#SOPA 24 hours protest is just the beginning

Thursday, 19 January, 2012

Wikipedia Thank You re SOPA and PIPA protest

Even if the current incarnations of SOPA and PIPA laws are stopped, this will just be one of the many battles in a long war. The industries and lobbyists will keep on pushing. It is up to us to ensure future incarnations of SOPA and PIPA are not overreaching thus doing more harm than good.

As one of the lead Fair Copyright for Canada Calgary organizers who has written articles, sent in personal submissions for parliamentary copyright committees, and organized protests since December 2007, I try to do my part to help shape Fair Copyright laws in Canada. Given that experience, I know the anti-SOPA and anti-PIPA has to be the beginning and we should be prepared to keep up the effort for sometime to come.

See also:

* “Canadian Media Coverage of the SOPA Protest

* Toronto Star, “Michael Geist’s website went dark to protest U.S. restrictions on Internet

Jan 21, 2012 Update: Mashable, “The Week That Killed SOPA: A Timeline


Going Dark for 24 hours in protest of #SOPA

Tuesday, 17 January, 2012

Wikipeida goes dark - 20120118

boingboing.net goes dark - 20120118

In solidarity with the 24 hours SOPA protests by Wikipedia (learn more), boingboing.net (learn more via Electronic Frontier Foundation), and others, this site will “go dark” for 24 hours.

To learn more of the reasons why I, as a Canadian, am protesting, please have a read of “Why Canadians Should Participate in the SOPA/PIPA Protest

Quoting Wikipedia’s learn more,

“Although the bills have been amended since their introduction, they are still deeply problematic. Among other serious problems in the current draft of the bills, the requirement exists for US-based sites to actively police links to purported infringing sites. These kinds of self-policing activities are non-sustainable for large, global sites – including ones like Wikipedia. The legislative language is ambiguous and overly broad, even though it touches on protected speech. Congress says it’s trying to protect the rights of copyright owners, but the “cure” that SOPA and PIPA represent is worse than the disease.

www.wordpress.com goes dark - 20120118


Internet links not libel, Supreme Court of Canada rules

Wednesday, 19 October, 2011

CBC News, “Internet links not libel, top court rules

“Hyperlinking to defamatory material on the internet does not constitute publishing the defamatory material itself, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Wednesday.

The ruling will alleviate fears that holding someone liable for how they use hyperlinks on websites, personal ones or others, could cast a chill on internet use.

The responsible use of the internet and how traditional defamation law applies to modern technologies were at issue in this case, which was watched closely by media organizations and civil liberties groups.”

citation: Crookes v. Newton, 2011 SCC 47

Toronto Star, “Supreme Court ruling big victory for Internet freedom

CP, “Supreme Court of Canada says web link does not constitute defamation

CTV News, “Top court says web link does not constitute defamation


Stop Online Spying on Your Private Life

Friday, 16 September, 2011

Watch Stop Online Spying on Your Private Life [via OpenMedia.ca HT Charlie Angus, MP]

Stop Online Spying on Your Purchases

Stop Online Spying on Your Email

Vancouver Sun, “Advocates, politicians campaign against Conservatives’ proposed ‘snooping law’


First KOMU Interactive U_News@4 Sept 12th premiere show + Uncensored & Unedited Making of video!

Monday, 12 September, 2011

Traditional TV news is like a One-Way Street where U are a recipient of information.  U_News@4 is a revolutionary interactive TV news show where it lets you talk back! A Two-Way Street!

U_News@4 #SarahHill

Want to see how the revolutionary interactive U_News@4 is made? Watch this uncensored and unedited behind the scene Making of KOMU U_News@4 Sept 12th premiere (including the pre-show meeting and post-show discussion). Feel free to jump around different part of the video as the video is long.

Co-hosts of the Sept 12th premiere: +Michael Mozart +Kempton Lam +pio dal cin +Jen Reeves+Chad LaFarge +Aaron Fuhrman +Joseph Puglisi +Kim Beasley +Laurent Jean Philippe Ravalec

Quoting +Sarah Hill‘s after-show posting (emphasis added),

“Wow…what an incredible experience with U_News tonight! Google Plus Hangout guests from around the world co-hosted our newscast. A guest from France gave his account of the blast at the nuclear plant. A guest from Italy shared how G+ Hangout is enabling him to get news….and a guest from New York shared the mood in his city the day after the 9/11 anniversary. The Hangout technology worked beautifully and we even had viewers questioning whether the people on the news were “really from France, Italy and Canada”. We will get video of today’s U_News show posted shortly. Thanks to our co-hosts for being part of broadcast history! A new set of co-hosts will join us tomorrow.”

Sept 17 update: You can download and watch the entire KOMU U_News@4 first show from this link. [HT Jen Reeves] You can watch the entire Thur Sept 15, 2011 behind the scene Making of U_News@4 show here. [HT Michael Mozart for recording]


Interview with Sarah Hill – KOMU-TV Google+ Hangouts and new interactive U_News@4 show

Tuesday, 6 September, 2011

U_News@4 #SarahHill

Ground breaking interactive U_News@4

This afternoon, I had the pleasure to interview Sarah Hill, KOMU-TV 5pm news and the new U_News@4 anchor. I asked Sarah to travel back in time to July to share with us her first experiences with Google+ Hangouts. I also asked Sarah to tell us what she had to do to convince the bosses at KOMU to give Google+ Hangout a try. Sarah also talked about the origin of the concept of the new show U_News@4, launching in a few days on Sept 12th 4pm CST, and the various segments of the new show.

Here is my video interview with Sarah. Enjoy.

Also have a watch of U_News@4 #SarahHill Preview.

Concluding Thoughts

One of the Quotes I Love is,

A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.” – a quote by Arthur Miller

In light of Sarah‘s innovative and expert use of Google+ Hangouts, I think this makes perfect sense.

A good hangout, I suppose, is a world talking to itself.

Additional news & articles references

* Sept 6, 2011, “U_News Test Drive Makes International Headlines“. Here is an excerpt,

“U_News provides a new digital forum for U to personally share your news, opinions, kudos and community events. Our viewers will essentially co-host this newscast.”

* My previous two articles “KOMU Sarah Hill Google+ Hangouts – General insights” and “Technical Insights and Ideas to Reshape Newsrooms“.

* July 7, 2011, “KOMU Airs Live Google Plus Video Chat

KOMU became the 1st local television station Thursday to air a live on-air Google Plus video chat.

The group video chat is called “Hangout” and it aired live during KOMU 8 News at 5. Google viewers were able to share their experiences with this new social networking site on-air with television viewers.”


re: internet voting – A software engineer’s critique of Elections Canada Chief Electoral Officer’s plan

Wednesday, 24 August, 2011

Internet voting in a by-election held after 2013

Background

In this article, I am writing as a reporter and also as a computer scientist with 10 years of software engineering experiences plus a keen interest in internet security & internet voting issues for over 10 years. To me, there are many potential issues with internet voting and I will discuss two main issues I see in this article.

This recent discussion of  internet voting is a result of Elections Canada Chief Electoral Officer’s report on the 41st general election (PDF file) (emphasis and link added),

Under section 18.1 of the Act, the Chief Electoral Officer may carry out studies on alternative voting methods and test electronic voting processes for use during general elections or by-elections, subject to the approval of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Elections Canada has been examining Internet voting as a complementary and convenient way to cast a ballot. The Chief Electoral Officer is committed to seeking approval for a test of Internet voting in a by-election held after 2013.

1) “Security” of internet-based voting system vs. Advantage of Paper Ballots

Paper ballots used in Canada have one major security advantage: it takes a long time to fake or temper with the votes. Can you image, with our existing checks and balances, someone physically temper with (i.e. change the voters’ votes) 10 paper votes, 100 votes, or 10,000 votes? I honestly can’t. There are just so many Elections Canada people and election scrutineers from all parties to make tempering with physical votes almost impossible.

Now, can I, as a former software engineer, image someone with the smart and knowledge of the particular internet voting system’s precise weakness, electronically tempering with 100,000 votes in a general election? Absolutely!

Am I just imagining potential security weaknesses and worrying too much? Well, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics had some serious eggs on their faces in Oct 2010. They thought they had a secure internet-based voting system enough that they ask people to help test their system. Only after a few days of testing, their embarrassing failure was documented by Washington Post in “Hacker infiltration ends D.C. online voting trial”. [HT Bruce Schneier]

Last week, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics opened a new Internet-based voting system for a weeklong test period, inviting computer experts from all corners to prod its vulnerabilities in the spirit of “give it your best shot.” Well, the hackers gave it their best shot — and midday Friday, the trial period was suspended, with the board citing “usability issues brought to our attention.

Here’s one of those issues: After casting a vote, according to test observers, the Web site played “Hail to The Victors” — the University of Michigan fight song.

“The integrity of the system had been violated,” said Paul Stenbjorn, the board’s chief technology officer.

Let me quote Bruce Schneier which I totally agree (emphasis added),

My primary worry about contests like this is that people will think a positive result means something. If a bunch of students can break into a system after a couple of weeks of attempts, we know it’s insecure. But just because a system withstands a test like this doesn’t mean it’s secure. We don’t know who tried. We don’t know what they tried. We don’t know how long they tried. And we don’t know if someone who tries smarter, harder, and longer could break the system.

Fair election is the foundation of our democracy, as a software engineer of large scale safety and mission critical systems for 10 years, I try speak with an impartial view. I honestly don’t know if we can build a secure internet voting system that I would risk Canada’s democracy.

Sure, other countries may have internet-voting which their citizens approve. But what other countries do or don’t does not necessarily mean it is right! I care about my own country’s democracy which is why I am speaking out.

By the way, don’t even think about security by obscurity (using secrecy of design, etc) because it is a really bad idea!

2) Secret Ballots in Polling stations vs. Internet voting location

Polling stations in Canada have a specific set of requirements and the ability to let voters cast their ballots in secret is one of those fundamental requirements.

Unfortunately, when voting is done over the internet, we can be no longer be sure all ballots are casted without undue influence from others in the “voting booth” because there isn’t a “voting booth” anymore.

Imagine a religious, trade, activist, etc group encouraging their members to vote on a computer at a common location for “elections parties”, while their leaders keep coercing their members. Can we stop this easily and effectively?

Even if the group is as small as a family, should we allow the sanctity of & requirement of “secret ballots” be violated by over-eager parents, grandparents, relatives, or friends?

3) My brief replies to interesting comments and “solutions” from this CBC News August 18 at 6:43am Facebook posting.

  • From Melissa Dimock, “I’m a little leery of it, but it’s being done elsewhere. I do think that making voting easier, more accessible and convenient would improve voter turn-out. […]” August 18 at 6:45am

My reply: I don’t know if internet-voting will increase voter turn-out for the long term once the novelty factor is gone. But assuming it does, does it worth the risks stated in (1) & (2) above?

  • From Steve Cooper, “I’m not too down with it. I wouldn’t trust it. Imagine on election night the result is a massive swing to a party you are not pleased with. How confident would you be that the result is legitimate?” August 18 at 6:51am

I have to agree with Steve.

  • From David Jamieson, “Nope and Nope again. It is a ridiculous idea in this age of hacking. A vote in a democracy is far too important to be left in the hands of so few. […]” August 18 at 6:52am

I also agree with David.

  • From Erika Belanger, “if you can submit your income tax or do banking on the Internet, we should be able to vote that way. Might have more voters that way. There as to be a way to make it secure…..” August 18 at 6:54am

I think Erika‘s thought may be shared by many Canadians. Why is it safe to submit income tax and do banking on the internet but not so for voting?

Well, lets put things in context with #2 above. We have no worries if someone is watching and monitoring how a person is paying income tax or banking online. But we have serious concern if someone is monitored and being “influenced” on how they vote in an “internet voting booth” at home or at any location.

Hacking our internet banking while profitable to criminals, imagine criminals help hack an election and control Canada’s political future? Our votes, paradoxically, are much more valuable in some sense even many fellow Canadians routinely give up their rights to vote.

A healthy democracy needs constructive debates. Please add your views, I will try to selective reply to some of the comments.

*** References & Notes ***

Bruce Schneier is an internationally respected computer security expert, he is the expert that I have read and admire for over 10 years! In this article, I quoted his Oct 2010 piece “Hacking Trial Breaks D.C. Internet Voting System” extensively. His earlier but comprehensive Dec 2000 piece “Voting and Technology“, while written over 10 years ago, still contains some valuable insights (even thought they may not be his latest thinking). His Dec 2003 “Computerized and Electronic Voting” is also a good read.


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