Monday, January 31, 2005

We Don't Need No Stinkin' First Amendment 

Smack 'em with a clue bat

Stories like this one send shivers down my spine.

Over 100,000 high school students were surveyed on a number of First amendment issues.
Asked whether the press enjoys "too much freedom," not enough or about the right amount, 32% say "too much," and 37% say it has the right amount. Ten percent say it has too little.
Now that's a pretty broad question. Too much freedom could be interpreted as the press being able to publish the names of those accused of crimes, but not yet convicted. I might agree with that. I think an unconvicted individual's right to privacy - especially with the stigma that's associated with say, rape or child molestation - should trump the public's right to know their name. Once they're convicted, all bets are off. But until and unless that conviction occurs, their privacy should be maintained.

Here's what really disturbs me:
The survey of 112,003 students finds that 36% believe newspapers should get "government approval" of stories before publishing;
That's a black and white issue to me.

Clearly, our schools are failing in the teaching of American history if high school students don't understand why the First Amendment was put in place. For me, more disturbing is the fact that over a third of up-and-coming voters would so willingly grant these powers to our government.

We've all become too trusting, too dependent upon Nanny to take care of our needs. I guess it's just a natural progression that our children now want the government to tell us what we will and won't read.

How sad is that? Freedom of the press was put in place to promote an adversarial relationship between the government and it's people. To keep an eye on government. To keep our elected officials on their toes.

Our children now want the fox to guard the hen house. Not a comforting thought.


Passport Security System Hacked 

See, I told ya so...

Back in mid-October, I wrote a piece called RFID, Security and Your Privacy. The thrust of the piece was the inherent insecurity with these devices. The government has been thinking of using this very low-security technology for a very high-security job: Passport authentication.

In short, Radio Frequency IDentification tags are small chips that carry information within them. They were originally made so that warehouses could keep track of large pallets of goods. The pallet would be run by a reader, and the company would know that they had 500 new TV sets in stock.

Well, it seems that others agreed with this assessment and are calling for some standards before these tags are used in high security jobs. To make sure their point was being heard, they hacked the system, much in the same way as I described was done with Wireless Networking only a few years ago.
They then purchased a commercial microchip costing less than US$200 and programmed it to find the secret key for a gasoline purchase tag owned by one of the researchers. By linking 16 such chips together, the group cracked the secret key in about 15 minutes. They had similar success with a chip-equipped car key.
They simply crushed the encryption with a laptop. Two hundred bucks and the system is useless, at least from a security standpoint. Yeah, that's what I want to be carrying around with me in some foreign country.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Death Penalty 

And Other Random Thoughts


Monday, January 10, 2005

DNA Dragnet 

Open your cheeks, sir...

A little town in the Northeast has had a 3-year, unsolved murder. To help, "jumpstart" the investigation, the local Nanny is making requests for DNA samples from the inner cheeks of the male inhabitants:
Police in Truro, Massachusetts, are seeking genetic thumbprints from nearly 800 men who live in the quiet seaside hamlet hopes of solving the murder of Christa Worthington, a fashion writer.
The New York Times reported Monday that police are approaching men in public with the request, and have announced that they will closely watch those who refuse. Authorities also say they may expand the drive to neighboring communities, the Times said.

I wish I lived in that town. I'd tell them, very publicly, that they could kiss my alabaster white ass. This conduct by our government officials is outrageous.

Have these pinheads never heard of probable cause or illegal search and seizure? Men will, "be watched closely" if they don't comply? Isn't that the very definition of "police state"?

I've told my family, that if we are ever stopped by the police - say for a speeding ticket, or a broken tail-light - and they matter-of-factly ask to search the vehicle or trunk of the car, the answer is a resounding, "NO". Unless they can give a reason that has probable cause attached to it, NO FUCKING WAY. We may miss the movie, the game or the dinner engagement. Bummer. Standing up for your privacy rights is much more important. Principle does matter.


Nanny Gone Wild! 

No, not that, you perv...

It seems now, that Nanny - in this case a judge - has found a new way to try and run our lives.

A woman in Washington state wanted a divorce.
The law states that any Washington resident who files for a no-fault divorce may get one. Hughes' husband did not respond to her petition, and a divorce was granted. But Bastine [the judge] said the divorce was invalid because Hughes did not learn she was pregnant until after the papers were served, so her husband -- who is in prison -- was not aware of all the facts.
Oh, and hubby was in jail for beating the shit out of his wife. He now sees the pregnancy as a "sign from God" that they are meant to stay together.


She's appealing the decision.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Guaranteed Security 

Think Before You Answer...

If the federal government gave you a 99.5% guarantee that they could protect you from terrorist harm, but the cost of that protection would mean you would have to allow any local, state or federal law enforcement official to demand to see identity papers - at any time, for any reason - would you take the deal?


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