Tech at Night

So the Obama administration for a while has been talking about failing to renew its Commerce Department contract with ICANN, the organization that runs IANA and the fundamentals of the Internet. This would create a power vacuum online, one that would gladly be filled by America’s rivals.

And all the tough talk to the contrary won’t change that.

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Tech at Night

Imagine a safe, one used to store important papers, extreme valuables, or even guns. When we put our things into a safe, to keep things secure against a determined thief. It’s very important they aren’t able to get in and take these things, so we ensure our safes are very difficult to open without authorization. The idea that we’d have a secret back door that could be exploited to gain unauthorized access, perhaps by the manufacturer, bypassing our control of the lock, would be unthinkable.

Yet, this is exactly what Obama’s FBI head, James Comey, is asking for when it comes to the safes protecting our online data. It’s madness.

I have long been a defender of NSA (one of our nation’s leading data intelligence and counterintelligence groups), of FISA (the spy courts), of ECPA as written (the law that allows ISPs to give access to their email servers), and of the overall role of government in monitoring online activities to further legitimate law enforcement and national security objectives. However, one big reason I’ve taken this position is that few of these surveillance techniques work against effective encryption techniques.

Basically, most of this “government spying” is rendered completely ineffective by the use of free, modern, commodity encryption tools and techniques widely available today. Anyone who wanted a great deal of privacy would be able to chose to take it, however, most Americans do not value their privacy, and are willing to sell it for cash and convenience.

However the fact that most Americans give away their data does not mean that we should all be mandated to do so. Even if we mistrust the crank Internet encryption communities out there, groups like Tor which are magnets for criminals and terrorists, the fact is we have a right to close the drapes, we have a right to lock our doors, and we have a right to encrypt our data.

Encryption is a lot like a gun. In fact, export law used to treat it as a munition. It’s a powerful tool that, put in the hands of honest people, is protective and good. In the hands of crooks and terrorists, it’s a tool for evil. The fact that the bad guys will encrypt their data is no more a reason for encryption restrictions, than the fact that bad guys get guns, is a reason for gun control.

The bad guys are going to grab GNU Privacy Guard or something, and encrypt their data, whether the good guys do so or not. FBI needs to lay off trying to intimidate private citizens from protecting themselves.


Yahoo joins Google and Facebook in kowtowing to the extreme fringe left against ALEC. That’s fine. Remember that, folks, the next time they push for Net Neutrality, or open borders, or any of the other astroturf campaigns the extremist left fringe of tech have been trying to foist upon us.

The Obama FCC is using prison phone bills as a pretext to fight federalism.

California already mandates kill switches in phones. What happens when cars are next?

Security is as much about people as it is about code. Note that FBI and DHS are warning the public about this, when government itself gets bitten in cases like Bradley Manning’s and Edward Snowden’s. Government is ing no position to regulate on cybersecurity. It’s not competent enough to do so.

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Tech at Night

I’ve taken some criticism for saying over and over again in this space, that kids don’t belong on the Internet (unsupervised and uncontrolled really), and that classrooms should not have Internet access introduced. The basic problem is that unfettered Internet access brings bullies and predators to kids. It also means pornography will just keep popping up, and there’s no way to fix that with these uncontrolled environments. It’s just not worth the risks.

Have you quit using Mozilla Firefox yet? It’s time to switch, yet again, as Mozilla has taken an extremist political position for no real reason except that the project has been completely hijacked by radical ideologues. Not only are they for zombie Net Neutrality, they’re claiming the Obama FCC isn’t going far enough. Lunacy.

Look, it doesn’t really matter what browser you use: MS Internet Explorer, Apple Safari, Chromium, Google Chrome Opera, or w3m. Just switch to anything that doesn’t fund this left-wing outlet.

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Tech at Night: Net Neutrality, Bitcoin, and the Courts

On April 29, 2014, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

So I spent my Tech time tonight writing about Net Neutrality. I suggest reading that. It’s still a bad idea, because it’s founded on premises that aren’t true, and doesn’t address the real issues.

Meanwhile industry’s fighting it out over Net Neutrality 3.0: the return of the revenge. Who are Obama’s picked winners and losers, and are they winning or losing enough? Do they think they can bet more?

Speaking of picking winners and losers, we’ll have to see what comes out of Senate patent negotiations. Last time the Senate worked on this there was a good Republican bill and a bad Democrat bill.

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Tech at Night

Edward Snowden is in full propaganda mode for Vladimir Putin, basically becoming Putin’s puppet. I’m sure he’s enjoying his award nominations while his patron state terrorizes women.

Barack Obama showed weakness when he even floated the possibility that America would turn our control of ICANN over to other countries. Down in Brazil they’re all over that idea (the anarchists are claiming they want a non-governmental control, but look, in a world with Russia and China, and even the EU countries like Germany having ‘national champions’, that’s not happening). India’s game, too. Republicans, and heck it’d help if Democrats did it to, must signal that the next President will not let this happen.

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Tech at Night

Funny how Bitcoin ATM installations get all that hype, but their later flops and removals get much less attention.

They’ve got to be so desperate for good news in the Bitcoin community. Imagine being one of those suckers who bought in at $1000 or even $800, only to get hit with the steady drumbeat of Bitcoin criminality and government attacks.

And don’t forget: Bitcoin mining is getting harder all the time. As time goes on, mining is going to get so hard that the pool will thin, making it easier for a well-off team to take over 51% of the network and hijack the whole thing. If that hasn’t already happened yet. Because if you had 51% of Bitcoin, wouldn’t you… hide some of your resources under an alias so as not to scare people off?

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Tech at Night

DOJ is coming after human trafficking coordinated online. But don’t worry guys, all the drug dealers on Silk Road who get people hooked aren’t to blame at all, except that a lot of the victims of human trafficking get sucked into it via drug addiction. Let alone all the direct human trafficking done via Tor with Bitcoin.

In 1997 I attended a speech by Warren Buffett. One thing I’ve always remembered from it, was how he explained he prefers to invest in businesses he understands, like Coca Cola. Buffett staying away from Bitcoin doesn’t surprise me a bit. I doubt he does understand it, but at the same time the outrage by the Bitcoin ideologues is delicious. I guess it beats continued sobbing over all the exchanges that keep dying.

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Tech at Night

Gotta love it when the left uncritically regurgitates Sprint’s misleading talking points when they’d be having a hysterical screaming fit in the event I did the same to support my views.

Sadly I was right in my predictions about Obama back when hef irst took office, and Marco Rubio was right. The Obama administration is handing over the Internet to the UN, a blow to liberty and a victory for dictators around the world. I’m sure Rand Paul’s on board, since he wouldn’t want to tweak any dictators or anything.

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Tech at Night

ACU and other normally small-government types have bafflingly come out against the satellite TV bill STELA, and Steve Scalise’s efforts to enact Retransmission Consent reform, a cable idea first proposed jointly with Jim DeMint. This is wrong, and this is a strange supporting of laws that pick winners and losers.

You see, back in the 70s when Cable TV started to take off, broadcasters and socialists alike freaked out. Broadcasters because they were faced with competition for eyeballs where they previously had a monopoly, and socialists because it offended that someone might actually pay for TV. So they teamed up to rig the system, passing laws and regulations that prevented an open market for many broadcasts, instead creating territorial monopolies for broadcasters. These regulations have let the broadcasters get fat and happy (see also Aereo).

Pass retransmission consent reform. Supporters say without reform we “simulate” a free market, and to reform would harm “content producers.” This turns the truth on its head. Broadcasters are overpaid, underworked middlemen with government-manufactured monopolies. They produce nothing but just happen to hold a government license to spectrum. Make ‘em compete. And certainly never make satellite providers buy from a propagandist like The Weather Channel.

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Tech at Night

Remember during the height of the Edward Snowden media frenzy, how his defenders would dutifully parrot every word RT said about him? Here’s your great Snowden defender now. RT and Snowden are the enemies of liberty, peace, and the United States of America.

Bitcoin is the fantasy tool of ideologues, the 21st century version of Goldbuggery, but there turns out to be a group even more ridiculous than the Bitcoin zealots: TSA agents.

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