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TBTF Log



This is the TBTF Log, an experiment in reporting important breaking news in a more timely way than was possible with the Tasty Bit of the Day. The TBTF newsletter continues unchanged. The current issue is TBTF for 1999-11-21: Shameless.

About this Web log.
Link using this permanent URL.
Previous weeks' logs table of contents.


Contents
Friday, 1999-12-10
  • Is eToys paying in market cap for bullying etoy? (published in TBTF)

Wednesday, 1999-12-08

Monday, 1999-12-06

Sunday, 1999-12-05

Friday, December 10, 1999

12/10/99 12:18:51 PM


Wednesday, December 08, 1999

12/8/99 5:33:29 PM

  • Patent issued for psychographic profiling of users. TBTF Irregular Gary Stock sends word of a development that nicely blends two longtime TBTF concerns: worrisome patents and vanishing consumer privacy. The online marketer Be Free has been awarded a second business-method patent. US Patent No. 5,991,735, titled Computer Program Apparatus for Determining Behavioral Profiles of a Computer User. According to the company it covers any method for the "passive creation of viewer profiles." So watch out, all you spammers foisting email cookies on the innocent and unwashed.

    Funny, if you search the IBM database for patents issued in the name of Be Free's co-founder, Tom Gerace, you find the company's patents mixed in with 5 others involving the processing of paint sludge. Do you suppose this coincidence is meaningful?


Monday, December 06, 1999

12/6/99 3:24:25 PM

  • updated Credible claim of a GSM attack -- 100M cell-phone users' privacy at risk. Adi Shamir (the "S" in RSA) and a colleague have developed a method of decoding GSM cell-phone traffic, protected by the A5/1 encryption algorithm, in real-time on a PC. Nearly 100 million European cell-phone users rely on GSM A5/1 for their privacy, and about 130M more worldwide use a weaker version, A5/2. Here is the Shamir/Biryukov paper in Postscript form (292K) and in HTML (text 44K, six images 163K).

    A poster to the Cryptography list speculated whether the A5/1 algorithm has weaknesses built into it by design:

    Other than better funding, the NSA has the advantage over us "outsiders" in that the NSA or their European counterparts designed A5/1 and A5/2. They didn't have to find a compromise. They had the luxury of being able to engineer it in. Our 5 clock cycles attack against A5/2 only works because several properties of the cipher come together just right. Chance? Many doubt it. We can only wait and see if similar "fortunate coincidences" play a role in the new attack against A5/1.

    This story was picked up by the NY Times and Wired on Tuesday, and I wrote about it that day for the Industry Standard's Media Grok here.

12/6/99 9:53:49 AM

  • What is "in plain sight?" In the US, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution (against unreasonable searches and seizures) restricts police executing a search warrant in a person's home to looking for evidence of a particular, narrowly defined crime. They can't go trolling for evidence of unrelated offences; they can't even seize and attempt to use such evidence unless it is discovered in plain sight.

    So when law enforcement officials seize a computer under a search warrent, what does in plain sight mean with regard to a hard disk? This Washington Post article airs some recent cases in which the courts have grappled with this issue. As in many other questions of cyberspace law, according to law professor A. Michael Froomkin,

    Our traditional Fourth Amendment thinking doesn't map well into high-tech information gathering.


Sunday, December 05, 1999

12/5/99 2:39:48 PM

  • Fast. Free. False. This is the tagline for the new FNwire service, which looks to be setting up camp on The Onion's territory. This Future News wire brings you business and technology news that might happen, but probably won't. Headlining the first issue is Death's filing for an IPO, complete with SEC form S-1 Seems somewhat derivitive of The Onion's earlier piece on the IPO of Anabaena, "a photosynthesizing, nitrogen-fixing algae with 1999 revenues estimated at $0 billion."


About this Web log

This venue represents an experiment in more timely and less "cooked" TBTF news coverage. You'll read here things that came through my desktop machine mere minutes before. The TBTF Log replaces the Tasty Bit of the Day feature.

The week's TBTF Log entries will be mailed to TBTF subscribers on Sunday evenings.

The email and Web editions of Tasty Bits from the Technology Front represent my best effort to present engaging, cogent news and analysis on what matters to the life of the Net. TBTF will continue as before, but on a schedule closer to twice-monthly than to weekly.


Most recently updated 1999-12-16