question was whether broadcasters should have the power to control innovation in cable TV by deciding whether cable could run broadcasters' content. Answer: Absolutely not. While broadcasters and copyright holders were entitled to compensation for their content, the right to compensation did not have to mean the broadcaster's right to control. Cable providers had to pay for what they "stole," but they had, under Congress' law, a fundamental right to steal.'

What can I say? I'm a sucker for analysis based on de-conflating conflated arguments. 

Apr 11, 2001

Microsoft Pushing P3P
Privacy from Companies
4/11/2001; 11:31:07 PM

'Now Microsoft Corp. says it has a high-tech solution to the problem -- no Draconian action needed. The software giant's answer: a system, based on industry standards, that lets consumers choose how much protection they want. The approach will effectively let PC users adjust the dial on a kind of privacy thermostat built into their Web browsers.

'Known as the Platform for Privacy Preferences, or P3P, the technology promises to reshape the debate about Web privacy. For the Internet industry, P3P represents the biggest weapon yet in the fight against new regulations. And for consumers, it could provide much better control over personal information.

'But only if P3P works. Consumers, already frustrated with complicated software, may balk at a raft of new settings to tinker with. Worse, the technology only functions if Web sites cooperate by making their privacy policies "talk" in P3P's special language. And some critics charge that the system gives Microsoft too much sway over Web privacy. Microsoft is building the technology into Version 6 of its Internet Explorer browser, due by year end.'

I've discussed the ill-concieved P3P standard in the past. Guess we're actually going to get it.

Apr 11, 2001

ACLU Ad Highlights Massive U.S. Government Surveillance
Surveillance and Privacy from Government
4/11/2001; 11:14:53 PM 'The ad, appearing in the April 15 issue of The New Yorker and the April 16 issue of The New York Times Magazine, features a large photo of a cell phone, with the headline: "Now equipped with 3-way calling. You, whoever you're dialing, and the government."'

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