A Series of Tubes episode 86

The latest A Series of Tubes podcast is online for your listening pleasure. Richard Chirgwin talks with Chris King and David Thrum of Palo Alto Networks about the firewall market; sponsor Nortel about last week’s announcements at Interop; and me about National E-Security Week and the decisions of French courts on anti-piracy legislation.

Links for 30 March 2009 through 04 April 2009

Stilgherrian’s links for 30 March 2009 through 04 April 2009, gathered with the assistance of pumpkins and bees:

  • The Australian Sex Party: “The Australian Sex Party is a political response to the sexual needs of Australia in the 21st century. It is an attempt to restore the balance between sexual privacy and sexual publicity that has been severely distorted by morals campaigners and prudish politicians.”
  • Measuring the Information Society: The ICT Development Index 2009: Australia is ranked #14 based on figures from 2007. In 2003 it was at #13.
  • Ho Hum, Sweden Passes new anti File Sharing Legislation | Perceptric Forum: Tom Koltai’s analysis of that new Swedish law: It’ll make no difference long term.
  • As Sweden’s Internet anonymity fades, traffic plunges | Ars Technica: A new Swedish law that went into effect 1 April makes it possible for copyright holders to go to court and unmask a user based on an IP address. Sweden’s Internet traffic dropped 40% overnight.
  • Study: online sexual predators not like popular perception | Ars Technica: This survey rejects the idea that the Internet is an especially perilous place for minors, and finds that while the nature of online sex crimes against minors changed little between 2000 and 2006, the profile of the offenders has been shifting — and both differ markedly from the popular conception.
  • What Is Fail Whale?: The complete history of the Twitter’s error-bringing Fail Whale, along with all the art and craft it’s inspired to date.
  • Voda/Hutch merger rattles ACCC | ZDNet Australia: Australia’s competition watchdog tonight issued a strongly worded statement of concern that the proposed merger of mobile carriers Hutchison and Vodafone could lead to increased retail prices on mobile telephony and broadband services.
  • All the news that’s fit to tweet | guardian.co.uk: The Guardian has also announced a new 140-character commenting system. “You’ll never again need to wade through paragraphs of extended argument, looking for the point, or suffer the unbearable tedium of having to read multiple protracted, well-grounded perspectives on the blogs you love.”
  • Share This Lecture! | Viddler.com: Mark Pesce’s annual lecture for “Cyberworlds” class, Sydney University, 31 March 2009. About the significance of sharing across three domains: sharing media, sharing knowledge, and how these two inevitably lead to the sharing of power.
  • Twitter switch for Guardian, after 188 years of ink | The Guardian: One of the better April Fools’ Day pieces. I particularly like the extracts from the Twitterised news archive. 1927: “OMG first successful transatlantic air flight wow, pretty cool! Boring day otherwise *sigh*”
  • Flappers, wine, cocaine and revels (Pt II) | The Vapour Trail: A few hours after five Melbourne girls were arrested for vagrancy in late March 1928, the headline of Melbourne’s Truth broadcast their misdeeds: “White Girls with Negro Lovers. Flappers, Wine, Cocaine and Revels. Raid Discloses Wild Scene of Abandon”.
  • A Blacklist for Websites Backfires in Australia | TIME: Time‘s take on the leak of the Australian Internet censorship blacklist portrays it as a joke and a scandal. There are some factual errors in the story, but this looks like how it’ll end up being perceived internationally.

Is Conroy really this ignorant of his own portfolio?

If this report about Senator Stephen Conroy’s comments this morning is right, then he’s either completely out of touch with what actually happens in an ISP, or thoroughly disingenuous.

In what was at times a heated morning at the CommsDay Summit in Sydney, Conroy told an overflowing room that the idea that iiNet “have no idea if any customers are illegally downloading music” on their network is a “stunning defence”.

“The capacity to be able to ignore what your customers are doing on your network is being fought out in the Courts but I thought the defence of ‘we have no idea what anyone is downloading over our network’ was a classic,” Conroy said.

Is Senator Conroy aware that it’s completely unethical — if not downright illegal — to monitor or otherwise intercept the contents of someone else’s communications?

As a “common carrier”, iiNet or any other ISP does not and indeed can not monitor the content of communications flowing through their network any more than Telstra or another telco can listen in to our telephone conversations, or Australia Post can open our mail and read it. At least not without a warrant or other due legal process.

Anyway, how can an ISP tell whether a particular data stream is an “illegal” copy or not? A music file looks just the same whether it’s being used legally under the terms of its license or under fair dealing, or not. Does Senator Conroy imagine illegally-made copies are stamped “pirate” or something?

It looks like the report is true, because ZDNet just posted their version.

If Conroy is still saying such daft stuff even after last week’s episode of Q&A, then tonight’s edition of Insight should be a laugh too.

Links for 03 March 2009 through 07 March 2009

Stilgherrian’s links for 03 March 2009 through 07 March 2009, containing traces of nuts: