[Plura-list] I'm being inducted into the Canadian SF/F hall of fame; Mexico's copyright vs self-determination and national sovereignty

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Fri Jul 31 11:04:28 EDT 2020

Today's links

* I'm being inducted into the Canadian SF/F hall of fame: A club that
would have me as a member!

* Mexico's copyright vs self-determination and national sovereignty:
Colonialism 2.0.

* Self-bricking medical device: "Once EXOGEN delivers 343 treatments, it
will  not provide further treatment."

* Apple's internal Right to Repair fight: Ifixit got leaked receipts.

* Challenge questions suck: Your favorite food is pizza.

* This day in history: 2005, 2015, 2019

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing
projects, current reading


🦜					 I'm being inducted into the Canadian SF/F hall of fame

I just got an email asking if I could be free on August 15 for
Canvention, the annual Canadian national science fiction convention,
because I am being inducted into the  Canadian Science Fiction and
Fantasy Association's Hall of Fame.

Needless to say, my answer was a *very enthusiastic yes*.

CSFFA administers Canada's Aurora Awards and the Hall of Fame, a juried
prize that I am *unbelievably stonked* to be receiving.


This year's Canvention is

a) Online


b) Free

So if you have a hankering to see me in a deeply ferklempt state trying
to express my gratitude, you can certainly do so on the 15th!

The list of previous inductees is pretty fantastic, and includes five of
my most important mentors:

* Judith Merrill

* Lorna Toolis

* Phyllis Gottleib

* William Gibson

* Spider Robinson


As well as many writers who were extraordinarily kind to me over the
years, like Charles de Lint and Elizabeth Vonarburg and Tanya Huff.

It is stellar company to be in - joining some of my lifelong heroes. I
could not be happier about this.


🦜					 Mexico's copyright vs self-determination and national sovereignty

I've written extensively about Mexico's new copyright law, which was
copypasted straight out of the US's lawbooks without debate or
consultation and is a catastrophic blow to human rights.


The law does senseless violence to the free expression rights of Mexican
people, enabling both automated and deliberate censorship, as well as
making it trivial to dox anyone by claiming copyright violations:


And its DRM rules are a nightmare for cybersecurity, fencing off devices
that Mexicans entrust with their data and personal safety from
independent security audits:


Today, I published two more articles analyzing the threats the new law
poses to human rights in Mexico. The first is "Disability, Education,
Repair and Health: How Mexico's Copyright Law Hurts Self-Determination
in the Internet Age."


It explains how Mexico's new law will prevent people with disabilities
from adapting their technology without permission from a distant
manufacturer who may not care to have their products altered:


And how it undermines the Right to Repair, by allowing foreign firms to
monopolize repairs and unilaterally decide when a product is "beyond
repair" and must be replaced, which has major implications for
agriculture and public health:


And finally, how the rules on takedown, filters and DRM interfere with
education, allowing for the arbitrary removal of curricular materials
from the net and prohibiting educators from bypassing digital locks to
integrate works into their teaching.


Nominally, the new Mexican law protects these activities, but as I
explain, these protections are a fiction - in 22 years, no one in the
USA has been able to invoke them, because of all the conditions they impose.

In a second article, "Mexico's New Copyright Law Undermines Mexico's
National Sovereignty, Continuing Generations of Unfair 'Fair Trade
Deals' Between the USA and Latin America," I connect the new law to
generations of economic colonialism.


Mexico's new copyright law didn't get rushed through Congress in a
vacuum: it was passed as part of the USMCA, Donald Trump's replacement
for NAFTA.

Like so many trade deal-based laws, this new system doesn't create an
even footing between trade partners, but rather imposes a permanent,
structural disadvantage on Mexican businesses and the Mexican people.

Under this law, Mexican firms will be bound by terms far more onerous
than those of their Canadian and US counterparts, such as automated
copyright filters, which cost millions to install and subject Mexicans'
communications to censorship from black-box algorithms.

Mexico's new DRM laws do not contain even the minimal (wholly
inadequate) safeguards in the US or Canadian systems, nor to do they
have the 22 years' worth of exemptions US films can rely on.

Meanwhile, the USA is likely to abandon this law, as we are suing the US
government to overturn it:


Along with the DRM rules, Mexico has brought in a harsh and unremitting
"notice and takedown" system tailor-made for abuse, which will allow
companies to remove warnings about product defects and dox their critics.

Mexico's Congress didn't rush this law through without public debate
because they knew we'd love it and didn't want to spoil the surprise.

Like every dirty trade deal, this was heavily lobbied and passed without
scrutiny because its backers knew it couldn't withstand scrutiny.

Mexico's National Commission for Human Rights has until TOMORROW to open
an investigation into this law. If they do, they can overturn it. If you
are in Mexico or are Mexican, here is a petition you can fill in:



🦜					 Self-bricking medical device

Adam, a reader, wrote to me to say, "My wife just bought a
medical-treatment device called Exogen. It's not cheap. It purportedly
uses ultrasound to promote bone healing.

"We're both skeptical about it, and all the studies that validate it
were paid for by Exogen, but when you've got a persistent health
problem, you don't want to leave any stones unturned, and this seems
unlikely to be actively harmful."

Speaking as someone with untreatable, degenerative, chronic pain, boy do
I understand where he's coming from. And here's what happened:

"Before she paid retail, we thought of buying one off eBay. Surely all
the people who have used these in the past would want to unload them and
recoup some of their money.

"After reading the manual, we think we know why they weren't for sale:
*the device bricks itself after 343 uses*--which is slightly longer than
the course of treatment her doctor prescribed.

"You can call the company to have it unbricked if your doctor prescribes
a longer treatment."

Don't take his word for it. Read the manual.


This is pure confiscation. Remember, this isn't a product that's offered
at a discount for people who opt out of reselling it - it's an expensive
med-tech item sold to desperate people with serious maladies.

Imagine if you couldn't resell your car - we're heading there. Textbook
monopolies have killed the used textbook market. It's part of an overall
program to shift wealth from the public to corporations, and risk from
corporations to us.


🦜					 Apple's internal Right to Repair fight

Someone leaked internal Apple email exchanges about Right to Repair to
Ifixit; they reveal "internal debate, rife with uncertainty" - employees
who have deep misgivings about dooming their work-product to become e-waste.


Of particular interest is the internal debate after Apple (surprisingly)
published two excellent service manuals, which an Ifixit writer queried
them on, asking if it was intentional.

An Apple spox wrote to the internal PR team: "Iit’s pretty clear things
are happening in a vacuum and there is not an overall strategy...

"Plus, with one hand we are making these changes and the other is
actively fighting Right to Repair legislation moving in 20 states
without real coordination for how updated policies could be used to
leverage our position."

It looks like the service manual release was motivated by a desire to
attain EPEAT green certification. As Ifixit points out, "these manuals
have been online for a year. Has any harm come from it? Have lawsuits
sprung out of the woodwork? We certainly haven’t heard of any."

Apple is publishing "environmental progress reports" that stress the
company's commitment to repair and say "reuse is our first choice" -
entirely new messages from the company.

As Ifixit points out: "Apple has an opportunity to push—nay, lead—the
entire industry in a better direction. Durable, repairable, long-lasting
products could be the norm."


🦜					 Challenge questions suck

You know that thing that companies do when you set up an online account,
asking you to name your favorite food and your high-school mascot as a
way to recover your password later, or verify your identity if something
sus is going on?

They're called "challenge questions" and they don't work.

That's the conclusion a group of Google security researchers and my EFF
colleague Joseph Bonneau reached through a set of careful - and
devastating - experiments.


Not only are the answers to these questions pretty easy for attackers to
guess or research (your mother's maiden name is a matter of public
record and your favorite food is "pizza"), but actual users really
struggle to remember their answers.

Topline findings:

* "37% admitted to providing fake answers in an attempt to make them
'harder to guess' although on aggregate this behavior had the opposite

* "40% of users were unable to recall their answers when needed."

* "Questions that are potentially the most secure (e.g what is your
firstphone number) are also the ones with the worst memorability."

* "It appears next to impossible to find secret questions that are both
secure and memorable."

I treat these questions as secondary passwords and use password
generators to come up with strong, long passwords for them, managing
them in a password manager (so much for memorable). Even this has an
unexpected failure mode!

My small credit union's site requires you to come up with several of
these questions at signup time: favorite movie, high school mascot, etc.
You can answer from a list, or you can fill in our own. I did the
latter, giving answers like "OWX~kMy!'(T;DkLwmBjrDs."

What I didn't know was that the challenge questions are presented as
*multiple choice*! So here's how it looks:


[ ] BIRD
[ ] FISH
[ ] DOG
[ ] PIG
[ ] OWX~kMy!'(T;DkLwmBjrDs
[ ] CAT
[ ] FOX

So much for my high-security, hard-to-guess alternative.


🦜					 This day in history

#15yrsago Apple to add Trusted Computing to the new kernel?

#5yrsago TSA Behavioral Detection Program's awful newsletter mocks
travellers' worries

#5yrsago Ex-Google diversity boss promised "UK's 1st women's history
museum," built a Jack the Ripper "museum"

#5yrsago German prosecutors give spies a walk, but investigate
journalists for "treason"

#1yrago Hong Kong protesters use lasers to blind security cameras

#1yrago Summing up the Democrats' debate: Colbert's scorching monologue


🦜					 Colophon

Today's top sources: Four Short Links

Currently writing:

* My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and
reconciliation. Yesterday's progress: 536 words (43909 total).

Currently reading: The Deficit Myth, Stephanie Kelton

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 11)

Upcoming appearances:

* Reading, Conzealand, Aug 1 (Aug 2 in NZ!),

* Do Androids Dream of Electric Cars? Public Transit in the Age of
Google, Uber, and Elon Musk, Aug 4,

* Virtual event with Christopher Brown for his novel "Failed State," Aug

* Induction into the CSFFA Hall of Fame, Aug 15,

Latest book:

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

Upcoming books:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

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*When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla* -Joey "Accordion Guy"

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