Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

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So here I am sitting in the "Research and Development Venture Project Team" worrying about my Foma card intefering with the microphone again... They call it a team since it probably seems more "venture-like" than a "committee" but it is in fact a government committee. I THINK that this committee was mostly initiated through meetings that I had with the Minister of Education, Science and Technology Koji Omi after I gave a talk at the committee on business, academic and government cooperation. It was a very "high level" committee and I thought that it wasn't practical enough. Minister Omi eventually dissolved the former committee and worked with us to set up a new one. This committee was set up to involve more people actually involved in trying to promote high tech ventures. Minister Omi is one of the smartest and most serious about learning of the senior politicians I know. He actually listens to people like me and acts on what he learns from such meetings. I was able to have some influence over the selection of the committee members and invited David Milstein of Fidelity Ventures and Date-san who is working on university incubation. I think we have a good group.

The committee is a 3rd tier committee which is above a "study group" but below an inquiry committee, so the output from this study group should have some teeth. (The consumer inquiry committee I am on is one tier above, but the police committee on malicious programs I am on is one tier below. This is the minimum level to get air conditioning in the government building. ;-p ) I think it was the most influential committee we could make and still include people like Date-san who are actually doing new stuff.

Found this on David Farber's IP

This is crazy, but very typical. Japanese schools have banned home pages of students because of "privacy concerns"... I guess students will be banned from using blogs in order to protect them from themselves... ;-p

Use a blog, go to jail?

One of the Leoville Town Square regulars, BEACHTechie, aka Sam, is a high school student in Virginia Beach, VA. He recently got busted by the school administration for blogging, of all things. They seem to think blogging from school is a violation of their acceptable use policies. Perhaps it is. Sammy will be blogging from home from now on. But it seems to me that instead of discouraging blogging they should encourage each student to create one. After all, most writing classes encourage their students to keep journals, and that's exactly what a blog is.

I've posted a message of support in Sam's blog, I hope the school reads it.

Ignorance breeds fear. This is why I consider it so important to educate everyone on the value of computers and the Internet. I hope his school's administrators take the time to learn about blogging. I think they'll see that it's no threat.

I'm sure most of you have seen this, but here is an easy way to sign a petition or take more action to help save Anima Lawal.

Amnesty International [UK] Merton Group

Amina Lawal - Another woman facing death by stoning

Back in October 2001, 35-year old Safiya Hussaini was condemned to death, by stoning, for allegedly committing adultery. International outcry led by Amnesty International ( the Merton Amnesty Group campaigned for Safiya - see campaign archive) helped save her life; she was acquitted on technical grounds by an appeal court.

Now 30-year old Amina Lawal (right)faces the same death sentence. Amina Lawal was sentenced to death by stoning by a Regional Court in Katsina State, Nigeria for having a child outside marriage. Her sentence was announced on 23 March 2002, three days before the day of Safiya's acquittal.

Sakiyama-san is a co-founder of the Japan chapter of CPSR and one of the few privacy activists in Japan. He mentioned this issue at the last CPSR meeting, and I've been meaning to look into it. The perp of this whole thing, the Electronic Network Consortium, merged with the Internet Association of Japan (IAJ). I WAS a Councilor of the Internet Association Japan and was on their web page the when I check at the CPSR meeting, but I just checked and noticed that I am no longer on their web page. Hmm... I was going to threaten to quit if they didn't do something about this, but maybe I have already been fired. (or maybe I quit and didn't know it) In that case, threatening to quit is a pretty idle threat. ;-)

In any case, I will call the IAJ and let them know that I think this censorware project is a BAD IDEA and the way that they have been dealing with the criticism is also pretty poor.

Nobuo Sakiyama

Censorware funded by the Japanese Government

Recently, censorware - content filtering software becomes widely used in Japan, particularly on schools, offices, and public libraries. There are already many criticisms against censorware, so I don't repeat the same discussion.

Here in Japan, several commercial censorware products developed in the U.S. are localized and used, but in this article, I focus on a censorware product funded by the Japanese Government. That censorware is developed by an auxiliary organization of the Government and funded by the Government, and its rating database is operated by another industry-based organization which represents Internet Industry in Japan, and the operation business is fully funded by the Government. The feature of the censorware lacks transparency, and the operating organization plainly ignores the accountability. In this August, I released a tool which decrypts the rating labels in the censorware right after the release of the new version of the censorware, because its license did not prohibit reverse-engineering. Now a minor-upgraded version of the censorware was released. That is not compatible with the previous version, and the new license prohibits not only reverse-engineering but also any criticism against the product.

The government-funded censorware project does prohibit criticism by users of the product! So I decided to write a whole story in my poor English.

I found a new form of parody of 419 Fraud letters ("Nigerian Money Laundry Scam") on BoingBoing. Here are excerpts from two. (Click the links to see the entire documents.) The first one is Dick Cheney and the second one is Mrs. GW Bush.

Subject: Please help

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am Mr Dick Cheney a special adviser on Petroleum and economic matters to the Head of State of The United States of America. Because of my strategic position in the former Government, and also being a close confidant of the Head of State, I was able to acquire personally, the Sum of $25,000,000,000.00USD (twenty-five billion United States Dollars) presently lodged in some offshore sham bank owned by his brother Neil.


ATTN: President/CEO

I am the widow of the late President George W. Bush of the United States of America. I am writing you this letter in confidence regarding my current circumstances.

I escaped the United States ahead of death squads with my husband and two children Jenna and Frank, moving first to England and then, when my husband's political enemies took power there, to Austria. All of our wealth, obtained legitimately through baseball, oil drilling and insider trading, was seized by the new government of the USA under the despotic regime of (Dr.) Noam Chomsky, except for the contents of a few Swiss bank accounts. These bank accounts, which contain social security lock-box funds and the bulk of the 2001 budget surplus, could not be accessed by me or my children, due to agreements made between the socialist government of the USA and Swiss bank regulators. They seized our ranch in Crawford, Texas and now use it to teach homosexualist propaganda to schoolchildren.