NSA or Not, Surveillance Malware Endangers Internet

Malware linked with the National Security Agency that has been used to spy on computers around the world​​​​​​​​​​ threatens to ma​​​ke the Internet less safe by spreading sophisticated infections that are increasingly difficult to remove. … The Equation group’s malware has infected a broad range of targets, including government and military organizations, telecom and energy businesses, banks, nuclear researchers, the media and Islamic activists, according to Kaspersky. Malware has targeted most of these groups in Iran, along with Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria, the cybersecurity firm reports. The U.S. may not be on that list, but the malware is a threat to the entire Internet because “everything depends on everything else” in our interconnected digital world, according to a blog post by Bruce Schneier, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. “We need to figure out how to maintain security in the face of these sorts of attacks, because we’re all going to be subjected to the criminal versions of them in three to five years,” Schneier said.

Something Is Going Right: Net Neutrality and the FCC

An op-ed by Lawrence Lessig:

Imagine that when you plugged something into an electrical outlet, the outlet queried the device and demanded identification. Was it a Sony TV or Panasonic? Was it a Dell or an Apple? And then based on that identification, different levels of quality or reliability of electricity were served at different prices. No doubt such a regime would benefit utility companies. I’ve not yet met anyone who thinks it would benefit innovation. Thus, it would be something possibly good for network providers, but plainly bad for the market generally. As I’ve watched the amazing progress that proponents of “network neutrality” have made, I’ve been astonished both by their success, and by how long this debate has been going on. I first drew the analogy to the electrical grid in testimony before John McCain’s subcommittee more than a dozen years ago. Mark Lemley and I tried to lay the issue out, as it applied to the then-raging battle over “open access,” almost 15 years ago. … Defenders of the status quo are now frantically filling the tubes with FUD about the FCC’s decision. But as you work through this FUD, keep one basic fact clear. Relative to practically every other comparable nation, America’s broadband sucks. Seriously, sucks. Even France beats us in cost and quality. And as the genius Yochai Benkler established in the monumental report by the Berkman Center commissioned by the FCC after Obama was elected, the single most important reason our broadband sucks is the sell-out regulatory strategy of the prior decade at least.

Gov. Kitzhaber: Your Job Is Not Yet Done

An op-ed by Charles Ogletree and Rob Smith: Governor Kitzhaber has given 35 years of steadfast service to the people of Oregon. His tirelessness and courage have helped to forge a State that is the envy of the nation — a community as strong and prosperous as it is just and fair. But the job is not yet done. In his last few hours in the Capitol Building, Governor Kitzhaber has the opportunity to undertake perhaps the most courageous act of his career, one that would create his most enduring legacy — the Governor can commute the death sentences of the 34 men and one woman on Oregon’s death row. A decision to commute the death sentences would align with contemporary standards of decency in Oregon, and increasing it aligns with the norms of the nation. A recent poll in the Oregonian showed that 74 percent of respondents would support a Kitzhaber decision to commute all existing death sentences. This same sense of decreasing support for capital punishment resonates throughout the country.

Group from Mass. helped shift net neutrality fight

From a stuffy attic in this former industrial city, Tiffiniy Cheng and her friends hatched plans to save the Internet. Fight for the Future, the name they later bestowed on their group of 30-something idealists, stirred an online advocacy movement that swayed President Obama, influenced the Federal Communications Commission, and helped defeat the telecommunications industry, one of the mightiest lobbying powers in Washington. …  A report released last week by Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society concluded the “networked public space played a central, arguably decisive, role in turning around the Federal Communications Commission policy on net neutrality.” It cited BattleFor-TheNet.com as one of the most influential forces.


Harvard prepares to fight fossil fuel divestment case in court

Lawyers for Harvard University will appear in court on Friday afternoon to fight off attempts to force the world’s richest university to dump coal, oil and gas companies from its $36bn (£23bn) endowment. A lawsuit filed late last year by seven law students and undergraduates argues the university has a duty to fight climate change by pulling out of fossil fuel companies. … “This is important to us because climate change is supposed to be a huge problem and so far our existing institutions have been unable to address it in a way that is commensurate with the problem,” said Alice Cherry, a second year law student and one of the seven bringing the suit. “We think it is past time for our legal system to have something to say about it.”

On Fairmount Line, opportunity knocks

An op-ed by Conor Ahern ’15 and Lawrence DiCara: The Blizzard of 1888 left Boston gridlocked, and over 1,000 people died in its wake. Tragic as the storm was, there was a substantial silver lining. This catastrophe is often cited as the impetus for the construction of the nation’s first underground subway system, a transportation network that would be shielded from the elements of our occasionally harsh New England climate. It is somewhat ironic, then, that the regional transit system that developed from that late 19th century innovation has been brought to its knees by the winter battering we have taken. The fundamental wisdom of a subterranean transit system, however, has not been challenged by the snowy onslaught, as it is the above-ground portions of the MBTA subway system, along with the regional commuter rail, that have been laid low. That system has become, in many ways, the engine of our regional economy. The delays and frustrations felt by hundreds of thousands of Bostonians – and millions of dollars in adverse economic impacts — have underscored the degree to which the entire eastern Massachusetts region depends on a healthy, well-functioning transit system.

The New Hampshire Rebellion’s Long Walk For Campaign Finance Reform Has Only Just Begun

When facing public disinterest, the cold shoulder from the news media, legions of incumbent politicians, a series of unfavorable Supreme Court decisions and more than $6 billion in entrenched interests; walking 150 miles through northern New Hampshire in temperatures as low as negative 20 degrees is the least of your problems. None of which dissuaded the 400 members of the New Hampshire Rebellion. On January 21, on the fifth anniversary of the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission Supreme Court decision, the New Hampshire Rebellion, led by Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, descended on Concord, New Hampshire, to protest the corrupting influence of money in politics.

Harvard professor explains the biggest problem with the school’s new sexual assault policy

A new article in the Harvard Law Review argues the university’s new sexual assault policy makes it too easy to believe victims and automatically discredit those who are accused of sexual misconduct. In an article called “Trading the Megaphone for the Gavel in Title IX Enforcement,” Harvard law professor Janet Halley identifies scenarios that could potentially lead to biased hearings against accused students. As awareness of rape on campus has grown, many schools have changed their rules so there’s a lower burden of proof needed to find students “responsible” for sexual assault.

No Safety Net

An op-ed by Richard Lazarus. The President’s decision to open up the Atlantic coast to offshore drilling exploration is a clear expression of his “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. It is also a clear exercise of political horse-trading. No doubt the President hoped to take the sting out of his decision to eliminate drilling off of parts of Alaska by offering parts of the Mid- and South-Atlantic, which have been closed since 1990, in return. In April 2010, in a similar political gambit, the President courted conservative support for his then-pending climate bill by proposing to open the Atlantic coast for drilling. Anticipating environmental opposition, the President confidently asserted that “oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills.” It proved an unfortunate choice of words.

Islamic State’s Appeal in Libya

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. The expansion of Islamic State’s franchise into parts of Libya is horrifying, as the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic laborers shows. It’s also frightening for a different reason. The essence of the Islamic State brand is the assertion of sovereign control over territory. Until now, Libya’s post-revolutionary problem has been fragmentation. The emergence of Islamic State there suggests that over time, Libya’s problem could become the opposite: Islamic State might create a unifying umbrella that would subject large parts of the country to its dangerous brand of control.