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Thu, 14 May 2009
More open source required in government - 12:36
Today Schneier had some information on breathalysers that due to court orders finally had the source made available for some analysis. This is not the same breath test system as used in the Florida case from what I can tell at a glance (this was a New Jersey case), however it definitely opens your eyes once more on how crap closed source software can be (and yes I admit lots of open source software can also be crap) and you will have no idea, and no way to fix it. Any software used in law enforcement in such a way that it could be so incorrect or wrong and yet still cause someone to lose their licence or gain a criminal record really should be opened up, at least to the agency/government/force using the software, if not open to all people.
Tue, 07 Jun 2005
Lack of transparency in Government opens up big problems. - 18:26
The companies that manufacture the breathalysers do not want to release their internal implementation details to anyone, and thus because there is absolutely no proof or independent audit here of how these things really work the case has to be thrown out of court.
When I was talking to Mikal about this I suggested that due to the fact I do not drink often or much I personally would not be exploiting this specific style of loophole, however I thought it opened up a whole lot of things to wonder about the legal process, Police implementation of technology and the transparency of such. Think about speed cameras and speed radars, I imagine the Police have some testing framework for Radars and some other devices, but how extensive is it? How much can it be trusted? Mikal mentioned a case in Victoria where lots of speeding fines had to be ignored due to a problem with a speed camera.
Some googling found this The Age article about this case, they found a number of cameras were faulty and withheld infringement notices from those cameras for a while. Mikal mentioned it took an ACA story about some Datsun 180B unable to to get over 80KMh on a race track with a race driver that had been booked by the cameras at 120KMh to get some sort of response on the issue.
Now I would suggest against going out and trying to get a speeding ticket from a speed camera simply to test the "show me the source" argument in court, but it does make you wonder what processes of government really should be more open and transparent. I do not hold out much hope in the short term that the general public will understand the need for this though, the ACT Voting system, which had been released as a completely open system has since been placed under a more closed form of source distribution with the source code no longer under a fully public licence and less transparent to the public. Sure the actual release of evacs used in any given election undergoes a full audit process and that audited release is frozen for that election, however the whole process is far more hidden and there was not much public outcry in ACT or Australia about this change.
It also makes you wonder, in what ways can you possibly convince the general public to push for a more open and transparent government, one is to convince them it would be in their benefit, if under Australian law a DUI or speeding fine could be avoided without full transparency it may for example push the process toward that goal along if people exploited that.
Tue, 16 Nov 2004
Genealogy of ideas - 10:53
In reality the article is mostly about a case of a playwright using quotes from an older Gladwell article and not acknowledging the source publicly. However it does present some interesting viewpoints. Everyone when thinking of new stuff builds on prior knowledge, this is why we have libraries and why we read and learn in the first place.
Wed, 10 Nov 2004
Software patents, branding and broken revenue models - 12:12