* Posts by tom dial

1957 posts • joined 16 Jan 2011

Facebook notifications to reveal who saw dodgy Russian election ads

tom dial
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So FB can tell not only which ads were shown on my web browser, but they can tell also which of them I actually looked at? This on a PC with either (one case) no camera or (other case) a piece of post-it note over the camera window? I do not believe that. I also am skeptical about whether they know that I also use AdBlock Plus and some ads are not presented at all, although I have had enough refusals from paywallish sites over ad blockers to suspect they might.

Then there is the fact that I, and probably some others, occasionally look at garbage sites for amusement, or see the "meddling" ads and have our opinions nudged opposite to what the ads appear to be promoting.

I, for one, am tired of endless moral panic promotion by those who presume they know better what I should look at that I do; and that most explicitly includes the legislators arguing that something must be done to prevent political discussion and advocacy that they do not think appropriate for us slow-minded folks in the hinterlands between the forty mile strips along the Pacific and part of the Atlantic coasts.

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Then there were four: Another draft US law on 'foreign' (aka domestic) mass spying emerges

tom dial
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Re: Let's be clear. Senators and Con-gresspeople are ignoring the written Constitution.

Asset forfeiture laws are primarily a fifth and fourteenth amendment issue. Somewhere between most and nearly all of the assets seized under civil forfeiture were found in the course of searches the owner permitted; those searches, accordingly, did not require a warrant. Their taking, with scarcely a hint of due process, plainly violates the clear language of the fifth and fourteenth amendments. Criminal asset forfeiture following the owner's guilty plea to or trial and conviction for criminal acts is an entirely different matter, in which the seized assets generally were found based on fourth amendment searches and connected by some evidence to the criminal acts. Even that, however, often overdone and abused.

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tom dial
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Re: Pesky 14th amendment says

I do not see anything like that in the fourteenth amendment. That one, basically, prohibits states from doing what the national government is is not allowed to do with respect to citizens. The discussion in this case is necessarily rooted in the fourth amendment, which speaks of "the people," which rightly has been taken to include non-citizens within the United States. A number of other amendments also do not distinguish citizens from noncitizens. These include all the other amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights.

The fourth amendment, as another poster noted, does not define "unreasonable searches," which has led to a good deal of litigation over the last two and a quarter centuries and doubtless will continue to do so.

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Google says broader right to be forgotten is 'serious assault' on freedom

tom dial
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Would the right to be forgotten apply

to the Internet Archive?

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/11/16/head_like_a_memory_hole/

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tom dial
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Re: Should paedophile sex offenders have the 'Right to be Forgotten' ?

In many places in the US, including where I live, this does not even remotely approach a right. People (nearly all men) convicted of certain sex offenses (including pedophiles) not only have no right to be forgotten but are required to register with the police where they live and have their residence location and the general nature of their offense published or publicly available. Convicted pedophiles generally are restricted in addition as to where they are permitted to live (not too close to schools, for instance). These restrictions often are for life and difficult or impossible to have expunged. A pattern that occurs with somewhat bothersome frequency involves consensual sex by a couple of whom one is slight below the legal consent age, occasionally by well under a year.

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tom dial
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Re: Google do have a point - albeit they also have a vested interest

I agree generally, but this seems a bit over the top in describing the proposed restrictions as equivalent to book burning. Search engines compile and present indexing information to already existing records. Removing the links would not make the records vanish, but only make them more difficult to find. An interested person might conduct the search, less efficiently, by manual means or even deploy a special purpose search engine to crawl the web and report the links using technology that has been known - and in some degree used - for nearly a quarter of a century.

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tom dial
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Re: "that sort of iunformation shuld not be purged as it is useful for people to be aware of"

Google does not "report" in the customary use of that word. Providing links to reports by others, including government records in some cases is quite different.

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tom dial
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A reasonable start on defining "in the public interest" would be "any public record that is generally accessible to the public. That would include all publicly available records of court action, criminal prosecution, conviction, and and sentencing. In the US, and probably elsewhere, it is possible to petition courts to expunge criminal conviction records and related information, or in civil cases, seal the court records. While this does not make them entirely disappear, it makes them generally unavailable to (lawful) access by members of the public, including the press, in its general sense. It also would also make them unavailable to the likes of Google and provide a reasonable and definite basis for requiring removal of any existing links to old records such as, for instance, newspaper reports.

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tom dial
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"But that's why we need judges to decide these things and not Google."

There probably are not enough judges in the world, let alone the EU.

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Munich council: To hell with Linux, we're going full Windows in 2020

tom dial
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Re: Not sure about Office?

One of my co-workers did the same with the ADR ROSCOE login panel for an IBM 370/158 in about 1981 or 1982. I wonder if there is a system where this was not done early and often.

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tom dial
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Re: StargateSg7 / Not sure about Office

It is quite as difficult for one moving from an IBM mainframe/Unix/Linux environment to Windows. I decided in the end that, Gnu/Linux being what it is (and as far back as around 1995 was), the effort had insufficient payback, and I persist in knowing no more about Windows than is necessary to install it vanilla and patch it regularly. My spouse, who feels she needs to know even less, is as happy using Firefox, Thunderbird, and LibreOffice on Windows 10 as she would using the Windows counterparts, and I am far happier with that.

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tom dial
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Re: Not sure about Office?

Before I retired I transported draft documents fairly often between work PC (Windows/MS Word/MS Excel/MS PowerPoint) and my home PC (Debian/Open Office or Libre Office) to do a bit of catchup in an environment where I would not be disturbed. There were portability issues, mostly quite minor and none actually hard to circumvent; and after a couple of iterations of a document, spreadsheet, or slides, no more issues remained. These were not overly fancy items, as is the case with nearly all such things done in and for an environment where substance outweighs form and appearance.

Overall, I also preferred OpenOffice and LibreOffice, as I had a many years war with Word documents that had embedded font and background information that often metastasized after inconsequential edits and that the department admin support could not fix despite having fairly extensive training and long experience with a product that had several times the necessary features and at least two or three flaky patches to try to make them work together.

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tom dial
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Re: Not sure about Office?

Anyone who SHOUTS so freely deserves a downvote or two.

Have another.

I cannot help calling uttermost BS on "We also REPROGRAMMED ALL OF LINUX ..." This baseless claim shows relatively total cluelessness about the structure of operating systems in general and Gnu/Linux in particular.

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Donald Trump's tweets: Are they presidential statements or not?

tom dial
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Palpy's first paragraph may nail the issue in a sense. The DoD did not take Donald Trump's tweet on exclusion of transgender individuals from the military personnel pool. That is a significant indication that those in charge of a major executive department do no consider the tweets to be in the category of official action or direction, and hints that maybe they should not be. In addition, I would suggest tentatively that a great many of them probably have no significant policy or executive action content; like another poster, I try to pay as little attention as possible to this sort of nonsense.

As presidential utterances, though, the tweets still probably should be classified as government records for preservation purposes, as they may be useful to later historians. That is not entirely clear either, since not all statements and documents of government officials require preservation. In any case, the legalities are likely to take a while to sort and the fact that Justice takes varying positions in different cases may simply reflect the fact that different cases have different facts and raise different issues, including, for example, that they involve different tweets on different topics or are easier or harder to take as official action.

Two accounts probably would be better than one, but might not be better by much unless they are clearly understood to be "official" and "personal" and limited accurately to that. However, a Twitter account for issuing policy statements or executive direction strikes me as a joke, given the unbearable number of long and turgid official directives and instructions I had to read during a fairly long civil service career.

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Google on flooding the internet with fake news: Leave us alone, we're trying really hard... *sob*

tom dial
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don't have problem with censoring the internet

I almost gave this an upvote, but cancelled it on seeing "don't have problem with censoring the internet ..."

There is much more wrong with that than matters of (current) impracticality that, in principle might be overcome by suitable future developments in artificial (=machine implemented) intelligence. It embodies a view of the nature of man that experience very strongly suggests is not only wrong, but unalterably and permanently wrong, or perhaps that humans are capable of implementing a disinterested and sufficiently intelligent machine to do the censorship work *and* are selfless and trusting enough to enable it to do so. Landru, anyone?

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tom dial
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Re: Marketing excerise

This is a fairly standard moral panic. Unkile the McMartin and Little Rascals cases, however, we are not going to be handing out sentences to the principals of RT or the Internet Study Group, which are not under US jurisdiction. It will be interesting to watch the course of a moral panic that cannot be resolved by judicial lynching.

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tom dial
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This would be more persuasive with a cite to evidence that the Google presentation does not, to a first approximation (after the paid advertisements), present links in roughly descending order of frequency of access by their users. They certainly have tweaked it a bit, but it is not at all obvious that a reasonable amount of reordering as a result of algorithm tuning would change the basic indexing operation to "publication" and even less obvious that this would represent human choice when applied to particular instances in a very large collection.

The claim that Google "promotes" certain tweets to the top implies a good deal more agency than is likely to occur. My guess is that tweets wind up at the top largely because they are retweeted a lot, as will likely happen with those that are startling or cater to widespread stereotypes or biases.

Accepting advertisements from foreign entities relating to matters discussed in a US political campaign, including RT but certainly not limited to either it or Russian entities, appears not to be illegal in general. Accepting "electioneering communication" may be illegal, but what has been reported about the ads in question, whether to Google, Facebook, or Twitter, seems not to be "electioneering communication" as the term is used in the US Code and Code of Federal Regulations.

Whether Google and similar portals damage the traditional news media is uncertain. I seem to recall that several Google deindexed some European news organizations that demanded payment from them in exchange for indexing; and my recollection, if accurate, is that the traffic to those sites dropped immediately and dramatically, to the point that the organizations dropped their demand within a few days. It is clear that printed news media are in a long term secular decline as more people get their news from online sources. That is a potential problem, to the extent that the online sources such as Breitbart are able to compete effectively with the much more expensive operations of traditional news organizations like the New York Times which have news staffs that actually seek out and report news. I do not know the ultimate answer to that, but try to do my part by subscribing to the New York Times, the Washington Post (online), and a local newspaper.

The notion that we might "need to force Google to take on some of [the traditional news media] fact-checking" cannot be taken seriously. It might be legally possible in some countries, but not in the US, where the first amendment largely prohibits the government from requiring it.

One might think this could be circumvented by requiring those, like Google, who provide easy access to articles that may contain lies and misstatements, to check facts and screen out false statements. On cursory consideration, though, that seems unlikely to be practical. Even if legislated, it would place Google and the others in the position of being editors and publishers, and therefore exempt under the first amendment. Moreover, such a requirement would be easily enough circumvented at the source, simply by following the example of the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News, MSNBC, and other traditional news organizations to present the facts fairly accurately in a slanted context of emotionally loaded words to convey an implicit message about goodness or badness. The article ahead of of this comment string is a case in point.

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tom dial
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Re: @tom dial - you have it right...

That Google (and similar link aggregators/indexers) sell advertising to pay for the services they provide the public at no charge does not change the nature of those services. Some, and I do not exclude myself, find the data collection that increases the value of their advertising business offerings a bit creepy sometimes. That also does not change the nature of the no-charge services, although it may make the word "free" a bit less accurate as a description. In the end, though we, the users, can choose whether to use Google, another similar (and likely ad supported) service, or none at all, with the associated and varying benefits.

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tom dial
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@Adam 52 & immediately previous AC:

The article spoke to Google search results, as I did as well. However:

Google News claims to aggregate results from a wide range of News sites, and provides links along with a user filter capability . That is to say, it indexes web sites.

Google Sites appears to be a service offering users, at no cost, the capability to set up web sites to do their own publishing.

Google Scholar indexes scholarly books and articles. It does not publish them.

Only in a rather strange alternative universe do any of these qualify as publishing.

The intent of the questions about censorshop escapes me The obvious answer is no; and in the US the first amendment generally prohibits the government from enacting and enforcing laws that would do so, with quite limited and narrow exceptions.

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tom dial
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I do not think of Google (the search part) as a publisher in the usual sense, but as an indexing service to the largish amount of information on a substantial number of websites. It seems to be organized, to a first approximation, according to some measure of what users have found interesting or informative, for some internal definition of the terms, and it apparently is done by algoritmic processes that have no intrinsic measure of "truth". The natural result of that will be that the outlandish or extreme versions of some news items will be amplified, as may have happened with respect to the Las Vegas and San Antonio spree shootings. I don't find that either surprising or especially offensive.

Even if Google were a "publisher," it would not, in the US, be under any obligation whatever even to care about whether what it published was true or false, although it would need to be careful about whether it was defamatory and therefore actionable. We have a long history of "fake news" here, and despite the general high dudgeon in the Congress and elsewhere, there is no real chance that the government will be able to legislate effectively in this area due to the first amendment to the Constitution, which protects all publishers, including The Register.

I rather wish Google, along with Facebook, Twitter, and others possibly to be targeted in future, had the stones to resist the moral panic being induced by the Congress and media, which, considered rationally, is disproportionate by many orders of magnitude to any actual risk or damage.

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Paradise Papers reveal Apple moved bits of biz offshore

tom dial
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Re: meh

Lobbyists do not vote on tax or any other legislation. That is the province of the legislators, whom the voters can turn out at the next election; in most cases of interest here, there will be a "next election in two to six years or so.

As for the pejorative "lobbyist," it should be said that in the US that sort of activity clearly falls into the category of first amendment "right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." That the "grievances" in question may consist entirely of greed driven whining is immaterial. The legislators or executive branch bureaucrats are responsible for sorting that. They may or may not, and may take bribes or engage in other corrupt activities, but that is one of the reasons for periodic elections.

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Is the FCC purposefully screwing up US school broadband projects?

tom dial
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Re: Nothing to see here, nope, no conflict of interest.

Ajit Pai's career includes 2 years and 2 months as Verizon's general counsel and 17 years of federal government service, in both executive and legislative branches, since completing law school and a clerkship with a federal judge.

Wheeler's career includes at least 24 years as a telecommunications lobbyist or entrepreneur out of 45 between his graduation from The Ohio State University and his selection in 2013 as FCC chairman. By contemporary news reports he was on track to propose and presumably vote for not-net-neutrality until President Obama jerked his leash and changed his mind (a bit inappropriately, as the FCC is supposed to be an agency independent of the executive branch).

Mr. Pai may or may not be hopelessly wrong about appropriate telecommunication policy, but does not warrant, any more than Mr. Wheeler, the sort of sleazy ad hominem attacks here in evidence.

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tom dial
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Re: Timeline? What timeline...?

If the rejections occurred in 2017, the article should say so, and be corrected with an explanation. Asserting in a comment that the article says what it does not certainly does not warrant the 16 upvotes it had received as of 1700 UTC on October 28.

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Oracle ZFS man calls for Big Red to let filesystem upstream into Linux

tom dial
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Re: Not going to happen

Re: "IBM has gone that route with their newer line of mainframes."

The DoD agency I was with began using Linux on zSeries in 2009, not all that long after IBM introduced the IFL"engine" at greatly reduced rates. Migration of the first application was nearly painless. The only significant issue going from Oracle and HP-UX on PA-RISC to Oracle and SuSE on the z9 was an Oracle external procedure C language coding error that caused a problem in the 64 bit environment. The new environment was superior to the previous HP host system in both reliability and performance. Our only grief was the larger than expected billings from DISA, which took a few years to adjust the billing rate.

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Holy DUHK! Boffins name bug that could crack crypto wide open

tom dial
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Re: Trump's writing about technology apparently?

It seems like the normal, prudent, default rules ought to be something like:

Apply software patches that correct vulnerabilities;

Upgrade software that is out of support;

Replace hardware that is out of support. is issued.

That makes sense whether you are a business or an individual consumer. Not doing them is accepting a risk that could be mitigated at a cost. Companies and individuals may do this consciously and rationally based on a proper risk analysis. More often they do it unaware of the risk, or based on a faulty risk analysis.

Consumer devices present the ugly problem that end of support dates often are not announced (and the support often is deficient anyhow), and few consumers can do a risk analysis anyhow.

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Wanna exorcise Intel's secretive hidden CPU from your hardware? Meet Purism's laptops

tom dial
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Re: Now, let's see:

HP, for what it's worth, offers AMT on business-targeted PCs and laptops. By my recollection, it is a non-default option offered at a cost somewhere between 0 and around $15. I do not recall seeing it available on consumer grade equipment. Other vendors may differ.

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tom dial
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Re: Everybody's ethical

There is not a lot of reason to think that Lenin and a lot of his followers did not want good for their people - and that may well include Stalin. One problem was that at the time of the 1905 and 1917 revolutions Russia did not meet the theoretical prerequisites of Communism, so it was seen as necessary to hasten things despite the fact there was no significant proletariat. Another problem was, and is, that the human nature assumed by Marxian theory conforms poorly to the actual behavior of unconstrained people. The second is a fatal flaw, and requires that communist societies have a state to enforce proper communist behavior, a state that, contrary to Marx and Engels, never will wither away.

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tom dial
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Re: Everybody's ethical

The political spectrum is not one-dimensional. The "horseshoe" theory, therefore, is rubbish. The cited article, implicitly taking the Christian fundamentalist position in the US as opposite to the Muslim fundamentalist position in (presumably) the Middle East is rubbish too.

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tom dial
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Re: Everybody's ethical

I don't claim to know the meaning of "alt+left," but recommending Stephen seek psychiatric counseling seems a lot like I thought from the context that it might be. Among my acquaintances, the judgment that those of materially different opinion are likely to be mental is pretty much absent among the more or less Libertarian and never seems far from the surface among those who identify as progressive.

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Family's legal battle over YouTube's role in Paris terror murders is paused

tom dial
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Re: Not Surprised

Google is a private organization and can suppress any content, data, or links, for any reason it thinks suitable, or no reason at all, without a legal need to answer to anyone but its directors and shareholders. They choose, as would those of us in the US who believe in freedom of speech in its general sense, to suppress as little as possible and oppose those who would suppress speech they do not like on the basis that their judgment should be granted precedence over that of others.

But wait: they can't do that even if their ranking algorithm would do it automatically; it would be unfair. They must not only not suppress shopping comparison web sites, but must (at least in some markets) promote them to the first display page to ensure that those who mostly don't want to see them must do so anyhow.

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Intelligence director pulls national security BS on spying question

tom dial
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Re: Not the first time

Civil forfeiture is more a fifth and fourteenth amendment issue than the fourth. Many, probably most, seizures that lead to civil forfeiture follow consensual searches. What is missing is prompt due process to return the property to its owner.

Note that civil forfeiture has a history of 350 years or more dating back to English statutory and common law, which the US adopted essentially intact in its first few years.

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National Audit Office: We'll be in a world of pain with '90s border tech post-Brexit

tom dial
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See the Wikipedia page for "DIHMRS" for a not-too-ancient example of this.

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NYC cops say they can't reveal figures on cash seized from people – the database is too shoddy

tom dial
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The great majority of assets seized under civil forfeiture rules probably are, indeed, proceeds of criminal activity. Moreover, they are taken according to processes and rules with roots that go back well over 350 years in US and English law, and approved by competent courts along the way. Describing it as "theft" comparable to burglary (although it more strongly resembles robbery) is not quite appropriate.

However, in the US, even burglars, robbers, and other miscreants are entitled to due process, and just as much so as those who are not, or are not charged as, criminals. The fact that the law permits this activity, or that the courts have so far found it consistent with the Constitution, is not sufficient justification, and the law clearly comes up seriously deficient in respect of what nearly everyone would consider due process. It is far too tempting and subject to government abuse. I would much prefer a judicial finding that the practice, as now done, is barred by the Constitution to legislative correction, because such findings are much harder to change. However the Congress can rein it in, or even abolish it, with legislation, and should.

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tom dial
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Re: How seizure laws ever stood --

I also am not a lawyer. I understand the theory behind it, but the fact remains that a person to whom the fourth and, more importantly, fifth amendments apply has been dispossessed of an asset - property, with out a hint of what anyone reasonable would consider due process.

Even eminent domain, which often has been used to take away property for the primary benefit of eager and arguably avaricious developers, legal process that involves the owner. Asset forfeiture often, probably usually, is used against seize assets actually involved in criminal activity. But the controls are hopelessly inadequate; it is far too easy to use to take property from innocent people.

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tom dial
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Re: How seizure laws ever stood --

The federal law (18 USC 981) covers a wide range of subjects and certainly would apply to weapons in some circumstances. One example would be goods involved in export contrary to the Arms Export Control Act (22 USC 2778), or any smuggled goods, including weapons. Federal asset forfeiture law is not limited to money, although that is what is most often discussed and, from a non-federal police perspective, by far the most profitable.

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tom dial
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Re: How seizure laws ever stood --

I am not a lawyer, so this s/b taken with some skepticism.

As I understand it, the form of civil asset forfeiture is that the asset is "charged" with participation in criminal activity, and therefore subject to forfeiture based on a preponderance of the evidence. Since the assets presumably say nothing in their defense, most of the evidence naturally would favor the government, making due process a fairly straightforward matter and the outcome fairly certain. That, even though the law does not allow the police to grab whatever they like as long as they provide a receipt. There is additional legal paperwork to be done to provide formal legal justification for the government taking the asset.

The fourth and fifth amendments apply to "persons" and not, at least explicitly, to things, and that may be the loophole that allows civil asset forfeiture to continue. If so, it is one that should be closed with as little delay as possible.

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tom dial
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Re: I smell rampant mendacity...

What's in the z10 can be found with a reasonable amount of searching from www.ibm.com. It is quite awesome.

The z10 that hosted the PETS application might well have been hosting a dozen or two equal or larger applications and databases and supporting 10,000 concurrent interactive users with ~1 second mean response time.

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tom dial
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Re: The reason for forfeiture laws

Civil asset forfeiture has its roots in English law dating back to around 1651. See the Forbes article at https://www.forbes.com/2011/06/08/property-civil-forfeiture.html.

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tom dial
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I do not know anything of Mr. Pesner, his company, or his prior experience and its possible relevance to the issue presented here; and I have no knowledge of SAP ERP or what Capgemini might have built to intercede between the DB2 database and the PETS users. I do know from sometimes distressing experience that some of the DB2 (and Oracle, and SQL Server, and other) databases in use are no more relational than a pile of flat files with random occurrences of similar, and occasionally identical, data items across various sets of tables.

Developers and product designers sometimes use DBMS products as data stores for no better reason, apparently, than that they are portable (as between mainframes and commodity servers and also as between different commercial DBMSs), provide (somewhat) standard record access methods (SQL), have built in backup and fault recovery mechanisms, provide transactions to improve imagined consistency and allow rollback of partial updates, and other standard DBMS features. All of these, of course, are good things, but none of them even hints that the database design is any good or of much use outside the application built around it.

I know of commercial products and purpose-built applications that use relational databases in which some or all of the tables have no keys or have generated keys unrelated to the data; in which there are no DBMS enforced relational or data validity constraints - in which all relational integrity is at the mercy of application programmers who may or may or may not understand the concept and incoming data often are lightly validated at best.

Some of these were developed by government or private sector employee and contractor staff and some were done on top of commercial products like Peoplesoft, Documentum, and others. In general, government employee developers, with or without contractor support, did a reasonably good, though imperfect, job working with internal DBAs to specify the database and include constraints as appropriate. Products developed under a contract, as apparently was the case with PETS, tended toward DBMS-as-a-portable file system, with database documentation implicit in the documentation of a commercial product like Peoplesoft or the application system or program specifications.

I do not know this is the case with PETS, but it seems possible or even likely that there may be more justification for NYPD's response than would appear at first glance or that Mr. Pesner, hired by the plaintiff, would be likely to support in his affadavit. That doesn't let NYPD off the hook, of course; in the end, they probably will have to deliver the data. But it may be that suggestions of misfeasance should be directed to a larger group than the current application and database operators.

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tom dial
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Re: How seizure laws ever stood --

While I upvoted, and concur, I would like to suggest that the fifth amendment provision requiring that "[no person shall be] deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" seems to me a possibly even stronger prohibition on the government theft described as "civil asset forfeiture," although either provision alone should, to my way of thinking, be enough to end this abomination.

If any US lawyers are present, please explain, if possible, how this gets by.

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No, the FCC can't shut down TV stations just because Donald Trump is mad at the news

tom dial
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Re: Actually

Fox and NBC have been generally regarded as biased in a partisan way for years. Depending on personal political party preference it is quite likely that one will see one as culpably dishonest propaganda mill and the other as a paragon of probing and insightful journalistic virtue.

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WPA2 KRACK attack smacks Wi-Fi security: Fundamental crypto crapto

tom dial
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Debian wpasupplicant patches were issued today, by my estimate around between 1344 and 1449 UTC. Other Linux distributions are not likely to differ by much.

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Facebook, Twitter slammed for deleting evidence of Russia's US election mischief

tom dial
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Re: AAAHHH MOTHERLAND!!!!!

The New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, and Scientific American (certainly among many others) publish, with some frequency, advertisements of foreign governments. Some of these certainly are intended to influence US citizens and organizations, and probably are intended to influence US government agencies and officers. While they are not required to register as foreign agents under FARA (I assume that because none of them actually is so registered) it would be a big stretch to think that Twitter, Facebook, or Google (or Microsoft (Bing) or Yahoo) would not be eligible for the same status.

The knee jerk reaction of many to anything that displeases them that "there oughta be a law" often is restricted by constitutional limits on government action. This is unfortunate for them, but fortunate for the rest of us.

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tom dial
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Re: Real Reason

Correct. The divide in the US is much more between large cities and their suburbs and medium isolated cities, towns, and rural areas. County level maps of Democratic vs. Republican results show this quite dramatically. The pattern has been pretty stable over the last five presidential cycles and probably more, perhaps much more.

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tom dial
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Re: I'd like to see some examples

Many of us would, but I do not expect to any time soon. The most likely outcome of their release would be thunderous, hysterical, and well nigh universal laughter, something most politicians fear more than they fear being caught in compromising circumstances with a person not their legal spouse.

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tom dial
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Re: So let me get this straight...

For the most part, it doesn't, and it isn't. The Democrats, for now, think it does, because how else can Clinton's loss be explained? The politicians and conventional news sellers, who mostly know little to nothing about the matter, are afraid it does and feel threatened. Both are engaged in a full court press, along with the conventional media, to generate controversy and panic, hoping to sneak regulation (the Constitution be damned) that they hope will preserve their incumbency and businesses.

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tom dial
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Re: AAAHHH MOTHERLAND!!!!!

They are not coming clean on it because they lack the cojones to simply say they provided a service for a fee, a service that is not only legal but which, under the restrictions of the first amendment is not subject to regulation. That would be unpopular and doubtless would disturb some of their advertisers and possibly cut their income.

It is illegal for foreigners to contribute to US political campaigns or candidates, and it also is illegal for foreigners to engage in direct advocacy for or against candidates or issues. It is not illegal for them to report "fake news" or express opinions about either actual or proposed policies or government actions. Some of what Russians or the Russian government is claimed to have done may have exceeded what is legal, but most is not, and I, for one, consider it most unlikely that any of them will be charged for violations they may have committed.

The US 2016 election was unusually rancorous, but not unprecedented even in the early years of the union. The agitation before the election can best be understood in the context of a contest between two main candidates each of whom was thoroughly loathed and distrusted by roughly two thirds of the voting eligible population. The story since then is largely about the losing party grasping at straws to explain their loss and the winning party, having been the party of "no" for the previous two plus presidential terms, finding itself unable to collect enough votes to enact legislation to carry forward a program that it now finds it never really had.

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Ghost in Musk's machines: Software bugs' autonomous joy ride

tom dial
Silver badge

Re: Thats interesting but in short...

It is beyond reasonable doubt that testing, and designing/writing the tests before code delivery (and by different people), is a Good Thing.

Still, the tests will be designed and implemented by people who, generally speaking, are at least as imperfect as the software designer and coders, and inevitably will overlook things. That will lead to occasional misbehavior of machinery the software controls, and if the machinery is a software controlled car or truck, highway accidents.

The quest for perfection is good, but we had best recognize that it probably is futile, and that the real question is whether these automatic vehicles will produce a lower accident rate than the human controlled ones they will replace. So far, it seems likely enough that they will.

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It's 4PM on Friday, almost time to log off and, oh look, Disqus says it's been hacked

tom dial
Silver badge

(In reply to inmypjs)

It is not clear why Disqus' ability to collate postings is problem. Posts made on a publicly accessible web site would appear to be intended for public viewing (even if posted anonymously). The Register also collates all my posts (per login name), including the small number I have posted anonymously. I notice that I can access other peoples' posts, too, and suppose that they can access mine. I do not object to that; after all, they were put there for anyone visiting The Register to read (and critique) if they wished. If I cared to have two personas, maybe to post items of opposing viewpoint, The Register, and I assume Disqus, do not prevent it.

In conjunction with my Disqus password change an hour or so ago "just in case" I found it interesting to page back and see how consistent I have been on a variety of topics. In doing so, I found only a very small number I would have changed other than correction of typographical mistakes.

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Russian spies used Kaspersky AV to hack NSA staffer, swipe exploit code – new claim

tom dial
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Those who are quick to accuse US AV providers of being NSA tools often seem as quick, or nearly so, to dismiss the possibility that Kaspersky stands in quite the same relation to the Russian FAPSI.

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