October 6, 2022

Archives for July 2014

Why were CERT researchers attacking Tor?

Yesterday the Tor Project issued an advisory describing a large-scale identification attack on Tor hidden services. The attack started on January 30 and ended when Tor ejected the attackers on July 4. It appears that this attack was the subject of a Black Hat talk that was canceled abruptly.

These attacks raise serious questions about research ethics and institutional responsibilities.
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Are We Rushing to Judgment Against the Hidden Power of Algorithms?

Several recent news stories have highlighted the ways that online social platforms can subtly shape our lives. First came the news that Facebook has “manipulated” users’ emotions by tweaking the balance of happy and sad posts that it shows to some users. Then, this week, the popular online dating service OKCupid announced that it had deliberately sent its users on dates that it predicted would not go well. OKCupid asks users questions, and matches them up based on their answers (for example, “do you like horror movies?”), using the answers to compute a “match percentage” showing how likely two people are to get along.
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A Scanner Darkly: Protecting User Privacy from Perceptual Applications

“A Scanner Darkly”, a dystopian 1977 Philip K. Dick novel (adapted to a 2006 film), describes a society with pervasive audio and video surveillance. Our paper “A Scanner Darkly”, which appeared in last year’s IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (Oakland) and has just received the 2014 PET Award for Outstanding Research in Privacy Enhancing Technologies, takes a closer look at the soon-to-come world where ubiquitous surveillance is performed not by the drug police but by everyday devices with high-bandwidth sensors. [Read more…]

"Loopholes for Circumventing the Constitution", the NSA Statement, and Our Response

CBS News and a host of other outlets have covered my new paper with Sharon Goldberg, Loopholes for Circumventing the Constitution: Warrantless Bulk Surveillance on Americans by Collecting Network Traffic Abroad. We’ll present the paper on July 18 at HotPETS [slides, pdf], right after a keynote by Bill Binney (the NSA whistleblower), and at TPRC in September. Meanwhile, the NSA has responded to our paper in a clever way that avoids addressing what our paper is actually about. [Read more…]

Fair Use, Legal Databases, and Access to Litigation Inputs  

In copyright-and-fair-use news, a significant case for the legal profession’s access to the inputs of judicial decision-making was decided last week in federal district court in New York. The case was brought against West Publishing Corp. (owner of the Westlaw database) and Reed Elsevier (owner of the LexisNexis database) by two lawyers who alleged that their copyrights in their legal briefs were infringed when West and Lexis included the briefs in their databases. The two databases have long provided paid subscribers with access to the judicial decisions that adjudicate the arguments raised by litigants. Now, Westlaw and Lexis will be able to continue providing their subscribers with access to the primary documents in which those arguments are made. In a decision that follows the lead of recent fair use decisions concerning the wholesale copying of literary works to repurpose them for search and research, the court held that West and Lexis are protected from the lawyers’ claims of infringement. A holding in favor of the plaintiffs would have made it effectively impossible for West and Lexis to continue to provide subscribers with access to copies of briefs, given the prohibitively high transaction costs associated with trying to license every brief filed by every lawyer in every case in every court in the United States.
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