Tuesday, December 05, 2006

CIA transformation and copyright yakkity

Okay, these articles are really more for MY enjoyment, but I'll pass them along anyway. They're both swiped from slashdot, but are surprisingly informative.

The first one is from the NYTimes Magazine, an article entitled Open-Source Spying. Yeah, that's pretty much straight up my alley. I've only read the first couple of pages (the link is to the printable version), but I'll tackle it over my lunch break. It looks to be very interesting so far. It's not very focused on open-source software (though the agency is moving to a better model there too), per se, but rather on the opening of communications within different departments.

Something had gone horribly awry, Burton realized. Theoretically, the intelligence world ought to revolve around information sharing. If F.B.I. agents discover that Al Qaeda fund-raising is going on in Brooklyn, C.I.A. agents in Europe ought to be able to know that instantly. The Internet flourished under the credo that information wants to be free; the agencies, however, had created their online networks specifically to keep secrets safe, locked away so only a few could see them. This control over the flow of information, as the 9/11 Commission noted in its final report, was a crucial reason American intelligence agencies failed to prevent those attacks. All the clues were there — Al Qaeda associates studying aviation in Arizona, the flight student Zacarias Moussaoui arrested in Minnesota, surveillance of a Qaeda plotting session in Malaysia — but none of the agents knew about the existence of the other evidence. The report concluded that the agencies failed to “connect the dots.”

The DMCA is also heading for a major test. Well, not of the actual law, but in terms of setting precedents - Universal and MySpace have set us up the bomb. Read the article for yourself soon, as I think the Financial Times kills links to articles within X days. Personally, I think that the better target would be the host - YouTube in this case - as last year's Grokster ruling allows for copyright-infringers to be taken down if hosting copyrighted files is part of their "business model". 2 things stop YouTube from being sued in this case: it's owned by Google (and I think Google is capable of making any company look silly for suing them), and, uhhh...YouTube's business model consists of dumping large sacks of money out the window.

We'll see what happens though - keep in mind that the only two exports America does better than the rest of the world are IP (movies, music) and security (Blackwater, Triple Canopy). To loosen laws on IP would make me happy, but could have a short-term negative impact. I'll keep ya posted.

P.S. Performancing Firefox definitely has a few bugs to work out - it errored out when I tried to post this (something about incorrectly-formatted HTML), and I couldn't find a "view as HTML" option to fix the problem.

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