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My latest Guardian column, The FBI wants a backdoor only it can use – but wanting it doesn’t make it possible, draws a connection between vaccine denial, climate denial, and the demand for backdoors in secure systems, as well as the call for technologies that prevent copyright infringement, like DRM.
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Last Friday, I travelled to Pasadena to give the morning keynote at SCaLE; they livecast the whole event, and you can watch it here.

No Matter Who’s Winning the War on General Purpose Computing, You’re Losing

If cyberwar were a hockey game, it’d be the end of the first period and the score would be tied 500-500. All offense, no defense. Meanwhile, a horrible convergence has occurred as everyone from car manufacturers to insulin pump makers have adopted the inkjet printer business model, insisting that only their authorized partners can make consumables, software and replacement parts — with the side-effect of making it a felony to report showstopper, potentially fatal bugs in technology that we live and die by. And then there’s the FBI and the UK’s David Cameron, who’ve joined in with the NSA and GCHQ in insisting that everyone must be vulnerable to Chinese spies and identity thieves and pervert voyeurs so that the spy agencies will always be able to spy on everyone and everything, everywhere. It’s been fifteen years since the copyright wars kicked off, and we’re still treating the Internet as a glorified video-on-demand service — when we’re not treating it as a more perfect pornography distribution system, or a jihadi recruitment tool. It’s all of those — and more. Because it’s the nervous system of the 21st century. We’ve got to stop treating it like a political football.

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It’s Copyright Week, and I’ve kicked it off with a post at the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Deep Links explaining why, regardless of copyright term extension, Mickey Mouse will probably never be “free” — but that doesn’t mean that Disney is acting irrationally in its fight as hard as they are for eternal copyrights.
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Late last year, the Computer Science Club at the University of Waterloo (a university I am proud to have dropped out of!) invited me to give a lecture: No Matter Who’s Winning the War on General Purpose Computing, You’re Losing. They’ve posted it in many formats for your enjoyment.

If cyberwar were a hockey game, it’d be the end of the first period and the score would be tied 500-500. All offense, no defense.

Meanwhile, a horrible convergence has occurred as everyone from car manufacturers to insulin pump makers have adopted the inkjet printer business model, insisting that only their authorized partners can make consumables, software and replacement parts — with the side-effect of making it a felony to report showstopper, potentially fatal bugs in technology that we live and die by.

And then there’s the FBI and the UK’s David Cameron, who’ve joined in with the NSA and GCHQ in insisting that everyone must be vulnerable to Chinese spies and identity thieves and pervert voyeurs so that the spy agencies will always be able to spy on everyone and everything, everywhere.

It’s been fifteen years since the copyright wars kicked off, and we’re still treating the Internet as a glorified video-on-demand service — when we’re not treating it as a more perfect pornography distribution system, or a jihadi recruitment tool.

It’s all of those — and more. Because it’s the nervous system of the 21st century. We’ve got to stop treating it like a political football.

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My latest Guardian column, ‘Poor internet for poor people': India’s activists fight Facebook connection plan, tells the story of how India’s amazing Internet activists have beaten back Facebook’s bid to become gatekeeper to the Internet for the next billion users.
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My new Locus Magazine column, Wicked Problems: Resilience Through Sensing, proposes a solution the urgent problem we have today of people doing bad stuff with computers. Where once “bad stuff with computers” meant “hacking your server,” now it could potentially mean “blocking air-traffic control transmissions” or “programming your self-driving car to kill you.”
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In my latest Guardian column, The problem with self-driving cars: who controls the code?, I take issue with the “Trolley Problem” as applied to autonomous vehicles, which asks, if your car has to choose between a maneuver that kills you and one that kills other people, which one should it be programmed to do?
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