Links for Legal Issues of the 21st Century

  • Strong Privacy
  • Surveillance Technology
  • ECash
  • Contracts in Cyberspace
  • Doing Business online
  • Open Source Software
  • Trouble Online
  • Crime, Terrorism
  • Reproductive Technology for Humans
  • Life Extension and Cryonic Suspension
  • Other Biotech
  • Mind Drugs
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Nanotechnology
  • Deep VR
  • Space
  • Old News
  • Strong Privacy

    My article "Strong Privacy: Perils and Promises of Encryption."

    Several years ago, I had a debate on encryption regulation with former Attorney General Ed Meese. The transcript is webbed.

    Matt Blaze has a page with extensive information on encryption and related issues, written from a pro-crypto point of view.

    If you would like to browse the web without being watched by either the FBI or the RIAA, you might want to take a look at netshade.

    The RIAA as a promoter of strong privacy? An interesting essay.

    Surveillance Technology

    Table of contents and first chapter of The Transparent Society .

    A discussion of issues raised by Brin's book, along with a demonstration of some new software for online discussions, all provided courtesy of the Foresight Institute--the nanotech people.

    Realspace surveillance to break cyberspace privacy--a real case, courtesy of the FBI.

    Identity free surveillance: "The cameras are located in the ceiling looking down, so we're only looking at head and shoulders of people," Hudda said. "Our cameras can't even see your face," said Simon Angove, Brickstream vice president of sales and marketing.

    Computerized face recognition of data from surveillance cameras finally arrived--at the superbowl, without notice.

    New e-mail program scans email for keywords.

    A bunch of links on digital manipulation and evidence issues:

    Digital Images and Evidence

    Photographic Evidence, Naked Children, and Dead Celebrities: Digital Forgery and the Law

    Digital Imaging Developments

    The issue of manipulation of digital evidence is showing up in real cases.

    Here also is an interesting privacy rights organization monitoring the technology internationally: Privacy International


    Might the attempt to suppress internet gambling lead to something still worse--ECash?

    A draft of an article by me and Professor Macintosh

    A reasonably informative student paper on ecash.

    The next two are not for the faint of heart or mathphobic:

    A brief explanation of the mathematics of blind signatures and double spending.

    A discussion of various ecash issues by David Chaum, who invented a lot of the ideas.

    Website of Office of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)

    A student article on cybernetic money laundering.

    And, finally, a lot of links to ecash and encryption related issues, from an unabashedly partisan viewpoint, can be found at Vince Cate's Cryptorebel/Cypherpunk Page.


    Contracts in Cyberspace

    My article, discussing some of this at greater length than in the book manuscript, is webbed here.

    For a more extreme version of the approach, take a look at this page on smart contracts.

    Doing Business Online--Technological protection et multae caetera

    Julie Cohen, "Copyright and the Jurisprudence of Self-Help"

    An article arguing against some proposed changes to UCC2B designed to facilitate electronic commerce

    David Friedman, "In Defense of Private Orderings"

    An article arguing against Professor Cohen's article.

    [Both are from a symposium organized by the Berkeley Technology Law Journal.]

    For some cutting edge material on electronic contracting, take a look at Mark Miller's erights page.

    A 40 page primer on digital rights management is described here and available as a free download.


    Open Source Software, Virtual firms and gift economies:

    The Cathedral and the Bazaar,

    Homesteading the Noosphere

    The Magic Cauldron

    Fortune story on Open Source and the Dean campaign as models for the bottom up economy.


    Making Trouble Online

    A brief account of the Cornell case--round 1. The OFFAL counterattack. A book excerpt that deals with that case among others.

    There is a brief discussion of the Caltech case here.

    An old collection of material on Scientology vs the Net, including the case.

    A slightly newer collection of materials and links.

    Apage maintained by a critic of Scientology, with links to a lot of relevant background material. It was not accessible as of 1/11/04. A discussion of past attempts by the Church of Scientology to get critics' pages removed from Google--in particular that site. A more recent site.

    For the other side of the picture, you may want to check out the Church of Scientology home page.

    The exploits of scientologies CancelPoodle raise the general question of filtering on Usenet. A fascinating decentralized approach can be found on the home page of the notorious CancelMoose.

    Sporgeries are a way of using online speech to hinder speech--lots of computer generated nonsense messages with forged headers attributing them to real posters. Critics of Scientology suspect the CoS is responsible, but so far as I know there is no clear evidence.

    A wikipedia article on sporgery.

    An intriguing suggestion for dealing with software piracy--inspired by the ARS sporgery attack.

    A study guide on email privacy with links to the Caltech case.

    A fascinating article on the ways in which workplace harassment law can be used to restrict freedom of speech, with special reference to online issues.


    Crime, terrorism, etc.

    Intel v Randal Schwartz

    Chaos Club v Microsoft

    10 Sci-Fi Weapons That Actually Exist

    "An Appraisal of Technologies of Political Control"

    Chinese dissident gets 10 year prison sentence for revealing 30,000 e-mail addresses to a 'dissident' publication.

    A link to the Rules for searching and seizing computers.

    Interception Capabilities 2000 Report to the Director General for Research of the European Parliament(Scientific and Technical Options Assessment programme office)on the development of surveillance technology and risk of abuse of economic information. This study considers the state of the art in Communications intelligence (Comint) of automated processing for intelligence purposes of intercepted broadband multi-language leased or common carrier systems, and its applicability to Comint targeting and selection, including speech recognition. (Contributed by Colin Hatcher.)

    Donald Rumsfeld's worries about cyberwar. has an entertaining and informative summary of last year's worst scams.

    Slicing Salami: It looks as though the bad guys have been reading Chapter XIII of Future Imperfect--or perhaps watching reruns that feature the Chaos Computer Club of Hamburg.

    Fight fire with fire and scammers with ... . Tenser than James Bond, funnier than Groucho Marx, the story of the P-P-P-Powerbook.


    Reproductive Technology for Humans

    Article hostile to cloning.
    Cloning Human Beings: Report of national bioethics advisory commission (1997).
    The Raelian religion--for which cloning et al may be religious obligations (or at least the realization of prophecy).

    An interesting story on the Raelian cloning project.

    The Raelian version. Have they really done it? Only the Bishop knows for sure.

    Lee Silver is already obsolete. It appears that a new technology will make it possible for two women to produce a child entirely from their own genetic material.

    There has been a minor flap in Britain over two homosexual men one of whom produced twin children via a surrogate mother in California, and both of whom are listed as the children's parents.

    Everything you wanted to know about parenthood and technology in Ireland.

     Is it a boy? Is it a girl? Not exactly.

    Children conceived as tissue donors for their siblings--the latest high tech version. "Search and destroy mission" or "a wonderful reason" to have a child?


     Life Extension and Cryonic Suspension

    A story from ABC News on cryonics--freezing people just before or after death (depending on your definition of death), with the hope of later thawing, repair and revival.

    An essay on cryonics by Ralph Merkle--one of the originators of public key encryption.

    An essay explaining and defending cryonics, from the Cryonics Institute

    The home page of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation.

    A reasonably friendly discussion of current progress in the technology of cryonic peservation, specifically vitrification--from Popular Mechanics.

    Less radical approaches to life extension can be found at the Life Extension Foundation

    Everything you wanted to know about telomeres and telomerase, one approach to ending aging.

    The Life Extension Manual appears to be a well informed and carefully written account of things you can do that may substantially lengthen your life, including warnings about possible risks.

    A quick web search for "Life Extension" turns up mostly people trying to sell you things to make you live longer. If any of you finds a good online discussion of the implications of life extension, please let me know. 

    Other Biotech Issues

    A useful collection of links dealing with a range of biotech issues, human, plant and animal, provided by people at VPI.

    Not everyone is in favor of genetic engineering in agriculture; here is a gleeful summary of some problems, written by two critics, with links to more of the same.

    Here is a more recent piece along the same lines.

    And here a piece on the other side. And here is another. This one argues that European opposition to agricultural biotech threatens a product that could prevent a million deaths a year and 300,000 cases a year of childhood blindness in the third world--with the result that it has to be grown in a grenade proof greenhouse.

    One important set of issues involves genetic testing. Should insurance companies be free to require genetic testing, as they now sometimes require a medical exam, as a condition of getting insured? I discuss the economics of adverse selection, which is an important element of the problem, and the problem itself in one chapter of my most recent book; the links are to the webbed draft.

    "Playing God in the Garden," by Michael Pollan, N.Y.T. Sunday Magazine 10/25/98

    Are superweeds a superflop? An article in Nature finds no great risk from the spread of genetically modified plants.

    Is it a goat? Is it a spider? Is it five times as strong as steel? Some recent biotech engineering, taking a free ride on 400 million years of evolution.


    Mind Drugs

    Quite a lot of detailed information on psychedelics from Erowid.

    The Good Drug Guide contains a lot of information on drugs to make you happy, by someone who thinks such are, and should be, the wave of the future. For a more general view of his philosophy, see The Hedonistic Imperative.

    Ask Dr. Shulgin Online provides information on drugs from Alexander Shulgin, a biochemist who has, arguably, invented a new art form--the design of psychedelic drugs.

    The army is interested in mindreading--and offering to fund research. Search the (very long) text for the second occurance of "Remote Neurological."

    DARPA is a good deal clearer about what they are looking for. Find the second occurance of "Emotional State".

    And someone else thinks he has it--MRI as a lie detector.

    For a drug that keeps you awake, apparently without serious side effects, check out modafinal (aka Provigil). The page has lots of links to additional information.

    An article on mind drugs.

    "Let those of us on the opposite end of the ethical spectrum stand up and be counted: Let people be free to choose to be smarter and to take whatever steps are necessary." A piece defending the use of drugs to enhance memory and cognitive performance.

    The Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics has a page on "Psychoactive Drugs as weapons and Policing Tools," with  lots of links.

    "Does Truth Serum Work?," the lowdown on what is currently available, from Slate. "In reality, though, the only good truth serums are found in bad science fiction."

    The Supreme Court, on the other hand, thinks they work well enough to be unconstitutional.

    The issue of medicating criminals to control their behavior is already out there and getting litigated. See Florida's 1997 Chemical Castration Law: A Return To The Dark Ages by  LARRY HELM SPALDING


    Artificial Intelligence

    A review of The Age of Spiritual Machines, including extensive excerpts from the book.



    Engines of Creation, by Eric Drexler, the original book on nanotech, is available online, courtesy of Dexler's Foresight Institute. You should read at least Chapters 1 and 11, and as much more of the book as you find interesting.

    A lively debate on nanotechnology was set off by the publication of two articles--one in Nature and one in Scientific American--criticizing the idea. The Foresight Institute has webbed the relevant documents.


    Deep VR

    Links to a lot of material on research to make the blind see--a first step towards cracking the dreaming problem.

    Virtual Reality makes it to Mars--with a little help from Java.


    Capitalism in Space? The FAA has just issued the first license for a private, manned, suborbital vehicle. SpaceShipOne was designed by Burt Rutan, best known for the airplane that in 1986 flew around the world without refueling. For more information, see the home page of Scaled Composites.

    First they came for the dinosaurs ...  . A Senate subcommittee is concerned about falling rocks. Big rocks.

    The first big problem of allocating rights in space we are likely to encounter is the problem of congestion in geosynchronous orbit. This article provides some useful background information.

    Late Breaking News from Previous Weeks (and years)

    There is no legal guarantee of anonymity online, as some employees of Raytheon are discovering. According to the San Jose Mercury, their employer is "demanding $25,000 in damages for disclosing ``certain Raytheon proprietary and confidential information on the Internet'' via anonymous postings on a Yahoo Inc. electronic message board.

    Under court order, Yahoo had to provide the Lexington, Mass., defense contractor with all the personal identification information it had on the defendants, said Diane Hunt, a Yahoo spokeswoman."

    They should have used a fully anonymous remailer. Not even a court can make someone produce information he doesn't have.

    "Historically, businesses had physical locations and addresses. They were hard to setup, hard to take down. They shipped physical goods to physical addresses. There were lots of opportunities to track down evildoers. Distance had meaning, and national borders were a significant boundary. None of these limitations apply any longer."

    From a discussion of a recently discovered credit card fraud. The piece is of interest both as an example of a kind of crime that may become increasingly important and as an example of private crime fighting--the research on the fraud having been done mostly by a network of victims.

    May a computer practice law? Not in Texas. Which raises a problem that may become more serious as computers get smarter--how to apply professional licensing law to artificial intelligence programs.

    Where do you draw the line between free speach and incitement to murder--on the web? A 1999 high profile case gave one answer--and a hundred million dollars in damage judgements.

    Thousands of frozen people waiting to be trashed? It all depends where you draw the line.

    Could a major computer company quietly build code into their applications that made it possible to tell what particular computer each document had been generated on? Couldn't happen. Or could it?

    Apple's announcement that it was open sourcing part of is newest operating system--OSX server--has generated some controversy within the open source community as to whether or not Apple's public source license conforms to the requirements of the open source definition. Eric Raymond argues that it does, and in the process provides some information on how the patent infringement issue is viewed, and is being dealt with, by people currently involved in open source.
    Speaking of high tech terrorism ... . Belgrade hackers apparently broke into a NATO home page and someone is sending them 2000 EMails a day. They are also dealing with "macro viruses from Yugoslavia in our email." Why do they expect the Yugoslavs to do a better job of stopping Melissa than anyone else? Pretty tame stuff compared to blowing things up.

    Melissa, a Word Macro Virus, propagated by reading email addresses from address books on the infected machine and then sending email containing an infected document as an attachment to fifty names from each address book. Part of the document is a list of pornographic web sites. Who, other than the (unknown) author of the virus, is liable if someone receives such a document from your machine, complains to your boss, and you get fired? For other consequences?

    GUID Stars in Dragnet

    A year or two back we discussed the ID number, based on a machine's ethernet card, that Microsoft Word and some other applications automatically attach to documents they create. Investigators using that ID tracked down the author of the Melissa virus.

    A few years back I taught a seminar in Computers, Crime and Privacy. It included a page of links, some of which may be relevant (and many of which, by now, may be broken).


    Feel free to suggest additional links.

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