Berkman in the News
The case concerned union officials whose intercepted cell phone conversations landed in the hands of a radio commentator who broadcast the contents. At the high court, the media defendants were given a pass from violating a federal wiretap law as they “played no part in the illegal interception,” “their access to the information on the tapes was obtained lawfully, even though the information itself was intercepted unlawfully by someone else” and finally, “the subject matter of the conversation was a matter of public concern.”
That decision offers tremendous hope for news organizations that Sony’s threats against the news media are empty. “Unless the media is involved in the hacks themselves, the Bartnicki case puts the law on the side of the media,” says Andy Sellars at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.
It’s also quaint to think that users would click through the multiple dialogue boxes necessary to mimic informed consent, said Jonathan L. Zittrain, director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Would you? Instead, he said, there ought to be independent proxies who represent the users and can perform that checking function.
“I worry about leaning too hard on choice,” he said, “when the real thing is just treat your users with dignity.”
Whitney Erin Boesel, a researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, and active QS member, said it took her a few years of being involved in the QS community before she realized that there was little-to-no emphasis on women’s issues. Which is weird, she pointed out, because outside the QS world one might think women would be more likely to track personal data than men are, whether that’s calories or menstruation. “So many regular facets of being a woman in a western culture are highly likely to make one track,” Boesel said, “and yet those were things I wasn’t seeing in the QS context.”
“The actions of world governments to buy these things has made it more likely that hackers will sell vulnerabilities and we will all remain vulnerable,” said Bruce Schneier, a fellow at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
Discovering such weaknesses isn’t easy, even for companies that design software. That’s largely because “when computer science majors in schools are taught code, they are not taught about security vulnerabilities,” said Lillian Ablon, who co-authored the Rand study.
Until that changes, many experts believe, hiring hackers to find the flaws makes sense.
This in turn increases the risk from another area barely known about in the Cold War: cyberattacks, said Camille M. Francois, an expert in the field at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
With their high level of automation, “nuclear assets are by their nature extremely vulnerable to cyberattack,” Francois said.
In addition, she said, policymakers still have something of a “1980s mentality,” focusing on the idea of a lone hacker — like in the 1983 movie “WarGames” — and believing that cyberattacks can only come via the Internet. “It’s not kids anymore, it is states investing very heavily in cyberwarfare. This is the new battlefield, the fifth domain of war,” she said.
This in turn increases the risk from another area barely known about in the Cold War — cyber-attacks, said Camille M. Francois, an expert in the field at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
With their high level of automation, “nuclear assets are by their nature extremely vulnerable to cyber-attack,” Francois said.
And in addition, she told AFP, policymakers still have something of a “1980s mentality”, focusing on the idea of a lone hacker — like in the 1983 movie “WarGames” — and believing that cyber-attacks can only come via the Internet.
Still, I’m unsure how much I think keepsake passwords actually reveal about a person. Does being secret make something truer or more candid? “Creating them is like a game of word association — with no starting word,” Jonathan Zittrain, a law professor at Harvard who studies the Internet, told me. Helen Petrie, a British psychologist and professor of human/computer interaction at City University in London, described passwords as “a 21st-century Rorschach inkblot test.”
She points to a New York Times article last year that indicated 49 per cent of the hyperlinks in U.S. Supreme Court decisions no longer work. Jonathan Zittrain, who teaches law and computer science at Harvard, said 75 per cent of links in the Harvard Law Review since 1999 no longer function.“Why is that important? When they are in court decisions or when offered by attorneys and these links disappear it has severe consequences to transparency and access and reliability,” says Eltis.Part of Eltis’ research looks at the issue of when transparency online is not properly thought out you can end up with significant unwanted consequences and create access to justice issues.
Anonymity also allows Internet users to engage in interactions that mirror those in the real world. “Online, using pseudonyms is actually more like our ordinary face-to-face experience,” Judith S. Donath, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, wrote in Wired. “Face to face, we develop relationships in separate contexts — and the things we talk about, the jokes we make, the secrets we reveal — vary tremendously.”
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