Monthly Archives: September 2013

Proof Today’s GOP Would Shun Eisenhower

Here’s an Eisenhower quote from 1949 unearthed by Pogo Was Right:

If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.

Hard to imagine Ike approving of the TSA.

Posted in Civil Liberties | 2 Comments

This Is Fun

Law and Law School in Six Words from the Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog.

My favorites so far are:

  • “It depends” worked most days
  • For sale: law degree, no promises.
  • No better preparation for serving humanity.

It’s not as easy as it looks.

(spotted via WSJ Blog, Describing Law School in Six Words) which also has some including, “‘But I’m tenured!’ the professor replied.” and “The former dean pleaded not guilty.” –which I think tells us something about the WSJ.

Posted in Law School | Leave a comment

Miami Heat Player Victim of (Wo)Man in the Middle Attack

You rarely see a MITM attack in real life, but the Miami Heat (that’s 2-time champion basketball for the foreign readers) big man Chris Andersen, known as ‘Birdman’ for his Mohawk and many tattoos, appears to have been the victim of one:

Andersen’s lawyer and agent, Mark Bryant, said his client was duped by a woman in Canada who sought a relationship and gifts and who threatened a female acquaintance of Andersen’s in California while impersonating the tattoo-covered fan favorite known as “Birdman.”

Bryant said neither Andersen nor his acquaintance realized they weren’t communicating with each other online or via cellphone texts but rather were communicating with the woman in Canada, who impersonated one to the other.

The article at Huffington isn’t clear about all the messy details; more oddly it calls the scam a “Catfishing Hoax” but that doesn’t seem appropriate because (as I understand it) in a Catfishing scenario the other person doesn’t exist. Here, it sounds like both parties existed but an intermediary was able to insert herself into their communications. The Man in the Middle (MITM) attack is one of the things that security professionals worry about a great deal when assessing purportedly secure communications mechanisms.

Please feel free to correct me in comments if I misunderstood something.

Update: Much clearer article at, Heat’s Chris Andersen cleared:

“We were always confident that Chris was innocent but we just couldn’t figure out what had happened,” Andersen’s lawyer, Mark Bryant, told “It turned out that it was a Manti Te’o situation. It was Manti Te’o on steroids.”

Te’o, the former Notre Dame football star, was caught up in a scheme last year when several individuals created a fake person and started a relationship with Te’o over the Internet, something known as “catfishing.”

In Andersen’s case, a woman in the middle used social media to dupe two people without their knowledge, according to police.

The woman, identified by the Denver Post as Shelly Lynn Chartier of Easterville, Manitoba, posed as Andersen in electronic conversations with a woman in California. Then she posed as the California woman in electronic conversations with Andersen.

Along the way, police told Andersen, she made threats pretending to be Andersen and attempted extortion pretending to be the woman from California. Chartier was arrested by Canadian authorities in January.

“When they searched Chris’ house they were basically looking for an I.P. address,” Bryant said. “But it wasn’t there. They kept investigating but it took time because it ended up involving two countries.”

More than a year after sheriffs from Douglas Country, Colo., searched Andersen’s home, they asked for a meeting with him. ….

… Using charts and slowly explaining their case, the authorities informed Andersen what had happened to him.

“It was right out of CSI with all the charts,” Bryant said. “When we walked in there both pretty hostile, it had been 15 months since this happened and we were cooperating but we hadn’t heard anything. Chris had a pretty good scowl.”

As the police started showing him what took place, Andersen unfolded his arms and then moved closer to the table. He and Bryant just looked at each other, stunned by what they were being told had taken place.

Posted in Basketball, Cryptography | 2 Comments

Ten Years of Blogging

My first substantive post at was ten years ago, and Rose Burawoy, Political Scientist, an even meatier post, was only a few days later. I was horrified by Guantanamo and by the Padilla case.

A great deal has changed since then, for me personally and for almost everyone else. Padilla is out of the Navy Brig and in a Miami jail — but Guantanamo is still there. It is hard not get used to it, but we need to make that effort.

Meanwhile, the blogging project has become somewhat more erratic as I have become deeply enmeshed in other projects, particularly Jotwell and We Robot. And I’m trying to keep up my scholarly writing productivity too; something has to go, and as I result I write fewer long pieces here. But not none!

If you haven’t been reading for ten years straight you might want to look at an arbitrary list of’s greatest hits. It has what I think are the best posts — not the most popular. If I were listing the most popular it would be a very different list, probably headed by How Not To Pick Up Women Online, which for some years was on the first or second page of Google for people searching that phrase without the “not”.

More importantly, if you have not already done so, please would you take a minute and tell me a little something about yourself? One of the greatest rewards of shouting into the wind is to sometimes hear a voice answer back.

Posted in, Guantanamo | 1 Comment

We Robot 2014 Call for Papers

We’ve posted the We Robot 2014 Call for Papers.

We invite submissions for “We Robot 2014: Risks & Opportunities” – a conference at the intersection of the law, policy, and technology of robotics, to be held in Coral Gables, Florida on April 4-5, 2014. We Robot is now in its third year, returning to the University of Miami School of Law after being hosted by Stanford Law School last April. The conference web site is at

We Robot 2014 seeks contributions by academics, practitioners, and developers in the form of scholarly papers or presentations of relevant projects. We invite your reports from the front lines of robot design and development, and invite contributions for works-in-progress sessions. Through this interdisciplinary gathering, we are encouraging conversations between the people designing, building, and deploying robots, and the people who design or influence the legal and social structures in which robots will operate. We particularly encourage contributions resulting from interdisciplinary collaborations, such as those between legal or policy scholars and roboticists.

Robotics is becoming a transformative technology that presents many legal and social challenges. This conference will build on existing scholarship that explores how the increasing sophistication and autonomous decision-making capabilities of robots and their widespread deployment everywhere from the home, to hospitals, to public spaces, and even to the battlefield disrupts existing legal regimes or requires rethinking of various policy issues.

Scholarly Papers

Topics of interest for the scholarly paper portion of the conference include but are not limited to:

  • Risks and opportunities of robot deployment in the workplace, the home, and other contexts where robots and humans work side-by-side.
  • Issues related to software-only systems such as automated trading agents.
  • Regulatory and licensing issues raised by robots in the home, the office, in public spaces (e.g. roads), and in specialized environments such as hospitals.
  • Design of legal rules that will strike the right balance between encouraging innovation and safety, particularly in the context of autonomous robots.
  • Issues of legal or moral responsibility, e.g. relating to autonomous robots or robots capable of exhibiting emergent behavior.
  • Usage of robots in public safety and military contexts.
  • Privacy issues relating to data collection by robots, either built for that purpose or incidental to other tasks.
  • Intellectual property challenges relating to robotics as a nascent industry, to works or inventions created by robots, or otherwise peculiar to robotics.
  • Issues arising from automation of professional tasks such as unauthorized practice of law or medicine.
  • How legal scholars should think about robots, and how roboticists should think about the legal code.

These are only some examples of relevant topics. We are very interested in papers on other topics driven by actual or probable robot deployments. The purpose of this conference is to help set a research agenda relating to the deployment of robots in society, to inform policy-makers of the issues, and to help design legal rules that will maximize opportunities and minimize risks arising from the increased deployment of robots in society.


We also invite expressions of interest from potential discussants. Every paper accepted will be assigned a discussant whose job it will be to present and comment on the paper. These presentations will be very brief (no more than 10 minutes) and will consist mostly of making a few points critiquing the author’s paper to kick off the conversation. Authors will then respond briefly (no more than 5 minutes). The rest of the session will consist of a group discussion about the paper moderated by the discussant. Attendees will need to read papers in advance to understand and participate in each discussion.

Works-in-Progress Presentations

Unlike the scholarly papers, proposals for the works-in-progress presentations may be purely descriptive and designer/builders will be asked to present their work themselves. We’d like to hear about your latest innovations – and what’s on the drawing board for the next generations of robots as well, or about legal and policy issues you have encountered in the design or deploy process.

How to Submit Your Proposal

Please send a 1-3 page abstract outlining your proposed paper, and a c.v. of the author(s).

We Robot 2014 will be hosted by the University of Miami School of Law, Coral Gables, Florida on April 4-5, 2014. Venue details are at the conference web site.

We anticipate paying reasonable round-trip domestic coach airfare and providing hotel accommodation for presenters and discussants.

This is going to be great.

Posted in Robots, Talks & Conferences | Leave a comment

The NSA Scandal: Anything Is Possible Now (II)


Basically, you can tamper with a logic gate to be either stuck-on or stuck-off by changing the doping of one transistor. This sort of sabotage is undetectable by functional testing or optical inspection. And it can be done at mask generation — very late in the design process — since it does not require adding circuits, changing the circuit layout, or anything else. All this makes it really hard to detect.

The paper talks about several uses for this type of sabotage, but the most interesting — and devastating — is to modify a chip’s random number generator.

Which means that the crypto is sabotaged.

Neither Bruce nor I is willing to say the NSA isn’t doing this.

Posted in Cryptography | Leave a comment