Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Helmsman's view

The helmsman doesn't necessarily own the ship.
The helmsman might not choose the destination.
The helmsman wouldn't select the cargo.
The helmsman won't hire the crew on his own.

The helmsman's job is to get the ship to the destination on behalf of the owner, with the cargo and using the crew, even though the wind and the waves will be trying to blow the ship off course. And all while avoiding the rocks that lie under the surface of the water.

My job is a bit like that of the helmsman of a ship. I've started giving the helmsman's view of where we're going, navigating around the rocks and shallows.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Censorship by UN at UN forum on ... censorship!

What's the probability that sales of the book being advertised at the "Internet Governance Forum" in Egypt will rocket after UN security officials removed a poster giving details of the book? Part of the banner read: "internet censorship and surveillance are increasing in democratic countries as well as authoritarian states. The first generation of controls, typified by China's 'Great Firewall', are being replaced by more sophisticated techniques that go beyond mere denial of information."

This could easily be a repeat of the 'Streisand effect' where an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information backfires, causing the information to be publicized widely and to a greater extent than would have occurred if no censorship had been attempted.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Brussels criticizes UK on privacy

"I therefore call on the UK authorities to change their national laws to ensure that British citizens fully benefit from the safeguards set out in EU law concerning confidentiality of electronic communications," said the EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding according to a BBC report.

This follows a European Commission report concluding that the British government should have done more to guarantee online privacy when trials of the controversial ad-serving system Phorm were carried out in 2006.

Brussels said this showed that UK laws, particularly The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, did not do enough to protect data about the e-mails and web browsing habits of citizens. More...

This story reminded me: we had someone take a look at our software and want to 'mine' the content so that if people wrote about 'divorce' they'd be served an ad for divorce-help products. We feel that's an invasion of privacy and won't do it.