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TBTF for 1998-03-09: Pushy

Keith Dawson ( dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com )
Sun, 28 Mar 16:21:47 -0400


Threads Open source software and the Linux OS
See also TBTF for
1999-08-16, 05-22, 03-26, 02-15, 02-01, 1998-11-17, 11-11, 11-03, 10-27, 10-12, 08-31, more...

Draft Netscape Public License released

Gives the company extra rights as the original developer

Since Netscape announced its plans to release the source code for Communicator 5 [1], open source developers have been awaiting the license terms for the release. Last week Netscape published version 0.9 of the "NPL" [2]. For the license itself in legalese see [3] (HTML) or [4] (text). Netscape has kindly provided both an annotated version [5] for non-native speakers of legalese and a FAQ [6]. The license is similar to to the LGPL [7] but goes further to provide special privileges to Netscape as the initial developer of the NPL'd code; in particular Netscape uniquely has the right to license NPL'd code, including code written by outside developers, to its partners on terms different than the NPL.

Netscape is soliciting comments on the preliminary NPL on this newsgroup [8] until 3/11.

[1] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1998-01-26.html#s03
[2] http://www.mozilla.org/NPL/
[3] http://www.mozilla.org/NPL/LICENSE-0.90.html
[4] http://www.mozilla.org/NPL/LICENSE-0.90.txt
[5] http://www.mozilla.org/NPL/annotated.html
[6] http://www.mozilla.org/NPL/FAQ.html
[7] http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/lgpl.html
[8] news://secnews.netscape.com/netscape.public.mozilla.license


Threads Cryptography export policy
See also TBTF for
2000-02-06, 1999-10-05, 08-30, 08-23, 08-16, 07-26, 05-22, 05-08, 04-21, 03-01, 01-26, more...

Brits fighting to stave off crypto ban

Mr. Louis Freeh, meet Mr. Jack Straw

In March of 1997 the then-Tory British government's Department of Trade & Industry proposed licensing "trusted third parties" to offer encryption services and requiring them to escrow users' private keys. The Labor party, then in opposition, decried this proposal, and their election manifesto [9] codified their opposition. But rumors have been circulating for a month now that the current Labor government is about to propose a scheme very like the year-old proposal [10].

On 2/10 Sean Gabb published this leak [11] of government plans to announce mandatory domestic key escrow. On 2/19 an official of the DTI did give a presentation [12] on policy suggestions for digital signatures -- and said that the domestic encryption part of the policy had been delayed by the "completely wrong announcements on the Internet," by which he apparently meant [11]. Now more than two weeks have gone by and no policy paper has been published; rumors continue to swirl that the policy, when it is released, will somehow link encryption with digital signatures. Microsoft Europe has issued a response [13] to this possibility that sets out the issues very nicely. Meanshile, the proprietors of NTKnow have set up a mailing list for fast-breaking British crypto news. To subscribe, mail majordomo@lists.unfortu.net with message: subscribe crypto-announce .

[9] http://www.labour.org.uk/views/info%2Dhighway/content.html
[10] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1998-02-02.html#s07
[11] http://freespace.virgin.net/old.whig/flc010.htm
[12] http://www.liberty.org.uk/cacib/legal/crypto/icx2.html
[13] http://www.liberty.org.uk/cacib/legal/crypto/microsoft.html


Strict EU privacy rules coming

Will it become illegal to push a cookie on a European?

Next October, EU rules go into effect governing the flow of personal data across national borders. If EU countries strictly implement these rules, they would have to cut off large amounts of corporate and personal commerce with countries that don't implement similarly strict privacy protections. Outside the EU, only Norway, Iceland, Slovenia, New Zealand, and Switzerland have laws governing the use of private data by commercial firms. Here is a summary of the directive on "Transborder Flows of Personal Data," taken from an article [14] covering possible impacts on the US, Canada, Australia, and Japan:

Among the Directive's requirements are that the member country statutes provide individuals with the right to advance notice of a data collector's intent to collect and use their personal data, the right to access and correct data collected about them, and the right to object to certain data transfers. The Directive further requires that... data collectors process personal data only for specified, explicit, and legitimate purposes; that data collectors maintain the security and confidentiality of personal data; and that statutes provide judicial remedies for violations.
If the directive were applied liberally it could mean that Website operators would have to get permission from European users before setting a cookie, and would have to disclose the intended uses of cookie data and of personal data captured in site registration. The more suspect uses of cookies -- by ad sites for example -- would seem to be banished entirely, as their only intent is collecting and correlating personal data for purposes of unsolicited marketing.

Articles 25 and 26 [15] are at the center of the problems the directive poses for non-EU countries. Article 25 lays out the strictures and Article 26 gives some conditions under which they might be relaxed. No one seems to know [16] how the EU countries will implement the privacy directive.

[14] http://www.info-law.com/eupriv.html
[15] http://www2.echo.lu/legal/en/dataprot/directiv/chap4.html
[16] http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe/globehtml/064/Lines_...


Threads Software patents
See also TBTF for
2000-03-31, 1999-08-30, 06-14, 02-15, 01-26, 01-13, 1998-12-15, 08-31, 05-18, 05-11, 04-27, more...

Open Market awarded three basic patents

Online commerce developers and vendors may need to obtain licenses

On 3/4 Open Market announced that it has been awarded three patents covering significant aspects of online commerce [17]: visitor traffic analysis, electronic shopping carts, and secure, real-time payment using credit cards. The company intends to collect royalties from others in the Internet commerce space. These patents will be more difficult to contest than EData's [18]. The proprietor of the Internet Patent News Service says:

A commendable amount of non-patent prior art cited -- no easy 102 knockout here to allow you to ignore letters from Open Market.
Open Market's capsule descriptions of the patents:
Internet Server Access Control and Monitoring Systems (No. 5,708,780), covers... the ability to analyze how users browse through content on a Web site. Session Identifiers allow businesses to market more effectively to buyers based upon viewing patterns... can also be used to limit access to specific content.

Network Sales System (No. 5,715,314), covers the use of "electronic shopping carts" which merchants provide to their customers as a way to accumulate items to purchase before checking out. This patent also describes the passing of payment and purchase information through a URL.

Digital Active Advertising (No. 5,724,424), covers secure, real-time payment using credit and debit cards over the Internet. It is one of the earliest and broadest Internet payment patents yet granted, with a filing date of December 16, 1993.

[17] http://www.openmarket.com/releases/3patents.htm
[18] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1996-04-07.html


Threads Echelon and the UKUSA signals intelligence franchise
See also TBTF for
2000-07-20, 1999-09-11, 07-08, 06-14, 1998-12-23, 03-09

Yep, they're listening

The Echelon system links five nations' spy agencies in filtering all voice and data traffic worldwide

Have you ever gotten a laugh from this venerable Net .sig?

The NSA is now funding research not only in cryptography, but in all areas of advanced mathematics. If you'd like a circular describing these new research opportunities, just pick up your phone, call your mother, and ask for one.
A draft European Parliament report [19] on the role and function of political control technologies was circulated last month. The Scientific and Technological Options Assessment recounts characteristics of a worldwide intelligence-gathering and distribution system named Echelon. Much of the current knowledge of Echelon came out of New Zealand, where in 1996 Nicky Hagar published the book "Secret Power." (It is not, alas, listed at Amazon, Waterstones, or Barnes & Noble.) See this summary [20] published in CovertAction Quarterly. Echelon coordinates the signals intelligence of the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It listens in real-time, from earth and space, to the vast majority of all email, fax, telex, and voice traffic worldwide and filters it for words or phrases of interest to one of the five countries' intelligence services. Just like the paranoids always said. This has been going on since 1981. In a note to the Cryptography mailing list, Vin McClellan <vin at shore dot net> picks out STOA's hot point:
The implications of the proposed controls over free access to strong cryptography -- declares STOA -- "encompass the civil and human rights of European citizens and the commercial rights of companies to operate within the law, without unwarranted surveillance by intelligence agencies operating in conjunction with multinational competitors." That last phrase -- with its explicit reference to the commercial or economic intelligence which can be gleaned from universal surveillance (and the value of such intelligence to multinational corporations aligned with each of the inteligence agencies cooperating in Echelon) -- lies in the dense gray text of the report like an unlit fuse.
And in conclusion, courtesy of meta-X spook (see TBTF for 1995-04-13) [21], let me CIA plutonium Peking DES kibo Panama NSA PLO domestic radar disruption Khaddafi supercomputer BATF North Korea Serbian just state that our great country will never be truly free until Nazi genetic Ft. Meade South Africa nuclear plutonium Ft. Bragg colonel cryptographic Kennedy FBI Delta Force radar Uzi Mossad bomb Marxist strategic AK-47 terrorist.

[19] http://www.jya.com/atpc.htm
[20] http://jya.com/echelon.htm
[21] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1995-04-13.html


Centerfold attacks Web site

This champion of free speech likes it less when the speech is directed their way

David Barberi's <info at 2meta dot com> humor site [22] collects his favorites among the numerous April Fools pranks that have circulated on the Net since at least 1978. He archived [23] a Usenet posting from last April, author unknown, which purports to be from one Hugh F. Hefner and falsely claims that Playboy Magazine has decided to shut down. It's pretty funny. (The same posting is available from Deja News, but not from Alta Vista's Usenet database.) Last month Barberi received a demand [24] from the Playboy legal department that he remove the piece. He has consulted with a lawyer and so far has not taken it down, though he has placed an "obnoxious warning" on each page of the site. US case law strongly supports parody as protected speech. Barberi suggests he may contact the Playboy Foundation for help with the legal expenses. His is exactly the kind of David-vs.- Goliath, first-amendment case that in the past Playboy has aided financially.

[22] http://www.2meta.com/april-fools/
[23] http://www.2meta.com/april-fools/1997/playboy-shutdown.html
[24] http://www.2meta.com/april-fools/playboy/


Lower-cost PowerBooks on the way from Apple

Cheaper and faster than comparably equipped Wintels

In May Apple will begin shipping low-cost laptops that are more than comparable in price and performance with their Wintel competitors [25]. The new models, which have been rumored under the code names Main Street and Wall Street, will start at $1999 for a 233-MHz G3 processor with a 12.1-inch dual-scan display. 233-MHz Pentium MMX notebooks today cost anywhere from $2,900 to $5,000 and underperform a similarly clocked G3. Apple's new pricing will undercut even the bargain-basement system you can buy today [26] by combining a low-end PowerBook 1400 ($1800) with a 250-MHz G3 add-in from Newer Technologies ($1000).

A survey: please send me a note (dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com) if you presently use a Macintosh regularly. What is the probability that you will buy another MacOS system?

[25] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,19780,00.html?pfv
[26] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,19673,00.html?pfv


Short domain names are almost gone

Apply quick for cry.net, bum.net, or uzi.net

Darn those guys at Need To Know [27]. Their useful and interesting e-rag comes out on Friday and often as not scoops TBTF on two or three items I had planned to run the following Monday. Here is one: Roger Gonzalez <argh at datapult dot com>, with way too much time on his hands, did a brute-force search for all 2- and 3-character names still available in the .com and .net domains. The result [28]:

You can download Gonzalez's entire report [29] (349K).

NTKnow doesn't (they would say "don't") credit the source of this item, but they probably picked it up the same place I did, from Glen Mccready's 0xdeadbeef mailing list.

[27] http://www.ntk.net/
[28] http://datapult.com/domains.html
[29] http://datapult.com/domains3.txt


Cosmic push

Faster and faster apart

Push may be moribund as a topic on the Web (for example, Microsoft will ship IE5 without its Active Channel bar [30]), but it is very much alive in the corridors of cosmology. TBTF for 1998-01-19 [31] reported that the universe looks to expand forever, slowing all the time but never reversing its expansion. This concensus only came clear in January, and already it is being supplanted with talk of a universal repulsive force [32] -- perhaps the "cosmological constant" that Einstein invented and rued all the rest of his days -- that is causing the universal expansion to accelerate over time. One candidate for the instigator of this repulsive force is the zero-point energy of the vacuum (see TBTF for 1997-11-24 [33] and [34]). Evidence for the acceleration comes from observations of distant supernovas. Fans of the inflationary Big Bang theory welcome the news, because the cosmic push may be just enough to balance the books on a topologically flat universe, after visible matter, dark matter, and exotic matter (WIMPs and MACHOs) have fallen short. An accelerating expansion would also mean the universe is older than it apappears, helping to close an embarassing gap with the estimated age of its oldest stars.

[30] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,19656,00.html?pfv
[31] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1998-01-19.html#s11
[32] http://www.aip.org/enews/physnews/1998/split/pnu361-1.htm
[33] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1997-11-24.html#s10
[34] http://www.aip.org/enews/physnews/1997/split/pnu345-2.htm


Quick bits

A twisty little maze of items, all different

Threads Ganging up on Microsoft
See also TBTF for
1999-08-16, 07-19, 02-15, 02-01, 01-13, 01-04, 1998-12-23, 12-15, 12-07, 11-11, 10-19, more...
bul 3Com sues Microsoft

The maker of the barn-burning Palm Pilot filed trademark lawsuits against Microsoft in Germany and Italy [35] for naming its upcoming competitor the "Palm PC." 3Com apparently choose to sue in Europe because trademark law in the US would not be as favorable to their case.

[35] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,19745,00.html?pfv

bul Wal-Mart to sell Internet access

If further evidence were needed that the Internet is going mainstream, consider the announcement by Sam's Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, that it will offer Internet access to its 21.4 million members through the ISP Earthlink. Sam's Club members will get the same services available to all EarthLink members: email, a personal start-up page, technical support, and 6 MB of Web space.

Threads Quantum computers and quantum physics
See also TBTF for
1999-10-05, 01-04, 1998-11-03, 10-27, 09-14, 03-09, 03-02, 02-23, 1997-11-24, 09-15, 05-22, more...
bul Resilient quantum computation

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory say they have solved a problem that will theoretically affect quantum computers more than traditional ones -- error detection and correction. Earlier this year Raymond Laflamme and colleagues published a paper outlining how to use redundancy to compensate for the inherent fragility of atomic states. This story in Nando Times Infotech [36] is a bit lightweight; subscribers to the journal "Science" can view the original article online [37].

[36] http://www.techserver.com/newsroom/ntn/info/011798/info6_20484_...
[37] http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/279/...

bul Body language

The New York Post asked Hilka Klinkenberg to review Bill Gates's communication style during his Capital Hill appearance [38]. Klinkenberg is an image consultant who coaches Fortune 500 executives on body language. She gave Gates good marks overall but pointed out a few lapses.

Whenever he talked about competition and innovation -- not his, other companies' -- he got this tight insincere smile, as if to say he was annoyed by competition and wants the whole ball of wax to himself. Bill was best with his hand gestures, which were non-threatening and sincere... But the more pow- erful the person, the fewer gestures he makes... I didn't see anything that was frightening or menacing about Bill. There's almost a Princess Diana quality about him... it's an endearing shyness that comes across.
[38] http://www.nypost.com/business/217.htm

bul Demoronizer

John Walker, whom we last met in TBTF for 1997-03-09 [39] -- the man who assembled HotBits, the first known Internet randomness server -- has performed another service to humanity. He has made freely available the Demoronizer [40], which corrects all the nonstandard characters and broken HTML in documents generated from Microsoft applications via "Save as HTML." The Demoronizer is written in Perl, and yes, it does run in Windows environments [41]. Thanks to Lloyd Wood <L.Wood at surrey dot ac dot uk> for the pointer.

[39] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1997-03-09.html#s05
[40] http://www.fourmilab.ch/webtools/demoroniser/
[41] http://www.perl.com/CPAN-local/ports/


bul Physicists just want to have fun: WIMPs and MACHOs are weakly interacting massive particles and massive cometary halo objects. WIMPs were postulated first as a candidate for the "dark matter" in the universe, and after they were named the comet boys just had to trump them.


bul For a complete list of TBTF's (mostly email) sources, see http://www.tbtf.com/sources.html.

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