Posts Tagged internet

Blueprints Of Guns Not Allowed, Court Says

From Ars Technica:

In a 2-1 decision, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals was not persuaded that Defense Distributed’s right to free speech under the First Amendment outweighs national security concerns.

Ordinarily, of course, the protection of constitutional rights would be the highest public interest at issue in a case. That is not necessarily true here, however, because the State Department has asserted a very strong public interest in national defense and national security. Indeed, the State Department’s stated interest in preventing foreign nationals—including all manner of enemies of this country—from obtaining technical data on how to produce weapons and weapon parts is not merely tangentially related to national defense and national security; it lies squarely within that interest.

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Choosing A Strong Password Is Easier Than You Think

From EFF:

Randomly-generated passphrases offer a major security upgrade over user-chosen passwords. Estimating the difficulty of guessing or cracking a human-chosen password is very difficult. It was the primary topic of my own PhD thesis and remains an active area of research. (One of many difficulties when people choose passwords themselves is that people aren’t very good at making random, unpredictable choices.)

Measuring the security of a randomly-generated passphrase is easy. The most common approach to randomly-generated passphrases (immortalized by XKCD) is to simply choose several words from a list of words, at random. The more words you choose, or the longer the list, the harder it is to crack. Looking at it mathematically, for k words chosen from a list of length n, there are kn possible passphrases of this type. It will take an adversary about kn/2 guesses on average to crack this passphrase. This leaves a big question, though: where do we get a list of words suitable for passphrases, and how do we choose the length of that list?

In general choosing four five-letter words is better than one long word with number substitutions and some weird characters thrown in. It’s easier to remember and vastly harder for a computer to guess.

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Sharing Passwords May Now Be A Crime

From Motherboard:

At issue is language in the CFAA that makes it illegal to access a computer system “without authorization.” McKeown said that “without authorization” is “an unambiguous, non-technical term that, given its plain and ordinary meaning, means accessing a protected computer without permission.” The question that legal scholars, groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and dissenting judge Stephen Reinhardt ask is an important one: Authorization from who?

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EFF Files Brief In Support Of Defense Distributed’s 3-D Files

From EFF:

The underlying legal ideas stretch back to one of EFF’s earliest major legal victories. Twenty years ago, in Bernstein v. U.S. Department of Justice, a judge articulated that code is speech inrejecting so-called export restrictions on code that implements cryptographic protocols. Daniel Bernstein, a mathematics Ph.D. student, wanted to publish source code for a program to run an algorithm he developed. He objected to the State Department classification of his code as a “munition” and, with EFF’s help, sued to establish his First Amendment right to publish the code without arbitrary restrictions outlined in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and other laws—restrictions that included registering as an arms dealer and submitting the code for governmental review.

Read EFF’s full amicus brief here.

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Cody Wilson Versus The United States

From Fox News:

The (15) members of Congress, led by Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kent., signed onto an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, where Texas inventor Cody Wilson is fighting a lower court ruling in favor of the government agency. The State Department in 2013, citing a law allowing it to regulate international arms trafficking, blocked Wilson and his nonprofit group Defense Distributed from posting technical data for 3-D printing of legal handguns.

Wilson has received more “friend of the court” backup from policy think tank Cato Institute and various free speech organizations.

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Fourth Amendment Should Cover Your Digital Life

From Fox News:

In an era of constant political gamesmanship and gridlock, getting things done in Congress is never easy. That was never clearer than the last Congress’ failure to pass long overdue reforms to an antiquated that today threatens the very thing it was intended to protect – the privacy of Americans’ digital communications and records.

A bipartisan group of more than 270 members of the House of Representatives co-sponsored legislation with the same underlying objective — to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). And yet, these bills were left to die without a vote.

 

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WaPo: Printed Guns Will Lead To Printed Nukes

From The Washington Post:

The ability to “print” or manufacture guns privately will allow individuals to bypass background checks, the primary way that guns are regulated today. And that challenge will expand exponentially as the technology advances, one day enabling individuals to print chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction at home.

The threat of privately printed weapons will soon grow beyond the lethal handguns now in circulation. As we argue in research forthcoming in the October issue of the Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, considering expected advances in the technologies, terrorist groups will threaten nations with 3-D printed chemical, biological and nuclear weapons within a couple of decades.

 

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NRA Stands Up For First Amendment

From NRA-ILA:

As we reported in June, the Obama Administration’s State Department (DOS) proposed a revision of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) on June 3 that would require anyone seeking to make certain types of information about firearms publicly available to first obtain government approval. Prior restraints of the sort contemplated by the proposal are among the most disfavored regulations of speech under First Amendment case law. Our original alert encouraged gunsmiths, manufacturers, reloaders, serious hobbyists, and others who rely on design, development, production or manufacturing information about firearms to file comments with the State Department opposing the rule and explaining its problems.

 

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Defense Distributed Injunction Against State Department Denied

From Reason.com:

This week U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman denied a motion for a preliminary injunction against the State Department in the case of Defense Distributed v. U.S. Dep’t of State.

Quotes and comment from Judge Pitman’s decision.

He starts with explaining that it takes a lot to get a preliminary injunction to stop someone from an action you assert violates your rights, and he believes the very fact it took DD so long after the injury to file suit proves that they do not face any urgent necessity to stop the State Department from violating their rights.

Judge Pitman does then grant that, well, precedent states that First and Second Amendment violations do rise to the level of “irreparable”  that might demand an injunction.

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State Department Gun Regs Designed To Counter Defense Distributed Lawsuit

According to Sean Davis at The Federalist the new regulations are nothing more than retaliation against Defense Distributed:

On June 3, just four weeks after Defense Distributed filed its complaint in federal court, the State Department suddenly decided to propose a new rule giving it the authority to pre-approve speech related to publicly available firearm plans. The State Department’s play here is obvious: it hopes to promulgate a new rule making its previous anti-speech efforts superficially legal in order to short-circuit Defense Distributed’s court case. If that were to happen, the non-profit would then have to file a new and separate suit alleging the unconstitutionality of the new rule.

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Feds Want To Restrict Talking About Guns On The Net

The State Department has proposed new ITAR rules that would cover merely talking about guns according to the NRA.

From The Washington Examiner:

…the NRA boiled it down for gun owners with this warning:

“In their current form, the ITAR do not (as a rule) regulate technical data that are in what the regulations call the ‘public domain.’ Essentially, this means data ‘which is published and which is generally accessible or available to the public’ through a variety of specified means. These include ‘at libraries open to the public or from which the public can obtain documents.’ Many have read this provision to include material that is posted on publicly available websites, since most public libraries these days make Internet access available to their patrons.

“The ITAR, however, were originally promulgated in the days before the Internet. Some State Department officials now insist that anything published online in a generally-accessible location has essentially been ‘exported,’ as it would be accessible to foreign nationals both in the U.S. and overseas.

“With the new proposal published on June 3, the State Department claims to be ‘clarifying’ the rules concerning ‘technical data’ posted online or otherwise ‘released’ into the ‘public domain.’ To the contrary, however, the proposal would institute a massive new prior restraint on free speech. This is because all such releases would require the ‘authorization’ of the government before they occurred. The cumbersome and time-consuming process of obtaining such authorizations, moreover, would make online communication about certain technical aspects of firearms and ammunition essentially impossible.”

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British Government Changes Law To Allow Themselves To Break Into Computers

From Hacker News:

The UK Government has quietly changed the Anti-Hacking Laws quietly that exempt GCHQ, police, and other electronic intelligence agencies from criminal prosecution for hacking into computers and mobile phones and carrying out its controversial surveillance practices.
The details of the changes were disclosed at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which is currently hearing a challenge to the legality of computer hacking by UK law enforcement and its intelligence agencies.

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Defense Distributed Sues State Department

From The New York Times:

Now, with a high-powered legal team behind it, Mr. Wilson’s company,Defense Distributed, a self-described “anti-monopolist digital publisher,” has filed suit against the State Department claiming that its efforts to stop him from publishing his instructions, which are no more than computer code, amount to a prior restraint on free speech. The 25-page suit, filed on Wednesday in Federal District Court in Austin, Tex., is an innovative and apparently unprecedented effort to use the First Amendment in support of the Second.

From Wired:

Wilson’s gun manufacturing advocacy group Defense Distributed, along with the gun rights group the Second Amendment Foundation, on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the State Department and several of its officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry. In their complaint, they claim that a State Department agency called the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) violated their first amendment right to free speech by telling Defense Distributed that it couldn’t publish a 3-D printable file for its one-shot plastic pistol known as the Liberator, along with a collection of other printable gun parts, on its website.

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Surveillance State Repeal Act Introduced In House

From FreedomWorks:

That’s why it’s so refreshing to see a bill like the Surveillance State Repeal Act. It’s bold and effective. Specifically, here is what the bill would do:

  1. Repeals the Patriot Act (which contains the provision that allows for the bulk collection of metadata from U.S. citizens).
  2. Repeals the FISA Amendments Act (which contains provisions allowing for the government to monitor emails).
  3. It would extend judges’ terms on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and technical and legal experts to advise on technical issues raised during proceedings.
  4. Mandate that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regularly monitor such domestic surveillance programs for compliance with the law and issue an annual report.
  5. Ban the federal government from mandating that the manufacturer of an electronic device must install spy software.
  6. Gives people a proper channel to report illegal activity in their department.
  7. Says that no information related to a U.S. person may be acquired without a valid warrant based on probable cause—including under Executive Order 12333.
  8. Retains tools that are useful to law enforcement such as not requiring a new warrant if the suspect switches devices in an attempt to break surveillance.
  9. Protects intelligence collection practices involving foreign targets for the purpose of investigating weapons of mass destruction.

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