Legal Updates

st helens bridgeA mixed bag really.

I-695 was struck down as being unconstitutional on 4 different fronts. Tim Eyman decried the decision as “political”, while the peanut gallery writes letters to the Seattle Times saying “The people have spoken”.

Here’s a clue. We have a constitution for a reason. That reason is to protect the people from themselves and their legislators. The fact that at some point in time, 58% of the people who decide to vote want something Does not make it constitutional. The constitution protects against tyranny of the majority.

Here’s another free clue. If something is being attacked on it’s merits from one group of people and the best rebuttals the supporters can some up with are personal attacks; There’s a good chance that the arguments on substance are more valid. The greatest fool in the world can say the sun is shining, but that doesn’t make it dark outside.

The Washington State anti-spam law was judged unconstitutional on the grounds that it is an unreasonable restraint on interstate commerce. I find it hard to believe that any company has a right to advertise to me through a mechanisim that I pay for. No telemarketing on my cell phone, no ads on the fax, no ads in my email. Period. I would also like to add that 95% of the spam that I get is apparently advertising for scams and other illegal things.

A judge issued an injunction in the Mattel (CyberPatrol) vs. CPHack case. According to NPR, the ruling is that CPhack violates copyright since it allows users to bypass CyberPatrol. A spokesman for Mattel said something to the effect of: “People rely on this program, so it’s not right that people can get around it.” According to the very detailed analysis of the code mirrored here, the methods of hashing the passwords were severly inadequate. The hashes are described as “cargo cult crypto”. (cargo Cult Crypto is a reference to cargo cult science. The full .zip of the cphack archive can be found here

Further analysis of CyberPatrol showed that anti-filtering sites are filtered out in categories such as “Sex” and “Porn”. And that a large percentage of the blocked sites are 404s. Perhaps Mattel is trying to protect the image that they are competent.

Free Clue #3. Any program that provides security via “cargo cult crypto” is not security, and the company distributing it should be liable for damages caused by trusting that program.

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