Ben’s Techdirt Profile


About Ben

Ben’s Comments comment rss

  • Apr 29th, 2016 @ 3:27pm


    1. The 10th Amendment:

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
    pretty much defines "States Rights." But the commerce clause of the Constitution permits the US Government to control/manage interstate commerce. I can't think of anything more interstate (in both political meanings of the word "state") than broadband access, so "states rights" does not apply. The states should not be intruding on the domain of the FCC.

    2. Yea, right. The broadband companies can donate relatively huge amounts to state legislators, helping their campaign war chests, and hand them the words to use in their bills. The legislators get resources they need to be re-elected, and the broadband companies get the right to do things like defining "broadband" as whatever they can get away with. Until funding of elections is reformed, anyone who wants to "petition their representatives to change it" can pretty much expect nothing.

    And suing due to material damage? That depends on whether the broadband company has forced you to agree to arbitration...

    Just because the FCC, until Tom Wheeler (I hope), has ignored it's duty for decades and let the states tilt the playing field, doesn't mean the FCC can't now step up and insist that there are lines which should not be crossed.

    I hope it gets better, but the states should have very little say in this; it is an FCC matter.

  • Apr 26th, 2016 @ 9:24am


    I think they are more chartreuse (greenish-yellow) than pinkish/red (rouge), but I've been known to be a bit a rogue in my color choices of late.

  • Apr 20th, 2016 @ 2:48pm

    It is not Fear!

    It is not

    we've let fear grip our government institutions
    -- it is terror. The government is going overboard not because of simple fear -- it is the terror they feel that they will have been on duty when the next terrorist strike happens.

    Therefore, "the terrorists" have won.

  • Apr 19th, 2016 @ 3:23pm


    Or, as appears to be the case in Canada, the key can be handed out to law enforcement agencies, allowing them to decrypt at will…
    Really? So, this is like the FBI using the one gut wrenching "because Terrorism!" case to show a need to crack an iPhone and be handed a tool to crack all iPhones (and then they would have it in their tool chest without needing to get one of those pesky warrant thingies for the "next" one).

    ...and since one government agency is just a part of the government, it means that effectively all government agencies would have it (like the NSA wouldn't be able to get it from the FBI if it wanted it?)

    So, in Canada, it probably means *all* law enforcement agencies would have the non-BES key available, with no need to go to the courts (or Blackberry) to get permission. I thought Blackberry was stupid, but I didn't think they were *that* stupid. At least with keeping it to themselves, they would have a revenue stream from the requests for decryption.

  • Apr 19th, 2016 @ 3:13pm

    Server Server?

    "BES Server" <==> "Blackberry Enterprise Server Server"

    Brought to you by the redundant Department of Redundancy.

  • Apr 13th, 2016 @ 7:23am


    The disambiguation page for Hofbrau ( shows multiple "Hofbrau"s in Germany, so it doesn't quite appear generic.

  • Apr 12th, 2016 @ 5:51pm


    Maybe Digital Suicide would be a more appropriate name for them.

  • Mar 25th, 2016 @ 4:01pm

    Better to be thought...

    Better to be thought an idiot than opening one's mouth and prove it to the world.

    Or, I guess, open one's media account...

  • Mar 21st, 2016 @ 10:23am


    If the deadline passed "with nary a smiling monkey complaint," then how can they expect the filing to be processed? Yes exceptions can sometimes be made, but my experience with the courts is that they'd rather _not_ make decisions, and when there is a legitimate reason to reject something, they use it.

    Otherwise "deadline" doesn't mean what they think it means. ... and that is inconceivable!

  • Mar 10th, 2016 @ 9:50am

    Wired vs Slate

    I must have missed the ArsTechnica toe-dip in the dark side; I have been a supporter of them for years and I'm glad I don't need to drop them.

    I have/had both Wired and Slate in my RSS news feeds for a while. As noted above, Wired recently started blocking users using blockers (I use Ad Block plus); I now no longer have Wired in my news feed. I kind of miss it (and I actually subscribe to the physical magazine!) but it was too annoying to deal with.

    Slate, on the other hand just displays a removable footer noting that it noticed my blocker and could I please subscribe...

    If the ads were controlled by the sites themselves, I'd probably white list them, but in almost all these cases the ads are coming from a service (google, or some other purveyor of web ads); how far should my trust go? Ads these days can be used to pwn your machine -- in the current case I would need to trust Wired's trust in their ad source's vetting of their advertisers, and I can easily imagine their vetting process being fooled.

    To the original question: link to them. Maybe set up a style to indicate link targets? Pay-walled vs Ad-blocking vs NSFW vs "normal"?

  • Mar 8th, 2016 @ 7:39am

    Re: This is a non-starter

    I don't know; I think of someone out there registering as Robert'); DROP TABLE Applicant;--. Could be lots of fun!

  • Feb 17th, 2016 @ 5:14pm

    Obviously affects National Security

    When Holder’s resignation was announced, the Office of Information Policy made a FOIA request for the identity of the new Attorney General, so they could correct their FAQs. They are still awaiting a response.
    Who the Attorney General is should be considered a national secret; disclosure would compromise too many active investigations and prosecutions. /s

  • Feb 17th, 2016 @ 9:29am

    Two sides to this for Apple

    they are asking for a backdoor -- just a narrow one that can only be used for this phone and would be ineffective against most modern iPhones
    Which would imply that if Apple seriously considers this everyone will be dumping their old iPhones for the "modern iPhones" (i.e. more sales!) -- if they trust Apple at all after this (i.e. fewer sales!).

    As for brute forcing:
    I would think they could copy all the data off the existing phone, encrypted though it may be, just in case they "accidentally" cause a data wipe; whether they could copy that (encrypted) data back may be an issue, but it would seem to be a way to start.

  • Dec 18th, 2015 @ 4:19pm

    Re: CFAA

    Sorry, but that law is only used against people who have no political connections/power. Similar to how they select who gets punished for lying to congress or disclosing secrets.

  • Dec 18th, 2015 @ 11:08am

    Unauthorized Code

    Does the training include how to detect "Unauthorized Code"? And if so can we donate a copy to the Juniper people?

  • Dec 3rd, 2015 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Sue ICE for their entire budget

    IANAL, but I believe you can't sue a government (or agency) for damages without their consent (except related to specific circumstances which I suspect would not apply in these cases).

    I'd go after them using RICO; their collusion with the RIAA is obviously a form of Racketeering.

  • Nov 25th, 2015 @ 10:14pm

    Is there no QA in the patent office?

    I would think best practices would require review of at least a sampling of a patent examiner's approved (and rejected) patents and hopefully catch items like this one.

    But when a patent gets rejected by the courts, does the patent office follow the trail and tell the examiners involved that it was rejected?

    This is basic QA stuff; the patent office should be able to do at *least* this, if not more.

  • Nov 18th, 2015 @ 2:24pm


    It would require, simply, that designers and makers of operating systems not design or build them to be impregnable to lawful governmental searches.
    This cannot, by definition, exclude encryption since no encryption is impregnable.
    ·(of a fortified position) unable to be captured or broken into.
    "an impregnable wall of solid sandstone"
    ·unable to be defeated or destroyed; unassailable.
    "the case against Hastings would have been almost impregnable"
    No encryption is impossible to break, just difficult (for large values of "difficult").

  • Nov 16th, 2015 @ 10:26am

    Bistromathics strikes!

    Of course the FBI would be able to come up with losses totaling greater than $5,000. The offense was happening in a restaurant after all (albeit not at the end of the Universe (I hope!)).

    Bistro Mathematics comes into play, and almost any number, no matter how improbable, can be found.

    For example: just imagine the number of customers who will stay away from that pizza place because of its connection to the Rubio campaign? That should total a couple of million people (at $1 per person even!) right there, with the poll numbers as obvious evidence.

  • Nov 6th, 2015 @ 4:02pm

    Re: Owning An Idea

    "Footfall", published in _1985_ by Niven and Pournelle described this, letting the aliens launch from the ground using ground-based lasers.

    The more I hear about Patents and how they are abused, the more I wish the system was abolished or at least made rational (and I am not sure that is even possible).

More comments from Ben >>