Archive for May, 2009

CFP Podcast: Conference Co-Chairs

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Listen to CFP2009 Co-Chairs Jay Stanley and Cindy Southworth on the night before the conference begins here.

Twittering in the Trenches: Monday’s Social Networking Workshop

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

The Twittering in the Trenches Workshop is Monday, June 1, 9am-5pm (eastern). Please join us online or in person

In 1995 I went to my first Computers, Freedom, and Privacy (CFP) conference. I was completely boggled: every issue that was discussed had at least three compelling sides to it. I was also inspired because I could really see how the Net could be great for building communities.  Even back then it seemed that the Net was about building bridges and communities.

I remember David Brin speaking about surveillance cameras (no cell phone cameras yet), how ubiquitous they were going to become, and how we had to turn them to our advantage. I remember very smart, tech-savvy, civil libertarians like John Gilmore and Mike Godwin on panels with representatives from the White House and the FBI debating the use of cryptography, free-speech, and privacy issues. The techies stated that the Net was going to be a place where we would have the ability to share knowledge widely, without regard to geographical location, and where we would have more freedom to discus topics than in traditional media.  We could reshape our reality; old-fashioned laws wouldn’t hinder us, technology would finally give power to ordinary people.  It was exciting stuff.

I also remember the White House representative responding, almost in angry frustration, that we may have won the first round of the crypto wars, but that they’d be back and he Net wouldn’t be a “lawless” place — meaning that the status quo would be regained.

Of course, he was right. Now we have CALEA, the Patriot Act, Carnivore and its successors, draconian copyright laws, and a host of other privacy-invading tools that governments can use against people.

So here we are again in 2009.  The same kind of power is there on social network sites – on Facebook, MySpace, Tribe, Second Life, Free-Association, LiveJournal, and all the rest. Unlike Usenet and other ways of communicating on the Net a la 1995, social networks now are quite usable for us non-technical people, and the interfaces are pretty and inviting.  It’s never been easier to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues online.

FISA at Computers, Freedom, and Privacy 2009

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

FISA’s been a major topic since the 90s at the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference, and this year’s no exception. For the first time ever, we’ll be streaming video, and so the great content will be available whether or not you’re making the trek to Washington DC … and the Twitter backchannel will give a way to participate in the discussion as well.

Here’s a brief summary of some of the sessions that are likely to be of interest to Get FISA Right members — and anybody else interested in domestic surveillance, warrantless wiretapping, and a panoptic society.

– me, on the Get FISA Right blog

The rest of the post goes into more detail on Ari Melber’s Monday keynote on Net movements in the Obama era at the Twittering in the Trenches workshop, the back-to-back plenary sessions on Tuesday on Computers, Freedom and the Obama Administration and The Future of Security vs. Privacy, Wednesday night’s birds-of-a-feather (BoF) session on New strategies for fighting FISA and the PATRIOT Act, and NSA whistleblower Thomas Tamm’s participation in the closing plenary Panopticon: Internalizing the Gaze.

At last year’s CFP, Susan Crawford moderated the opening session, and McCain surrogate Chuck Fish’s description of telecom immunity as “selling indulgences” led to coverage in the Washington Post, New York Times, and National Review Online after Ryan Singel’s Wired story.  This year, Susan’s once again on the opening session (now as Special Assistant to the President for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy), and Ryan’s moderating the Future of Security vs. Privacy debate.  Will lightning strike twice?  Stay tuned!


Computers, #FollowFriday, and #Privacy: CFP’ers to follow on Twitter

Friday, May 29th, 2009

If this post seems like a foreign language to you, or if you’re new to Twitter, please check out our Getting Started on Twitter page!

Each Friday brings a fun “game” to Twitter called FollowFriday…. The aim of FollowFriday is to share with the Twitter community which tweeps you enjoy following. Of course, it can help you find new people to follow too.

– Sharon Hayes-Tucci (aka @sharonhayes), FollowFriday on Twitter

One of CFP’s major roles has always been to help connect people in the community.  On Twitter, Follow Friday is a natural way to do this.  I took a quick pass through CFP09’s followers and the names listed on the program, and here are the recommendations from the @cfp2009 account.  If you’re interested in computers, freedom, and privacy, please consider following!

#followfriday for #cfp09 (1/5) @cfp2009 @pubic_citizen @eff @aclu @digiactive @cendemtech @catoinstitue

#followfriday for #cfp09 (2/5) @CharlotteAnne @AriMelber @cncpundit @benpolitico @schatzwsj @csoghoian @kpoulsen @nancyscola @shansell

#followfriday for #cfp09 (3/5) @bruceschneier @bendrath @securitysources @phillyberg @phragments @jeremycee @andrewclement @IsCool

#followfriday for #cfp09 (4/5) @edfelten @digitalsista @Gauravonomics @wonderwillow @hellrazr @jdp23 @netfreedom @txitua @dreamact

#followfriday for #cfp09 (5/5) @sairy @craignewmark @scrawford @ellenmiller @gregpincus @wendyg @mhintze @tribehelp

Apologies to anybody I overlooked; if you’re going to be at CFP and are on Twitter, please let @cfp2009 know.

And if there are CFP’ers you think people should follow, please make your own #followfriday recommendation– and don’t forget to include #cfp09 in your tweet to make it easy for others to find!


PS: Micah Baldwin’s #FollowFriday: The Anatomy of a Twitter Trend has more about the history and usage patterns of Follow Friday, a fascinating example of a self-organizing peer-based recommendation system.

Computers, Freedom, Privacy, and NEWS! A weekly news roundup.

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

The efforts of Internet organizers being met with both opposition and success around the world.  In Iran, access to Facebook was blocked by the government in order to curb their opposition’s organizing efforts during presidential elections.  And in Maryland, grassroots organizes have also tapped Facebook in their efforts to stop a new speeding camera law about to go into effect.  An all day CFP tutorial Twittering in the Trenches will focus on technology, policy, and privacy, and there will be an online component as well for those who can’t attend in person.

A new study by Cambridge law Professor Pratricia Akester looks at the effects of Digital Rights Management on Freedom of Expression.   Apparently, it turns us all into pirates.

With Obama about to announce a new Cybersecurity Czar with a “Broad Mandate,” folks are weighing in on what path the senior White House official should (or shouldn’t) take.  A CFP Panel on Cybersecurity and the New Administration, featuring congressmen Alan M. Grayson (D-FL) ask what is the best way to improve the security of the nation’s cyber infrastructure.

As Proposition 8 was upheld on Tuesday, activists from across the country turned to Join the Impact as they organized demonstrations.  Michael Bolognino of JTI will join us at CFP to discuss net-roots organizing on the Wednesday’s Online Activism Around the World panel.


We’d love to hear about the news related to CFP topics that you’re interested in!  Please share your links and ideas in the comments!

Retro is a “no go” when Privacy Rights are Involved

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

What do disco music, eight-track audio systems and beta videocassette tapes all have in common? They’re all examples of technologies and fads that have come and gone since the Privacy Act of 1974 was last updated.

Looking at the list above it’s painfully obvious that federal privacy standards, written during a time when “storage facility” literally referred to file cabinets, are overdue for an update in the digital era.  While the basic framework of the Privacy Act has held up well over the past 35 years, changes need to be made to insure that the advent of new technologies do not threaten to undermine the protections that have been put in place.

Today, the Center for Democracy & Technology unveiled an in-depth proposal to update the federal Privacy Act and related federal privacy policy to address the challenges of the digital age. The announcement came as part of a panel discussion featuring government and privacy leaders that coincided with the release of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s federal Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board’s report on its findings on government privacy rules. ISPAB has also called for significant changes to the existing federal privacy framework.


Poulsen Wonders About Cybarmageddon!

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Kevin Poulsen, Wired Senior Editor, wonders on the Threat Level blog whether or not the threat of hackers attacking critical infrastructure is anything more than a red herring, or in some cases clever marketing. 

Viral Video Hoax, or Proof of Impending Cyber Apocalypse?

This video of hackers taking over the lighting controls in an urban skyscraper in order to play the world’s most awesome game of Space Invaders is ominous proof that intruders really are eyeing utility control systems as targets, warns security vendor McAfee.

“Perhaps the first demo was just for fun, but the others will have less juvenile goals,” McAfee Avert Labs researcher Francois Paget blogged on Friday. “An attack can involve nationwide damage, a terrible effect on the public’s morale, and huge financial losses.”


Poulsen will explore the question in depth as he moderates the CFP Panel, Hacking as a National Security Threat: How Real Is It?  As much attention is being paid to cybersecurity policy issues, panelists will discuss how real the threat is behind these policy debates.  Does hacking — whether by foreign governments, organized crime, or lone hackers — really pose a national security-level threat?  

Panelists include:
Herb Lin, National Research Council 
Amit Yoran, Former Bush Administration Cybersecurity Czar 
Michael Tanji, Former Supervisory Intelligence Officer, Defense Intelligence Agency 
Moderator: Kevin Poulsen, Senior Editor, Wired News

CFP Buzz at Privacy Lives

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Melissa Ngo of Privacy Lives discusses the panels she’ll be moderating at this year’s CFP:

Upcoming Events: Moderating Two Panels at Computers, Freedom and Privacy (June 3 and 4)

Computers, Freedom and Privacy is an annual conference to discuss the privacy, security and civil liberty questions raised by emerging technologies or new uses of old technologies. This year’s theme is “Creating the Future.”

The conference runs from June 1 to June 4 in Washington, DC. You can still register. Note that government employees and the press may attend for free, but you will have to show identification proving your status when you check in at the registration table. 

There are a number of interesting panels on the program, including two panels that I am moderating… more>

Live bloggers wanted!

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

If you’ll be at the conference, why not live-blog some of the sessions you’ll be attending?

It’s a great opportunity to share the information with others and spark some conversation … and to attract new readers.  We’ll send out links to the liveblogs for each session, and do daily wrapups to make it easy to follow.

If you’re interested, please leave your name, the session or sessions you’ll be blogging, and a link to your blog in the comments.

Thanks much!


“Virtual Strip Search”: Whole Body Imaging Campaign

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently made some surprising changes to the way whole body imaging is to take place at airports across the nation.

Prior to the changes, the TSA had said that whole body imaging, aka ‘the virtual strip search’, would be used only as a secondary screening tool, and that even then, it would be voluntary. Passengers would still have the choice between going through a virtual strip search and a pat down search. That is about to change. The TSA has announced that whole body imaging will be phased in as a replacement for primary screening, i.e. the metal detectors, and it will cease to be voluntary.

As a result of this announcement, many privacy and civil liberties groups have launched a campaign against the use of these machines as the primary method of screening (see links below).

As ACLU lawyer Chris Calabrese says: “A choice between being groped and being stripped, I don’t think we should pretend those are the only choices. People shouldn’t be humiliated by their government in the name of security…”