Friday, March 21, 2008
In yet another misguided view of technology crimes and how they occur, Delegate LeRy E. Myers Jr. presented a bill to the Maryland House of Delegates that would criminalise purposely surfing the Internet on someone else's wireless connection. In a Slashdot.org article:
"A bill presented by Delegate LeRoy E. Myers Jr. to the Maryland House of Delegates would criminalize purposely surfing the Internet on someone else's wireless connection. The bill would make intentional unauthorized access to another person's computer, network, database, or software a misdemeanor with a penalty up to three years imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000. The Maryland public defender's office has submitted written testimony opposing the specific ban and penalty suggested in Myers' bill. Noting that wireless connections are becoming common in neighborhoods, the written testimony says: 'A more effective way to prevent unauthorized access would be for owners to secure their wireless networks with assistance where necessary from Internet service providers or vendors.'"
The full Herald Mail article can be accessed here.
Not only would this law, if passed, would be almost impossible to police, it would be completely over the top and totally miss the point of what it is supposed to be deterring! I think the point of the bill is to stop users from entering onto a wireless connection without the permission of the owner of the wireless router, but honestly there is a MUCH simpler solution then wacking a $1,000.00 fine and up to three years imprisonment - how about educating those who buy wireless routers as to how they can secure their connection to ensure no one has access to their connection in the first place?
Furthermore, shouldn't the harm be comparable to the punishment? I think in most instances of using someone else's wirless connection, there is probably no intent to do harm to them. In most cases, it is probably accidental (as some users may be unaware that they are using a 'stolen' internet connection, or their computer automatically searches for the first available internet connection). Of course there are the 1% who do actually intend to do harm, but aren't there laws already in place for computer hacking (check out s408E Criminal Code 1899 (QLD)). And what about the users who still think that internet explorer is "The Internet", and have no grasp of how or why it works, but they know that clicking on a big blue "e" allows them to access this wondrous thing called the world wide web? I would envision that most such users would just use the first connection which pops up. Would such a bill allow the prosecution of such users (just take a look at the prosecutions against computer illiterate users (click here and here for ridiculous RIAA suits). It is possible that a similar chain of events may emerge where such a law would be used inappropriately against the technologically challenged.
I also find it incredibly hypocritical to apply different standards to circumstances which occur in regards to technology and circumstances in the 'real' world. The Australian Road Rules 1999 states the following:
213 Making a motor vehicle secure
(1) This rule applies to the driver of a motor vehicle who stops and leaves the vehicle on a road (except to pay a fee for parking the vehicle) so the driver is over 3 metres from the closest part of the vehicle if there is nobody 16 years old, or older, in the
Note Motor vehicle is defined in the dictionary.
(2) Before leaving the motor vehicle, the driver must comply with this rule, except so far as the driver is exempt from this rule under another law of this jurisdiction.
(3) The driver must:
(a) switch off the engine; and
(b) apply the parking brake effectively or, if weather conditions (for example, snow) would prevent the effective operation of the parking brake, effectively restrain the motor vehicle’s movement in another way.
(4) If there is nobody in the motor vehicle, the driver must:
(a) remove the ignition key; and
(b) if the doors of the vehicle can be locked — lock the doors.
Therefore, if it is an offense to leave your car unlocked, why should it not be an offense to leave something like a wireless router unlocked? In this case, there is the opportunity to protect your own interests, so why should there be any recourse to the courts where you simply failed to take the necessary precautions? Of course, in the case of malicious intent to cause damage to your computer, then yes the full extent of the law should apply. But in the case of using someone else's wireless internet connection, you are not causing any major harm and the owner of the router should take the responsibility of protecting it if they do not wish for someone to access it.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Ok, if you are really really bored (or perhaps procrastinating because you have assignments and study to do like me), check out this site! You can either mix celebrity faces with each other, or mix your own face with a celebrity!
Here is one I made earlier...
The site is www.morphthing.com.
Just my random addition for the day!
Much to my disgust, some of my lecturers have decided to post up their lecture notes in docx format! To anyone not aware of what this is, it is the default format which word 2007 saves its files as. And it is quite annoying to all those who don't/choose not to/too broke to get a copy of word 2007.
But my mac has come to the rescue; in a fit of rage I attempted to open such a file, and found that the mac can in fact open a docx file without word 2008! The formatting isn't fantastic, but if you are just wanting the content of the document it is sufficient.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Furthermore, could online defamation of ones avatar begin to become a problem in the 'real world' courts? For example, should one be playing World of Warcraft, and they offhandedly call a fellow player a n00b, and they retort that they find this a derogation of their character and they believe it will harm their reputation, would this be grounds for a defamation suit? Could a business owner in Second Life have an action in defamation should someone untruthfully spread rumours that the owner spits in the virtual food they are serving in their restaurant? Perhaps some new online court rooms will start cropping up; I can't help but laugh when I think of some gruesome looking WOW characters filing into a courtroom, with an Orc residing as the judge :P
But isn't half the fun of these online games that you can leave this reality and delve into another where your life is entirely different? And if someone is doing something naughty, shouldn't we just leave it to the moderators, and leave the courts out of it? I am sure lawyers with more moral turpitude than myself are probably licking their lips while thinking of the potential for millions to be made on this, but for what? I honestly hope that our judiciary has a bit more sense than to open the flood gates.
Monday, March 10, 2008
The case of Macquarie Bank Ltd v Berg basically said that defamation of a person, or company as the case may be, is alright as long as you are in another country! In this case, Berg was a disgruntled ex employee of Macquarie Bank, and as a matter of course, he decided to post defamatory information regarding certain senior members of the bank (including incriminating sound bytes). Of course, Macquarie bank got quite upset, and decided to sue Berg in the NSW Supreme Court. However, the nasty business of jurisdiction cropped up as Berg was now under US jurisdiction.
Simpson J in the NSW Supreme court said that the material was defamatory, but as a procedural matter they would not grant an injunction for an ex parte interlocutory case. Simpson J said that if they took jurisdiction for a website in California, they could then superimpose their laws onto any other country in the world. Basically, just because Berg was in another country, he was allowed to defame as he pleased :P. Funnily enough, just by litigating on the matter, thousands of people would have visited Berg's site as a matter of public interest! So by litigating, the tiny site made by a noone was cast into the spotlight - perhaps by keeping it quiet it would have disappeared into oblivion and there would have been no need to seek an injunction!
For more information on this interesting case, click here!
Of course, this couldn't be the answer to 'cyberspace' defamation, could it? Well in Gutnick v Dow Jones, Dow Jones, known for its publication, the Wallstreet Journal, published an article titled "Unholy Gains" in an online subscription service with various 'comments' about Joseph Gutnick, an Australian Business man and former president of the Melbourne Football club, who resided in Victoria. Following the decision handed down in Berg, one would think that the same jurisdiction problems would arise. The High Court of Australia disagreed.
In a unanimous decision, all seven High Court justices decided that Gutnick had the right to sue for defamation at his primary residence and the place he was best known. Victoria was considered the place where damage to his reputation occurred. The High Court decided that defamation did not occur at the time of publishing, but as soon as a third party read the publication and thought less of the individual who was defamed. The High Court's ruling effectively allows defamation plaintiffs in Australia to sue for defamation on the internet against any defendant irrespective of their location. "If people wish to do business in, or indeed travel to, or live in, or utilize the infrastructure of different countries, they can hardly expect to be absolved from compliance with the laws of those countries. The fact that publication might occur everywhere does not mean that it occurs nowhere." (per Callinan J at para 186)Of course, this was just on the question of jurisdiction! The case concerning the defamation was never heard, however it was released that a settlement was reached between Gutnick and Dow Jones for $440,000.00. However, the author (Alpert I believe his name was) stated he wished to appeal to the UN Human Rights committee, although to this date nothing has come of this (publicity stunt?).
If you have read this far, unfortunately the law in Australia seems to point to the 'effects test' (where the correct jurisdiction is the place where the actual harm occurs). So your enemy needs to be in a country with more liberal defamation laws than ourselves :P
For a more comprehensive look at this issue, you need to look at the cases which occurred before during and after the two mentioned above.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
I have watched the shorts from this for a while now, and its fantastic how innovative apple have been over the past few years! The new iphone looks incredible, I have already put in my birthday order with FH :P
The thing I love about Steve Jobs is that he knows how to think from the point of view of a consumer. Sure, they sometimes stuff up (apple tv for example), but rather than just expect consumers to like it or lump it like microsoft, they try and improve their products so they are more user friendly.
You are almost forced to respect Steve Jobs; he arguably pulled apple out from a downward spiral when he was rehired to run the company he started after being fired in 1985!
Steve Ballmer was named CEO in 2000 when Bill gates stepped down: I truly respect Bill Gates for his fantastic business knowhow, but Steve Ballmer comes across as immature (see below). His latest act is running into a microsoft presentation like a drunk frat boy!
For information, I would recommend Pirates of Silicon Valley - not an entirely accurate portrayal of the rise of Microsoft and Apple, but quite entertaining ;) Or maybe I am just a giant nerd :P
Anyway, for your viewing pleasure:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvsboPUjrGc - Steve Ballmer goes crazy! Very similar to the entrance of a WWE wrestler :P
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yz1-cPx0cIk - Macworld 2008 Steve Jobs keynote speech in 60 second
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMU0tzLwhbE&feature=related - this is bizarre :P