Entries Tagged as 'Law'


I’ve realized something.  SOPA and PIPA together  do a Wonder Twins formation to create OPPA:  Oppress People via Piracy Act.   I mean where else would you use a law that was designated for white collar embezzlement and make it so scary on the Internet that we’re no better than some of the countries that we speak openly against on the international stage?   I mean, let’s think about this.   North Korea has no Internet, but if they did, they would definitely make a show here.  Iran?  Same.  Can anyone say Syria?  Crazy stuff really.   What gets me is that the people that actually want this passed almost always have no technical or legal background, and don’t seem to realize that the vague wording of it makes it just…. un-American.

Yes, that’s right.  I question your patriotism if you pass SOPA/PIPA or that type of legislation.   We’re supposed to be a superpower.  We’re supposed to be about democracy.   We dislike dictators and corruption.  We’re supposed to take the higher road.

Unfortunately, I guess some of us didn’t get the memo.

Why You Never Write About Laws You Break

Transportation Security Administration, an age...

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Would I be surprised that Jordan Crook got put on a no-fly list for breaking laws?  Probably not.

The one thing I learned a long time ago in journalism type ventures is that you never take anything that you’re currently doing and throw it out to the world thinking that the masses can protect you.  If you’re still doing it, then you don’t go about broadcasting how you’re breaking the law, neener neener, because bad things befall those that taunt the law in that fashion.

Basically, the article itself is about how there is still the law on portable devices creating the possible interference with navigations and other devices on a plane and how some people (like Ms. Crook) think that there isn’t such an issue.  Having been in the wireless industry for over a decade and knowing the ins and outs of RF, I am one of those that find it absolutely amusing when it comes to the justification of how GPS and other navigation equipment gets “effected” by wireless or portable electronics.   Sorry, but it’s basic physics.   If your equipment isn’t effected usually, then it’s not an issue of EM or wireless since those signals always exist.  It’s the same reasoning behind people that think cell phones can set off detonators on a construction site.  If that was the case, then it would have went off long ago due to base station coverage and I don’t see airports setting up no cell coverage zones like it is at a NSA listening station.

No, all of that is fine and dandy.  But if you’re actually looking to travel still for whatever reason, you don’t go around telling people the laws you break on planes.  In my opinion, the travel industry is already inundated with a bunch of movie-scenario security laws and in doing silly things like “proving a point”, that just proves that there needs to be regulations in place to prevent people from using technologies in the air.  On top of that, most laws are enforced by people that don’t actually understand what they’re enforcing.  Just look at the random TSA cases of seizures of books (when the law claimed books of matches were banned) and other types of amusing stories.  Government never claimed to be efficient.

So, if the next time you fly and get detained by TSA, Ms. Crook, I’d probably go and take a look at what you’ve written.   Maybe it wasn’t such a wise choice after all.

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1984 Here We Come


I’ve always wondered whether or not federal law enforcement management ever think about what they say before saying it.   Currently, they want to put a backdoor in every piece of software so that if given a warrant, the government can go in and snoop on sensitive cyber-information.  And their reasoning is based on the fact that CALEA has worked with telecommunications so why can’t it be done elsewhere, predominantly software.

As a telecommunications professional of over a decade of experience and having been in the security industry for a major part of my life, I have to say that they fail to actually understand how CALEA is implemented.  While it is a government mandated security act that telecommunications and internet providers have had to deal with, it’s also got something that most software doesn’t.  A physical footprint.   To actually use a CALEA backdoor, you physically have to go to a 24/7 manned switch, that has hardware to jack into to basically “eavesdrop”.   It’s more complicated than that, but that’s pretty much how it works.

However, with software, if there is a backdoor and it’s known by hackers, then hackers will try everything in their power to break in through that area.  You know how in linux, they say never to use the root user?  That’s the same principle.   Don’t give it out, don’t acknowledge, because once people know that it exists, it becomes a security risk.

And if you’re in security, you should understand the risk assessment value and how ease of use is predominantly inversely proportional to security.  Always has been, and for the most part, always will be.  On top of all of this, there is another method that people will use to get around all of this.   Bouncers and darknets.   If this law is passed, they actually make their lives a lot more difficult as enforcement since most people don’t just think about using darknets or even understand how bouncers work.  If a wiretap is in place in all areas though, then it forces the underground to come up with new ways of communications without fear of someone looking over their shoulder.  And is that what law enforcement wants?  That doesn’t sound “easier” by any means of the imagination.

At least not to me.

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Amazon Tax Not Doing Anything for North Carolina

North Carolina State Capitol.
Image via Wikipedia

Apparently, the online tax for North Carolina hasn’t been bringing in the money that it was supposed to and the thinktank, Tax Foundation, has published a report that says that not only does it hurt the state in the short term, but it also hurts the state in the long term too.

Noooo kidddding.

Amusingly, this is basically the “I told you so” parts where the legislation made decisions on things they knew nothing about and spent budget money that they didn’t have. Again. Nothing new here, folks. Politicians that don’t understand technology and business? Like we’ve never heard that one before.

Interestingly enough, although to no avail, I had spoken about this issue time and again during the time when the “Amazon Tax” during the time period when it was passed and how our legislation thought how wonder it would be to gain some figure in the sky millions in some sort of pot of gold wish.

I mean, seriously. They still continued to budget and spend for this year as if there is this money coming in although there is nary a word from the North Carolina Department of Revenue on whether or not there actually is significant tax revenues coming in due to this tax. I suspect that there is little to nothing, considering they had targeted Amazon, and Amazon cut their ties with North Carolina affiliates and hurt the state in the process. Amusingly, the bad guy that Amazon was made out to be wasn’t so bad and in the end the politicians seemed to have stuck their own foots in their mouth if this study from Tax Foundation has anything to say about it.

From my perspective? Well, one of my businesses just didn’t carry as much revenue this year. Instead of having to pay taxes on the income, it seemed that it was more of a write off this last year. Oh well. Tough cookies for the North Carolina bare coffers.

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Judge Orders Google to Shut Down GMail Account

gmail Sometimes I wonder if judges know exactly what they’re doing when they bring down the heavy hand of the law.

In this case, a bank had “mistakenly” attached a spreadsheet that had a lot of personal data in it. Now, if anything, that bank should be in big trouble. You don’t store personal data in spreadsheets if anyone from security knows anything, and recalling an email? What the heck. When an email goes out, it’s GONE.

So Google refuses to give up the account name due to privacy laws, so the judge orders the account to be deactivated. So my question is…. if I happen to email that judge by mistake, my social security number… does that mean that by precedence, he has to have his email deactivated too?

I mean, that’s the judgment that was passed down, but it doesn’t make any sense from a technological standpoint. There are processes and procedures dealing with IT rulings and when this happens, the corporation that messed up is the one that should be fined, not the person that got sent the information. Amusingly enough it reminds me of a local story about a medical facility that is being investigated for leaving medical records on the side of the road. They claim it was a third party service, but they won’t name the service. And go figure that privacy law is what’s also driving this local story and they’re the ones in trouble.

How North Carolina Will Go Broke By Stupid Tax Laws

Raleigh NC Tax Day Tea Party Protest
Image by Ivy Dawned via Flickr

I really don’t understand North Carolina state. At all.

The entire legislation is made up of some people that have no idea about technology or how it works. The fact that the final tax bill going to the floor has the “Amazon tax” tells me that not a single one of the incumbents that have pushed this or voted this in is either in the twenty first century, nor know a thing about business law. Mainly, the idea that affiliates are the physical presence for a major online retailer is so ludicrous that it’s laughable by anyone that has done consulting work. I’ll give you an example in the consultation analogy:

According to North Carolina state legislation, if I am an out-of-state corporation, but I have sub-contractors that I have agreements to do work with me, then I am to be taxed as if I operated my business in North Carolina.

Sound good to you? Well, that’s the same agreement that affiliates have with any sort of online retailer that pays them to sell advertisement. I also will be curious as far as when others such as the newspapers (News & Record, Business Journal), magazines, online radio stations, and so on feel this bite since I have heard nary a word from them even though they will technically be hurt by this. I’m surprised that actually no one has even thrown a red flag out there. Oh well, time to bite the bullet with stupid taxing that won’t bring in any money.

Here’s why it’s a stupid idea and totally the wrong way to go about taxing Internet purchases. If you want to chase Internet purchasing taxation, you’ll have to do some sort of an agreement through a payment service. Going after affiliates just allows the retailer to continue with their business and cut their ties to the affiliates (aka small business that do pay local taxes). What you miss out on is all of the taxation that the small businesses were putting into your coffers, and on top of it, you’re not making anything from the online retailer(s). This is expected to $150 million in the next two years?

Who the hell are they joking? With the way it’s written and the ties cut from affiliates, the State will be in the hole more than $150 million. Mainly with all the retailers refusing to pay and cutting their ties, and indirectly jeopardizing any real tax money that would have come into play. I can tell you that one of my businesses will be hurt by this and unfortunately for the state, unless something changes this company will probably be in the red instead of black this year and thus won’t be giving up anything to state coffers. Sucks to be you, eh?

If you want to tax internet retail, you have to move from smaller battles to the bigger picture. But if you can’t understand how to walk, I’m not exactly sure when you’ll achieve dreams of running a marathon.

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Dear Winston Salem Drivers Downtown…

Pedestrian crossing sign on Queens Boulevard i...
Image via Wikipedia

I’m not sure where you people learn to drive, but sometimes I hope that your license gets revoked before you hurt someone.

When the light is green, you have to YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS.

When it is red you have to YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS.

Even when it is yellow, you still have to YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS.

This rule doesn’t change if you’re turning right either and am in a hurry. Pedestrians have right-of-way at a cross walk. All the time. Don’t believe me?

NCDOT rules state:

In North Carolina pedestrians have the right of way at all intersections and driveways but must yield to motorists when crossing at any place other than a marked crosswalk.

Go figure. A human body can’t take on half ton of fiberglass? How did anyone ever figure that out. So, quit driving like absolute frackin’ idiots because even as an accident, if someone gets hurt or killed, your life as you know it will either end up in a very big legal proceeding or worse, prison. And who would want that?

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NCGA Unconstitutionally Taxing Scheme Will Hurt Small Businesses

The North Carolina Legislative Building in Ral...
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I don’t know what the North Carolina Legislation is doing, but I can tell you that they’ll be hurting small businesses.

Crazy? Not at all. In fact, this morning I had to re-read my email twice and make sure that the email didn’t come from some hoax source trying to just get to respond with my email so they could sell me Cialis or Viagra or something.

This morning, I received an email from Amazon that said:

We regret to inform you that the North Carolina state legislature (the General Assembly) appears ready to enact an unconstitutional tax collection scheme that would leave Amazon.com little choice but to end its relationships with North Carolina-based Associates.

Hmm. They’re trying to collect taxes from Internet companies… again?!? Come on. It wasn’t but yesterday, I watched how Hong Kong’s civil servants take a voluntarily pay cut to help ease economics and taxes for this year. Yet, here we are in North Carolina, where we’re looking to throw up more laws on things such as taxes on cigarettes, driving mileage, even a text messaging ban while driving to try to make the economics jive. Meanwhile? We are not even enforcing the laws we do have in place such as the tint laws, covers on license plates, and all sorts of other things that could be bringing in revenue for the state.

This isn’t just Amazon mind you. Amazon is only the beginning of the companies that will refuse to do business in this state. There have been others and unfortunately the people that need it the most, the small businesses, are the ones that suffer from this move. Contact your media and state legislation right away. And if your business has anything to do with the Internet, we cannot let things such as this go through.

In the words of Gandalf the Grey, “You Shall Not Pass!”

UPDATE (10:18AM): News & Record’s Mark Binker covers some more details.

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Use of Proxy Servers Could Increase Jail Time

Eternal privacy
Image by Nano Taboada via Flickr

The United States Sentencing Commission has voted but I haven’t found anything on what they’ve actually decided.

Basically, there was legislation put out there that was written in too broad of a format where it said that any sort of proxy server use could increase jail time up to 25%. Now, in essence, the way it’s worded would mean that proxy server use seems to be a secondary offense if you use it for means of hiding yourself to do illegal deeds. And knowing that there are things such as bouncers, and darknets, there’s definitely a reason for this from a law enforcement perspective. But on the flip side, if you strictly say that there is jail time in direct relationship with proxy server use, then that’s completely incorrect and then you render the that argument invalid since there are many uses of proxy servers including those of privacy concerns.

From my perspective, I believe that there’s more to it than meets the eye. It’s not just privacy that I would worry about for your average Net surfer but the fact that translation servers like the one used by Google, is technically a proxy server since it can translate websites and redirect. This means that as a proxy, the host website sees Google instead of your IP address and thus is in a “proxied” fashion. Would you jail those that use translations? What about other means of redirection that are legitimate? Thus, I believe that using the terminology as proxy servers by itself would be too broad. There has to be some sort of offense tied to the use to cover illegal means.

That being said, there are darknets and hosted vpns that you can use for privacy use. TOR is just one of the many. But I think that both sides have to be weighed and find the correct wording choice that doesn’t interfere with privacy, or legal use versus prevention of law enforcement to chase down those that use proxies for unethical behavior.

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Why legal prosecution of computer crimes require superior computer forensics

It’s really unfortunate when you read stories like this. Julie Amero, a substitute teacher in the Connecticut area, has been battling the state on a porn pop-up case that landed her four felony pornography convictions in early 2007.
A team of pro-bono computer forensic experts examined a ghost image of the hard drive and found numerous errors in the prosecution’s case which lead to overturning of the trial and it went to a new trial last June. Amero plead guilty to a misdemeanor of disorderly conduct, paid a fine and is moving on with her life.
Unfortunately for this particular situation, I think that Threat Level reported on the spot. The prosecution’s technical expertise was flawed in many cases and the testimonial didn’t jive with the evidence given by what the forensic evidence provided by the hard drive. Even giving up her state teaching credentials is asking too much of someone that didn’t actually click the pop-up links from malware judging by the analysis report of the ghost image given by the defense’s technical experts.
I assume that the prosecution wouldn’t let the charges drop even due to this overwhelming evidence due to the fact that four years down the line, they had already committed to many resources that it a dropped case would have looked bad. While I’m no legal expert, I believe that the misdemeanor was a justification of internal politics that happens in all stages of corporate and government alike.
A copy of the report by the forensics team can be found here.