Jan 232013

Cyberlawyers who find themselves in Los Angeles this Friday and Saturday may be interested in attending the annual Winter Working Meeting of the Cyberspace Committee of the ABA Business Law Section.  It will kick-off with several hours of high-level CLE, and then continue with break-off groups and task forces focused on specific aspects of cyberlaw.

I’m posting about it here because at this meeting I plan to kick-off a task force for committee members to get started working on the types of issues covered by this project.  If they are something of concern to you, here is one way to get involved.

Feb 062012

Welcome new readers, whom I’ve now announced this blog to.  It seems to be chugging along nicely, although like any new project it is still subject to modifications and tweaks.  But the core of it won’t change: this blog, a piece of a larger envisioned project, is dedicated to covering the intersection of criminal law and technology, noting and commenting on situations where state sanctions are applying to technology use and development. Continue reading »

Jan 252012

Posting may be light this week as I attempt to further wrangle the WordPress installation.  You may have already noticed the look and feel change rather drastically; beware, it may change more drastically still (or not).  But hopefully after working out the kinks I’ll have a nice stable, scalable blog to post all about the many, many instances of criminal law running headlong into technology.  My only wish now is that the news slow down so I have a chance to get caught up…

Jan 112012

A word about “hacking.” Hacking is a word often colloquially misused to describe the unauthorized access of a computer system. Among self-described hackers, however, the correct term to describe such behavior is “cracking,” as in “safe cracking.” “Hacking” instead describes a far more neutral, or even beneficial activity: the creative problem solving involved in engineering a solution. (Links point to Eric Raymond’s Jargon File.)

It would greatly assist policy discussion to keep these terms clear, particularly given the interest in criminalizing the unauthorized access of computer systems. Associating the activities of hacking with the more pejorative definition loses nuance and tends to lead to the criminalization of more benign, even objectively good, technology uses.

Thus this site will endeavor to use the correct term as much as possible. But when citing other media it may necessarily parrot whatever word was used, however incorrectly.

Edit 2/20/13: I’ve realized I’m shouting into the wind on this issue. “Hacking” is too colloquially accepted to describe all sorts of innovative applications of technology, good and bad, to ever completely avoid. But I will remind others that the term does indeed describe both good uses and bad uses and should not be presumed to be a pejorative.

Dec 292011

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has launched a new project, Global Censorship Chokepoints, whose mission is to track instances of censorship caused by allegations of copyright infringement.

Global Chokepoints is an online resource created to document and monitor global proposals to turn Internet intermediaries into copyright police. These proposals harm Internet users’ rights of privacy, due process and freedom of expression, and endanger the future of the free and open Internet. Our goal is to provide accurate empirical information to digital activists and policy makers, and help coordinate international opposition to attempts to cut off free expression through misguided copyright laws, policies, agreements and court cases.

There is some overlap between that project and this one, especially insofar as the state allows itself to be the enforcement arm of copyright infringement complaints.  But there is plenty of work to go around when it comes to protecting free speech around the world.  (Digital Age Defense also looks at state imposition of intermediary liability for non-IP related reasons as well.  See, e.g., attempts by the Indian government to demand content filters in order not to cause social unrest.)

Dec 032011

Another aspect to establish at the outset of this project is what topics it includes.  I have generally defined relevant topics to cover wherever there is a state sanction attached to a technology use.  This is, of course, a fairly broad definition, which is both good and bad.  What’s bad is that it could turn out to be so broad as to be unmanageable, resulting in a hodgepodge of unrelated, never-ending data points.  What’s good, though, is that it can help catch instances where society is criminalizing otherwise reasonable behavior and no one is really noticing.  Those cases concern me as much as the obvious ones do (if not more).

Which is why, at least in terms of this blog, I think a broad view is generally better.  Like a pointillism painting, it’s good to plot lots of dots, because when you step back you are able to see the big picture. Continue reading »

Dec 022011

What would a tech policy blog be without policies of its own?

Like all sensible policies these are subject to change as the project grows and evolves, but it’s good to have some starting points.  The most important one, and one I want to articulate at the beginning, relates to bias and voice. Continue reading »

Dec 012011

Welcome to the Digital Age Defense blog.  As described in more detail elsewhere in this site, this project is dedicated to tracking, discussing, pontificating, and, where appropriate, defending against criminal sanctions for technology use and development.

While it would be nice to be able to roll out a completed site before making it viewable by anyone, doing so doesn’t seem practical.  Instead, wherever possible I will start populating these pages with the type of content that’s intended to be here.  Doing so will enable its direction, as well as its UI, to be better finessed than it would be if I only were building it with dummy content.

Please check back often to see how it’s going!  (Warning: colors likely to change…)