Security Specialist, Abolitionist, Anabaptist
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poetry in promotion

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20161205_poets

where the REAL money in writing is

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toddgrotenhuis
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too real
Indianapolis
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jepler
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hee hee
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm

The World Wide Web Consortium at a Crossroads: Arms-Dealers or Standards-Setters?

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The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has a hard decision to make: a coalition including the world's top research institutions; organizations supporting blind users on three continents; security firms; blockchain startups; browser vendors and user rights groups have asked it not to hand control over web video to some of the biggest companies in the world. For their part, those multinational companies have asked the W3C to hand them a legal weapon they can use to shut down any use of online video they don't like, even lawful fair use.

Is the W3C in the business of protecting the open web and its users, or is it an arms-dealer supplying multinational companies with the materiel they need to rule the web? We're about to find out.

The W3C makes the open standards that allow anyone to make a browser that can read all the documents on the web, and anyone to make a document that can be read by any of those browsers. But in 2013, the W3C started work on a project to give entertainment companies control over who could make a browser that could show streaming videos, creating a standard for "encrypted media extensions" (EME) that Hollywood would control. Even if you make an EME-capable browser that doesn't violate any copyright laws, it will only show you videos if it also gets the blessing of some of the biggest media companies in the world.

Like all businesses, media companies have a mix of commercial preferences and legal rights. For example, companies have the legal right to prevent people from making and distributing copies of their videos, with important exceptions. The same copyright law that gives them that right also gives you—the viewer—legal rights, like the right to record a video to watch later, or to convert the video to a format that can be enjoyed by blind people. Maybe they'd prefer that you not record videos for later (for example, so they can charge extra for a "home recording" feature), but that's just a preference, not a right.

For decades, media companies have tried to convert their commercial preferences to legal rights, by invoking a 1998 law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Section 1201 of the DMCA makes it illegal to bypass software that locks up copyrighted works, even when you're doing something totally legitimate, like converting a video you're allowed to watch so it will play on an unsupported device. Companies design their products so that locking software (called "Digital Rights Management" or DRM) enforces their preferences, then argue that breaking the DRM is illegal, anything that displeases them is therefore a crime.

Companies whose browsers include EME can use DMCA 1201 to threaten competitors—or anyone, really—engaged in legitimate activities that have been vital to the web since day one. They can attack people who are adding features to help visually disabled people; they can attack companies adding legal features like time- and format-shifting; and scariest of all, they can attack security researchers who reveal defects in browsers that put every web user at risk. Security professionals who reveal companies' embarrassing software mistakes are often accused of breaking digital locks, since knowledge of software errors may be used to bypass DRM.

If the W3C approves EME, everything changes. The "open standards" that made the web so vibrant and democratic will only be available to people who promise not to offend the entertainment industry. In fact, the Open Source Initiative—the world's leading body for certifying open standards—has said that EME won't qualify as an open standard at all, a shameful first in the W3C's proud history.

EFF would prefer that the W3C abandon EME altogether. The W3C's job isn't to help companies make up private laws whose enforcement can be outsourced to public courts. When the W3C announced EME, we paid to join the W3C and make this argument from the inside. The W3C sided with the giant companies pushing for DRM in web standards. The W3C told us that we had a problem with the DMCA, not a problem with DRM itself (actually, we have a problem with both).

So we offered a compromise: take the DMCA off the table. Make W3C members promise not to use DMCA 1201 against anyone engaged in legitimate activity—activity that didn't violate copyright or any other law. Let security researchers—not the companies they embarrass—decide when and how to talk about the defects they find. Let accessibility organizations create tools to help people with disabilities. Let innovative companies make lawful products. As far as we can tell, there has never been a case where this would have prevented a legitimate rights-enforcement action. So if the W3C approved our proposal, things would stay exactly as they are: companies could enforce all the rights that Congress gave them, but wouldn't be able to use W3C standards to create new rights for themselves.

Now, the decision is in the W3C's hands. The charter for the EME working group runs out on November 30th, and the major corporations pushing for EME have said that they're done with their major work and ready to have the W3C publish their work without any safeguards against legal abuse.

In October, the W3C polled its members about EME. Dozens of those members spoke loudly and on the public record, demanding that the W3C halt work on EME unless some step is taken to prevent abuse of laws like the DMCA. Those members include:

* The Royal National Institute for Blind People (UK); Media Access Australia and Vision Australia; and Benetech and SSB Bart (USA): three continents' worth of blind-rights advocacy organizations.
EME means that groups like these won't be make tools to adapt video for their specific disabilities (for example, a tool to shift the colors of videos to help color-blind people; or a machine-learning tool that automatically adds descriptive tracks to videos);

* Brave: a new entrant into the browser market.
Companies that are starting out want to offer all legal features to their users, not just the ones that the entertainment companies and old browser companies have decided we should get;

* Oxford University, The Eindhoven University of Technology, Kings College London, The Open University, Lawrence Berkeley Labs, and others, representing some of the world's leading research institutions;
Their researchers can't afford to risk legal retaliation for investigating and reporting on defects in browsers;

* Ripple, Ethereum, Blockstream: three of the world's leading blockchain companies; they were joined by White Ops, a security company run by some of the industry's best-respected experts.
People who understand information security and cryptography are rightly alarmed at the thought of browsers that are off-limits to security researchers who can surface problems before they are exploited and used to attack users and companies alike;

* Hypothes.is and Dublin Core: two leading representatives of the open data/metadata sector.
The web depends on an open platform that anyone can improve, annotate and extend;

* Deutsche Nationalbibliothek: the national library of Germany, charged with archiving all German copyrighted works;

* Vivliostyle: a critical member of the standards community who has contributed significantly to W3C community.
Open standards can't be subject to a veto from a handful of self-interested companies;

* Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy & Technology: user-rights organizations with a long track record of fighting against corporate abuse of the standards-setting process.

Security researchers are alarmed, too. Hundreds of researchers have called on the W3C to protect their work. A group of principal investigators from CSAIL, MIT's computer science department -- which hosts the W3C -- sent a letter to the W3C executive, expressing concern that EME presents a danger to the work of MIT researchers and independent researchers alike, and calling out EME for what it is: a way to put proprietary content on the Web. This group was organized by Hal Abelson, one of the most esteemed computer scientists in the field today.

The W3C itself is deeply divided on this issue. The organization's head of strategy, Wendy Seltzer, publicly called on the organization to protect the web from DMCA abuse; she's joined by leading engineers from the W3C, who signed the security researchers' open letter.

Other web standards bodies, like the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group, have condemned the W3C for failing to protect innovators, disabled people and security researchers from the fallout from standardizing DRM.

DRM and the open web are not compatible with one another. The W3C exists to broker consensus among the web's many stakeholders, not to steamroller startups, disabled people, public interest groups, researchers, cryptographers, libraries and the academic and security communities on behalf of giant global corporations.

The other side of this debate argues that the DMCA might not apply to EME, so there's no reason to worry. We say they're wrong. The rules in DMCA 1201 have been spread across the world by the US Trade Representative—Israel is a notable exception, so it's no coincidence that the only security researcher who came forward to announce that Google's EME had been badly broken for six years was Israeli. There isn't a legal authority alive who could promise that people making legitimate changes to browsers with EME have nothing to fear from all these DMCA-alikes.

The stakes are high. We can't afford the gamble that the companies who want EME are right when they say it won't let them abuse the DMCA—if they're so certain that they can't invoke the DMCA over EME, it would cost them nothing to promise never to do so. The fact that they won't make this promise tells you everything you need to know about their assurances.

In the meantime, if you've found vulnerabilities in EME-equipped browsers, we want to know about it. We've been defending people on the front lines of the open internet since 1992.

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acdha
6 hours ago
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Washington, DC
toddgrotenhuis
19 hours ago
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Indianapolis
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There Are No Allies In Fascists

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For decades, Antiwar.com has been the leading voice of the anti-war movement, injecting a consistently anti-authoritarian message into the conversation about foreign conflict and foreign policy. Their journalism has been celebrated among independent media and legacy media alike over the years, and their commentators are unmatched in their commitment to peace, liberty and the end of war.

Well, for the most part. Because while you’ve definitely got all that, you also have to contend with a steady flow of nationalist apologia from Justin Raimondo, Antiwar.com’s editorial director. His latest piece, “A World to Win,” is a gleeful ode to the second wave of fascism currently knocking on humanity’s door.

“The political class is in a panic, and not just in this country” Raimondo says. “From the hollowed out cities of the Rust Belt to the vineyards of France and Italy, a new nationalism is on the rise, threatening not only the perks and privileges of the managerial elites but also challenging the parameters of the post-World War II international order. Trump’s revolution in the US is but the latest and most dramatic example of an international trend that we saw manifested in the victory of the Brexit campaign, and now in the stunning transformation of the political landscape in France and Italy.”

What Raimondo is referring to is the rise to power of nationalist parties, such as the National Front in France, Geert Wilders’ “Party for Freedom” in the Netherlands, the Freiheitliche Partei Österreich in Austria, and rapidly-expanding movements in Germany, Poland and Hungary.

It’s hard to imagine a writer for an established libertarian antiwar publication celebrating these parties, whose platforms are often obsessed with national identity, are racist and homophobic, display a hatred towards open borders, refugees and immigrants (especially the brown ones from the war-ravaged Middle East), and call for vast economic protectionism. (And it’s worth pointing out that Antiwar has fought Raimondo on at least a few of these fronts, such as this article by Anthony Gregory and Eric Garris from 2010.)

And yet, here we have Raimondo, pushing these groups on Antiwar.com’s public-facing website.

“The US and Russia have common interests: fighting terrorism, solving the Syria imbroglio, and successfully integrating both Iran and China into the international community. The Europeans recognize this: the Americans are beginning to recognize it. The nationalist tides that are battering the liberal internationalist order don’t require an enemy, i.e. ‘resurgent Russia,’” he writes, capping off a justification of his nationalist cheerleading that includes warnings of a new cold war between the EU and Russia.

You see, according to Raimondo’s sunny view of fascism, the nationalists who are currently surging to seats of power all over the world “are not expansionist, for the most part: they don’t dream of empire-building, but rather of maintaining and strengthening their respective homelands. France for the French – Britain first – Austria for the Austrians – America first: these are the bywords of the new rebels who are challenging the “New World Order” of our transnational elites.”

This is the same tribalist garbage folks like Troy Southgate and Hans Hermann Hoppe – not to mention decades of failed Neo-Nazi “philosophers” – have been peddling for years. “White communities for the whites; black communities for the blacks,” etc. Just because the new fascists don’t necessarily want to set up ovens and camps for the undesirables infesting their homelands to be sent to doesn’t mean they won’t do it if they’re presented with the opportunity.

Raimondo begins to acknowledge that there is a danger in this, by meekly hinting at the occurrence of “primitive tribalism” from “some” strains of European nationalism, but he immediately dismisses the possibility that anything like that could happen in the United States.

“In America, it’s a different story: since the American revolution established the foundations of the first fully free society on earth, in this context consistent nationalism is inherently libertarian,” he writes.

This twee outlook of the America we find ourselves in today should not just be met with disdain by freedom and peace-loving individuals. It should be met with horror.

This is not just about the ascension of Donald Trump, or the elections of any singular nationalist politician anywhere else in the world. It is not just about the narrow foreign policy implications of a potential US partnership with Russia.

It is about meeting the impending rise of fascism on an unprecedented, global scale with arms spread wide in an open embrace.

Neither Donald Trump nor Vladimir Putin are, in any sense, allies of liberty. They are both world leaders whose policies and ideologies stand opposed to human freedom and human flourishing. If they can be said to bring peace, it is peace at gunpoint, peace under the heel of a jackboot. It is a peace that seeks only to constrain free movement and association, freedom of thought, and freedom of speech under the national will.

As libertarians, as anarchists, as enemies of the war machine in all its forms, there is no ally to be found in Justin Raimondo, and no ally to be found in the fascism he promotes.

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toddgrotenhuis
19 hours ago
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Indianapolis
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Unclean Christianity

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Unclean Christianity

In the ancient world, leprosy was incredibly unclean—if you had it, you were not simply unhealthy, you were cast out of society. For you to touch anyone was to risk contaminating them. You had to live on the outskirts of town, shouting “unclean! unclean!” wherever you went, so that normal people could get out of your way.

If you did touch someone, they would immediately become unclean as well. They would have to go to the temple and do a cleansing ritual to make sure they were free of the disease, and to be accepted back into society.

So in the Gospels, when lepers come to Jesus, he is not supposed to touch them. He is a holy man, and their uncleanness could contaminate his holiness.

Weirdly enough, that’s not how it works. People with leprosy keep coming to Jesus, and Jesus keeps touching them.

And instead of Jesus becoming unclean, the lepers become cleansed.

In fact, Jesus can touch uncleanness, evil, sin, impurity, anything—and it doesn’t make him dirty, it makes them clean. In the Gospels, it isn’t leprosy that is the most infectious disease—it is Jesus himself!

This is true for almost everything. Everything he touches becomes infected with health—everything he touches becomes clean.

So when Jesus goes to the cross—the ultimate expression of being under a curse, according to Galatians—the curse is broken, and even the cross itself is transformed. Instead of a symbol of violent power, it becomes a symbol of self-giving love. Instead of embodying the power of death, it comes to embody the power of life.

Maybe we Christians ought to take this more seriously. Jesus is an infectious agent. He is virulent and contagious. Instead of trying to keep him locked away in rooms where people approach him with appropriate questions and dignity, maybe we should let him loose in the world.

After all, when Jesus calls his first disciples, he doesn’t ask them to accept a metaphysical system, or buy into a set of propositions. He just asks them to follow along—because he knows what happens when people get near him.

They become infected. They become contagious.

Maybe we need to stop trying to keep our religion safe and clean and organized, and just let it out into the messy and insincere and ironic and imprecise and sinful and ugly world. Maybe we need to invite people to engage with Jesus in whatever way they can, no matter how problematic.

Because once Jesus is set loose, there’s no telling where he will end up.

And when Jesus gets his hands dirty, even the dirt becomes clean.

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toddgrotenhuis
19 hours ago
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Indianapolis
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Kloob

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kloob

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toddgrotenhuis
4 days ago
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Indianapolis
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reconbot
4 days ago
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Needs user research
New York City

Homeland Security, unlike Justice Dept., may not drop private prisons

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Immigration officials may have to continue using private jails to hold immigrants fighting deportation amid budget limitations and an ongoing crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border of arriving Central American migrants, according to a draft advisory report to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson released today.

Despite calls to follow the Justice Department’s August decision to reduce and eventually stop sending inmates to for-profit prisons, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement needs the bed space to hold detainees, a five-member panel concluded in its report.

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-12-18-09-pm

But the agency, which is part of the Homeland Security Department, needs enhanced oversight, more resources, expanded health care and to negotiate with county jails, which often hold detainees, to improve conditions. The agency should also strive to keep immigrants there for no more than three days, which could prove difficult with the current number of detainees. The panel also called on Congress to provide support.

Those were among the 14 recommendations offered by a subcommittee of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, which Johnson asked to conduct the review in late August. The findings, which the full council will review and vote on today, echo previous recommendations by various immigrant advocates and civil-rights groups.

But what influence the recommendations may have with the administration of President-elect Donald Trump, who has pledged to be tough on illegal immigration, which could include deporting upward of 2 million immigrants, remains to be seen.

The surge of migrants, who come primarily from Central American countries but also Haiti and elsewhere, has ballooned the number of immigrants detained beyond the mandated daily average of 34,000 to upward of 41,000, according to recent Homeland Security figures.

The Subcommittee on Privatized Immigration Detention Facilities, composed of former government officials, an immigrant-rights advocate and other consultants, spent two months reviewing the agency’s current detention system, including visits to both private and ICE-run facilities.

The panel found that 65 percent of detainees are held in private facilities, with another 25 percent locked up in county jails that contract with the federal government. In its report, the reviewers said the core question was not who runs the facilities, but how they are run.

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-12-17-52-pm

The recommendations come the same day as the Detention Watch Network, an immigrant-rights advocacy group, issued its own report, highlighting what it called a lack of accountability and cost-cutting measures that hurt immigrants while padding contractors profits.

Reveal from The Center of Investigative Reporting will update this post as more information becomes available.

Andrew Becker can be reached at abecker@revealnews.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ABeckerCIR.

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toddgrotenhuis
5 days ago
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