On April 14-15 (after the three-day WIPO Development Agenda meeting, a.k.a. IIM), the WIPO Permanent Committee for Co-operation for Development Related to Intellectual Property (the PCIPD) met for its fourth session.
The PCIPD is a pre-existing WIPO sub-committee, formed in 1998. There's no formal relationship between the Development Agenda and the PCIPD; the only thing they have in common is the word "development." Despite that, the PCIPD meeting turned into a debate about the right venue to discuss WIPO's development efforts. On the one side, the US, the UK, Switzerland, Australia and many of the developed "Group B" countries called for a "reinvigoration" of the role of the PCIPD and argued that all discussion of WIPO's development activity should take place there (and by implication, only there).
In a unanimous decision, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out the broadcast flag, the FCC rule that would have crippled digital television receivers starting July 1. The ruling came in ALA v. FCC, a challenge brought by Public Knowledge, EFF, Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America, the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, the American Association of Law Libraries, the Medical Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association.
Response to EFF's white paper on how to blog anonymously has been overwhelming. While there have been plenty of positive reactions, there are also a few basic criticisms we'd like to respond to. They boil down to two questions: (1) why didn't you mention more/better ways to be anonymous? and (2) why is EFF encouraging people to be anonymous when the organization stands for free speech?
The first question is easy to answer: the paper isn't comprehensive, and we want to update and expand it over time with tips and tricks for staying anonymous online. Here are two examples:
Two computer scientists from Cambridge University, Steven Murdoch and George Danezis, presented a paper on the anonymous communication system Tor earlier this week at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. Entitled "Low-Cost Traffic Analysis of Tor," the paper describes one possible attack on Tor's security that allows an attacker to learn the nodes in a user's circuit, but not the identity of the user. The attacker must also control the server that users are trying to reach. But no aspect of the attack compromises user anonymity -- Tor users' identities are still secure.
Jim's article responds to an earlier article by Professor Douglas Lichtman, "Holding Internet Service Providers Accountable" [PDF], in which Doug argues in favor of holding ISPs liable for "malicious computer code" (viruses, worms, and other malware) that propagates over the Internet. A lengthier version of his argument is available at SSRN.
Last week we warned you about a new stealth PATRIOT-expansion bill that the Senate Intelligence Committee will consider in closed session later this week. In addition to renewing many of the USA PATRIOT Act's most troubling provisions, the new bill would give the FBI the power to issue so-called "administrative subpoenas." These new national security subpoenas would allow the FBI to secretly demand the private records of people who aren't even suspected of a crime, much less of spying or terrorism -- all without a judge's prior approval. The FBI could get anything from Internet logs and emails from your Internet service provider, to health records from your doctor, to financial information from your bank.
The Senate Intelligence Committee failed yesterday to reach agreement on the stealth PATRIOT expansion bill that would give the FBI expanded power to dig through the private records of people who aren't accused of any wrongdoing. The New York Times has the scoop (reg. req.), including a choice quote from Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR):
"The committee met in private for two and a half hours amid continuing complaints from civil liberties advocates and some Democrats that the proposal would give federal investigators too much power to conduct 'fishing expeditions' in pursuing terrorism leads. Senate Republican leaders and the Bush administration, who are backing the proposal, say it provides the F.B.I. with essential tools in fighting terrorism.