We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]


noun. Video Blog. A blog used to display various forms video images. Also: Vlog.

RFID tags become hacker target

CNET news reports that privacy advocates may not be the only people taking issue with the current crop of radio-frequency identification tags – merchants will likely have problems with a lack of security as well, a German technology consultant said Wednesday.

Low-cost RFID tags – many which are smaller than a nickel and cost less too -are already being added to packaging by retailers to keep track of inventory but could be abused by hackers and tech-savvy shoplifters, said Lukas Grunwald, a senior consultant with DN-Systems Enterprise Solutions GmbH. While the technology mostly threatens consumer privacy, the new technology could allow thieves to fool merchants by changing the identity of goods, he said.

This is a huge risk for companies. It opens a whole new area for shoplifting as well as chaos attacks.

While expensive RFID reader hardware and hard-to-use software have hindered security research in the area, Grunwald said that’s no longer a hurdle. The security expert announced during the session a new software tool that he helped create that can be used to read and reprogram radio tags.

When such tools become widely available, hackers and those with less pure motives could use a handheld device and the software to mark expensive goods as cheaper items and walk out through self checkout. Underage hackers could attempt to bypass age restrictions on alcoholic drinks and adult movies, and pranksters could create confusion by randomly swapping tags, requiring that a store do manual inventory.

Grunwald’s software program, RFDump, makes rewriting RFIDs easy. While there are significant malicious uses of the program, consumers could also use it to protect themselves.

Everyone should have the right, once they leave the store, to erase the RFID tags. Deleting information on the tags would allow people to stop RFID checkpoints in stores and other places from tracking which products they are carrying, or which have been inserted under their skin.


noun. Pornographic blogs (obviously!)

Crisis Blog

noun. A company blog (or ‘Biz Blog’) set up to handle a public relations crisis for a company or institution. This can be either to handle internal communications or to allow a company to present its side of a story in a frank, credible and timely manner when a situation is developing rapidly.

Biz Blogs

noun. Business blogs. This can mean blogs writing about business issues or (increasingly) actually run and maintained by a business as part of its day to day operations.

Generally Biz Blogs are outward facing (i.e. written to communicate with customers or business peers) but the terms is occasionally used for internal company blogs used a knowledge management systems (see K-logs).


noun. The conventional media collectively (as opposed to the blogosphere) . See Old Media.

The 2004 Big Brother Awards

Last night many Samizdatistas heading for Aldwych as the 2004 Big Brother Awards were held at the London School of Economics. The list of winners, who are in fact losers, can be found here1.


Simon Davies of Privacy International is the driving force behind the Big Brother Awards…


The stout lads from No2ID were out in force…


About 450 people turned up to heckle cheer…

This was probably the best propaganda shirt I saw!
The left has always been good at that sort of thing

1 = Update: The link to the Big Brother Award details has been changed, which is not very clever. Link updated to a somewhat less informative page.

Be prepared!

We have already been alerted to a website Preparing for Emergencies that, for some strage reason, the statists want dismantled immediately.

It is remarkably similar in domain name and style to the timewasting “offishal” preparingforemergencies.org.uk. Be quick to check it out as its death sentence has alreday been pronounced on Radio 4… They are not amused.

Thanks to Tony Millard for the link.

Biometric Passport Program Hits Snag

Internetnews.com reports that the U.S. Senate voted to delay by one year the looming Oct. 26 deadline for Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries to begin issuing machine-readable passports. The House of Representatives has already approved a one-year extension.

The VWP allows visitors from Europe, Japan, Australia and 22 other countries to visit the United States without having to obtain a visa. In 2002, Congress approved the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act, which required those countries to issue tamper-resistant passports that incorporate biometric identifiers.

According to the U.S. Department of State, neither the United States nor any of the larger VWP countries, including England, France, Italy, Germany, Ireland, Spain or Japan, are in a position to meet the Oct. 26 deadline.

The legislation now goes to the White House, and, although President Bush sought a two-year delay, he is expected to sign the bill.

Maura Harty, assistant secretary of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, told the Senate Judiciary Committee last month that a delay in the program implementation is necessary because of technological challenges encountered by the United States and the visa waiver countries. She cited issues, such as chip availability, the security of the data on the embedded chips and the international interoperability of readers.

Harty said the United States does not expect delivery of the 64 kilobyte “contactless” chips needed for the passports until next year, and the State Department does not anticipate completing the transition to biometric passports until the end of 2005.

Samizdata slogan of the day

There are plenty worse [than Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan] in the nation’s upper house – John Kerry, Edward Kennedy, Christopher Dodd, Claiborne Pell, Alan Cranston and the appalling Howard Metzenbaum, to name just six.
– P.J. O’Rourke, Parliament of Whores (1991)

N.B. Top of the list of shame!

Bloggers and DNC

As we used to chant at demonstrations, “the whole world’s watching!” Except this time it is not the media acting as the intermediary between watcher and watchee.

The whole world is watching the political reporters this time around and the most important blog stories will be the ones they do not talk about. This is not to mention the unposed and ‘off the cuff’ imagery we will be seeing.

Are DNC parties better than LPC parties? Do they have an equivalent to the Kansas Caucus? Enquiring minds want to know!

A note to any of our compadres who are attending: The National Space Society will be holding a party there. Drop by and say hello to George Whitesides.

Hunger strike in Iranian prison

Although not in the mainstream news as much as the story deserves, the thus far peaceful (from the student side at least) Iranian intifada is alive and well. Unfortunately the same can not be said for some of its members. The Mullahcracy continues to visit violence and imprisonment upon such supporters of liberty.

In response, some of the imprisoned are carrying out a hunger strike to gain international attention for their plight.

Several alarmed European MPs, such as, Andre Berry, Paolo Kazaka and Helmut Markoff have expressed their public support and expressed concerns on the fate of the strikers and the persistent rights abuses in Iran. Mr. Berry has written a public letter for the attention of the German FM by asking him to intervene due to his close relationship with the ruling mullahs.

My cynical side wonders if one who has a ‘close relationship with the ruling mullahs’ would help the students for reasons other than a belief in democracy and human rights.

Nah. These are civilized and nuanced European leaders.