This article shows a couple of interesting zero-width characters techniques for the invisible fingeprinting of text.
In early 2016 I realized that it was possible to use zero-width characters, like zero-width non-joiner or other zero-width characters like the zero-width space to fingerprint text. Even with just a single type of zero-width character the presence or non-presence of the non-visible character is enough bits to fingerprint even the shortest text.
I also realized that it is possible to use homoglyph substitution (e.g., replacing the letter “a” with its Cyrillic counterpart, “а”), but I dismissed this as too easy to detect due to the differences in character rendering across fonts and systems. However, differences in dashes (en, em, and hyphens), quotes (straight vs curly), word spelling (color vs colour), and the number of spaces after sentence endings could probably go undetected due to their frequent use in real text.
The reason I’m writing about this now is that it appears both homoglyph substitution and zero-width fingerprintinghave been discovered by others, so journalists should be informed of the existence of these techniques.
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has recently voted in favor the DRM standard. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been fighting against it, now lost, and resigned from the W3C. Read more:
It is a tragedy that we will be doing that without our friends at the W3C, and with the world believing that the pioneers and creators of the web no longer care about these matters.
Effective today, EFF is resigning from the W3C.
Advisory Committee Representative to the W3C for the Electronic Frontier Foundation
Wow! This is big. And bad. Like breaking bad.
DRM will die one day. But it looks like it will take a few more years, court cases, and such to help it go into the ground. We could haven spent all this effort on something much more useful and productive.
AbuseIO is an Open Source software for management of abuse reports. It’s like a specialized ticketing/support system, which can automatically parse a variety of abuse notifications, file them, notify the team, and provide the tools to respond and close the incident. In a nutshell:
- 100% Free & Open Source
- Works with IPv4 and IPv6 addresses
- Automatically parse events into abuse tickets and add a classification
- Integrate with existing IPAM systems
- Set automatic (re)notifications per case or customer with configurable intervals
- Allow abuse desks and end users to reply, close or add notes to cases
- Link end users to a self help portal in case they need help to resolve the issue
If that sounds interesting, have a look at the Features page. You might also want to read the blog post covering a last year’s release of AbuseIO version 4.0.
The system is written in PHP, with Laravel framework, so making changes and adding features should be quite easy.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has caused a lot of grief over the years. AutoBlog reports that now car manufacturers are trying to use it to stop people from repairing and tuning their cars:
Allowing them to continue to fix their cars has become “legally problematic,” according to a written statement from the Auto Alliance, the main lobbying arm of automakers.
The dispute arises from a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that no one thought could apply to vehicles when it was signed into law in 1998. But now, in an era where cars are rolling computing platforms, the U.S. Copyright Office is examining whether provisions of the law that protect intellectual property should prohibit people from modifying and tuning their cars.
Ridiculous, is the word that describes this best, I think.
Every time I proudly wear my EFF member t-shirt, people ask me what is EFF. And every time I explain and point them to EFF.org for more information. It’s a shame that many of those who even live and breath online don’t know what EFF is and what those guys do. Have a look at their most recent victory:
In a statement, Astrolabe said, “Astrolabe’s lawsuit against Mr. Olson and Mr. Eggert was based on a flawed understanding of the law. We now recognize that historical facts are no one’s property and, accordingly, are withdrawing our Complaint. We deeply regret the disruption that our lawsuit caused for the volunteers who maintain the TZ database, and for Internet users.”
“It’s a fundamental principle of copyright law that facts are not copyrightable, and Astrolabe should have known that,” said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. “While the lawsuit should never have been filed, we’re pleased that the legal threat to an important resource has been eliminated.
You can help them do what they do, by joining and donating.
Spotted in Yimmy Yayo blog this excellent parody on country-based distribution of music, movies, and TV shows. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?
Most of the times, when I donate money, I don’t really expect anything back. I don’t see them as an investment to the future of the person or organization, but rather a gratitude and appreciation for the past. It was also how I saw my support of Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Today I received a press release from EFF, which made me proud to be a member and also a little extra happy about the money I donated over the last few years. It’s a big win over Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which is one law that I never liked too much. Here is a quote to get you started:
San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) won three critical exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) anticircumvention provisions today, carving out new legal protections for consumers who modify their cell phones and artists who remix videos — people who, until now, could have been sued for their non-infringing or fair use activities.
“By granting all of EFF’s applications, the Copyright Office and Librarian of Congress have taken three important steps today to mitigate some of the harms caused by the DMCA,” said Jennifer Granick, EFF’s Civil Liberties Director. “We are thrilled to have helped free jailbreakers, unlockers and vidders from this law’s overbroad reach.”
Continue reading the full press release and supporting documents.
As a side note, once again I am amazed at how much influence some American law has on my life, which happens to be far away from the United States territory. Being a daily user of many services provided by Americans and from the United States soil, I am impacted by rules and limitations faced by those people who provide those services.
I’ve mentioned this many times before and, I guess, I’ll need to mention this ever more – the technological progress of the recent years (the digital world, yes) has left many systems of our society behind.Â Educational and legal are the most noticeable.Â Â Here are a few words in the insightful and funny video (originally from the Ted.com – a place of many more insightful videos).Â Here is a quote from a recent Boing Boing post showing the state of the legal system:
… pictures of Ford cars cannot be printed. Not just Ford logos, not just Mustang logos, the car -as a whole- is a Ford trademark and its image can’t be reproduced without permission.
TechCrunch has an excellent cover of the “photograph in the video” story that has been going on all over the web in the last few days.Â Basically, somebody wrote a funny song and made a video for it.Â In that video a bunch of images were used including one that was downloaded from Flickr without permission of the photographer.Â The photographer got really pissed off and such.Â The video was re-edited to remove the offending image, but there was plenty of discussion on how is right and who is wrong in this story.Â Some really important questions on copyright, fair use, and free speech were asked, and some really smart people tried to answer them.
The rights of the copyright holder have always been balanced against the more fundamental right of free speech. And free speech in the Internet age, more so than ever before, goes way beyond words and text. The way people express themselves on the Web increasingly involves images, video, animations, and other rich media, often in mash-ups of pre-existing works. That is how people communicate today. Both copyright law and industry standards need to evolve to take that into consideration.
While I support the (copy)right of the author to command the usage of his or her work, I think that this particular case wasn’t handled properly by the photographer.