NSA Killed Groklaw

10. September, 2013

I’m not sure how to process this.

Because of the ubiquitous surveillance by the US government, Groklaw closed shop. Pamela “pj” Jones just didn’t feel like she could continue her work in such a situation.

If you didn’t know Groklaw: It was the site which cared about law and how it was (and should) be applied in the context of technology. They showed the absurdities of the recent patent lawsuits and other economic war games like the famous lawsuit between IBM and SCO.

And now it’s gone.

I feel guilty because I didn’t notice.

And after reading pj’s last article, I wonder whether her reaction is too emotional or actually more appropriate than my own “it won’t be that bad” attitude.

Now some people will say it’s not a problem. The NSA isn’t allowed to monitor US citizens.

Wrong. It’s way too complicated to filter your mails out of the traffic. So the NSA stores them anyway. And as soon as you write an email to a non-US person, they can watch you without breaking any laws. How much? All the mails? Just the ones which you exchange with someone else on the planet? Who knows. You think you can find out? They know all about you but they won’t tell you anything.

Or maybe you think that you have nothing to hide.

Really? Send me copies of your bank accounts, please. Oh, and photos of your home, your timetable (especially when no one is at home) and where you keep your spare key. How about a password list? Of course, I’m not going to abuse this information. What do you think of me?

And, as pj correctly wrote in her last article, the problem with surveillance has never been what anyone might have to hide.

Instead, the state is suddenly treating its citizens like enemies, creating an atmosphere of distrust. Also, in a few years or maybe even months, “smart” computer programs will look for patterns in the huge amounts of data that the NSA collects. They will stop looking for “Who is a terrorist” and start looking for “Who might become a terrorist?” It makes sense, doesn’t it?

If you have ever used a computer, then you know how dumb and uncaring they are. And suddenly, they decide who is a terrorist? Without anyone being able to second guess this? When the police comes kicking in your door, they won’t even be allowed to tell you why – national security.

i said before: I’m all for surveillance but for everyone. You want to watch me? Well, good. I want to watch all the people in the government. I want to know who they met, how long, what they talked about, how they voted, every penny they goes though their bank accounts. While we’re at it, I want the same for the management layer of big corporations. They are often as big as small states. We observe those, why not corporations?

What, no? Why not? How can it be OK to watch me, a nobody, but not the people who make the big decisions?


Patently Unpatentable: Federal Circuit is Trying to Develop New Test For Patentability

20. October, 2012

One of the old problems for patent office or a court is to determine whether a patent is patentable. “‘Laws of nature, natural phenomena and abstract ideas’ are not patentable under US law – but their particular inventive application is.” (source)

But with lawsuits like Apple vs. Samsung (great coverage on groklaw), it’s becoming obvious even for the hard-core patent defenders that things must change.

The Federal Circuit is now trying to come up with a test that answers whether software is patentable or just an abstract idea.

Maybe they should check this article on groklaw: What Does “Software Is Mathematics” Mean? – Part 1