Here's our full technical report on the Estonian system. [The previous item in RISKS had only the video and executive summary online. PGN] https://estoniaevoting.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/IVotingReport.pdf Comments and feedback welcome. [PGN adds the following:] This is a milestone report, probably the most detailed and in-depth investigation of any Internet voting system to date. The authors describe numerous operational security flaws discovered during their observation of an election in Tallinn last October. They also discovered several architectural weaknesses in the system that they were able to exploit in a lab-created near-duplicate of the Estonian voting system. They conclude that a well-funded and determined attacker such as a criminal organization or a nation state would be able to compromise an Estonian election in multiple ways, bypassing the various protections in place, including the national ID card system and the smart phone vote verification system. These attacks would most likely go completely undetected. After the European Parliament elections going on now, the authors plan to release the code they used in their laboratory exploits.
http://www.zdnet.com/au/nsw-e-voting-shuns-perfection-for-good-practical-security-7000029703/ They have mentioned many issues (but many issues still remain). So there is nothing in there to reassure the person this system will work. There is still the belief of 'near enough be considered acceptable'. And, what if power goes down?! [Once again, see my CACM Inside Risks articles on the good (supposedly the best is its enemy) that is not good enough, while NOTHING should be expected to be perfect. http://www.csl.sri.com/users/neumann/cacm228.pdf PGN]
FYI—I've heard of "fat-tail risks", but we now have "fat-train risks" ? SNCF introduces their new "Widette" Train. The new SNCF train passing protocol: "After you, Alphonse.", "No, you first, my dear Gaston!" Kim Willsher in Paris, theguardian.com, Wednesday 21 May 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/21/french-railway-operator-sncf-orders-trains-too-big/print French railway operator SNCF has ordered 2000 new trains that are too big for many of the stations they are expected to serve. SNCF's failure to verify measurements is expected to result in cost of 50m euros to modify 1,300 platforms, as this affects one-sixth of the regional stations. [The text that Henry included is somewhat different from what is now at the above URL. I have tried to adapt in what I include here. PGN-ed] [Also noted by Nico Chart: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27509559 ]
After NASA's experience with a "Faster, Better, Cheaper" strategy ended in a couple of celebrated failures, one would hope at the very least that no one would use that slogan, much less that strategy again, especially with respect to computer-related risks. But no. See the FBC hopes for the yet-to-be-created Federal Health IT safety center: http://www.govhealthit.com/news/feds-call-hit-safety-center?topic=,26#.U3vBsShaZL0 While FBC, (which in its original form, included the idea that it's okay to fail) might be a reasonable strategy for experimental systems, it seems a bad one for production systems, raising the threat that our health IT program is re-enacting the same problem that brought us Challenger -- mistaking an experimental technology for an operational one. Robert L Wears, MD, MS, PhD, University of Florida Imperial College London firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 1-904-244-4405
Originally from: jon kuroda <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Sometimes, the disaster in "disaster recovery scenario" is not some external event like a hurricane or earthquake, but an "own goal", a disaster perpetrated by one's own systems. Short Version: Windows 7 image deployed to all of Emory University's managed windows systems—laptops, desktops and servers. Including the Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager system that itself was used to deploy the images. Recovery is now in its 2nd day. I guess it could have been worse. http://it.emory.edu/windows7-incident/ "A Windows 7 deployment image was accidentally sent to all Windows machines, including laptops, desktops, and even servers. This image started with a repartition / reformat set of tasks. As soon as the accident was discovered, the SCCM server was powered off. However, by that time, the SCCM server itself had been repartitioned and reformatted. Restoration of servers began immediately, but the process took far longer than expected. We have been using consultants to help validate the health of the SCCM servers and that work only completed last night. So, we were without our preferred methods for deploying images to desktops/laptops all yesterday and relied on older methods—USB + Ghost, LANDesk (we still had our old LANDesk server) + PXE. These methods required a lot of manual work plus our success was uneven with them. Today we are pausing—briefly this morning—to see if we can now use our preferred method, SCCM. This will allow us to have a one-touch method for restoring desktops/laptops to a production ready state." [danny burstein commented: It's probably a good idea to chack that it shouldn't reimage and reboot itself. Also noted by Drew Dean and Gabe Goldberg at Slashdot: http://m.slashdot.org/story/202159 PGN]
Welcome to the horror show that is the 'Internet of things' -- hyper-intelligent software, vulnerable hardware ... and a whole new level of privacy invasio Technology leaders loathe regulation, but now they're practically begging for it. Dan Gillmor, *The Guardian*, 13 May 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/13/internet-of-things-software-privacy-silicon-valley?CMP=ema_565 The "Internet of things" is turning into Silicon Valley's latest mania. At first glance, it is a trend with great appeal, enough to become something more than a trend and a true revolution: a world in which everything we touch and use has an embedded intelligence and memory of its own, and all of it is connected by way of digital networks. What's missing from this rosy scenario? Plenty—because security and privacy seem to be mostly an afterthought as we embed and use technology in our physical devices. Which means the Internet of things could easily turn into a horror show. Much of the coverage of the IoT (as some abbreviate it) has been of the "gee-whiz, isn't this great?" variety, and why not? The possibilities are truly dazzling. The IoT would encompass our homes, our cars, our offices, our agricultural fields and more. Over time, most Internet traffic would consist of one machine talking to another, handling micro-tasks that could collectively add up to vast efficiencies and convenience for humans. ...
[Via Dave Farber. This seems very relevant to RISKS. PGN] It's my opinion that many of today's risk takers are seeking money from private sources, and may well be outside the academic environment. Chris Lee refers to a "major grant worth 200-500 thousand dollars". While it's nice to have such a grant, it doesn't go very far, and it pales next to the funds available from corporate sponsors, foundations, angel investors, and huge awards like the XPrizes. In computer science, companies such as Microsoft and Google (just to name two) have grant programs that can support initial high-risk research. In all of these cases, the turnaround time for a funding decision is much shorter than the time that it usually takes to gain approval and funding from traditional government grant sources. That allows the scientist to spend more time focusing on the problem and less on writing proposals that conform to a funding agency's template. An important difference between this type of private funding and traditional grant funding is the absence of peer review, which may or may not be a good thing. I've been on grant committees where there is only enough funding to support a tiny percentage of the proposals. In those cases, the "winners" were established researchers from well-known institutions who were taking the next step in a multi-year project. Innovative ideas tended to get mixed review scores, and ended up somewhere in the middle of the heap, with no one willing to advocate strongly for them. Thus, they were not funded. In the private realm, the researcher may only have to convince a single wealthy person of the merits of an idea. That's an approach that goes back centuries, where scientists had their sponsors and patrons. Today, we also have crowdfunding tools such as experiment.com and petridish.org where researchers can request and assemble small donations to support their work. Speaking personally, my family has donated [a small amount] to the UCSF Foundation to help sponsor some research that is important to us. We know where the money is going, how it will be used, and can easily follow the research progress. The professor/physician who received this money was able to put it to use right away to fund a post-doc. So maybe more of us on the IP list should consider donating $10-20K to a "young researcher" doing "risky research" and thus create a workaround to avoid the challenges of the current grant process. > Where did all the risk takers go? > Has the system driven risk takers out of scientific research? > By Chris Lee > Mar 23 2014 > <http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/03/where-did-all-the-risk-takers-go/>
Stanford Report (CA) (05/19/14) Tom Abate via ACM TechNews, Wednesday, 21 May 2014 An interdisciplinary team of Stanford University researchers, led by professor Ada Toon, has developed a wireless system that uses the same power as a cell phone to safely transmit energy to chips the size of a grain of rice, technology they say paves the way for new 'electroceutical' devices to treat illness or alleviate pain. The system can wirelessly transfer power deep inside the body, and then use this power to run tiny electronic medical devices such as pacemakers, nerve stimulators, or new sensors. The researchers say the technology could lead to a new type of medicine that enables physicians to treat diseases with electronics rather than drugs. "We need to make these devices as small as possible to more easily implant them deep in the body and create new ways to treat illness and alleviate pain," Poon says. She says the research will result in a new generation of programmable micro-implants, based on a new way to control electromagnetic waves inside the body. The researchers combined the safety of near-field waves with the reach of far-field waves by taking advantage of the fact that waves travel differently when they come into contact with different materials such as air, water, or biological tissue. http://orange.hosting.lsoft.com/trk/click?ref=znwrbbrs9_5-b69bx2b2e7x059902&
http://thehackernews.com/2014/05/pre-play-vulnerability-allows-chip-and.html [Note the Anderson-Murdoch article I mentioned earlier on this subject is now online: http://www.csl.sri.com/neumann/insiderisks.html#233 PGN]
FYI—Upon perusal of the referenced paper (link below), this new discrete log algorithm appears more practical than the article below suggests. It would be prudent to move smartly to replace these types of crypto algorithms. The biggest risk is for systems that can't be easily upgraded with software updates--e.g., crypto hardwired into international standards, hardware-based systems, implanted medical devices, etc. Algorithmic improvements of this type are "black swan" events, which can instantly wipe out entire crypto systems, much like the dinosaurs were wiped out by a single asteroid hit. As Dan Geer has pointed out numerous times, the security ecosystem needs *diversity* to allow at least some systems to remain standing after such a black swan event. Software systems also need to be flexible enough to quickly failover to backup crypto protocols. "Perfect Forward Secrecy" is even more important, so that previously compromised traffic doesn't threaten future traffic. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140515163739.htm New algorithm shakes up cryptography, CNRS, 15 May 2014 "A quasi-polynomial algorithm for discrete logarithm in finite fields of small characteristic" http://eprint.iacr.org/2013/400.pdf 461 KB (471,719 bytes) Summary: Researchers have solved one aspect of the discrete logarithm problem. This is considered to be one of the 'holy grails' of algorithmic number theory, on which the security of many cryptographic systems used today is based. They have devised a new algorithm that calls into question the security of one variant of this problem, which has been closely studied since 1976. Researchers at the Laboratoire Lorrain de Recherches en Informatique et ses Applications (CNRS/Université de Lorraine/Inria) and the Laboratoire d'Informatique de Paris 6 (CNRS/UPMC) have solved one aspect of the discrete logarithm problem. This is considered to be one of the 'holy grails' of algorithmic number theory, on which the security of many cryptographic systems used today is based. They have devised a new algorithm (1) that calls into question the security of one variant of this problem, which has been closely studied since 1976. This result, published on the site of the International Association of Cryptologic Research and on the HAL open access archive, was presented at the international conference Eurocrypt 2014 held in Copenhagen on 11-15 May 2014 and published in Advances in cryptology. It discredits several cryptographic systems that until now were assumed to provide sufficient security safeguards. Although this work is still theoretical, it is likely to have repercussions especially on the cryptographic applications of smart cards, RFID chips (2), etc. To protect confidentiality of information, cryptography seeks to use mathematical problems that are difficult to solve, even for the most powerful machines and the most sophisticated algorithms. The security of a variant of the discrete logarithm, reputed to be very complex, has been called into question by four researchers from CNRS and the Laboratoire d'Informatique de Paris 6 (CNRS/UPMC), namely Pierrick Gaudry, Razvan Barbulescu, Emmanuel Thomé and Antoine Joux (3). The algorithm they devised stands out from the best algorithms known to date for this problem. Not only is it significantly easier to explain, but its complexity is also considerably improved. This means that it is able to solve increasingly large discrete logarithm problems, while its computing time increases at a far slower rate than with previous algorithms. The computation of discrete logarithms associated with problems that are deliberately made difficult for cryptographic applications is thus made considerably easier. Since solving this variant of the discrete logarithm is now within the capacity of current computers, relying on its difficulty for cryptographic applications is therefore no longer an option. This work is still at a theoretical stage and the algorithm still needs to be refined before it is possible to provide a practical demonstration of the weakness of this variant of the discrete logarithm. Nonetheless, these results reveal a flaw in cryptographic security and open the way to additional research. For instance, the algorithm could be adapted in order to test the robustness of other cryptographic applications. (1) A method consisting in a series of instructions that enables a computer to solve a complex problem. (2) An RFID chip is a computer chip coupled with an antenna that enables it to be activated at a distance by a reader and to communicate with it. (3) Antoine Joux, who was attached to the Laboratoire Parallélisme, Réseaux, Systèmes, Modélisation (PRISM) (CNRS/UVSQ) at the time of open access publication, is currently a researcher at the Laboratoire d'Informatique de Paris 6 (CNRS/UPMC) and has since obtained the Chair of Cryptology at the Fondation UPMC. Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by CNRS. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. Journal Reference: Razvan Barbulescu, Pierrick Gaudry, Antoine Joux, Emmanuel Thom. A Heuristic Quasi-Polynomial Algorithm for Discrete Logarithm in Finite Fields of Small Characteristic. Advances in Cryptology, EUROCRYPT 2014, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Volume 8441, 2014, pp 1-16 DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-55220-5_1
On April 25, United 1205 was at its cruising altitude of 33,000 feet, 200 miles east of Kona on a flight to Los Angeles when a TCAS warning occurred. Reportedly, the other aircraft was a (presently unidentified) US Airways 757. According to the CNN article, both flights had been routed at the same flight level, though they were heading in opposite directions. TCAS reportedly functioned as intended, and the operating pilot immediately descended to eliminate the conflict. The more interesting question is: Why were two airliners, on opposing courses, reportedly ordered to the same flight level. Mr. Townsend's essay recounting the first person experience, and his research into the details can be found at: https://medium.com/medium-long/c2f8d68a917c The CNN report can be found at: http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/16/travel/hawaii-near-collision-ntsb/index.html - Bob Gezelter, http://www.rlgsc.com
(Ars Technica via NNSquad): http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/05/stains-of-deceitfulness-inside-the-us-governments-war-on-tech-support-scammers/ "The Defendants operate a massive scheme that tricks consumers into spending approximately $139-$360 to fix non-existent problems with their computers," the complaint alleged. Those fees added up to serious revenue for PCCare247. In just one year, from October 2010 to September 2011, $4 million had been deposited in the two main PCCare247 bank accounts-and that was just from US residents.
We worry so much about the high tech side of things when sometimes it's the little things that matter most. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/05/23/315279895/organic-kitty-litter-chief-suspect-in-nuclear-waste-accident
Klint Finley, *WiReD*, 14 Apr 2014 <http://www.wired.com/2014/04/tails/> When NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden first emailed Glenn Greenwald, he insisted on using email encryption software called PGP for all communications. But this month, we learned that Snowden used another technology to keep his communications out of the NSA's prying eyes. It's called Tails. And naturally, nobody knows exactly who created it. Tails is a kind of computer-in-a-box. You install it on a DVD or USB drive, boot up the computer from the drive and, voila, you're pretty close to anonymous on the Internet. At its heart, Tails is a version of the Linux operating system optimized for anonymity. It comes with several privacy and encryption tools, most notably Tor, an application that anonymizes a user's Internet traffic by routing it through a network of computers run by volunteers around the world. Snowden, Greenwald and their collaborator, documentary film maker Laura Poitras, used it because, by design, Tails doesn't store any data locally. This makes it virtually immune to malicious software, and prevents someone from performing effective forensics on the computer after the fact. That protects both the journalists, and often more importantly, their sources. “The installation and verification has a learning curve to make sure it is installed correctly, But once the set up is done, I think it is very easy to use.'' Poitras told WIRED by e-mail. An Operating System for Anonymity Originally developed as a research project by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Tor has been used by a wide range of people who care about online anonymity: everyone from Silk Road drug dealers, to activists, whistleblowers, stalking victims and people who simply like their online privacy. Tails makes it much easier to use Tor and other privacy tools. Once you boot into Tails (which requires no special setup). Tor runs automatically. When you're done using it, you can boot back into your PC's normal operating system, and no history from your Tails session will remain. ...
[Note: You can find the two part 'Frontline' documentary plus other supplementary material online here: <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/united-states-of-secrets/> Worth watching and checking out the PBS 'Frontline' site. DLH] The Most Interesting Revelations From Frontline's Powerful Exposé of The National Security Agency Paul Szoldra, *Business Insider*, 20 May 2014 <http://www.businessinsider.com/united-states-of-secrets-2014-5> If you want the complete picture surrounding Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency, PBS' Frontline documentary "United States of Secrets" is where you should start. While journalist Glenn Greenwald has promised many more leaks to come from the ex-NSA contractor, this two-part series reveals context, interviews with many more whistleblowers in the national security state, and the back story that brought us to the front page stories of mass surveillance with the aid of Silicon Valley heavyweights. "This is as close to the complete picture as anyone has yet put together," veteran Frontline filmmaker Michael Kirk said in a statement. "And it's bigger and more pervasive than we thought." Part one, which aired on May 13, detailed "the program" that emerged shortly after Sept. 11, with whistleblowers describing a surveillance operation that turned from foreign targets into a domestic dragnet. In part two, which Business Insider screened prior to tonight's airing on PBS, the series explores the secret relationship between the NSA and Silicon Valley tech companies, and how they have often worked in tandem to gather and warehouse personal data. It's a thrilling and disturbing documentary, featuring interviews with a remarkable amount of the key players. You should definitely watch it, as these three anecdotes from part two of the series are just a small piece of the overall picture: In 2003, an AT&T technician discovered a secret room being used to copy all Internet traffic coming through his building In one interview, AT&T technician Mark Klein talks about the mysterious Room 641a he found in his workplace in San Francisco. "There's no door handle, so it looks kind of odd," he said. Inside the room, he found what appeared to be the government using a splitter to copy all Internet traffic moving through the AT&T Internet backbone. "One half is going to the secret room, and the other half is going to its normal, assigned destination," Klein said. "But it's been copied in the process." While he went public with his find after reading a *New York Times* report on the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program in 2005, the existence of the program has still never been confirmed nor denied. "It still remains an open question," one woman says. That open question leads to an interesting exchange between the filmmaker and an agitated Robert Deitz, the general counsel for the NSA from 1998 to 2006, who refuses to comment. ...
Thomas L. Friedman, *The New York Times*, 20 May 2014 The more I read the news, the more it looks to me that four words are becoming obsolete and destined to be dropped from our vocabulary. And those words are "privacy," "local," "average" and "later." A lot of what drives today's news derives from the fact that privacy is over, local is over, average is over and later is over. ... http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/21/opinion/friedman-four-words-going-bye-bye.html
[Via Dave Farber's IP distribution] It is a regrettable truth that SSL certificates are a very expensive thing for a small website owner to obtain. I run ten or twelve websites at this point, more or less as a public service. There's simply no way that I'm going to spend hundreds of dollars a year for *each* of them in order to pay for proper certificates. My solution—and the solution that many people have adopted—is to use self-signed certificates. These aren't "forged", but nowadays they generate an "invalid certificate" complaint from a lot of browsers. A self-signed certificate doesn't ensure that you are talking to the right machine, but it at least ensures that the traffic is encrypted. Now that DNSSEC is finally getting deployed, it will become possible to handle this by providing the certificates using DNS. This is a much better solution than certificate authorities. Or at least, it *would* be, except that three years after the DANE protocol was defined many browsers still don't support it. The point is: not all forgery is evil, and a great deal of the forgery that is observed in the wild has to do with price gouging rather than hostile action.
Item 1: RISKS 27.93 had this item: <#subj1.1>Germany Sets New Record, Generating 74 Percent Of Energy Needs from Renewable Energy (Kiley Kroh via Dave Farber) “In fact there are no technical and economic obstacles to go first to 20 percent of annual electricity demand penetration rate from a combination of those two technologies, then 50 percent and beyond by combining them with other renewables and energy efficiency measures and some progressive storage solutions at a modest level.'' ]...] Sounds wonderful, but appears to skate over some vital details. As I understand things: (a) Wind and solar sources can provide significant power, but only in short bursts and not necessarily when needed, so either conventional generating plant will have to be retained with these sources feeding in as and when available, or renewables will have to generate something like 500% of the country's electricity, with the surplus stored (how?) for periods of calm weather or when the sun don't shine (with a margin for the ineffiencies of the storage system). (b) Obviously the 'fuel' for renewable energy is free, but there's the environmental impact of construction and maintenance of the wind turbines and solar panels, and the transmission network (cable lines, transformers, etc.); this can be especially problematic as they are often located in remote regions or out at sea. For instance, if a solar array is to be constructed in the desert, this means making the panels (China?) and supporting metalwork and transporting them to site—lots of steel and concrete and truck journeys and maybe building access roads—then running power lines to wherever the consumers are. How long does it take to recover the amount of energy needed for this, and will the panels last that long? And if surplus power is to be stored somehow, there's the energy and raw materials for the storage system as well. > Some readers will ask, Why is this computer-related? The answer of course > that our computer systems and especially Big Data systems tend to be power > hungry. Indeed, but if data centre operators attempt to overcome possible problems of intermittent renewable power with UPS or back-up generators, this rather defeats the object of the whole thing... :o) Item 2: There have been items in newspapers on these vehicle 'dash cams', i.e., forward-viewing video cameras and solid-state recorders mounted inside windshields which record a 30-minute (or whatever) loop on SD memory cards, in case of insurance disputes. Reportedly they are becoming routine for commercial vehicles, and maybe they could become a de-facto requirement for private drivers too—fit one or you don't get insurance. This could raise some interesting privacy concerns, such as: if you unknowingly drive past a crime scene, can the police demand that you hand over your recording? If you drive through an urban area you will capture citizens going about their business—can they claim breach of privacy, like Google Street View? How long do you have to keep a recording of an uneventful journey just in case someone wants to see it? Who is liable if a squashed bug on the windshield blocks the camera's view at a critical moment?
It bothers me when people will go to an unrelated forum to use it as a soap box for their own issues. It bothers me more when statistics are cooked to support their positions. It bothers me most that people writing the drivel think no one will check the facts. "... renewable energy generation surging to a record portion—nearly 75 percent—of the country's overall electricity demand ...", versus, "... renewable energy sources met a record 27 percent of the country's electricity demand ..." Am I the only one who thinks there is a wide difference between "nearly 75 percent" and "27 percent?" Wasn't the author smart enough to recognize this disparity only a few sentences apart, or were the stats carefully chosen or cooked to meet his preconceived thesis? Further, "... Renewable generators produced 40.2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity ...", but what is the context? As of 2012, German annual energy consumption was 3,626 TWh (terawatt-hours), which is 3,626 billion kilowatt-hours or over 900 times the energy produced by renewables. Further in 2012, Germany produced 1,444 TWh and imported 2,315 TWh, mostly from France and Czech Republic. So while Germany may be going "Green" in terms of its production, it's neighbors aren't so much. Can you really be considered "Green" if you outsource your energy generation? Money isn't everything, but factor in that the cost of electricity in Europe is 4 times the cost in the United States. Germans pay 6 times as much. When you vote for a Green candidate, you are also voting for sky-high energy costs. I am as concerned as anyone regarding air pollution and climate change. But I think it's dishonest to pretend to be green while outsourcing your energy production to Czech Republic or your manufacturing and jobs to China. The world is ROUND and air pollution does not stay in the borders of the country which produced it. We need a unified policy, not self-serving politicians marketing fear so they can collect power to themselves.
We also have to PAY for the power!
Maureen Dowd, The Right to Be Forgotten, *The New York Times*, 20 May 2014 It sounds like the title of a classic novel about desire and memory, perhaps Marcel Proust's sequel to "Remembrance of Things Past." It is, in fact, based on a French legal phrase, le droit é l'oubli, the "right of oblivion," which allows criminals who have paid their debt to society to object to the publication of information about their conviction and jail time. That French concept was the underpinning of the European Court of Justice's jolting ruling last week that Google and other search engines can be forced to remove search results about ordinary citizens linking to news articles, websites, court records and other documents if the information is deemed "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant"—even if it is truthful. There goes the Internet. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/21/opinion/dowd-remember-to-forget.html
RISKS readers may like a little more accurate information about the ECJ decision, to uphold the right of a Spanish man to have certain incidents in his past "forgotten", than provided by Lauren Weinstein. Weinstein calls the decision bogus, inane and impractical; and in a later article in RISKS-27.93 invokes Stalin. This is all highly misleading, and needs to be refuted. First, the decision is not bogus; it is genuine: http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2014-05/cp140070en.pdf Second, reading the above document, it is apparent that the reasoning is well-grounded in existing principles; indeed, quite the opposite of inane. Third, it remains to be seen if the decision is impractical. It might well be in some informal sense; many principles of law and due process are impractical in such a sense. The requirement in English law that a case shall be decided by a jury solely on the merits of the information and arguments presented in the court used to be a matter of asking jurors to stay away from newspapers and television news. Now, with ubiquitous Internet information access, such a requirement has become hugely "impractical" and is causing major problems, especially in the progress of high-profile cases. Nevertheless, this principle is a cornerstone of the English legal system and will remain so. I anticipate that means will continually be found to render it feasible in a continually-changing social-technological environment. Fourth, a reference to Stalin is silly. This is quite the opposite of totalitarian politics. The European Union has a Data Protection Initiative which is different from what exists in US law http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/index_en.htm and which many of us applaud, despite its faults, for the permanent freedom it guarantees us from certain historically-totalitarian repressive measures. The court appeared to consider carefully the implications of the DPI—which should surprise no one, for they are distinguished jurists. Having stuff "forgotten" is not a new principle of law. Some member countries of the EU have long-standing legal principles enshrining a right for convicted criminals to have their crimes erased from the record under certain circumstances, after a number of years. This is known as "spent conviction" and is found in common-law jurisdictions such as England and Wales (see Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974). See for example https://www.askthe.police.uk/content/Q89.htm . It is also found in certain US states, where it is known as "expungement"—the first page of a Google search turns up Oklahoma, Illinois, Texas, Maryland, Louisiana, Massachussetts, Indiana and Minnesota. I haven't looked at this carefully, so I won't pretend to further expertise. Citizens of EU countries have very different ideas of the relative value of social principles and consequences of new Internet technology not only from each other but also from, say, Angelenos. (I say that with some confidence, having lived roughly two decades in each of England, California and Germany.) For example, California law is not common law; one would not necessarily expect Angelenos to understand common law (and there is evidence before us that some of them don't). I and my Bielefeld group, as well as local concerned citizens such as participants in digitalcourage http://digitalcourage.de/ (for those who read German), read and discuss German Constitutional Court decisions in lectures and seminars, both inside and outside the university. In my experience, Brits don't tend to do that with English decisions unless they are legal scholars. German law is Napoleonic, whereas England and Wales is common law. They are *really* different, which is why the ECJ and ECHR are to my mind such important institutions—they are the only ones who can determine which principles are common to all these very different legal systems. The only other such institution which comes to mind is the ICC. Also in an EU country. We in Europe are pretty serious about getting rights right. Which I thought was also of interest to Weinstein. Peter Bernard Ladkin, University of Bielefeld and Causalis Limited www.rvs.uni-bielefeld.de www.causalis.com
The EU is free to legislate "the right to immortality" also if they wish. Good luck enforcing it. This is an attempt to erase history by hiding library index cards. It won't work. And I've had EU folks tell me off the record that they understand it won't work and that it's purely a political act (that plus creating a new revenue stream by going after deep-pocketed search engines). Even more alarming, I've been told that they fully realize that they may need to next legislate the removal of materials from any and all sites—not just search engine links—in other words, primary sources. And that, my friend, would certainly warm Stalin's heart. Information censorship is at the heart of totalitarian thinking, and it almost never appears suddenly in full bloom, but rather step by step, and piece by piece. Luckily, the EU doesn't control the entire world, EU citizens can be even more educated about how to use proxies to evade EU censorship, and in general the EU entities pushing this come out looking like panderers of the worst sort. Frankly, they'd be better off sticking to their core competencies, like legislating the amount of cinnamon on cinnamon buns. Just calling 'em as I see 'em.
RISKS readers deafened by tub-thumping might like to consult *The Economist*'s Schumpeter columnist at http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2014/05/right-be-forgotten (there are other articles, but The Economist has just implemented a restrictive access policy that almost immediately requires "registration". Or one can subscribe, as I do). *The Guardian*, recent Pulitzer Prize winners for their reporting on the Snowden revelations, has comment by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/people/?id4 , Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at the University of Oxford and author of a well-regarded book on Big Data, as well as a recent book "Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age", at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/13/omission-of-search-results-no-right-to-be-forgotten *The Guardian* has a comment also by Mark Stevens at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/18/powerful-benefit-right-to-be-forgotten , and by *The Observer*'s regular digital-technology columnist, John Naughton, Professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University, at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/17/google-privacy-ruling-thin-end-censorship-wedge In terms of reporting, Alan Travis and Charles Arthur reported on the ruling as it came at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/13/right-to-be-forgotten-eu-court-google-search-results . Charles Arthur explained a day later what the ruling was and what it might mean at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/14/explainer-right-to-be-forgotten-the-newest-cultural-shibboleth , and then a day after that on the hundreds of applications received immediately upon the decision at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/15/hundreds-google-wipe-details-search-index-right-forgotten . There are lots more articles on The Guardian's WWW site, including a blog post by James Ball noting that Senor Costeja Gonzalez's successful assertion of his right to be forgotten resulted in some 800 mainstream-media articles with all the details within a day. There is even a Guardian interview with him at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/13/spain-everyman-google-mario-costeja-gonzalez [I am omitting a series of prior and subsequent messages between Peter Ladkin and Lauren Weinstein. I think the arguments are sufficiently well stated. PGN]
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