Christopher Merle

Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, but first I need more coffee.

Category: Politics (page 1 of 3)

Stand up for Net Neutrality

July 12 is the day of action, read more over at EFF.org who is dedicated to fighting for your online rights. There is absolutely no reason to create a two tier system for the internet for the haves and have nots. Back in the late 1990’s a lot fiberoptic cable was laid in this country and to this day  most of it is not being used. The real problem is the last mile problem that is getting the high speed connection from the internet backbone into the home. Infrastructure is a shared resource we all benefit from.

The internet backbone is the 21st century of the interstate highway system. The highway system is a great example of a public-private partnership.  We own our vehicles and our taxes pay for the roads that everyone can use. Now we have seen an increase in toll roads that are encroaching on that public road system. The internet backbone is mostly privately owned now, but in reality should be treated as a public utility just as the highway system is.

Net Neutrality like the highway system lets you access the internet regardless of whether you have a in expensive PC, a mobile device, or a top of the line gaming system. As a freelancer my work is dependent on the internet, and small business it the main job creator not big business. If I had to pay more to access the internet and my clients too they would have less incentive and not participate fully in our vibrant economy which would no longer be vibrant without our active participation.

It is also vital for free speech and is as much a First Amendment issue. The internet is now without it’s dangers and predators, but we with net neutrality active and tech savvy citizens can spread the word easier to help protect their families and communities.

What happens now?

As you may have noticed we had an election here in the US. The candidate projected to win lost. Most people are still trying to process the implications of this upset. No one knows what is going to happen now, but many are fearful.gila1

Stop CISPA

Blackout is over. Returning to our regularly scheduled website. Below is the blackout and Stop CISPA info.


STOP CISPA

You may remember the fight last year to stop SOPA/PIPA. Alas, it’s back but under a new name CISPA. A call has been put out for another blackout. I participated last year. I will participate this year.

The call for the blackout

http://pastebin.com/81HcZ3ug

CISPA, or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, is a law that would allow the government to extract your private information from the internet without a warrant. It’s the online equivalent of allowing a police officer to enter your home and start rummaging through your personal files without the permission of a court. The politicians who introduced this law pretend it will protect you but what it really does is circumvent your Fourth Amendment rights. CISPA also prevents you from suing companies when they illegally use your information.

U.S. House of Representatives Shamefully Passes CISPA; Internet Freedom Advocates Prepare for a Battle in the Senate
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/04/us-house-representatives-shamefully-passes-cispa-internet-freedom-advocates

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Stop SOPA/PIPA

Update—This was originally a page, and I made it my home page yesterday to show my solidarity that SOPA/PIPA need to be stopped. Online piracy is a problem and must be dealt with, but you don’t do it by creating laws that break the Internet and do more harm than good.


The blackout has begun: Wikipedia, Google, WordPress, reddit, and many others.

Click the link below and sign the petition if you want to help
http://fightforthefuture.org/pipa/

 

Vote for Python

In February of 2007 I attended my second Pycon, a conference devoted to the open source programming language Python. One of the coolest system of presentations I saw were the lightning talks. Each presenter gets only 5 minutes to give his spiel. The one that made the biggest impression on me was by Ka-Ping Yee. He demonstrated how using less than 300 lines of code could make electronic voting much more secure. Consider this. A voting machine made by Diebold (now Premier Election Solutions) has over 31,000 lines of code. Some machines have over 100,000 lines of code. Which do you think would be easier to audit and certify?

As we get closer to the election, voting security becomes more important. Ka-Ping Yee is getting some news coverage. Since that talk his pvote code has ballooned to just under 500 lines of code, still somewhat under that 100K mark.

No matter what system is used, transparency and the ability to audit the system and the votes is of paramount importance. No one should trust any system to work. Proper checks and balances need to be in place, so that should questions arise, people can see what happened.

Yee was interviewed during Pycon 2008 in Chicago: In Voting Software We Trust?



Ira Flatow also interviews Ka-Ping Yee in this recent segment of Science Friday. Comes in at 13:30.
E-Voting Update (broadcast Friday, October 24th, 2008)
[audio:http://podcastdownload.npr.org/anon.npr-podcasts/podcast/510221/96167029/npr_96167029.mp3]

One thing to note about the electronic voting systems mentioned in the podcast was calibration. They use touch screens. If they are not calibrated properly, voters thinking they selected their candidate of choice may show they’ve selected a different candidate. The co-ordinates of the selections you see on the screen should be synced up with the co-ordinates of the touch display. This is a separate issue that needs to be addressed, but as long as it can be calibrated visually and on the spot this should not be a serious technical issue. The only downside is that voters may not be paying attention to their choices or summary.

Yee didn’t mention anything about a paper audit, but it would be trivial to add a few lines of code to print out the cast ballot. Not only does this make it possible to vote more securely—by an order of magnitude—his system makes it easier for the voter to cast a vote, including those requiring accessibility.

You can also view his Pycon slide show. It will walk you through the steps, and you’ll see how it is possible to make electronic voting far more secure than it is now. With the proper checks and balances people can be sure their vote is counted. These checks are sadly lacking in Diebold’s and others voting machine technology.

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