Tech at Night: This is why we need the NSA

On December 20, 2014, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

It’s not often a Tech at Night issue gets wide play on the Internet, but this one has. North Korean attackers broke into Sony systems in the US (Sony being a Japanese firm but Sony Pictures Studios being a major US-based movie studio, at the old Paramount lot) in order to intimidate them into pulling a movie, The Interview.

Some are trying to dismiss this as an actual foreign threat, but there’s no reason not to think they could do it, and this is every reason why we need a strong NSA.

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Tech at Night

Barack Obama’s FBI director, James Comey, was previously featured in this space for his declaration that he’s troubled, that Americans would be able to take proactive measures to encrypt their own data, in ways the FBI couldn’t read at will.

He tried to intimidate and bully Apple and Google into avoiding adding effective cryptography to iOS and Android. This is important because it’s only effective cryptography that would allow private citizens and corporations to protect themselves from spying by foreign governments and government-backed hackers.

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Tech at Night: Weekend Update

On December 13, 2014, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

They say that after a fire in the US Embassy in Moscow during the Cold War, the Soviets loaded the whole building with bugs and the whole place was insecure after that. In that spirit, it makes a lot of sense that Google is getting out of Russia. It’s just not safe.

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Tech at Night: Sweden to Anarchists: Get Wrecked

On December 11, 2014, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

The original founders of the Pirate Bay, the Internet’s largest copyright infringement ring, used to brag about how they were technically obeying Swedish law. Well, Swedish law changed to close up the technicality they were using – they were facilitating mass copyright infringement, specifically of works by name, without hosting the bits themselves – and the founders were arrested and convicted.

The new owners thought they could run with it but it just got raided and shut down. Ha ha. Live by the technicality, die by its closure. Get wrecked, as the Internet kids say.

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“Conservatism” as we know it is primarily an Anglo-American tradition. Not all countries have something like it, and Germany definitely does not. Their major ‘right’ coalition (the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union parties) are Christian centrists. The believe in a powerful state, but one that should show compassion and respect for Christian values. They are most definitely not a small government movement.

So it’s telling that even German Chancellor Angela Merkel has come out against Net Neutrality, and for the right reasons.

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It’s good to see some legitimate efforts to try to convince conservatives on interstate sales taxes, but I have to disagree on this point: the limitation on interstate commerce regulation is not ‘picking winners and losers’. It was an intentional restriction put into the Constitution to ensure the free flow of commerce, and today it allows the states to compete while keeping an open economy.

I think the ideal answer, that they really ought to try for next Congress, is an opt-in system that will let non-sales tax states offer retailers a safe haven, while sales tax states can opt-in to national taxation, in exchange for getting revenue from other states in that national taxation. Federalism: It’s not just a good idea. It’s the law.

That said, the campaign to get this law passed is going all out for the lame duck. I hope they’re reading this. I don’t dislike sales taxes. IF we had a 100% sure way to nuke the income tax into glass, permanently, I’d back a national sales tax in place of all other taxation. But the states have come to rely on it, it’s a great antidote to the too progressive income tax we have today.

The Congress can act to let the states collect these taxes in a Constitutional way, without trampling the non-tax states, and deflecting arguments from guys like Ted Cruz. But the next Congress will need a more federalist bill, to pass by the new Republican control


We sold off some government spectrum licenses. Faster, please.

We continue to see the Tor network used as a hub for crime, and nothing done about it by the Tor network management.

But at least trends like this Tor trend will be easier to spot if cybersecurity data sharing happens.

Patrick Leahy is making a show of being anti-NSA when Harry Reid and Barack Obama show no interest. So it’s all for show, and perhaps a run for President?

It really is interesting that after years of Reid’s leadership, Democrats are making a show of pretending to lead in the lame duck when they’ve had the Senate for years.

Let’s be clear: Europe’s “right to be forgotten” is censorship, and not a good idea. Google and others should put blank spots in to mark censored content, like they did in Rhodesia before the censors banned that, too, as it humiliated the censors.

The conservative backlash to patent troll regulation is real, and the push is strong. I like this point of view coming out. We need patent troll legislation to happen in a way that doesn’t threaten legitimate patents. We don’t want an overly broad, anarchist ‘reform’ to happen.

I like patents. I want patents to protect innovators. I don’t want dumb patents imposed by the same government that gave us Healthcare.gov, perverting the system into one that pays trial lawyers at the expense of innovators. We can find a compromise here.

We don’t need more government. We don’t need Net Neutrality. American Internet access is good and we shouldn’t mess with that.

Tech at Night

I called it, I called it, I called it. When I pointed out that proposed regulations of drones were being done purely to keep ordinary folks from being empowered, I got a lot of flak for it. I got told no, we needed big government because drones aren’t safe. Every argument the gun grabbers use, were being used to defend the drone grabbers.

Now they’ve gone and proven me right.

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Time and again we see calls for government to take the wheel. In fact in “It can’t happen here,” the fairy tale of a fascist takeover of America, their version of the swastika was a ship’s wheel, representing government’s control over economy and society.

Every time there’s a call for regulation, ask what they want control of, and why.

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It’s Thanksgiving so I’m going to go quickly tonight. Happy Thanksgiving.

It is worth noting that the European Union is currently starting to get more aggressive about trying to regulate other countries, and businesses in other countries.

We all know Barack Obama won’t lift a finger, but we should be mindful for Congressional action, at the very least.

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Tech at Night: Now this is surveillance overreach

On November 25, 2014, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

When you act on the Internet, the nature of the Internet Protocol means you broadcast your Internet Protocol address to any other site you connect with. However these days most people’s addresses are randomly assigned to people who share the same ISP.

The “conservatives” in the UK want to impose burdensome recordkeeping requirements so they can try to find out who controlled any given IP address at any given time.

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