Happy Birthday Internet! Happy Birthday Web!
Several Notable birthdays occurred this week. The World Wide Web celebrated its 25th anniversary on Tuesday. Yesterday marked the 25th birthday of the Linux Foundation as well. The first test of wireless networking and protocols from ARPAnet that would become the Internet were conducted 40 years ago tomorrow.
The Internet was a revelation, and the WWW began the flourishing of a whole new world that more than half of humanity has participated in to some extent. It was hard to imagine any of the technological advancements of 2016 back in 1976, just as it’s hard to imagine where we’d be now if not for those audacious experiments in connection decades ago.
It hasn’t all been pretty. Wired celebrated the birth of the web with an open letter to the Internet itself, reminding us that we’re all responsible for the sorry state of discourse online. Buzzfeed reminds us that hacks are inevitable when cybersecurity itself is broken. And how much does the web still matter if everything is moving into walled gardens like Facebook and phone apps?
Also, the National Park Service celebrated it’s 100th anniversary yesterday. Get outside, you internet nerds! Just kidding, I prefer my screen to the swamps of the Everglades.
Lily Hay Newman, Wired
There’s a reason that it’s important for security vulnerabilities to be responsibly disclosed to the developers of software and hardware. Not doing so can open those applications up to exploitation. Even if you think that you’ve found a vulnerability that no one else will, there’s nothing stopping you from getting hacked yourself and having those exploits stolen. Even if you are the NSA.
Recently a hacking group known as Shadow Brokers announced the acquisition of material from NSA affiliated spies that included a variety of programs, zero days, and other exploits for common pieces of software. As a taste of their wares, they released some of these exploits which have been confirmed as working, do not have patches from the previously unaware victim companies, and are currently being used by hackers with almost no skill required to use following step-by-step instructions.
It’s now a race against time for affected systems to be hardened, and for software makers to patch their programs. Not only will these tools then be rendered moot in their current incarnation for NSA intrusion use, but real damage can be done in the interim, with all of us paying the price for a lack of responsible disclosure.
Cindy Cohn, EFF
Another bad habit of the NSA? Using confusing verbiage and changing the meaning of existing words internally to claim to follow the letter of the law, if not in spirit. What does targeted mean when the loosely connected people swept up in a targeted account amounts to billions of US communications for millions of citizens each year?
Marcus Gilmer, Mashable
I cannot claim to have excellent legal knowledge of public photography rights in France, and assuming that what I’m familiar with in the US will translate would not be wise. Still, I’m not discussing the act of photography and jurisdictions here, but of sharing photos. The president of the French administrative region that Nice is a part of has sent letters threatening lawsuit to individuals who shared photos of a woman being forced to remove a burkini by metro police.
The internet is built on sharing and is fueled by sharing, whether you like it or not. Like the lawyer story below, trying to suppress these images is pointless, as there’s no way to reliably strip any content from the many disparate networks that comprise the shared internet.
Greg Sterling, Marketing Land
Are you familiar with the Streisand Effect? Named after the singer, it’s the phenomenon of drawing more attention to information that someone tries to keep secret due to the fact that they try to censor it in the first place. Basically, if Streisand didn’t sue a photographer over pictures of her home, almost no one would have seen the pictures, but now they’re available all over the web.
A former client of a California lawyer was sued over a negative Yelp review, and as it wasn’t challenged, the court ordered Yelp to remove the review. Yelp refused as they were never part of the legal proceedings, and wide range of legal scholars and fellow tech companies have submitted letters backing Yelp up for their actions.
Safe Harbor is already under attack. The concept, part of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, ensures growth on the web by protecting site owners from content posted by their users if they responded to legal requests for content removal in a timely manner. The difference here is that the company, Yelp, was not even involved in the altercation, but was commanded to take action on something that wasn’t proven to be libelous at all.
Honestly the only question that I have in this case is why a dentist’s reviews are trashed with blatant lies due to socially unacceptable behavior entirely unrelated to his practice, but how the page of a lawyer embroiled in a frivolous lawsuit has not been likewise attacked.