Announcing PFF's Taxonomy of Online Security & Privacy Threats
PFF summer fellow Eric Beach and I have been working on what we hope is a comprehensive taxonomy of all the threats to online security and privacy. In our continuing Privacy Solutions Series, we have discussed and will continue to discuss specific threats in more detail and offer tools and methods you can use to protect yourself.
The taxonomy of 21 different threats is organized as a table that indicates the "threat vector" and goal(s) of attackers using each threat. Following the table is a glossary defining each threat and providing links to more information.Threats can come from websites, intermediaries such as an ISP, or from users themselves (e.g. using an easy-to-guess password). The goals range from simply monitoring which (or what type of) websites you access to executing malicious code on your computer.
Please share any comments, criticisms, or suggestions as to other threats or self-help privacy/security management tools that should be added by posting a comment below.
Barbara Esbin recently spoke at the Wireless U. Communications Policy Seminar on a panel on financing wireless broadband. Barbara's remarks specifically addressed the National Broadband Plan and the role of state governments.
In addition to presenting sensible suggestions for policymakers, including creating incentives to spur deployment and redirecting universal service funds, Barbara offered a bit of perspective on the issue of broadband deployment:
As important access to broadband Internet service is, if the choice comes down to clean water, Medicaid benefits, or bandwidth, I submit that limited government financial resources might be best directed first to clean water and health care.
This is particularly true of state or local efforts to finance a second, third or fourth provider of high speed Internet service, or to go into the bandwidth business itself. Government spending on broadband infrastructure should be directed primarily to those areas where market forces are unlikely, due to high costs and low prospect for returns, to extend network infrastructure without government assistance.
More Members of Congress Pay the Price for P2P Piracy
Well, another inadvertent file-sharing debacle has been documented. Another needless disclosure of highly confidential data has occurred. Another promising career has been shattered. Tomorrow, something similar will happen again, though it may not be documented in the Washington Post.
This story by Washington Post reporters Ellen Nakashima and Paul Kane has exposed the latest in a long line of file-sharing disasters stretching back to 2001. In short, a highly confidential report detailing the activities of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, (often called the "Ethics Committee") was broadcast over a peer-to-peer file-sharing network. The disclosed report summarized confidential ongoing or potential investigations relating to at 33 Members of Congress and some Congressional staff.
"Net Cetera": An Outstanding New Government Online Safety Resource
OnGuardOnline.gov is a project of a dozen federal agencies and several private child safety organizations who have collaborated to create a website which "provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information." The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is particularly instrumental in maintaining and promoting the site but it works closely with those other agencies and organizations to craft messages and programs.
OnGuardOnline has just released a terrific new online safety resource called Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids about Being Online. This 54-page document is an outstanding resource for parents. The report's advice and recommendations are spot on across the board and I particularly want to highlight the important section right at the front of the document entitled, "Talk to Your Kids." It begins: "The best way to protect your kids online? Talk to them. Research suggests that when children want important information, most rely on their parents." Quite right. And the NetCetra report goes on to offer the following excellent advice:
Start early. After all, even toddlers see their parents use all kinds of devices. As soon as your child is using a computer, a cell phone or any mobile device, it's time to talk to them about online behavior, safety, and security. As a parent, you have the opportunity to talk to your kid about what's important before anyone else does.
Create an honest, open environment. Kids look to their parents to help guide them. Be supportive and positive. Listening and taking their feelings into account helps keep conversation afloat. You may not have all the answers, and being honest about that can go a long way.
"Internet Freedom": How Statists Corrupt Our Language
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
So declared the Party in George Orwell's classic novel 1984. The corruption of language with a constant theme of Orwell's work, most notably his 1946 essay "Politics and the English Language." So Orwell would not have been surprised to see the term "Internet Freedom" captured by those who advocate an increased role for government (i.e., Big Brother) online. Nor would Orwell had been surprised to see these advocates claim Orwell for themselves, insisting that opponents of government regulation are the ones corrupting language. There is perhaps no better example of this than MSNBC's Rachel Maddow's comments in an interview with Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin about the divisive issue of "Net Neutrality" regulations:
Rachel Maddow [dripping with sarcasm]: Sen. McCain's bill, as you mentioned, is actually called the "Internet Freedom Act of 2009," and he's deriding the government effort to keep telecoms from walling off the Internet as "government intrusion" and "trying to regulate the Internet." What that means is that he's picked better branding, he's picked better names. It doesn't really relate the facts of what he's doing. I'm wondering if it's too late for a rebranding of the other side here. We need to get better about talking about this, because the language seems sort of corrupt at this point.
What makes Maddow's comments so stunning is not her view that corporate America, rather than government, is the real enemy of freedom. That view is simply part of the long-regnant political orthodoxy. No, what's stunning is that she actually thinks that her side is losing the "war of words" just because Sen. McCain had the gall to use the term "Internet Freedom" as a rallying-cry for the outdated, bourgeois notion that "freedom" means the absence of coercion by the one entity that can enforce its commands at the point of a gun and call it "justice": that coldest of all cold monsters, the State. That's precisely what "liberalism" used to be about until people like Rachel appropriated that word and words like "liberty" and "freedom" as slogans for control. Xeni Jardin picks up where Rachel left off by appropriating the concept of rights, too:
Xeni Jardin: the Internet really is a basic right, it's a necessity,such a fundamental way for communicating and accessing information now. Telecoms shouldn't be able to throttle, to block, to slow down our access to something that might not be in their corporate interests.
Does TV Cause Violence Against Women? PTC's "Women in Peril" Report
The Parents Television Council (PTC) released a new report today entitled Women in Peril: A Look at TV's Disturbing New Storyline Trend. The report argues that "by depicting violence against women with increasing frequency, or as a trivial, even humorous matter, the broadcast networks may ultimately be contributing to a desensitized atmosphere in which people view aggression and violence directed at women as normative, even acceptable," said PTC President Tim Winter. As evidence the report cites... Nicole Kidman. OK, it cites more than Nicole Kidman, but the 7-page report and accompanying press release does seem to place a lot of stock in the fact that, while being questioning by a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing about violence against women overseas, "Ms. Kidman conceded that Hollywood has probably contributed to violence against women by portraying them as weak sex objects, according to the Associated Press." I'm not sure what Ms. Kidman was doing testifying before Congress on the matter of violence against women overseas -- dare I suggest some congressmen were out for another photo-op with a Hollywood celeb? -- but the better question is whether Ms. Kidman's opinion has any bearing on the question of what relationship, if any, there is between televised violence and real-world violence against women. (Incidentally, if she really feels passionately about all this, is she prepared to go back and recut some of her old scenes in "Dead Calm," "To Die For," and "Eyes Wide Shut"?)
But let's not nitpick about the credentials Ms. Kidman brings to the table or whether it makes any sense for PTC to elevate her opinions to proof of theory when it comes to a supposed connection between depictions of violence against women in film or television and real world acts of violence against women. PTC, however, suggests that's exactly what is going on today. They allude to a few lab studies which are of the "monkey see, monkey do" variety -- where the results of artificial lab experiments are used to claim that watching depictions of violence will turn us all into killing machines, rapists, robbers, or just plain ol' desensitized thugs.
There's just one problem with such studies, and the PTC report: Reality.
event notice: "Media, Kids & The First Amendment" (11/2 at Noon)
Interesting lunchtime forum taking place this coming Monday, Nov. 2nd about "Media, Kids, and The First Amendment." It's being co-hosted by Georgetown Law Center and Common Sense Media. Here's the event description:
The rapidly changing world of digital media - including TV, videogames, the Internet and mobile devices - creates many opportunities for children, but also presents potential dangers, from cyber-bullying to exposure to inappropriate content. The Supreme Court has remanded FCC v. Fox Television back to the Third Circuit for further consideration. The Senate recently held a hearing on the Children's Television Act in the digital age. Is new legislation or regulation imminent?
Daniel Brenner, Partner, Hogan and Hartson
Angela Campbell, Professor, Georgetown Law Center
Kim Matthews, Attorney Advisor, Media Bureau, Policy Division, Federal Communications Commission
Douglas Gansler, Attorney General of Maryland
Jim Steyer, CEO & Founder, Common Sense Media [moderator]
Location is the Gewirz Student Center, 120 F Street, NW, 12th Floor. Start time = 12:00 Noon.
It's an open event but those interested should RSVP via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate that they are replying for the Nov 2nd event. I have already told my friends at Common Sense Media I will be there to cause some trouble! (and get a free lunch, of course).
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized on Monday an attempt by Islamic countries to prohibit defamation of religions, saying such policies would restrict free speech. ... While unnamed in Clinton's speech, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a group of 56 Islamic nations, has been pushing hard for the U.N. Human Rights Council to adopt resolutions that broadly bar the defamation of religion. The effort has raised concerns that such resolutions could be used to justify crackdowns on free speech in Muslim countries.
some claim that the best way to protect the freedom of religion is to implement so-called anti-defamation policies that would restrict freedom of expression and the freedom of religion. I strongly disagree. The United States will always seek to counter negative stereotypes of individuals based on their religion and will stand against discrimination and persecution. But an individual's ability to practice his or her religion has no bearing on others' freedom of speech. The protection of speech about religion is particularly important since persons of different faiths will inevitably hold divergent views on religious questions. These differences should be met with tolerance, not with the suppression of discourse.
Quite right. Thank you, Secretary Clinton, for this bold stand. Freedom of religious worship and expression -- including the criticism of religion -- is essential. Now, can we talk about your old positions on video game regulation?!
The DVD Rental Window: Fiddling while Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars Burns.
It's been a rough month for William Patry's new book Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars ("Copyright Wars"). Negative reviews highlighting some of its profound defects can be found here, here, here, here, and here. More will follow. Worse yet, the book's associated blog, Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars, seems to have ceased providing substantive replies to douse the flames--just some ongoing fiddling.
For example, Mr. Patry's latest post fails to reply to any critique of his book. Among many other fundamental concerns, it thus fails to refute claims that American creative industries are "innovative" and that data-mining, file-sharing pedophiles are a grim reality--not some illusory "moral panic" "conjured up" by that "master of moral panics," Jack Valenti (p. 139).
Instead, the blog has merely resumed the book's complaints, (pp. 154-58), about DVD rentals. In Denying DVD consumers what they want, Patry reported that Netflix, (a content distributor) and movie studios (content creators), are considering delaying the rental window for a given DVD until two weeks after retail sales of that DVD begin. He thus concluded, "The only ones out of luck are consumers."
That claim may even seem plausible. After all, how could the even the Grokster/Lessig/pedophile-denying Mr. Patry stumble by posing as a Champion of Consumers so exquisitely sensitive that even a two-week delay in the opening of the DVD-rental "window" could move him to lamentation?
Easily, it turns out. Dishonesty can shatter any argument; it is the fundamental defect of Copyright Wars; and it inflicts its usual consequences here. Consequently, this seemingly can't-lose argument merely re-affirms a fundamental flaw that pervades the Copyright Wars book and blog.
event reminder: "Coase's FCC at 50" (Thur. 9am at George Mason Law School)
Just a reminder about this week's event on the 50th anniversary of Ronald Coase's seminal article, "The Federal Communications Commission." Coase's critique of the political allocation of radio spectrum, and his arguments for achieving efficient allocation by allowing the government to sell rights to the spectrum, has had a profound effect on the course of communications policy. This event will explore the impact of Coase's ideas and the legacy of his article and life's work on communications and media policy.