RSA released into the public domain

Great news! I am sure you know about the security mechanisms built into your browser, right? The little padlock. This mechanism, and many others, are using an algorithm that is patented by RSA Security. The patent would expire in two weeks, but RSA decided to release the algorithm into the public domain, two weeks before the expiration. From their web site:

“RSA SecurityÂ’s commercialization of the RSA patent helped create an entire industry of highly secure, interoperable products that are the foundation of the worldwide online economy. Releasing the RSA algorithm into the public domain now is a symbolic next step in the evolution of this market, as we believe it will cement the position of RSA encryption as the standard in all categories of wired and wireless applications and devices.”

Fireworks: Iridium will be destroyed

Here we go – $ 5,000,000,000 will be burned in the atmosphere very soon. The bancruptcy court gave the okay to Motorola, who currently owns the network. I wonder whether this spectacle can be observed on the sky. The dates are not yet determined. Stay tuned for the burning of over 60 satelites!

Germans want to tax Internet access

Comments like “Absurd and quixotic” and “An idea that could only be developed by people without enough work to do” is what the American press things about this proposed “decree” (German for “Erlass”). The German financial minister Hans Eichel proposes that Internet access should be handled like a monetary advantage in the office, which means that the equivalent cash value is taxable.

“Politicians issue soothing messages on Green Cards and the New Economy while at the same time burdening citizens with nonsensical tax regulations”

Good Slashdot quote

“When its more profitable to make producing better products unprofitable for others than to produce good products yourself, the people get screwed over. It is a moral atrocity to do so. It acts to the detriment of society itself. It makes thecorperation a parasite rather than a productive member.”

The security implications of shopping online

Did you know that many online merchants employ third parties to check the credibility of the buyer. This is frightening, as these companies (like Cybersource) aggregate personal information of online shoppers.

At the same time, the article does a fine job of showing why something like this is necessary. As the online shop has no way of checking the credibility of the buyer (e.g., the customer doesn’t provide a signature), analysis of consumer behavior seems like a fair alternative to manage the risk.

The article doesn’t offer solutions, but points out that this kind of data collection is a two sided sword. I feel that we can’t avoid it, but I feel that we should make sure that organizations like Cybersources are regulated and monitored by independend committees.

Yesmail and MAPS

Everybody concerned about SPAM or email marketing (not the same) should check out this article. It analyzes the withdrawal of Yesmail from a lawsuit against MAPS. MAPS (Mail Abuse Prevention System) is the most effective weapon against Spam. Post, by the way, is not mentioned in this article. That means that we are good to consumers.

RIAA Demands End to Unauthorized Humming, Whistling

San Francisco, Calif. After using the courts to keep Napster and MP3.com from freely distributing music over the Internet, the Recording Industry Association of America today asked a federal judge to stop people from humming or whistling copyrighted songs in public. The RIAA also asked for $300 million in damages from the estimated 22 million drunken men who think banging out the opening drum beat to “Wipeout” is a good way to impress women in bars.

“Anyone who publicly hums or whistles is disseminating copyright-protected music and thereby infringing on our artists’ rights,” said RIAA spokesman Janet Fogerty. “Also, we don’t like it when the wind blows. It sounds too much like the beginning to Elton John’s ‘Funeral for a Friend.'”

Free speech advocates were outraged over the RIAA’s action, but women generally applauded. “Most of the guys I know can’t drum Wipeout when they’re sober, let alone drunk,” said Helen Kurtz, a 22-year-old from Manhattan.

Bertelsmann buys CDNow!

It’s official: Cdnow is being acquired by the German media corporation Bertelsmann. Personally, I hate to see Germany following Americas footsteps, in building bigger and bigger corporations that start to model public opinion. At the same time, it’s probably a good thing for the German Internet industry.

Yet a new Outlook weakness

As if Microsoft didn’t do enough damage yet! A new flaw in Outlook appeared – this time, it is enough to receive a message, to get infected. No, this is no hoax. The idea is to abuse some fields of the message header (subject line, date, sender, etc.). These fields are parsed, even if the user doesn’t open the message. The “right” header field will break Outlook, allowing malicious code being executed on the user’s computer.