Police State UK – The abuse of antisocial behaviour orders
A physics graduate is fined £80 for describing a metal detector as “piece of shit that wouldn’t stop anyone” in public.
Kurt Walker fined £80 for using the word “fuck” in a public park in Kent. He’s refusing to pay.
ASBO Law states that it’s illegal to use threatening words or behaviour likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress.
Main problem with an ASBO is that due process does not occur.
Civil court orders which can be based on hearsay evidence. The burden of proof is much lower than in a criminal case.
Police only have to persuade a judge that your behaviour “may cause harassment or alarm or distress” to someone else to get one imposed.
Makes it very hard to defend oneself.
Less than 1% of applications for ASBOs have been refused.
Up to 35% of young people with asbos in the UK had a diagnosed mental disorder or accepted learning difficulty.
But breaching an ASBO is a criminal offence. With penalty in the UK of 5 years in jail.
Asbos can be used to criminalise behaviour that would otherwise not be illegal. Including:
being sarcastic and
riding a bicycle
Restricts individuals rights of free speech and association.
Little or no evidence they actually solve anything.
Justice Minister Michael McDowell plans to introduce them in Ireland.
The Register news article
BBC News: Teenager fined £80 for swear word
The Case Against Anti Social Behaviour Orders: Coalition Against ASBOs, March 2005
10 things you should know about Asbos
A Guide to Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and Acceptable Behaviour Contracts
China harvesting Falun Gong organs, report alleges.
60,000 organ transplants recorded between 2000 and 2005 (by China Medical Organ Transplant Association)
18,500 of the organs came from identifiable sources.
41,500 transplants from no other explained sources.
There is a booming transplant industry in China.
Number of liver transplant centres has jumped from 22 in 1999 to 500 in 2006.
Number of liver transplant operations has jumped from 135 to 4,000 in the same period.
Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of the Falun Gong in China (CIPFG)
Made recordings of phone calls to hospitals, prisons and transplant centres.
organs from alleged Falun Gong prisoners were promised to prospective buyers within as little as a week
Ex-wife of Chinese surgeon alleges that he removed the corneas from 2,000 euthanized Falun Gong prisoners over a 2 year period.
All died and their bodies were burned.
China admitted in 2005 that it harvests and sells the organs of executed prisoners.
British Transplantation Society alleged China without the consent of prisoners or next of kin.
Report by former MP David Kilgour and Winnipeg lawyer David Matas.
Report based on recordings of phone calls, interviews, and info taken from chinese hospital and transplant centre websites.
BPI: We should be able to cut off your Internet
British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has requested 2 ISP’s to terminate the DSL connections of customers allegedly engaged in infringing file-sharing.
BPI asked for immediate action without due process based on the evidence of a single screenshot.
Tiscali has refused to comply stating “It is not for Tiscali, as an ISP, nor the BPI, as a trade association, to effectively act as a regulator or law enforcement agency and deny individuals the right to defend themselves against the allegations made against them.”
“Notice-and-takedown” regime allows censorship of web-pages if they allegedly infringe copyrright.
Embedded in law in Europe through the EUCD and in the US via the infamous DMCA.
Used by the Church of Scientology to silence critics.
WTO used it to silence a parody site.
Diebold used it to suppress the publication of a whistle-blower memo that detailed the critical failings of their voting machines.
Significantly it only works on material hosted on the ISP’s server.
Notice-and-termination, is the new proposed regime.
The ability to communicate over the Internet can be removed by anyone claiming you’re infringing copyright.
Alternatively internet connections may be crippled only supporting bandwidths and protocols approved by the entertainment industry.
It is being proposed as a United Nations treaty obligation, hence every ISP would be forced to adopt this regime.
An obvious target is P2P networks which Notice-and-takedown is ineffective against.
Requests for takedowns usually generated by software bots, which often mistakenly identify copyright infringements.
No presumption of innocence for the alleged copyright infringer.
No method for someone to defend themselves.
Entertainment industry becomes judge, jury with the ISP as executioner.
Boing Boing article: BPI: We should be able to cut off your Internet
Ars Technica article: British music industry, concerned about piracy, targets ISPs
Ars Technica article: British ISP tells recording industry to provide real file sharing evidence
Games That Never Age: The Unrecognized Potential of Procedural Synthesis.
Everyone has heard of Procedural Synthesis and what it can achieve.
Astounding graphics but with very small file sizes.
What is procedural synthesis?
Method of using mathematics to produce real-time graphics instead of pre-rendered imagery.
Base components are created such as the texture of bark or tree leaves.
Algorithms then make them look different as they are re-used throughtout the game.
When you consider the number of re-used textures in games you see the benefits: walls, sidewalks, sky etc.
Drawback of procedurally generated graphics is that it’s computationally intensive.
Lack of computing power restricts the complexity of algorithms that modify textures.
However as processors get faster then higher resolution textures can simply created by modifying the algorithms that work with the base textures.
Graphics of games can improve as better algorithms are released and downloaded via automatic updates.
It won’t be widely adopted.
Every visual element a game is not procedurally generated, hence not everything can be upgraded.
You’re still playing the same game, procedural synthesis doesn’t address gameplay only graphics.
Why not AI procedurally generated so you can get updates of smarter opponents?
Will Wright’s latest project: Spore uses procedural synthesis liberally.
This includes the way creatures move and behave being generated on the fly.
FBI plans new net-wiretapping push
FBI has drafted legislation that requires ISPs to create wiretap hubs for surveillance
It also will force networking gear manufacturers to build “backdoors” in equipment to enable eavesdropping
Measures included are:
Expanding wiretapping requirements to “commercial” Internet services including instant messaging if the FCC deems it to be in the “public interest.”
Forcing ISP’s to monitor and identify for instance VoIP calls.
Remove the requirement that the Justice Department publish a “notice of the actual number of communications interceptions” every year
FBI claims changes in law needed to thwart terrorists and criminals who have turned to such things as VOIP.
Microsoft hit with 280m euro fine
Microsoft fined for failing to comply with anti-competition ruling.
Landmark ruling in 2004 ordered Microsoft to provide rivals with info on Windows.
Microsoft was ordered to supply “complete and accurate” technical information to rival developers.
Aim was to allow rival firms to write programs that could run more smoothly on Windows.
Daily fines of 3 million a day will come into effect from the 31st of July if Microsoft fails to comply.
Microsoft claims to have complied and will appeal the fine.
It also plans to argue that the commission’s original demand was too vague.
Friendster wins a patent on social networking
Friendster has received a patent that covers online social networks.
patent,is extremely general would seem to cover the activities of many other sites
Patent refers to a “system, method, and apparatus for connecting users in an online computer system based on their relationships within social networks.”
Patent covers the basic steps involved in joining a social network:
entering a personal description and relationships to other users,
mapping relationships and degrees of separation,
and connecting to others through these friends.
Company could in future pursue licenses and litigation from its competitors.
Expecially LinkedIn (covered last week) that allows people to connect within a certain number of degrees of separation.
Patent could be challenged in the patent system or the courts.
“Once the patent is issued there is a presumption of validity that follows with it,” said attorney Bill Heinze of Thomas, Kayden, Horstemeyer & Risley.
Friendster has fallen on hard times, eclipsed by rivals such as MySpace.
Patent was applied for about 3 years ago
Another 11 patents are in the pipeline for Friendster.