☆ Hope You Weren’t Too Naughty…

A very happy Christmas to you!

Oh, and:

☞ Betrayal

  • Useful, clear explanation of the threat we all face from the trust we place in device (and software) suppliers who don’t trust us.
  • Well worth reading the full minutes of the discussion in which Oracle decided to push Apache out of the JCP. Note to self: Any question where a public answer would be awkward can be deflected with “I’m afraid I can’t answer legal questions”.

☞ Effects of Transparency

  • I like this initiative to create symbols to represent the most relevant aspects of privacy policies, so that people don’t need to read all the detail on every site (always at least a page away anyway). I like much more the comments Aza makes at the end of the posting about why it might work.
  • Well worth reading this long piece from Bruce Sterling on Wikileaks. He sums up well my own mixed feelings about the case, from the lack of surprise (beyond how long it took to happen) to the uncertainty whether it’s actually a good thing and on to the conclusions about Assange and Manning. Very Sterling.
  • Good to see the project continues to move ahead, but the most significant thing to note here is the huge list of contributors to the release. An independent project certainly encourages more, more significant contribution than a Stepford Wives-style project.

☝ The Typhoid Mary Of Three-Strikes

Over the last year, we saw them spring up all over the world, notably in Australia and in France but also in many other countries. It seemed odd that so many legislatures should simultaneously feel the urge to create extrajudicial protection for mainly foreign – American – copyright holders, especially in a market where the emergence of alternative models favours local rather than imported talent. But I believe Wikileaks has identified the carrier of the disease.

Continue reading over at ComputerWorldUK

☆ FOSS is not “non-commercial”

I keep seeing people contrasting “free/open source software” with “commercial software”. This is a really bad contrast, as in my experience almost all open source software is commercial. It’s just commercial in a different way.

Open source software is not “non-commercial” – rather, it is software where, when commercial activity takes place, revenues are generated from the delivery of value around the software rather than by controlling access to the software. This switch away from artificial scarcity liberates developers from many different places – in location, cultural and motivation dimensions –  to synchronise overlapping interests and collaborate around an open source code “commons” to sustain the wealth-creating vehicle they jointly enjoy.

☞ Wednesday Tab Sweep

  • “I think we need a law that explicitly makes it legal for people to record government officials when they are interacting with them in their official capacity. And this is doubly true for police officers and other law enforcement officials.”

    I completely agree. This is a great explanation of why government officials should expect scrutiny in the conduct of the official duties while private citizens should expect privacy.

  • “Personally, I don’t want to sign Canonical’s agreement. I want to share my writing, not give it away. Other team members seem to feel the same. So where does this leave the Ubuntu docs team?”

    In response to Phil’s question, Laura MacPhee explains that Canonical’s “contributor agreement” is actually giving away your work to depend on Canonical’s judgement. Whatever the comforting words surrounding that gift may say, the fact is that the agreement redefines “contribution” from “sharing” to “giving” and makes community members less than sharecroppers.

  • I’m delighted to say that the first full release of the OpenDJ LDAP directory server from ForgeRock is now available. 100% Java, 100% open source.

  • I sense a disturbance in The Force as protection from 800+ patents is about to be snuffed out by a consortium comprising some of the most important opponents of open source.

  • “You wondered aloud how these people had managed to survive this long without drinking bleach by accident. As new clients came on, you hoped that the work you did with the first one would mean they would successfully use the system. No such luck. They were all stupid in subtly different ways.”

    To be clear, this is not my vision for ForgeRock!

☆ Bite-Size Privacy and Anonymity

Peeping SquirrelA discussion 1 2 3 4 broke out on Identi.ca recently where it became clear that the distinction between anonymity and privacy is not clear for some people. It led to the opportunity to discuss the nature of both concepts (albeit in 140-character bursts) with some smart people devoted to both, people I respect greatly. I’ve been left with some bite-sized explanations that I hope others will appreciate as well.

  • Privacy is the lifecycle of secrets once you have chosen to share them. Anonymity is where an act is publicly known but the actor is not.
  • Privacy is the duty to respect the data that has been disclosed to you. Anonymity is the right not to disclose the data in the first place.
  • Privacy is the duty of each and every entity with which we engage. Anonymity is a privilege each of us should be entitled to on the rare occasions we need it. (By privilege I mean that we are able to secure anonymity only by the grace of those who choose to supply the means for it to be possible. It is not a given – notably in China –  it must be granted.)
  • In daily life, we routinely expect our privacy to be respected by those with whom we engage. We rarely expect or need anonymity but on the occasions we do it must be absolute.
  • To create privacy, we need policies backed up by law that each recipient of our personal data must adhere to. To deliver anonymity, there needs to be a place where our connection with the net is anonymised, and the provision of that capability needs the active grace of its provider.
  • Anonymity requires privacy, but privacy does not require anonymity. (By this I mean that your connection to the internet is known to your ISP, and much else is known to many others, so to secure anonymity in a specific case requires the discretion of those individuals who could identify you if they chose to – and that discretion is called privacy.)

I’ll add further points as they arise. Discussion welcome!

Update: Just a few moments after posting I saw this great Bruce Schneier posting about the dynamics of privacy:

“So privacy for the government increases their power and increases the power imbalance between government and the people … Privacy for the people increases their power. It also increases liberty, because it reduces the power imbalance between government and the people.”

Update: I really like this initiative to create icons for privacy policies by the way.

☞ DF Acts To Protect LibreOffice

  • Smart move here – by joining now, they gain access to all those patents belonging to Novell that will leave the pool and belong (among others) to Microsoft and Oracle when the acquisition by AttachMate closes. Given Novell’s software portfolio, there’s a chance some of those are highly relevant. Now OIN needs to update its software list to include LibreOffice.

☞ Kinds Of Trust

♫ Strange Communion

I don’t think I’ll be able to get out to hear her performing live tomorrow evening in Winchester at The Tower, but I wanted to mention how much I have enjoyed Thea Gilmore‘s music this year and tell you about her wonderful winter album “Strange Communion”.

If you didn’t listen to it when I recommended it this time last year, it’s worth your time to go listen on Spotify Amazon UK or Amazon US. Try Sol Invictus, Midwinter Toast, the beautiful December In New York and (for some darker humour) The St Stephen’s Day Murders (which includes some British references American friends might need help with, such as the reference to Irn-Bru). If your taste in “holiday music” is dominated by Bing, Frank and carols, you might not like it, but I have a hunch a whole lot of people who are reading this will find it’s the first seasonal album they have wanted to buy for themselves.

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